Sketching at St Giles Cathedral

Back in April I was very pleased to meet up with another 3 OCA students for some sketching, at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. Sketching in public is a scary thing, and something I’ve only rarely done, but this was so worthwhile. For a start, it was lovely to be out with the other students, finding out about their experiences. St Giles was a brilliant venue for sketching – beautiful surroundings, peaceful, lots of subject matter, and i soon lost most of my self-consciousness. And of course, chairs to sit on. Ideal!

However, I’d not been doing much sketching so my first attempt was tentative, slow and stunted – using a pen I sketched a column and arch, then used a waterpen and watercolour pencil for some shading. Not a great start:

The next was better – or at least easier  –  I found a figure in a stained glass window and drew him – I’m generally much better at this kind of thing (apart from that terrible right hand!), but then it is easier because it’s flat – the original artist had done all the hard work! Made me feel better though!

At lunch I got to see the others’ work – all wonderful, really inspirational, although they also had very kind words for my work too. I was inspired to work more loosely, and after lunch found a statue of John Knox to work from – much better this time  although only a quick sketch:

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the rest of the day, but really enjoyed this exercise. I only wish I had time to do more!

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2 responses to “Sketching at St Giles Cathedral

  1. great sketches.. sounds like a great day, and what an inspiring place to sketch in. Your John Knox captures the statue perfectly. I always give him a pat on the head when I visit Edinburgh, the statue makes him look so short.. (and to chastise him for his comment on the ‘monstrous regiment of women’!)

  2. A tip I picked up from somewhere, if you feel uncomfortable about sketching in public, is to sit with your back to something solid, like a wall. That way, no one can come up and look over your shoulder. It takes a lot more nerve or nosiness to come close then to see your work – and of the few people who will do that, it’s been worth it in my experience for the nice conversations I’ve had. I started off like that and have now lost 99% of the fears and inhibition! But I think that’s happened because I’ve had such wonderful conversations with people who’re really interested in what you’re doing – and the compliments on very ordinary drawings have always been super-encouraging. Overall, I’m amazed at the respect you get for what you’re doing – makes you realise what people actually feel about art.

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