August is the month when I like to complete unfinished work or perk up drawings or paintings that I think are just missing something.
I’ve had four framed drawings of Lanark townscape packed away but during a recent sort I brought them back into my studio.
I really enjoyed putting these compositions together. I had only planned on doing the one at first, but there are so many interesting details in Lanark’s townscape that I ended up with four different layouts including New Lanark.
The thing that bothered me about these drawings was that they were locked into lockdown time when windows were decorated with rainbows in support of key workers. The images captured an expression of hope at that time but right now I want to look forwards.
All four images have been scanned at a high resolution and I have these on the record so I decided to take the paintings out of their own lockdown. I removed them from their frames and decided to free the rainbow colours from the windows and move the colour elsewhere on the drawings.
I’ve been looking at ways to take my street drawings in a new direction and I’ve really enjoyed searching out architectural elements and details and forming these compositions.
I wrote a post about this change in work here when I responded to the call for entries to enter a local art competition here in Lanark.
Back to the task in hand. Having taken the artwork out of the frames I began by lifting off the rainbows (gouache paint so water soluble) and reinstate the dark blue and build up contrasts.
Looking at each painting in turn, I gradually introduced a range of blues. The colour pops of reds, oranges and yellows brought the warm spectrum colours out into the streetscape.
I worked on these during our recent hot spell so I went for that sun-drenched, blue-skies and flaming chimneys look!
Here they are, back in their frames, refreshed and revitalised!
The artwork and cards are all available to buy and shown together here on my main website.
Over the course of a week, there have been two back-to-back celebrations here in Lanark. The Platinum Jubilee has led straight into Lanimer Day 2022.
I thought it was timely to share a few sketches of Lanark to mark this lively time of year and I have to include the parts of the town that appeal to me most – the roofscapes, windows, chimneys, towers and eaves…..and the colourful bunting that makes it all feel like summer is here at last, even with grey skies!
Many years ago Lanark had four town gates: West Port, East Port, Wellgate and Castlegate. There’s no sign of the gate that once stood at West Port – it’s long gone, demolished sometime in the late 1700’s, but the name remains.
West Port, Lanark is the sixth in my series of street drawings of this Royal Burgh. Here’s a clip from the part of the street where it meets Friar’s Lane.
My street drawings are flat-faced elevations – it keeps things simple and allows me to relate cleanly from one building to another in a way that can be read with ease in future. It shows the relationships of eaves and rooflines, heights and widths of properties and the general fall of the ground. It also gives clues as to what might lie beyond – take for example the chimney stacks. Here you can see the lines of stacks but no idea of the extent of their scale….
Let’s take a closer look at the stacks that sit on this early 19th century part of the street. I’ve recently drawn a series of sketches of the town for #inktober – looking at some of the less familiar views. Here though, this is a view you will see as you head out south from the town.
Look at these rows of chimney pots! Each one will service a fireplace somewhere inside these buildings.
Below is a close up of the West Port B&B which is one of the Instagram #inktober series (you can look these up on my Instagram page @drawingthestreet). The original is now framed and on sale in the Tolbooth, Lanark.
Moving along the street, let’s look at these two fine early 19th C buildings. The one on the left listed grade C, the one on the right grade B.
Moving along West Port, we move poetically from Mucky Paws to the Police Station…
The last part of this section of the street drawing is shown below.
Here’s the whole street drawing – from Friar’s Lane to number 43 West Port. You can see the drawing in more detail on my website drawing the street along with the other Lanark streets in this series including the High Street, Bloomgate, Broomgate and Wellgate.
As I write (9th Dec 2021), there’s one limited edition print, 104cm x 36cm, signed, framed and ready to hang on your wall, available from the Tolbooth Lanark. There are over 40 artists displaying their work there at the moment, so if you can’t see it on the wall, it may be awaiting its turn! Please ask at the Tolbooth reception or just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll sign off with the final framed original of West Port from the #inktober series which is also available to buy from the Tolbooth, Lanark.
Thanks for reading
Framed original artwork of West port now available to buy from the Tolbooth, Lanark.
There’s a node of activity surrounding St Nicholas Church and the Tolbooth, Lanark. The ancient Castlegate converges with the High Street nearby and it’s easy to miss the history when you are concentrating on the traffic. Castlegate is one of the town’s oldest streets as it once led to the castle, the heart and origin of what was to become the Royal Burgh of Lanark.
If you glance down Castlegate from the High Street you should catch sight of the wee Girnin’ Dug – looking down from his parapet above Castlegate.
If the Wee Dug was alive today, I’ve no doubt he’d make his way to the Wee Mans below for conviviality and snacks!
Castlegate was originally a very wide street when it was once the location of the early medieval markets. However, it reduced in size when the Broomgate was constructed in the 18th century.
This October, I joined the Instagram #inktober2021 challenge to draw daily in ink throughout the month. There were various given themes but I chose to draw some of the less familiar views of Lanark.
There are a few of older cottages on the Castlegate which remain from the 18th century – I don’t know for sure but these below look similar to the old weavers cottages dotted around the town.
All the original drawings and some prints are now available to buy from the Tolbooth, Lanark where every purchase made contributes to the upkeep and future growth of this town treasure!
At present the Tolbooth is hosting the creative works of some 40 artists in South Lanarkshire, from fine art original paintings to hand-made, palm sized gifts, perfect to post abroad or to put on your tree – a feast to behold and a fantastic destination for Christmas gifts!
It’s easy to miss but if you look up at the front of the building where Bernard’s Wynd meets South Vennel, you’ll see a carved stone stating ‘Trafalgar Place’.
I only spotted this when I recently began a series of small sketches of Lanark to mark the month long Instagram drawing festival that is #inktober.
I hadn’t twigged that there were official prompts for the Inktober drawing themes! I simply began my own theme of drawing the views of Lanark that had caught my imagination – there are so many details that I want to pause a moment over by making a sketch.
Back to the name ‘Trafalgar Place’ on this street sign. The name doesn’t show up on the National Library of Scotland map of Lanark 1847-95 South Vennel. The photo below is a screenshot from the maps.nls.uk website, link above.
I did a search for ‘Trafalgar Place Lanark’ and came up with the ancestry website which records ‘Thomas Marshall Braidwood, born Trafalgar Place, Lanark, 1883-01-06, died 1967’. Braidwood is just up the road from us so a local Lanark connection. Thomas’s parents were Adam Braidwood (born in Douglas 1855) and his mother was Jane Marshall.
I find it interesting to look into the meaning of the names too so I looked up:
‘TRAFALGAR‘ this word is derived from ‘Cape in southwestern Spain, from Arabic taraf-al-garb “end of the west,” or taraf-agarr “end of the column” (in reference to the pillars of Hercules). The British naval victory over the French there was fought Oct. 21, 1805; hence London’s Trafalgar Square, named in commemoration of it.‘
Here’s the corner of the building where it meets Bernard’s Wynd. On the map at that time it was called St Bernard’s Wynd.
Perhaps there are Braidwood families that can research further into the history of this building but that is as far as I got…days are short and I want to catch a daily sketch.
I will sign off with another view from South Vennel – here we see the rooftops of the old Lanark Grammar School on Wellgatehead.
If you would like to see my drawings unfold each day this month, I am posting them on Instagram @drawingthestreet. I will post a few of them as I go along over here too.
A recent post by Tolbooth Arts has prompted me to look a little further into the history of this significant Lanark landmark. It sits at the bottom of the High Street with the Provost’s lamp (from the 1890’s) standing outside. The lamp is a relatively recent feature in it’s history – the third of the Tolbooth buildings to have existed on this site since the early 1400’s.
Lanark is one of Scotland’s oldest Burghs and back in the 12th century it was a favoured hunting ground for the Kings of Scotland. Over the years, the town has been a creative hotspot for shoes, gloves, saddlery, weaving, oil, and knitwear whilst the Lanark markets traded in livestock and agricultural implements. A walk through the Closes of Lanark give a great insight into the layers of history woven into the town.
The Town Council would have had a Council Chamber – a ‘Tolbooth’ in which to hold their meetings and to serve as a base for their officials, the treasurer and town officer. The Tolbooth served as a point for collection of customs or charges imposed on all goods brought in to the town for market. The ‘Customer’ or ‘Tacksman’ based here had control of the weights and the ‘Tron’ or public weighing machine located nearby.
The first building referred to in Lanark records was located approximately on this site and is thought to have been built around 1400. By 1571 it was in a ruinous condition and was replaced by a building which survived until 1778 but the Council didn’t have the funds to repair it.
However, this was when the “Gentlemen of the County” stepped in and offered to pay for erecting a new building entirely at their expense with the one condition that they were allowed to use the Upper Hall as a gathering place. This is the Tolbooth building that exists at present.
There is plenty more on the history of the Tolbooth on the Discover Lanark website and on the Canmore website.
In 2017 The Tolbooth Trustees embarked on the redesign of the ground floor unlocking the buildings potential as a gallery, heritage centre and arts hub open daily manned by a dedicated group of volunteers. For the past few years that I have been living near Lanark, the Tolbooth has indeed been a creative hub and I’ve been delighted to have participated in several exhibitions with many happy hours spent sketching inside and out – a few examples follow:
The Tolbooth Christmas shop has been a growing success over the past few years and artists are well underway preparing new work for this year’s stock, myself included.
Look out for the next exhibition – ‘Clyde Valley – Garden of Scotland’ coming very soon to the Tolbooth – more on that in the next post!
In the meantime, I will sign off with this drawing of the Tolbooth Lanark. It will be in the Christmas shop from November, or get it touch with me or a volunteer at the Tolbooth. Price is £225 framed (20 x 17in) which includes a commission towards the upkeep of this fantastic community hub.
Now is that a ‘wind up’ as in a coiled spring or a ‘wind up’ – as in your sails? With all the subtleties of the English language it’s easy to to get confused but here a ‘Wynd’ has yet another meaning – a narrow passageway or a Close as they are called here in Lanark.
Bernard’s Wynd is one of Lanark’s twelve Closes which map the course of the town’s circulation between the High Street and the surrounding streetscape. Back in 1777, it was declared a common passage to the South Vennel. From the High Street, (south side) all that you see is this narrow entrance.
Located between the Horse and Jockey and Hays Travel – you will see that the entrance is set back – revealing a small slice of the old building which marks the line of the earlier street frontage and one of the locations that William Wallace lived in during the 13th Century.
If you look around the back and look up, you can see medieval window arches within the masonry, which thanks to Kirsten giving me a timely nudge, I’ve since been included on this drawing!
Bernard’s Wynd once led to the factory of Bernard Bell, principal shoemaker in the Royal Burgh. It was during the 17th and 18th centuries that Lanark’s biggest and richest craft was shoemaking – helping to meet the demand for stout footwear in Glasgow.
When I began planning this exhibition, I was going to work on A4 size boards but this format wasn’t ideal to capture the feeling of being enclosed in a narrow space. It was time to rethink.
The proportion 2:3 was a better fit to express the narrowness of these Closes and to include some of the details that remain as clues to the past, like the fragments of window arches.
I wanted to simplify the work to highlight the Close itself – they have been fitted with new lighting to invite movement through them in safety – they are such important aspects of the town’s history and newcomers to the town may not realise their significance.
Back to work in progress. There are a few tips to help guide yourself along – one of which is to hold the image up in a mirror and view it in reverse, or to stand back and view it from a distance but a great tip is to flip the image into black and white to check the tonal composition is balanced.
As I sign off, I’m really happy to know that all the artwork prepared by Kirsten and myself is now framed and ready to hang over the weekend ready for open doors on Monday 26th April 2021.
‘Close Encounters’ is on at the Tolbooth Lanark until 8th May. All very welcome – please wear a face covering and keep to social distancing – thank you, and thanks as always for reading.
The Closes of Lanark remind me of the ‘Snickelways’ of York. ‘Snickelway‘ is a word conjured up by Mark W. Jones in his 1983 book ‘A Walk Around the Snickelways of York‘ and it weaves together the words snicket, meaning a passageway between walls or fences, ginnel, a narrow passageway between or through buildings, and alleyway, a narrow street or lane’.
York has many of these pathways, mostly medieval and often with unusual names such as Mad Alice Lane and Finkle Street. Lanark too has twelve remaining ancient pathways called ‘Closes’, hiding in plain sight along both sides of the High Street.
Wide Close, Duncan’s Close and Hunter’s Close show up on my drawing of 1-51 High Street (shown in full here).
The Closes map rich histories with their narrow footprint, architectural fragments and tiny details such as this doorbell in Shirley’s Close.
The Closes have recently been part of a project by Discover Lanark to make them safer, brighter and more welcoming and the latest stage in this project has been to install a series of information panels highlighting the history of each Close.
Kirsten Harris has brought layers of Lanark’s history to life with her wonderful artwork which fires up the imagination with the stories held deep within each of the Closes. You can read more about Kirsten’s creative process with the panel artwork here.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on ‘the backs’ – the parts of the Closes where clues remain to remind us of what’s been before as part of ‘Close Encounters’, an upcoming exhibition at The Tolbooth, featuring the history of Lanark’s Closes as well as the framed originals of Kirsten’s Closes artwork.
Kirsten recently posed a question: ‘Has Covid changed your artwork?’ This was such a rich question that I’m still reflecting on the answer but this project shows me that it has definitely changed my work.
Previously I would have reached for my fine-line mapping pen but this time, I went for a broad brush to paint lots of yellows and golds to reflect my need for brightness and light after a Covid winter. I drew with the ink dropper straight onto the prepared surface with a feeling of urgency and that to hesitate is a not an option.
For this series of twelve rear views of the Closes, I had a strong idea from the outset and did a rough concept sketch below. A bright optimistic background as foundation with grimy and colourful history overlaid, keeping a narrow strip of light to draw your eye into the close.
I chose a tall, thin 2:3 format to reflect the vertical feel of the Closes – to walk along them you can almost feel the stones close in as you pass through centuries of witnessing walls.
With the composition sketched out I then added ink washes of Payne’s Grey on top of the prepared surface to give an underpainting toned with yellows and greens – the colours of April.
The next part was me having fun working in some gorgeous rich pastel colours (by Unison), responding to the tones beneath and keeping in mind the title of the exhibition ‘Close Encounters’. Passing through these narrow Closes can be a little intimidating on a dark dreich day, but they are far from dead ends and it’s worth looking up.
It’s a great help to check that there’s a good balance of tones by taking a black and white photos as you go along.
Finally, it’s always good to take a step back and the bench outside the back door is a great place for an overview. More about the Closes next time. As always, thanks for reading.
It’s a great feeling stepping back into the Tolbooth, Lanark and greeting old friends at last. Even better to see the walls vibrant with colourful work by local artists as the exhibition ‘Over the Rainbow‘ gets underway.
The exhibition is running from 17th July to Saturday 8th August 2020 and shows the results of the creative competition launched by both the Tolbooth Lanark and the Lanark Community Development Trust ‘to bring colour and joy to the lives of local people during lockdown’.
The range of entries includes paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and ceramics. There were three categories:
Junior category: all entrants receive an art set.
Amateur Artist: winner Judith Wilson (see photo above)
Here’s the winning entry – it looks familiar! I wrote a little about this in an earlier blog post here. I’m delighted to say that the artwork ‘Finial, Spires and Chimneys’ will go on sale in a silent auction and all proceeds will go towards a charity of the artist’s choice – I’m very happy to say that Scottish Wildlife Trust will be the beneficiary – looking after our natural world is something important to us all. Here’s the link to the Tolbooth where you can place a bid by message.
I know that quite a few readers live a long way from Lanark so here are a few photos to show you around the exhibition.
I’d love to promote all the artists on show here, but I didn’t take a note of all the names. However, there are a few artists that I know and I will share their web details so you can look up their work.
All these works were produced during the peak of lockdown and each one is a tribute to the effort that went into producing the work. There are many more artists that didn’t manage to enter the competition – we were all thrown into different situations and some had too much on their plate to even think about lifting a brush….
Veronica Liddell is an established professional artist based in Corra Linn Studio, New Lanark. Her delightful artwork (top left) is titled ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ and proceeds will be donated to the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Next along is another firm favourite by Richard Price – artist and ceramicist working in Thankerton. The two following examples are beautifully evocative pieces which express lockdown with clarity and poise: the drawing ‘Carrying Hope’ and the ceramic ‘Burden of Hope’.
Now for another Mr Price…this one is by Nathan, studying at Dundee Art School. If I was Richard I would be very proud of him! If I was Nathan I would be feeling quite pleased with myself. The photo is nowhere near as good as standing directly in front of this colourful creation.
Here we have a wonderful lighthearted line up of Scottish Coos! These are painted by the talented Rosie Mark living just down the road from me in Crossford. Rosie excels in animal portraiture although I know she is pretty good at people portraits too.
Now we have the ethereal work of Evelyn McKewan. Evelyn’s work feels like a breath of fresh air. She has also agreed to include it in the silent auction in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. If you see any of these works and want to place a bid – just head over to the Tolbooth page and message them.
Kirsten Harris is an established artist whose work has a richly symbolic meaning. Her work features her passion for wildlife, horses and birds – check out her website for the breadth of her talent. I love her work in pen and ink – this entry is titled ‘Nineteen Corvid’s’ and proceeds will be donated to the Tolbooth.
Just to wrap this post up with a few more images – not very well focused but just a flavour of the variety on display.
Look out for the next Tolbooth exhibition which will follow this one: Coasts and Rivers.
Today, Thursday 11th June 2020, would have been Lanimer Day, a celebration and a week-long town party that has taken place in Lanark since 1892. You can read more about the history of the activities on the Lanark Lanimers website. It’s a rare day in early June that the streets of Lanark are not filled with one of the UK’s largest processions for the crowning of the Lanimer Queen and many other ceremonial activities to celebrate the Royal Burgh.
I’ve hardly been into Lanark these last 12 weeks of lockdown so urban sketching has been replaced by orchard sketching (more on than another time) but I didn’t want the day to pass without acknowledging this significant week or without giving some acknowledgement to a few of the traders who show up in my sketches and who must also be finding it challenging to adapt and keep going.
These are simply some examples from my 2019 sketch book where I can show a small taster of the work that goes on in Lanark by others. Let’s start with some of the work by a Scottish potter Richard Price. This one’s for my Stokie Pals; I can’t help but admire potters wherever they are!
If there is work going on then there has to be a rest in between. Ernie, Tom and Millie sketched whilst on duty during the Tolbooth Christmas exhibition.
Included in the exhibition was a wonderful example of a Yorkshire Ewe by the animal portrait artist Rosie Mark who also works here in the Clyde Valley.
Looking outside the Tolbooth window, the pigeons settle down to roost on the chimney stacks.
Now for someone we all miss – our hairstylists! This is Heather at Nelson’s Hair Salon, which is being redecorated in anticipation of opening sometime soon.
Something else that I miss: being part of an audience at a music event such as this one held at Scottish Wildlife Trust visitor centre, New Lanark.
Finally I’d like to include an acknowledgement of the work put in by Ian Wilson Leitch and the Tolbooth volunteers and Kirsten Harris who all worked tirelessly on behalf of so many artists and creators to set up this shared exhibition open to all working in the area. You did a great job!
Here’s hoping that the pandemic recedes and that we can all pick up some of our most treasure threads of our daily lives with renewed enthusiasm.