Burrastow and the bay

Here’s a view of Burrastow House, Walls, Shetland, as you enter the drive.

Burrastow and the bay, Picture 1, July 7th 2021

There was a lively wind. Those clouds looked like that, and kept changing. The small island on the right is the Holm of Burrastow. The hills behind it are the island of Vaila. Here is work in progress.

Then I drew another view, from higher up, on a mound above the road.

Burrastow and the bay, Picture 2, July 8th 2021 [SOLD]

Here is work in progress and a view of my sketching location for picture 2: a chair perched on a hill.

Both pictures on a block of Saunders Waterford 300gsm watercolour paper, “hot pressed”, 12 inches by 9inches. The yellow edging you see on the work-in-progress is masking tape. I put it round the edges for several reasons:

  • It enables me to hold the picture safely without leaving thumb-marks
  • I can write annotation on it, specifically “eye-line” and the heights of things.
  • When the picture is complete, I peel it off and it leaves a nice white border, which makes the picture easier to frame.

To see the comparison between the pen-and-ink and the colour, use the slider in the image below:

Compare the “before” and “after” on Picture 1

Lerwick Lodberries

Here is a view of houses in Lerwick known as “lodberries”. They are built into the sea. Lerwick is one of the few capital cities in the world that has a beach. The other I know is Sydney Australia. The beach in Lerwick is somewhat smaller than Bondi beach, and is over the wall to the right of my picture.

I drew this picture sitting on a bench next to the aptly named “Water Lane”. I was just thinking how peaceful it was, how few people, and how unlike London, when a car came and parked directly in my line of sight, blocking my view of the part I had yet to draw. A small family emerged out of the car. Children ran around with buckets and spades, a woman corralled them down the steps and onto the beach. A man got out of the driver’s seat and saw me. He smiled. It was a sunny day. I smiled a mixed smile. Suddenly he saw that I was drawing. “Oh!” he said, “Shall I move the car?” I said yes, that would be very kind. Without any hesitation he jumped back into the driver’s seat, fired up the engine and parked in a space up the road. He waved to me as he walked to join his family down on the beach. I waved back.

Commercial Street, Lerwick. Lodberries. July 24th 2021, in Sketchbook P1 double spread: 14″ x 10″ approx. 1½ hours on location

Here is work in progress:

Here are some maps to show the location. I have also included maps showing where Shetland is, since people have asked. It is about 100 miles off the north coast of Scotland. From Aberdeen it is some 250 miles (400km) and takes 13 hours by ferry. Shetland is at a more Northerly latitude than Oslo and Stavanger, nearer Bergen than Aberdeen and nearer Copenhagen (590 miles) than London (600 miles).

Here is a view of the North Sea approaching Aberdeen. See the wind turbines.

Abandoned Car, Shetland

Abandoned cars are a feature of the landscape in Shetland. This one is in the initial stages of decay.

Abandoned car, off the Vesquoy road, Walls, Shetland. 23rd July 2021, 5:30pm

Here is another abandoned car:

Shetland: vehicles in space

There’s a lot of empty space in Shetland. As I walked around, sometimes I encountered abandoned vehicles. Here is one. This was the last of a sequence of such car wrecks on a track.…

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Shetland 2021 -scenes from a run

I came back from a run with my head full of images. I put them into pictures.

Scenes from a run, 27th June 2021, in Sketchbook P1

I enjoyed using a new colour: Lunar Blue from Daniel Smith. This is a highly granulating blue. You can see its effect here in the sky:

And here is Lunar Blue the sea:

Patch of light on the sea

A feature of the landscape round Littleure is the inland lakes, high up on the cliffs, as shown here on the right. On the sea, the sun shines through the clouds like a spotlight, which enchants me. In that picture you also see the granulating colour in the land: this is Green Apatite Genuine.

It was a misty day.

Over the brow of a hill, I see islands. It’s the end of the run. Time for a dip, and breakfast.

Shetland 2021 – Poppies

These poppies were in the vegetable garden.

Poppies, Burrastow. 1 July 2021 on watercolour paper

These poppies were so stunning that I had to try to draw them. There and then. They are also ephemeral.

In a few days the petals had dropped making splashes of scarlet on the grass.

I drew this on special paper: handmade watercolour paper from the Vintage Paper Company. It is very heavily sized and takes the colour well. It’s also stiff, and easy to use out-doors.

The red is Transparent Pyrrol Orange waercolour from Daniel Smith.

Shetland 2021 – Fish farm debris

On the coast near a place called Breiwick, The Quilse, there is a heap of strange tubes. These are from the local salmon farm.

Fish farm debris. 18th July 2021 in Sketchbook P1

They make huge loops in landscape.

These black tubes seem to be indestructible. People find all sorts of uses for them: fence posts, cattle grids, boat slipways. I imagine they would make rather fine musical instruments. I have never heard of anyone using them for this.

But their primary use is to create the salmon cages that float out on the shallow seas in the area.

Picture from “Scottish Salmon Think Tank” website. See how big the structures are!

I saw these tubes on a walk from the Historic Site. I’ve drawn in this location before. In this sketch, you see the black tubes as the small scratchy lines in the centre distance.

Fish farm debris, 13th August 2019

Shetland 2021 – Burrastow House

Here is Burrastow House near Walls on the West side of Shetland. It was built in 1759.

Burrastow House, from the garden. 20 July 2021. 10″ x 8 “

One of the delights of the house is that it has been adapted over the years. Here is a view from the vegetable garden. You see the different roof levels.

Burrastow House from the vegetable garden. 13th July 2021. 10″ x 8″

The white curved area on the left is a segment of the polytunnel. The grey circular item is the oil tank. Above that, the small circle is the satellite dish. I like the way you can see right through two windows, in the room on the top right of the picture.

Here is a view from the garden near the driveway.

Burrastow House, from the garden near the entrance. July 14th 2021

While I was drawing this, a Jaguar E-type throbbed up the drive. I put it in the picture. This was a misty day. I had to pause the work on the picture as the mist turned to rain, and then I resumed as the rain turned to mist again.

You see the front conservatory in the centre and the extension to the left. The extension dates from 1995, according to a small notice in the conservatory.

“This extension

was officially opened

by Canon Lewis Smith

Convener S.I.C

15th September 1995″

All these sketches are in PrintUrchin Sketchbook number 1, on Arches paper, 300gsm, Cold-pressed.

Here are pictures of work-in-progress:

I have sketched Burrastow House on previous visits:

Shetland 2021 – Coastal rocks

The rocks on the Shetland west side cleave at a very specific angle.

Skerries of Easter Paill, 15th July 2021 on Amatruda paper.

I picked up a pebble on the beach. Many of the pebbles show this pointed regular shape. It gave me great pleasure to find that the angle matched my drawing. It is approximately 70 degrees.

The angle is visible even in the large cliffs.

Rocks at the entrance to the Seal Lagoon, 15th July 2021

Here is this sketch in progress:

The strange object in the top right of the drawing is not a drone, a cormorant, a flying fish or a small airship. It is a mistake. When I closed the sketchbook to continue my walk, some wet paint transferred itself from the left hand page to the right.

Shetland 2021: Birds

Here is a herring gull. These are numerous and float on the sea as well as fly in the air. They also stand on cars and on chimneys. This one stands on a wall, waiting for someone to come out of the kitchen, ideally with a slice of bread.

Herring gull

Then there are the oystercatchers. They fly but don’t swim. They poke around in the seaweed, and, amazingly, also use those long beaks on the lawn, to dig up worms.

Oystercatcher

I started drawing the birds when I saw a wonderful picture in The Shetland Times. It showed a “Long tailed Skua”, described as a “rare passage migrant”. Here is my version, inspired by the photo in The Shetland Times by Jim Nicholson.

Long tailed Skua, rare passage migrant

All drawn in watercolour on Amatruda paper, size A5, using Daniel Smith watercolours.

Shetland 2021 – roads

Shetland roads sweep across the landscape. I enjoy the calligraphic sweep of their curves and the simplicity of the lines they make.

“Cattle Grid” July 2021

These pictures are sketched on A5 sheets of F Amatruda Amalfi paper from The Vintage Paper Company in Orkney. These are lovely soft sheets with 4 deckle edge. They take the watercolour well.

Watercolours are Daniel Smith. Some of the white lines are achieved using a rubber resist, called “frisket”, panted on before the watercolour, and rubbed off afterwards.