Floating Frames


I recently tried out float mounting a drawing. Its a different way of showing your drawing or watercolour as it emphasises the physical aspects of the actual paper. What you’re doing is creating a small platform under the paper that gives the illusion your drawing or painting is “floating” in mid air. I’ve used a page from my sketchbook with very neat edges to the paper. I think it looks amazing with good heavy watercolour paper with deckled edges.


Here is a side view which shows how all the seperate elements fit together. I’ve used a frame that’s already been made up. This only works if you choose a frame with a deep side.


I started with cutting out the individual pieces for the spacer that sits on the inside of the frame and also acts as a support for the glass. I’ve used foam board to bulk it out then mounting board (sees below)


Once you’ve measured and cut out all the parts for the spacers place the glass in the frame and glue them around the edge.


The next step is to create the “floating artwork”. Cut out a piece of foam board that is 1″ smaller all around than the artwork. Its a good idea to make sure sure the artwork is as flat as possible. I’ve put my artwork under some heavy books overnight to get rid of any watercolour buckles. Also with this piece i’ve further reinforced the paper as its quite light with some card. However if you’re using good quality heavy watercolour this shouldn’t be necessary. All you need to do now is glue your foam board to the mounting board that sits at the background.


Finally fix your artwork onto the foam board. Now all that is left to do is put it all together. Gently place your artwork/foam board contraption face down on top of the spacers. Then add a final backing board then seal it all up, I use tab staplers.


Soar Alba

Stall for Yes Scotland

It’s been exciting times here, with the votes for Scotland’s independence happening today and soon to close as I type this in the next hour or so. Recently our city, towns and villages have been busy with volunteers campaigning in an effort to sway people’s opinions, apparantly 93% of the Scottish electorate have registered to vote so everyone is involved in this huge decision for the future.

Poll Station - Scotland's referendum

Here’s a view of my local polling station in Gourock. The atmosphere was surprisingly quiet and respectful at the entrance – a few No Campaigners on the left and Yes on the right. As I was sitting there drawing, people would give a little nod to either side before going their way.

Feels great to contribute.


“Whatever the outcome of this exciting day,
we need to make this collection of islands a better one.

Peace & love to all the ayes & naws!”

- quote by illustrator Jen Collins

All I know about inking


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The Small Things

The small things

A Simple Brush Holder


Here’s a very simple brush holder I made recently. It’s probably way overkill doing a short how-to guide for what is essentially a wooden block with holes in it. If anything it could be a good excuse to show fairly minimal symmetrical photos.

It makes it much easier to select your brushes rather than have them muddled together in a jar.

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Shimeji Mushrooms

Enoki Mushrooms

Artisan Roast

Artisan Roast

life drawing at the botanics

Life drawing at the botanics

Colour/light and atmosphere tests


Nico Delort on twitter posted these series of studies by Hiroshi Yoshida of the same scene with different lighting conditions and atmosphere. I’ve been aware for ages of wanting to expand my knowledge of how light works and not being shy of trying new colour combinations.

I think one of the aspects of sketching out doors is that you can end up drawing when the weather is great, this can unintentionally end up with paintings that look rather same-ish. A nice blue sky, green grass and if you’re painting buildings especially with sandstone tenements the end results can look a bit primary red, blue, green (I’m guilty of this).

Rhu parish church graveyard

Here is the original sketch it was a beautiful day but again its the classic colour palette.


I redrew the scene and after scanning it in I brought it into photoshop and tried the different colour combinations. I thought this might save time as its much quicker and easier to change and try out different colours and see how they work together. From here I printed out the pencil sketch onto watercolour paper to add the paint.


I didn’t stick too closely to the photoshop tests and really used them as jump off points and by the end had more confidence to ditch them all together.


After a while I started to think more how some parts of the landscape are lighter than others. For example the hills furthest away is obviously lighter, the sea is generally darker than the sky but lighter than the hills. It feels like you’re slowly building a scene with its particular rules and its something I started to really get into trying to work out how it all fitted in together.


A glowy sunset, slightly exaggerated.


A moonlight version with a colder/greenish light.