Wednesday, May 25, 2011


watercolour/gouache 14x10.5cm

Edinburgh had quite interesting gales and showers yesterday. Late morning I could see Big Clouds moving around, so I tore myself away from the easel (not difficult), gathered my watercolour gear and trekked up Blackford Hill.

It was too windy to stay at the top, but I found a sheltered hollow facing the Forth. I sat through a short hail shower, then unpacked my sketching stuff. After an hour of hesitant starts and ineffective splashing about of watercolour, I turned and looked south over the edge of the hollow. There, sailing slowly by, was this magnificent Cumulonimbus - with fleecy edges and dark streaks of altocumulus.

Working quickly, as if in slo-mo, the sky was laid in, cloud wiped off, highlights gouached, darker bits dibbled in – job done. I started to indicate the foreground, but before I could draw enough detail to scale it, another cumulonimbus that had crept up over the top of the hill opened up and I was caught in a withering hail of rain and, er, hail. With everything getting wet, I gave in, quickly packed my gear and retreated home.

Looking at this later, I saw that the wet green had taken the rain spots. The foreground is unfinished, and isn’t fixed in space, but I liked the rawness of the sketch, and that the rain had made a visible impact on it.

However, next time I go out sketching, I’ll maybe pick a day that’s slightly less elemental…

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