My 2020 Top Ten Sketches

In December the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotsman papers ran my top ten sketches of 2020

2020 is a year that most may want to forget. It is also one that we should remember when many of us took time to reflect, to stop and slow down a bit. For me, looking back through this years sketches brings back happy memories of family time and finding new ways to make my art and connect with people. 

Below are my personal favourites from the past twelve months and I look forward to sharing my sketches in 2021, hopefully with more crowds and live events. Keep playing the WhereArtI quiz every Monday on my website and in the printed Edinburgh Evening News. Thank you for your continued support. Mark, ES

1. Meadows Blossom

The year started so innocently, I was full of enthusiasm for a fresh start and trying new ways to make art, and this watercolour of the Meadows blossom was an experiment in not using the black ink as usual, instead light pencil and watercolour. 

2. Just To Say gift cards

And then, due to the Covid 19 outbreak, we went into lockdown early in March. At first I wondered what to do and how to continue my artwork from home. I thought a lot about how people couldn’t see each other anymore and wanted a way to help people connect with each other through art. I created individualised hand painted gift cards with personal messages on them. 

They were very popular and by giving a percentage to the NHS Covid fund I was able to donate over £350 and also keep myself busy through those early days. 

3. Lockdown Bedroom / Office

As lockdown continued I sketched from my house, capturing homeschooling and our daily walks, regular life which I could share to show how most of us were going through a similar experience. I know many people related to this sketch of my bedroom/office. 

4. Empty Princes Street

Once we could take longer daily walks I ventured into the city centre and it was amazing to see how empty the streets were. With all the shops closed and the buses not running this was the scene on Princes Street. 

5. NHS Rainbow Windows

For my family one of the highlights of our daily walks around our area was seeing the colourful and creative rainbow windows people were displaying in the houses. They were great to spot and also a reminder of how the community was going through this pandemic together. 

6. Zoom Workshops

Like many people I hadn’t heard of Zoom before 2020, but during lockdown I used it for home schooling and also for a new venture with fellow artist Cassandra Harrison. Together we started a fortnightly online art workshop where people can join in and draw together from anywhere in the world, so long as they had connection to the internet. It has been a learning curve but great to be in touch and drawing together again. This sketch is of the Usher Hall, drawn from a photograph using charcoal. 

7. Festival Cancelled

For the first time in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s seven-decade history there was of course no Fringe program in August. Knowing how busy and full of life the Royal Mile usually is at that time it was so strange to see it deserted. This watercolour captured the sombre mood as well as a passer by wearing a face mask, which at the time were still quite rare. 

8. Water of Leith

During the lockdown my outdoor sketching was practically non existent, with no sketching workshops to run or live events to cover it was hard not having that outlet. This sketch from the Water of Leith near Stockbridge was one of my first where I could just relax, take my time and capture the views in front of me again. It was great to be back!

9. Support A Business Sketch 

As the shops started to reopen in Edinburgh, I started visiting the few independent gift shops that sell my city merchandise. It was a pretty grim tale as although most were glad to be open again and able to sell, customers were still uneasy about returning to shopping on the high street and so business was slow for many.

I thought I could support local independent businesses by sketching their shop fronts and sharing them through my social media to highlight the need for support through the local community in order to survive. I continue to do this using the hashtag #supportasmallbusinesssketch

10. Leith Theatre

Another industry heavily affected by the lockdown is the theatre and events industry.I was recently commissioned to spend a few days sketching Leith Theatre, which is currently empty and falling into disrepair. I spent a couple of days capturing both the inside and out of this beautiful venue. This watecolour was drawn in the main hall. 

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