Sketching in Shetland, 2018

In Shetland I was learning to paint clouds. Here’s one of the pictures I like best, also the simplest.

Shetland 2018 drawing

Sometimes the clouds are lighter than the rest of the sky:

Shetland 2018 drawing

Sometimes very dark:

Shetland 2018 drawing

Sometimes rather complicated:

Shetland 2018 drawing

Below is a picture drawn in the rain. I was using a sketchbook which had very heavily sized pages. In light Shetland rain, the pages became damp, and were absorbent.

The water is brighter than the sky: a Shetland phenomenon.

Shetland 2018 drawing

See how this heavily sized paper lets me put layers of colour on.

Here’s another picture in the same sketchbook. See the colours in the sea.

Shetland 2018 drawing

This was a sketchbook from the Vintage Paper Company, based, appropriately enough, in Orkney. The paper is described on their website:IMG_5323

“The paper was made in the 1950s in Somerset, England. It’s a 180gsm, 90lb rough surfaced paper ideal for drawing, ink and of course, watercolour. Made from cotton rag and gelatine sized, it’s a dream to paint on. “

It took a bit of getting used to.

I found it didn’t take the paint very well, until it was damp. Here’s an early attempt. See how I struggled to get the paint to adhere to the paper.

Shetland 2018 drawing

This was painted in a strong wind from the edge of a hill. At first I thought this picture was a total failure. But later, it seemed to have captured something. perhaps you can see the rocks, the dry grass, the shifting sky and sea?

 

Later pictures were a bit better, especially if I kept things simple:Shetland 2018 drawing

IMG_5324The other sketchbook I used was a Khadi cotton paper, much more absorbent. Below is a picture of the roads of West Mainland. The roads are calligraphic strokes on the landscapes. Shetland 2018 drawing

Here’s anther picture of the roads:

Shetland 2018 drawing

I also drew birds:

On a day it was raining outside, I drew my boots:

Shetland 2018 drawing

Below is a picture of Burrastow Cottage, where I was staying. I swam in that bay. Despite the blue sky, the water was cold. I rate it somewhere between “refreshing” and “challenging”. That is, probably about 12 degrees Celsius.

Shetland 2018 drawing

I had a wonderful time.Shetland 2018 drawing

Shetland Sketchbook

Here I am on the banks of the River Dee, looking across to Aberdeen.

IMG_0891

I had just left the overnight sleeper train from London, and was in Aberdeen waiting for the overnight ferry to take me to Shetland. In the River Dee, I saw dolphins. I walked to the Torry Battery, built 1858-1860. In the picture on the right is the “Aberdeen Harbour Operations Centre”.

The ferry docked in Lerwick, Shetland mainland. It was raining.

IMG_0892

I drew this picture in Fort Charlotte, sheltering from the rain under the thick walls of a gate. The shelter was not perfect, as you see from the water splattering the picture.

Bus number 9 from the Viking Bus Station took me to the West Mainland, where I was staying in Burrastow Cottage. Here is a drawing of Burrastow House. The cottage is the small building, in the background on the left.

IMG_0890

I did a lot of walking.

In Lerwick I bought a landscape sketchbook. So I experimented with using both pages. There’s a lot of landscape in Shetland.

IMG_0909

Above, I tried to show the bright yellow flowers, very vivid, in the low light.

IMG_0899

The picture above shows the bay and the village of Walls.

IMG_0894

Above is an attempt to draw the huge cliffs near Burrastow. The peninsula is the delightfully named “Wards of Mucklure”.

IMG_0906

I drew the sea. Above is the view from the door of the cottage. Out there, one day, I saw an otter.

IMG_0887

Above is what the island of Foula looks like, viewed from Cairn 4. I numbered the Cairns.

Here is my numbering scheme:IMG_0933

I also drew the plants.

That picture of the drain hole shows iris plants above dark water. The picture on the right shows flowering sorrel, and iris leaves.

IMG_0914

This is a picture of “The Ned” near Westerwick. It was much more dramatic than the picture. More dark and more light. Maybe the pencil sketch catches it better:

IMG_0915

Here is another sketch of the sea. I tried drawing quickly. Sometimes it seems to work better that way.

IMG_0888

And here is a sketch on the way back to London.

IMG_0916