Last week I headed over to Pittenweem to do some drawing before the art Festival which is running this week.


Like so much of this summer the weather would suddenly change from bright sun to rain in a blink. I took a bit of time to shelter from the rain in a nice wee café called Cuppa on the high street for some hearty stovies.


I came across this cake called “Sair heids” which come from this area. Apparently they’re called this because they have a paper wrap around them that looks like a bandage around your head. They’re small sponge cakes with an icing top.


The Pittenweem Arts Festival starts this weekend, August 1-9th.

Tapa, Kilmacolm

Tapa, Kilmacolm

12 St James Terrace
Lochwinnoch Road
PA13 4HB

3 Sisters Bake

3 sisters, Quarrier's village

The bright and open space of 3 Sisters Bake.

3 Sisters Bake
Faith Avenue, Quarrier’s Village,
PA11 3SX




I visited Geilston House last week and drew some of their collection of succulents in the greenhouse.

Edinburgh visit


This weekend I took a trip to Edinburgh and make the most of a sunny day. The main train line to Edinburgh was being worked on so everyone had to take the longer low level route. The delay was okay for some time to draw in Queen St station then enough time on the long journey. I don’t know why but I’ve labelled the drawing wrong, should read Queen Street Station, Glasgow!


Part of my reason for heading to Edinburgh was to check out some coffee shops for some more drawings. I made sure to visit Bearded Barista, Filament and Cobolt Coffee. Afterwards headed through the meadows and visited the National Museum of Scotland.


It’s always worth visiting the rooftop to get an incredible panorama of Edinburgh’s skyline. I’ve been meaning to try and draw the view there for awhile now and this time it was the perfect conditions to sit there for some time happily drawing the view.


Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi Winery

I worked on this watercolour for Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, California. The project was art directed and designed by Affinity Creative. It was fun doing the project, did it last year so it was great to see it make it to the label and then to the wine bottles.

The Urban Sketcher by Mark Taro Holmes

Urban Sketcher -

I got sent a copy of Marc Taro’s book The Urban Sketcher and I promised to write a few words about it. Marc has run his own site citizen sketcher and has been a prominent member of Urban Sketchers since its inception and has always been very generous with advice on painting and drawing techniques over on his site and in person as he runs regular workshops. He carefully runs through his own techniques on how to plan a drawing and the various stages through to completion.

One thing that did become apparent to me that I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners its aimed at people who have basic drawing skills and a degree of confidence in going outside to draw. Most of the projects are the ones Marc enjoys drawing, you can tell he loves big pictures that involve a broad panoramic vision filled with detail.


Lisbon- Marc Taro


An early drawing by me – 2006

I did this drawing in 2006 when I started to draw again. I still remember it vividly and drawing outside when you’re starting is a lot of different to how I draw now. For a start I’d usually only draw for about 20 minutes at the most as it takes time to learn how to keep your concentration going and I’d hit the edges of what I could do. At the time the most important thing to me was to keep that interest going making small steps and being comfortable with the marks I was making.

For those early drawings the mistakes and awkwardness of the lines have a small beauty in themselves and its the exploration and tiny steps that are important. When you’re starting I’d recommend not measuring and working in calculated steps but dive and just get used to making pictures and you’ll find yourself wanting to broaden your knowledge when the time is right. I think for someone starting to draw this is quite a lot to face and a huge task but for someone who has been drawing this book will certainly take your skills to a new level and I think that’s where this book shines.


There’s a good introduction to materials that you’ll need and thankfully doesn’t go into too much detail. I’m a huge fan of taking a small amount of equipment just enough that you’ll need and you’re good to go. It would be nice if if he talked a bit about the palette he uses as the paint kits you buy off the shelve generally come with basic colours that can be enhanced by buying a few select colours.


The book is split up into mostly drawing with a third dedicated to watercolour painting. The drawing section talks about drawing in various situations like still lives, architectural scenes and people. As well as this he goes through sight measuring, composition, shadow shapes all insightful techniques. One method which the whole book focusses on is his three pass technique or in his words Tea, Milk and Honey. I think when you’re starting out drawing you find yourself starting at a detail and work out from that point.

If you can learn to do the opposite of this and start with the big shapes and then work inwards you can end up with a much stronger picture. My art teacher used to say “Start with a shovel, finish with a needle!” Marc goes into this theory in the drawing section and expands on it further in the painting section.

I hope more people take in some of the ideas in this book, would love to see sketchers broaden their scope and think outside their sketchbooks to make some amazing paintings – level up!

The book should be available at your local book shops, it would be good to support them by ordering it in.

The Urban Sketcher by Marc Taro Holmes published by Northlight books

It’s worth checking out his site Citizen Sketcher for more info.

New Ink

Forever more tattoo

This Thursday I went to Forever More Tattoo in Glasgow for some more ink. I’ve had a small empty rectangle on my arm for years now, and I’ve been meaning to have it filled in but couldn’t figure out what to fill it in with. After seeing Ria Barrenechea‘s beautiful animal tattoos on instagram I booked an appointment. I got a small bumble bee to fit (just) in the space. It was fun getting back to being inked though I did forget it’s still sore but a pain you can get through. Strangely enough I found myself thinking of new designs I’d like to get done later.


Just back and still wrapped up, looking forward to taking the cling wrap off to let my arm breathe.


Only 10 minutes after being tattooed I was left for 10 minutes to let my arm settle so Ria could take a photo afterwards and maybe give me time to take a minute before heading to the street. It was good to use the time to draw, I finished it later.


And finally some Bepanthen to help me heal.

I’d really recommend Forever More Tattoo, who were really professional and welcoming, it has been 10 years since my last visit to a tattooist so I was a bit nervous. If you are looking to get some work done I’d do some research on finding someone who’s work you like first rather than walking into a shop blind. Instagram is pretty good in that regard as you can see artist’s work without committing till you’re ready in your own time.

Forevermore Tattoo
202 Hope Street
G2 2UG – Glasgow

Links Road, Leven Panorama

Panorama sketch

I was asked to do a painting to show off Links Road in Leven. Initially it was planned to do a picture with a single view point but I couldn’t get a good viewpoint that showed off the variety of houses on the road. So I proposed doing a panorama with the houses shown side by side. This was the initial sketch to show the idea, I reduced the gardens and garages by quite a bit and shuffled the houses along to sit more side by side, like a line up for a dance :)

Panorama outline

After I got the go ahead to start I pencilled the outline out. There’s an initial pencil drawing where I just get the proportions right and the basic shapes like windows and gardens right. I generally do this on rough paper as this is the messiest part where I generally do a lot of rubbing out and it takes a bit of time to work things out. After that I scan it in and correct any obvious errors on my computer. Then I print it out with a lower opacity direct on watercolour paper. I like to do this as when it comes to painting its easier to take risks than have that daunting aspect of drawing the whole thing out again.

This is the secondary drawing where I’m drawing over the faint printed outline its good just to use the outline as a rough guide and not get caught up with tracing over it. There are elements I’ve really simplified moving the garden gates to sit more in the centre of each side, removing trees, lowering hedges and walls. You can draw the houses by removing the perspective completely but I like a bit of depth and have each house with their own point of perspective as if you’re walking along the road and looking at the houses as you pass them.

Links Road, Leven

Then its my favourite part doing the watercolour. I tend to do big washes to start off filling in the sky and houses all in at the same time not too worried if colour run into each other. Folk sometimes ask how I do brick work, there’s isn’t really a quick way of doing it. I roughly mark them out with a pencil and mix up a few colours I want to use so I start painting a brick at a time changing the colours as I work. One thing that really helps is being okay with colours running into each other, I like it when you get a nice balance of accurate and going with the random nature of watercolour. Also before you add the brick work it really helps to get the basic shape of the building painted in tonally with the light and shadow blocked in.

Links Road, Leven

Add that’s it!


I’ve recently completed some more watercolour studies of Leven a seaside town on the east coast of Scotland.

Leven cottage

A cottage on Links Road, Leven, Scotland.

The white memorial church in Leven

The White Memorial Baptist Church

Heaven Hell

Continuing the religious themes there are some God/Devil statues on the side of one of the houses on Links Road.

Leven house detail, Links Road

A detail of one of the houses focussing on the tower style of the living room area.