Making time, clouds and a tomato

One of the excuses I gave myself over the last few years for not drawing or painting was that “there’s not enough time.” This was, of course, bunkum. While free time has been a rarity ever since that big fat positive in summer 2011, there’s always been pockets of it to be found. Minutes rather than hours, sure, but time all the same. Instead, I wasted it online, consuming other peoples words and pictures rather than making my own, telling myself I didn’t have any time, that even the simplest sketch was too great an undertaking. 

Well, nuts to that. As part of this year’s reboot of whatever creative spirit I’ve got left, and triggered by the daily action, I’ve learned to seek out those little pockets of potential in the day. One cracker is the 40 minute commute to work (of which more shortly). Also on workdays, there’s my lunch break – usually just half an hour, but still! 30 whole minutes!

That’s all very well for my three days a week at the office, but what about when I’m at home looking after Bagl? No doubt a time will come when I can cheerfully draw and paint with him around, joining in, playing or watching with awe, but we’re nowhere near that yet. And although I could save any drawing and painting until the evening, that means working without daylight – not so good for still-lifes, nigh-on impossible for any plein air pieces.
Now, there's naptimes. Bagl's naptimes are relatively short compared to other sprogs – 90 minutes – but it works for him and means a reasonable bedtime. I’d convinced myself that naptimes were far too busy to do any drawing. After all, there’s all the essential things to be done – washing to sort out and hang up, lunch and tea to prepare, cleaning and tidying, titting around on the internet… ah. Ahhhh.
Turns out, if you remove the internet from the naptime equation, there's still a decent chunk of time left after getting all the chores done. It's not enough time for me to, say, write a novel, but a quick watercolour or oil painting? Go on! Sad to say, this realisation only hit me earlier this month, but I'm trying to make up for lost time.
Here, then, are the first three naptime oil paintings, all up for sale at £45 a pop (or with a nifty mini-easel display for a few dollers more) – two landscapes of the view from Castle Von Naggle, and a still-life of a halved tomato, each one painted in around 30/40 minutes, resulting in nicely expressive brushstrokes as I worked quickly to get everything down before young master woke. It's a pleasantly frantic way to work and shakes me nicely out of my comfort zone. And rather than beat myself up about the thought of how many paintings/drawings I could've got done over the last few years, better to think about all those future pieces waiting to be made. Well, until the boy drops his nap, then I'm nobbled…
image from

Oil on canvas board (£45)
image from

Oil on canvas board (£45)
image from

Oils on canvas board (£45)

Anatomy drawing 26/04/14

No life drawing this month, so to fill its absence I spent a few hours today at the Surgeons' Hall Museum in Edinburgh, particularly the pathology museum and its collection of anatomical specimens. My first time there, and just in the nick of time – it's closing in a few weeks time for over a year of redevelopment. Inspired by the dissection sketching from last month, I thought it would be an interesting experience, although I wasn't sure how I'd react to such potentially queasy sights.

Turns out I was fine. Not only that, it was a uniquely fascinating challenge quite different from anything I've drawn before, occupying some curious grey area between life drawing and still life. I could easily have spent all day, all week there, it's a lovely building to work it and I was particularly grateful for the many chairs around the museum. There was a lot to look at, a fair bit of time spent deciding which specimens to draw, despite being confined to the lower floor – one day I'd like to get access to the upper gallery and the massive collection within. Alas, I'll have to wait until summer 2015, but that gives me plenty of time to prepare. Anyway, here's the work I came away with today – mostly successful, aside from the brain with a bullethole. And those dentures could give you more nightmares than any of those jarred specimens.


Pencil, graphite wash, watercolour pencils, brush pen

Watercolour pencils, graphite pencil



White Conté pencil