Europe18: A day in St Andrews

July 14, 2018 | 2 Comments

On Saturday, during my week in West Wemyss, I headed north to St Andrews and meet up with Esther Semmens, and Kathleen from Edinburgh (sadly Kathleen doesn’t share her beautiful ink drawings online).

It was a gorgeous day and the girls picked this street scene to sketch first up. I had to do a few chores, so didn’t join them until the last 30 minutes of the session. So this was very loose! I was using my new Lily SketchINK for this – it’s a gorgeous colour!

Then we went to the castle. I have been to St Andrews before but it was before my sketching days. So it was great to have a chance to sketch this view – this is approximately the view that George Wishart would have had – he is an early martyr of the Scottish Reformation.

This a typical first version in ink and wash, trying to resist the urge to add lots of detail of the stonework with my pen. Yes, I struggle with that too at times.

Then I had time to do a second paint-only version. It’s much easier to simplify on the second attempt!


After lunch we headed to the lovely courtyard of St Salvators. I worked quickly as we were sitting in the direct sun and it was getting too hot. Such amazing summery weather!

Then we headed to the cathedral!

It is a magnificent ruin and very sketchable. I did three versions as I searched for the abstract image which I had in my head. Not sure if this makes sense, but sometimes I can half see what I ‘should’ be doing, a feeling of the next stage in my development as an artist.

First version with the Lily SketchINK again.

Second version: Paint only. I got this far in the sketch and then realised what I really wanted to do, so I just moved onto the third. My intention was to come back to this and add a little more detail, but we were kicked out at 5.30pm.

FInal sketch of St Andrews Cathedral was just a few simple shapes and then some lines – using my De Atramentis Document mixed Raw Sienna ink (yellow and brown) – drawing into the wet.

I’m very happy with this! It achieves what ultimately I would like to do more – ie. tell a story with absolutely minimum marks on the page.

We ended the day sitting at a cafe table in the sun and sketched this view of the shops on Market St.

What a great day! Thanks Esther and Kathleen for hanging out with me! Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of us or all our work.

BTW: I’m in Porto now – the lead up to the Urban Sketchers Symposium – and I’m not sure how much (if at any) time I will get to post. We’ll see, but just giving you the heads up if I go quiet for a few weeks!



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