Drawing away from the cold

December afternoon, Glen Etive', Graphite pencil & white pastel, 50cm (w) x 70cm (h)

December afternoon, Glen Etive', Graphite pencil & white pastel

For the last few days now it’s been getting progressively colder here in Irvine.  The night time frost has been lasting all day and building up in a thick layer everywhere, making it look more like a light covering of snow.  The River Irvine has been frozen again and even down at the harbour side where the river is tidal and brackish, the ice is forming along the edge in a band several metres wide.  When it’s like this you get wonderful creaking and cracking sounds as the tide flows in or out beneath the ice.

This morning as I walked to the studio it was quite beautiful, everything shrouded in freezing fog, the frost covering everything and the sound of the ice gently moving with the water.  On top of this were the shrill calls of a huge flock of what I think are Widgeon. They arrived a few weeks ago and seem to be staying for the winter.  I can just make them out through my monocular and I guess there must be 100 – 150 of them.  Several Curlews were calling from the saltings on the other side of the river and this made the scene even more special …..what a wonderful place to come to work.

The trouble was, that when I got to the studio, all the pipes where frozen up.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I had a full size kettle to store some water in as the Harbour Arts Centre is just two doors away down the street and several of my colleagues were getting water from there …and of course using the facilities!  In my studio though I only have one of these tiny one cup travel kettles and even in warm weather I like to have a constant stream of coffee when I’m working …to have to keep walking to and fro between the studio and the HAC seemed a bit much and so after an hour I decided to retreat home and get on with some drawing there.

As it turns out this is not so much of a disaster.  I’ve wanted to try and get several pencil drawings done for the show at Strathearn and to be honest have been putting it off while at the studio …preferring instead to paint.  On the odd occasion I do settle down to working with a pencil I generally find I enjoy it …its certainly different from my usual work and so once in a while makes a nice change.  It’s just a case of getting started.  So then, the frozen pipes and my lack of a decent size kettle forced me home and I’ve spent an enjoyable afternoon starting this new drawing.  The last drawing I did in pencil took me a full eight hours of painstaking work …I have to peer through a magnifier to see the point of the pencil and the line ….and then as soon as I stand back it nearly all disappears!  I must be mad.  Anyway, I’ve a long way to go with this piece and may carry on with it at home tomorrow.

118, 'Assynt sky-line', Pencil, 46cm (w) x 36cm (h)

'Assynt sky-line'

Of course ….I’ve just looked outside and the frost has all melted, the wind is blowing and no doubt the pipes at the studio will at this very moment, be defrosting ….lets just hope we have no broken pipes.  Thankfully as far as I know there are no pipes running through the loft space above my studio and so even if there is a break, I should be saved a flood …it’s a worry though and it does make me wonder whether when all that money was spent on refurbishing the buildings last summer …they forgot to lag the pipes.  This is the second time this has happened this winter and it’s still not Christmas!

Right, well, as a reminder of the type of pencil / graphite drawings I’ve done in the past, I’ll include a couple of images with this blog.  Hopefully by Saturday I’ll have a new drawing to show you.

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