For love or money?

Inveresk Lodge Gardens, a National Trust property on the edge of Musselburgh


Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all well? Spring has not yet fully sprung and I just wanted to point out that the image above was taken in January. I was at Inveresk Lodge Gardens, a National Trust property on the edge of Musselburgh, where I’ve been drawing various trees over the last few months. Believe it or not the thrill of drawing outdoors is heightened by sub zero temperatures, albeit fingers start to stiffen after a while. This was one of life’s perfect mornings, and these tree drawings are destined for an exhibition at The Gallery at The Stables on Falkland Estate, Fife, in December. Preparing an exhibition like this takes time, and can sometimes turn out to be a very bad business decision, but it is an enormous privilege and one I love and feel very grateful for. More details to follow in the next newsletter.

Sketching workshops in the National Museum of Scotland
Coruisk Memorial Hut on Skye

Bipolar Edinburgh and Skye high

A while back I had the chance to connect with Bipolar Edinburgh , a peer-led support group for Bipolar sufferers here in the ‘Burgh. Some of you may know that Bipolar is a part of my life and so it has been a joy to connect with others who are also on this path. This led to a series of weekly sketching workshops in the National Museum of Scotland, one of the capital’s finest assets in my view, and an uplifting space if ever there was one with so much to see and draw. We came together with sketching as the focus of these Friday afternoon slots, then over tea and cake we talked and laughed and shared our work. I found it grounding to be in such company, and you can see from the image above left, the talent and enjoyment expressed by all. In a couple of weeks we’re planning an end of term visit to Jupiter Artland, fingers crossed for a few degrees extra warmth as we sketch outdoors.

Above right is a painting I did of Coruisk Memorial Hut on Skye.  The location is breathtaking, at the head of Loch Scavaig with the Cuillin Ridge towering above it, and a few hundred metres from beautiful Loch Coruisk. I was there at the start of April with my family and cousin and his family. The hut belongs to the Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland, of which our grandfathers were founding members nearly a hundred years ago. The painting is to be a small element of an anthology charting the adventures and characters of this proud group of mountaineers. My grandfather was a man of many parts, a fine amateur watercolourist as well who first introduced me to this happy medium, and so it has been so wonderful to learn a little more about his climbing exploits through his journals and photos, which have been shared for this anthology. Staying in the hut, accessed only by boat or on foot was a fantastic experience.


Atlantic Body & Soul

Back to buildings and Dunbar in East Lothian, ‘Sunny Dunny’ as it is known up here, and this was a day a few weeks back when I almost wondered if I needed suncream?! There’s only so much adventure I can take, and every now and then I’m glad to get back to the comfort of what I know – in this case how to draw buildings. However this painting was sparked by an adventure of epic proportions involving five local guys from Portobello who recently rowed across the Atlantic, in an open boat!! We all thought they were mad whilst being in awe and a touch envious at the same time. They raised a huge amount of money for Body & Soul Charity and a smaller project here in Leith –, both mental health charities doing great things. As part of the fundraising there was an Art Auction, and as you can imagine the local artists were falling over themselves to get a piece of the action. Well done Atlantic Body & Soul!

Black Walnut Tree

Above: Black Walnut tree, planted in 1815

There’s a tree we look down on (only just, or do we?) from our living room window. Local word has it that it existed before any of the streets and buildings around it, and I’m sure that’s the case. The tree came long before us, and there are obviously trees which pre-date Christ and much more besides, still living today. I like the idea that they are witnesses, to our follies and foibles, and that they are sentient in their own way. It makes me feel small in a good way and is a reminder of things much greater than we are, of which there are many. Drawing these trees is a tiny gesture to get to know them more and to celebrate them.

Thanks for reading this far, and for your support. I hope the next few weeks and months are fun-filled and full of adventure (but not too much!) for you and all those nearest to you.

Best wishes,



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