catching up with the year: perthshire

Some more sketches from Scotland, this time in Perthshire. I stayed for some weeks in Dunning, about 10 miles from Perth. The village nestles against the north slopes of the Ochils with the mountainous highland line visible across the broad strath. The landscape is very varied and dotted with neolithic remains, standing stones, iron age hill-forts, Roman camps, ancient monasteries and castles. The capital of Pictland was at Forteviot, just a few miles distant. Dunsinane is prominent on the north-east horizon. There are also legends of a saint slaying a dragon.

I walked and walked in the rain, picking my way through mud and flood, through the dripping beech and oak forests, all with the resident sheepdog leading the way and sometimes the mad kitten. I was supposed to be looking after them, but it mostly felt like the other way round.

dragon house

dragon house, Dunning (watercolour)


fungus on treestump, dunnock hillfort (pen, ink, watercolour)


Pictish carved stone set in Norman arch under romanesque tower, St.Serf’s, Dunning (pen, ink, watercolour)


looking towards Dunisinane from Dunnock hillfort (pen, ink, watercolour)


St.Serf’s church and the village of Dunning, looking north towards the highland line (pen, ink, watercolour)

8 thoughts on “catching up with the year: perthshire

  1. these are really great sketches, Fiona. Where to start … I particularly liked the textures in the trees behind the church and the line drawings of houses without painted definition in the same sketch. Are the black line details in the one above done by brush or your conte crayon, drawing over the wash? tbe detail on the cross and the intensity of colour on the fungus are both very appealing to the eye. I am very impressed. I think I asked before, but can you remind me what you use as a skech book here? I do like the square format opening into a long rectangle. The paper surface looks fairly smooth – is that right?

    • Thanks, kestrel. I really appreciate your comments. I took a little more time over the church sketch than I usually do, so the textures are built up with a combination of watercolour washes allowed to dry under very crinkled cling-film, blotting out and running the whole lot under a small waterfall to lift some of the colour and inks. In all these sketches I did initial drawing with a fountain pen and water-soluble ink, wash, then worked in some more detail with the same pen after the watercolour washes; Lamy ‘safari’ fountain pen and lamy ink. I didn’t use any conte crayon in these sketches, but I did use a white wax crayon for resist and texture in a couple of them. The sketchbook is a square format from Seawhite of Brighton, and yes, it has quite a smooth paper surface. The paper is strong enough to take a bit of wet, scraping and punishment from the elements.

  2. Reminds me of my childhood driving north after a visit to Edinburgh. And the rain/Scotch mist, the fields and the hedges. There was a competition on who paid the lunch on which gate came first, the green or the…. forgotten the rest which just shows how long in the teeth I am. Thanks for th memory Fiona.

  3. It was a treat for me too to spend so much time ‘home’ this year. That sounds like a great game to while away the time. Now that I live in England we play pub cricket on long journeys… life’s too short to explain the rules, but a similar idea!

  4. Extraordinary sketches…more than sketches….I have no excuse now as I bought a new Seawhite book on Saturday! Anyway I like the passion in these pictures very much. Maybe the feeling is so strong because its your heartland?

    • Thanks, Clare. Yes, I spent time inhabiting the landscape before I started, so approached the sketching with more mindfulness I think. A lesson to be learned there. I’m sure your sketchbook will be exquisite, looking forward to seeing it.

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