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


Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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.



286 Places of Worship

286 Places of Worship

An installation by Nathan Coley over at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Its made up of lots of cardboard models of all the religious and spiritual building listed in Edinburgh’s yellow pages.

It was strange to draw as normally if you’re drawing a city the streets make it easier, here all the models are arranged in a higgledy piggledy manner.