Category: City Art Centre workshops

Edinburgh Castle in ink

140524 castle in ink

Here’s my “lost” work of art – a piece I drew at the City Art Centre 4 years ago but neglected to post here.

This was the only time I’ve drawn in ink. I enjoyed how it flowed, and remember thinking how I’d like to use it again. That’s still true.

I drew it on 24/5/14, in a free session connected to the centre’s A Capital View exhibition.


Edinburgh – A Capital View

This Saturday I will be attending the first workshop at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre tied to their current A Capital View exhibition, featuring scenes, landscapes and portraits to do with Scotland’s capital.

The first workshop, that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, is described thus:

Experiment with unusual format landscape drawings and paper constructions in this class.Inspired by early views of Edinburgh, panoramas and dioramas, enjoy a day of experimenting with viewpoints to create intriguing cityscapes.

I am really looking forward to attending this, as all the past workshops I have attended there have been superb, pushing the boundaries of my art. Last summer’s Condé Nast workshops and associated workshops got me interested in seeing the art in fashion. Until then I had been totally blind to fashion as a source of inspiration. I now consider it a core part of my art interests, and have much that I want to explore in it.

Since these workshops are all related to Edinburgh’s cityscapes, I have dug up some past Edinburgh works that I’ve done. This is also a quick way to make up for the lack of art I’ve posted over the last 3 months while building work is still ongoing on our house. It’ll be finished soon fortunately!

From 2 years ago:

110715 1

110722 2

From last year, the start of an oil painting (this is just the base layer):

castle v1

From earlier this year, the view from my desk at work:

140321 view from desk

New workshops at the Edinburgh City Art Centre – coming soon

Over the next couple of months Tessa Asquith-Lamb will be leading 3 new workshops at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

I’ve attended a few of these free all-day Saturday sessions in the past, and have always found them very interesting. I attended a couple of fashion-inspired workshops led by Tessa last year (Fashionable silhouettes and Elements of fashion – Still life), and am looking forward to going to these. If you are local, perhaps you might want to sign-up too? I might not be able to make all of them unfortunately, but I’ll be doing my absolute best to clear the time so that I can go!

Sat 17 May 2014
A broad view
Experiment with unusual format landscape drawings and paper constructions in this class.
Inspired by early views of Edinburgh, panoramas and dioramas, enjoy a day of experimenting with viewpoints to create intriguing cityscapes

Sat 24 May 2014
A textural view
Explore collage and rubbings creating texture.
View the city through new eyes and create an imagined landscape of rock, castle, tenement and sky using a variety of textural techniques.

Sat 7 June 2014
An epic view
An experimental class looking at large scale ink and wash landscapes and cityscapes.
Enjoy the freedom of working in ink on a bigger scale, and experiment with mark making to create new views of your city.

Precious Fashion Memories

Jacqui Pestell led the last of the adult art workshops at Edinburgh City Art Centre, in line with their 2 fashion-themed exhibitions this summer. Her class was called Precious Fashion Memories – Pattern, Texture and Colour.

The idea behind this class was to produce a framed object that encapsulated memories of fashions in our past. Alternatively we could produce an object that was wholly inspired by the photos and paintings in the exhibitions. This is what I ended up doing after failing to find a way to express the fashion of my 90’s punk/grunge days.

Exploring both exhibitions, 3 items caught my interest – all from the Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast exhibition. The first 2 were:

  • One of David Bailey’s photos of Jean Shrimpton in his 1962 New York shoot for Vogue. I was familiar with the shot from watching the enjoyable and memorable BBC drama about this shoot, We’ll Take Manhattan. The photo can be seen as the last one on this page.
  • Constantin Joffé’s photo for American Vogue (September 1945) shown here. In the exhibition it headed up a section entitled The Golden Age, ’40s-’50s.

These are sketches I made at the time. They were done in pencil on white paper, but I’m showing them in negative here because I like the effect:

130907 sketches

The last piece that attracted me was this striking 1950 black and white cover of Vogue, of Jean Patchett taken by Irving Penn. I found the image to be quite timeless. It could be an image from the future – perhaps from many futures – as well as the past.

The photo epitomises Irving’s thoughtful arrangement of subject matter in artful compositions. In writing this blog I found that this particular cover had actually been used for his obituary in The Telelgraph when he died in 2009.

I was quite taken by this image and decided to spend the rest of the class working with it, and with the theme of timelessness and recurrence of ideas that occur to me when I look at the picture.

Jacqui supplied us with a 4.5cm deep, glass fronted frame (this one from Ikea) to decorate. I painted a version of Irving Penn’s photo with acrylic. I filled the frame with the plastic wrapping from two of the frames. Fortunately it was suggested to me that I leave the recycle logos intact.

My painting is so-so, but the wrapping and recycle logos capture the recurrence-of-ideas theme quite well. They imply re-use of previous fashions, ready to be unwrapped and made current again at any time. It is my first truly modern art piece that does something more than a traditional piece might. And it looks okay – it is still hanging on my wall 2 weeks after the class.


Shadows of Beauty – mixed media workshop

Last Saturday I attended the penultimate of the five art workshops I signed up for connected to the City Art Centre’s summer fashion theme. This one, Shadows of Beauty, a mixed media workshop, was run by Paula Flavell.

In this class we explored using alternative drawing techniques and materials. The class was about the process rather than the end result. I hope that you keep that in mind as you see photos of what I produced!


First up we removed one of our shoes and tried different ways to draw it:

130824 shoes

Going clockwise from bottom-left, these are the techniques Paula directed us to employ:

  • Blind. For this I drew without looking at the paper. I quite like the marks made because they capture the essence of the subject, and are quite unlike what I’d do if I were looking at my drawing.
  • Blind contour. As with the first drawing, I didn’t look at the paper. The difference here was that I kept the pencil on the paper at all times and drew the contours of the shoe, i.e. those lines between different materials/sections.
  • Contour. Like blind contour, but this time allowed to glance at the paper while following the contours. However, I was still meant to be looking at the shoe for the majority of the time while drawing. This was surprisingly tricky to do, on this first occasion at least.
  • Non-dominant hand. In my case, I drew this with my left hand. This version you see here actually includes further right-hand work because we were given the chance to work on the drawing we considered the worst of the 4.

This was an interesting exercise, especially to see how a blind sketch brought out key elements which my usual considered drawing would downplay or even miss. I should experiment with this more to see if it was just a one-off, or if it has merit elsewhere too.


Following that warm-up, we moved to the painting exhibition to sketch parts of paintings that caught our attention. I stuck with one painting: By the Bonnie Banks of Fordie (There were three maidens pu’d a flower) by Charles Hodge Mackie in 1897. I particularly liked the figure on the left – a girl stooping to pick a flower. I did a few sketches of her.

130824 sketch 1

For the following sketch, I started with a part-blind technique inspired by the earlier shoe drawing, by drawing lines with only occasional glances at the paper. Then I continued with loose marks to fill it out. I like how it compares to the above, more controlled picture.

130824 sketch 2 part-blind

For the final sketch I did a close-up to have something else to work from:

130824 sketch 3 close-up

We used these sketches as source images for the remainder of the day.


Still before lunch, back in the studio area we tried a technique of drawing with a needle or craft knife, and spreading crushed-up charcoal into the scratches/cuts.

I particularly like the result of my first attempt, where I smudged the charcoal more into the background of the girl:

130824 scratch 1 needle

I did two more attempts where I achieved a fuller shading by pressing a piece of charcoal covered paper over the scratched paper. For the second of these two, I used a craft knife to cut into the paper instead of scratching it with a needle. I prefer the effect produced with a needle.


130824 scratch 2 needle


130824 scratch 3 knife


Over the afternoon we played with make-up. We did lots of experimentation with a variety of make-up materials such as lipstick, mascara, eye-shadow, and other items like vaseline, in addition to more conventional painting media. We also had a selection of surfaces: card, tracing-paper, rice paper, sandpaper, coloured paper, transparencies, and so on. The subject of the experiments was the drawings we had made earlier.

To restate the start of this post: The class was about the process rather than the end result. The results below are not much to look at, but I’m grateful of the experience of going beyond the usual limits. For me, the stand-out discovery was the lovely effect of chalk on sandpaper. I also like the eye-shadow on card.

Lipstick and chalk on sandpaper:

130824 lipstick and chalk on sandpaper

Eye-shadow on card:

130824 eye shadow on card

Lipstick and mascara:

130824 lipstick and mascara

Lipstick on tracing paper:

130824 lipstick on tracing paper

Lipstick and chalk on black paper:

130824 lipstick and chalk on black

Eye-shadow on pink paper:

130824 eye shadow on pink paper

Eye-shadow on paper:

130824 eye shadow on paper

I tried out a lot of things in this workshop, and I’m sure I will repeat these types of experiments throughout my drawing life.

Elements of fashion – Still life

Last Saturday was the second class led by Tessa Asquith-Lamb at the City Art Centre of Edinburgh as part of this summer’s Condé Nast photography exhibition.

Tessa brought in a selection of fashion accessories for us to draw in the morning, and paint in the afternoon. Among all the items I chose an arrangement of a hat, scarf, and a pair shoes. A photo of the original items is shown at the end of this post.

For the pencil drawing, we started with a line drawing and then added more contrast and shading to capture the material textures. I did a little work at home to strengthen the the hat and shoes. This is the end result:

130817 drawing

In the afternoon we used acrylic to do some painting. I chose to paint my original choice of items so that I would be able to compare it with my pencil drawing.

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to take an acrylic course this autumn as I’ve been doing watercolour for a while, and had tried oil. Unfortunately there were no acrylic courses available in the council-run courses for the autumn, so I was very pleased that I could try acrylic in this class.

So, this is my first attempt with handling acrylic:

130817 acrylic

It was good practice spending time to draw the mixture of textures in this still life composition, and I’m glad to have got the chance to try acrylic. I’ve got some acrylic paints at home so I should try using them now. My thanks to Tessa for the class, and to the City Art Centre for running it.

These are the originals:

130817 source

Sur la tour Eiffel

This is the drawing I didn’t complete in the City Art Centre class I mentioned in my last post:

130805 before

I finished it off a couple of days ago:

130805 after

The source was a 1938 photo from Vogue that was taken by Erwin Blumenfeld. His subject, hanging from the Eiffel Tower, was Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn. The original photo can be seen here.

Lisa Fonssagrives’ skill at modelling would have been helped by her interest in art and sculpture, and also dance. She had her own dance school before modelling, and pursued sculpting afterwards. She featured on over 200 covers of Vogue, and is described as the first supermodel. Her Voguepedia entry has more info. Here are lots of photos of her.