SketchChat Session: Dunnottar Castle with progress photos

September 25, 2020 | Leave your thoughts

One of the good things to come out of this pandemic is that I’m keeping in touch with some friends more than normal and Esther Semmens in Edinburgh is one of them.

If you don’t know her, Esther  is the friend that started me sketching with watercolour back in 2007 and amazingly, we’ve managed to sketch together somewhere in the world most years since.

When I ‘arrived’ in Scotland as part of my virtual trip to Europe I sketched with Eza pretending to be in Edinburgh. And in recent months we have set up a fortnightly catchup session where we chat and sketch together – 6.30am my time, and 9.30pm her time! 
(BTW Eza is my corny Aussie nickname for her…. I didn’t realise I had written her name as that until I was re-reading this article!)

This week we both sketched from the same photo of Dunnottar Castle and I switched my overhead camera on while I was working. It’s really interesting for me to review what I did, as at the time, I was only half concentrating on my sketch. I definitely didn’t do it in my usual way as I wanted to test how the paper in the Clairefontane Goldline Natural sketchbook coped with multiple washes.

A few things which are different from normal because I was talking and not fully concentrating on my sketch:

  • I started with a few pencil lines –  my landscapes are normally paint-only!
  • I changed the position of horizon intentionally to make it easier – the buildings were then against the white part of the sky, not the water.
  • I added a grey wash for the shaded areas first – mapping light and dark – so that I would be more aware of the lighter areas.
  • I used more layers than normal!
  • I didn’t finish the ocean!
  • I spent nearly an hour doing this as I was talking, making a coffee etc etc. (It would have been a 30 minute sketch otherwise!)

Here are some progress photos…

And here is a scan of the sketch… I didn’t touch it after our call ended.

My SketchChat sessions with Esther are definitely one of the highlights of my week! And it was fun to sketch the same photo – you can see her beautiful pencil sketch here.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend sketching with a friend via Skype or Zoom. There is something so nice about chatting with a friend while sketching! Even if the sketch suffers a little at times from the lack of concentration, the conversation is encoded into your lines/strokes making a special permanent record of a lovely catch up!



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