Apr 2, 2014

Bliary Entry #8: Energising Edinburgh!

The wife and I are back from a 3-day holiday in Edinburgh. By my count, it's the fifth time we've been there together and it really never gets old. There's always something new to see, but even just the old haunts seem to retain their appeal, somehow.

Misfits, all.
Thanks go to our bestest pals, Gordon & Ruth, for both giving us a place to stay and for sharing a great weekend full of delectable food, big laughs and fun times.
I've mentioned my buddy Gordon many times on this blog. He's rapidly becoming a really fantastic artist, and it was a thrill to see some of his work in the flesh. Go check out his blog right here.
His wife, Ruth, is my wife's oldest friend, and she is a great artist in her own right. She currently has a lovely Etsy store called Felt so Fancy with lots of very beautifully crafted felt objects for sale. I suggest you buy them!

So here's how the holiday went...

Straight after I got home from work on Friday evening, we took Louie to the dog minder and made a dash for the bus going from Galway to Dublin airport. The bus journey, while considerably quicker than it used to be thanks to better roads, still takes the better part of three hours. So we didn't get to the hotel we were staying in until about 11pm. The actual flight from Dublin to Edinburgh wasn't leaving until the following morning, but with me being an Australian citizen still, we would have had to have been at the airport very early, and on a bus from Galway at a ridiculous time. So we stayed in a hotel near the airport instead. This way, we wouldn't be walking zombies already by the time we got to Edinburgh.
Here's a sketch I did on the hotel's paper before hitting the hay on Friday night:

Could that be a new signature style?
It was just before lunchtime that we got into Edinburgh town on the Saturday. Gord and Ruth were waiting for us at the station in the heart of the city and we took the bags back to their place and got introduced to their two kitty cats, Connie and Lizzie. They're mad.

We feasted at Pizza Hut like kings and queens. Our waitress was a new girl called Nicola and we can't have made it easy for her (especially when my wife, after hearing that they only had Pepsi, offered to pour coke from the bottle in her bag into the glass instead...). We then walked around to Ruth's work, which is a Paperchase store, pretty much heaven for me.

I'm a bit of a sketchbook fetishist. I'll admit it. I seem to be always on the lookout for a sketchbook that is a good combination of size, aesthetics, paper quality, durability and usability. Some sketchbooks can be too rigid, especially when you try to open them flat, making the act of actually drawing in them uncomfortable. Others can be the perfect size, but the paper is rubbish. Other times a sketchbook can have everything going for it - the paper is good, the size is right, it can open flat, the cover will last, but it's ugly as sin.

I think I'm good for sketchbooks that tick all of the boxes for the foreseeable future, thanks to Ruth's store:

objects of great beauty

Here we have...
#1: A4 Green Recycled 150 page Perfect Pad.
#2: Kraft square cream notebook. 180 pages of both cream and brown craft paper. Awesome.
#3: A5 Green Recycled 150 page Perfect Pad.
#4: Kraft cream exercise book. Cream and brown paper again. Sweet.
#5: This one I got from the art supply shop, it has all craft brown paper inside. Noice.
Aren't they gorgeous?

That evening, we stayed in, watched some telly, played some card games, had a good laugh.

Sunday was a funday too. We were out and about in the Grassmarket area for a lot of it. We visited Mary's Milk Bar, which is run, not surprisingly, by a lass called Mary. It's a gourmet ice-creamery/café sort of place, and it has a really nice charm to it. I had a cup with two different scoops of ice-cream in it - choc-orange and coconut. I said it at the time, and have subsequently said it several times more, and will do so again now: these two scoops of ice-cream were the greatest two scoops of ice-cream I have ever tasted. And, believe me, I have eaten a heck of a lot of ice-cream in my years on this planet. This is the stuff of the gods. It's as though Mary is the re-incarnation of a somehow forgotten goddess of ice-cream. It sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn't.

We also went to the National Gallery on Sunday. Steph and I used to go and visit these two pictures a lot back when we briefly lived there back in 2001:

The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Paton

The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Paton

Last time we were in Edinburgh, these two pieces weren't currently on display, so it was good to see them out again this time.

Gord and I strolled around for a while, too, looking at some truly remarkable paintings, wishing and wanting to do things like this ourselves (more on this soon)-

Wandering Shadows by Peter Graham
You swear those light spots are actual spotlights in the gallery pointed at it.

Autumn in Glencairn, Moniaive by James Paterson
This is how I want to paint. The trees are incredible.
Inverlochy Castle by Horatio McCulloch
Best reflected water ever. Mesmerising.
We also went to Gord's work on Sunday, which just so happens to be the National Museum of Scotland! They have everything there, including gigantic Claymores, a creepy executioner mask, some nifty gems, and a whole wing dedicated to natural history. I love dinosaurs, but I cannot recall ever being in the presence of a full dinosaur skeleton. This is what is at the entrance...

It was a fantastic place to be, there was a whole lot to see and the taxidermy was pretty spectacular.
Also on was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This was my favourite piece:

Last Light by Mateusz Piesiak
We had Haggis for dinner that night. I don't care what anybody says about it, Haggis is delicious and I want more of it. We watched a few TV shows that evening, including Archer and Bob's Burgers. Why hasn't anybody ever told me that H. Jon Benjamin is in these shows!?! I love him, I've been a big fan of Dr. Katz for many years...

Unfortunately, Gord had to work on the Monday, so I left the girls to it and went walking on my own. Here are some snappy-snaps:


I met up with Gord during his lunch break and we went art supply shopping! You may recall me mentioning an Art Supply store that I bought my Karisma white pencil from years ago. That store is just opposite the Museum. And Gord gets a discount! It's called Greyfriars Art Shop. Unfortunately, those Karisma pencils are no longer available anywhere, but we did pick up some brushes, quills and some paper. Fun times.

Then I went off on my own again. I did a bit of shopping and even managed to find time to do a quick charcoal pencil sketch of a view of a section of the castle:

yep, that's a new signature style all right...

I haven't used charcoal in a very long time. I used to hate the stuff, but this little sketch has renewed my interest in it. Hopefully there'll be more to come like this.

The, before we knew it, we were on the bus to the airport and on our way home. Sad.
Here's some pics of other things I picked up on the trip:

 Precious trinkets! I picked these up at a great little store called Helios Fountain in Grassmarket.

These are all from one of my favourite shops, Mr. Wood's Fossils.
#1: Pyrite (Fool's gold!)
#2: Shiva Lingam Stone.
#3: Garnet. Couldn't help but think of Skyrim. I really want some Malachite now...
#4: Pyrite Ammonite. Just cool.
#5: A Mosasaur Tooth. YES!!! One of my favourite dinosaurs.
#6: Apatite

So there you have it. A whirlwind weekend, for sure. Man, my legs are sore, Edinburgh involves A LOT of walking.

Gord and I got to talk in detail about what we want to do in the future with our art, which I'm really excited about. We have plans to become better artists and we will be formulating systems of how to improve methodically and from the ground up. But I'll write more about that in another post.
I also have a couple of new illustration jobs on the slate at the moment. So there'll be plenty of drawing to do in the near future. I'll talk about that soon as well.

Ciao for now.


Tim Shorts said...

Looks like a great trip. Keep on drawing Jay!

Jay Penn said...

Thanks Tim, It looks as though it's going to be a fantastically busy summer for the old drawing board. Can't wait!