Apologies for neglecting the blog, I relocated to Edinburgh to start a MSc in Psychology of Mental Health in Autumn last year and it's been a very fast-paced, jam-packed course so far so I've not been blogging. I have, nonetheless, still been keeping up my artistic practice as I don't think I'd be coping with university otherwise! Art is my calm-zone. 

The city is wonderful for sketching in as it's got a whole load of Georgian buildings in New Town, sprinklings of modern architecture, and, my favourite part, the Old Town. The sketch I'm showing in this post is from a super cool part of the Old Town. It's this curved, colourful, split-level street off the Grassmarket. This street was actually, I believe, to have been the inspiration for J.K. Rowling's Diagon Alley in her Harry Potter books. I did the sketch at the weekend from a photo I took during the week on a better day. The weather at the weekend was heavy rain, just like today's weather actually. It's wind and rain - the joys of being inside on a day like this! 

Anyway, this is one of my Saturday sketches. I'll try to post more regularly from now on but can't promise anything as the days, weeks, and months just got by here. And as clichéd as that sounds, they really do. 

Here's a photo I took of my painting on location once the rain had gone off! 

You can follow my artistic pursuits more regularly by looking for @HCRart on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook 


On the many days I’m not out and about travelling through Scotland in search of scenes and views to paint, I paint subjects nearer hand such as flowers and plants in the garden or trees from woodlands nearby. I also paint from the extensive collection of photos I’ve taken on previous trips. 

During this past week I created some rough sketches and layout for a piece of art I’ll be submitting to an art exhibition open call soon. The inspiration for that painting came from coins and yet the subject is actually flowers! I’ll explain more in another post, once that art is finished. (Currently waiting on an order of Bristol board to be delivered to create the final piece.) Anyway, another piece of art I did was a watercolour painting of a scene just south of the Spittal of Glenshee. 

I took a few photos and used them as reference photos for the rolling hills and fields that made up the subject of my painting. As I always, personally, enjoy seeing how other artists work - they’re process, stages and work in progress shots, I thought I’d create this post to show how my paintings start out and then how they end up, including the stages that come in between. 

A few years ago when I did art passionately but not so seriously, I’d spend ages trying to sketch out things perfectly in pencil, erasing plenty of lead as I did so, in my attempt to create the best possible initial image from which to start. This frequently (1) took a lot of time and (2) ruined the surface of the watercolour paper (you’ll know exactly what I mean if you’ve done it yourself!) Now, though, I only really ever sketch with waterproof, pigmented, fineliner pens of, usually, very small nib. This forces me to get it right the first time and if I make an error, I just have to go with it. After working in pen for a while, it’s amazing how much you can make what seems at first like an irreparable mistake into a completely insignificant part of your overall artwork. 

Here is my ink sketch for the landscape. I used a ‘XS’ Faber Castell art pen for this. I’m not too fussy about brands, though, I use Staedtler and Micron too frequently. 

After the initial outlines were created I started blocking in a couple of pale washes over the whole sheet then started to build layer upon layer once each wash dried. 

For the sky I used a small amount of scrunched up kitchen roll to take way some of the blue paint to leave ‘negative’ white clouds. Natural sponges also work well. The only problem with mine is that they are currently so well tidied away in my studio, I may have forgotten exactly where I tidied them too... Paper is also good to use if you accidentally put paint where you didn’t mean to or add colour and then realise it is far darker than you expected it to be; simply blot the wet paint away as quickly as possible. 

When building up the painting, I find its best to work with decreasing volumes of water for each layer to really help to bring out the vibrancy of the paints. This is in addition to reducing the size of brush as I go. I’ll use a really small ‘0000’ brush at the end for the finer details. 

For the record, the brush above isn't the tiny one, it's another brush I was using. I used 3 in total, that one, a medium sized flat brush and the tiny '0000' brush. 

think that’s about it for my process in painting this scene from near Glenshee. Here is the finished painting. 

Some tips for watercolour painting:

• Use small bits of kitchen roll or toilet paper to quickly soak up any stray paint on your painting 
• Don’t stress if you make a mistake, try and keep going 
• Keep the mixing water clean 
• Keep your palette closest to the area of painting on which you are working (this avoids paint dripping from a loaded brush before you reach the area you’re wanting to paint)
• To paint darker areas let the previously painted area dry completely

If you’ve enjoyed this post or would like to see more of my art in future, be sure to follow me on social media! You can find me on Twitter and Instagram if you search for @HCRart. 
You can also find me on FB:www.facebook.com/hcr.art



A couple of weekends ago, I had a wonderfully productive trip to Glenshee. I only visited Glenshee for the first time a couple of years ago despite the fact it is not too far from where I live. Yet, ever since my first visit I have been back a number of times and it never fails to impress me. It is so seasonally variant with the colours, textures, and scenes of the area transforming depending upon the time of year. Here are some summer scenes. 

And here is a snowy vista from earlier this year, around February, for contrast. 

This is my favourite view at Glenshee. You can see an acrylic painting I painted of this view last year if you look in the portfolio on my website (www.hcrart.com). 

I have many a photo taken there, some make up my inspiration board areas in my studio, but in this post I’ll mainly share with you the photos I took in June. I have intended doing watercolour sketching while there a few times but up until this last trip, I ended up not doing it; opting to stick with my fineliner pen sketches instead. 

It was great finally allowing myself to add colour while there. For me, as an artist, adding colour to paper is so much fun, I feel like a child discovering colour for the first time! The fact a watercolour pan can produce such wondrous colour with the addition of water gives me much pleasure and layering it on the paper with each brushstroke seeing a picture come to life is a great feeling! 

I decided to go up to Braemar first and then work my way back down the road painting scenes as I saw them. I usually work the other way around, but it is always good to switch things up and approach things from a fresh perspective. (Plus, Braemar had a shop for me to buy some lunch to eat in between paintings. Food is something often on my mind and it’s important to fuel my creativity with energy from tasty food!) The photo below is of the first scene I painted. It is a view up the valley in the direction of Braemar, not too far south of the village itself. All of my paintings were done using a Winsor & Newton travel watercolour set and Cass Art brushes though I forgot to take a large brush for the sky so that is why all the skies in my sketches are left blank - oops!  

During the painting of this second view (below) I was reminded of the challenges a glen can make when painting - the constantly changing shadows due to moving clouds and mountains of significant height! I tried to just apply the basic colours as quickly as possible to give some idea of the textures and hues of the landscape and I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome. 

While I was painting a wee fly decided he wanted to explore my paper landscape... But he quickly realised he didn't fit in and flew away!

This third painting was done a little further up the road and conveys another view facing down towards the Spittal of Glenshee. 

My final painting is of my aforementioned favourite view in Glenshee. As I arrived there and for the first little while of painting, the sun was in the perfect position to illluminate the vastness of the valley. It clouded over later but by that time I had added most of the colour.    
Here is the finished painting along with some of the work in progress photos to give you an idea of my artistic process. 

So, that was my little painting trip to Glenshee; I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of scenes from the journey. 

Also, I am busy this summer with getting paintings created, finished and sent to various exhibitions I’m participating in or hoping to participate in. If you’d like to keep up to date with details of these exhibitions, keep an eye on my social media pages:

Twitter: @HCRart
Facebook: /hcr.art
Instagram: @HCRart

Have a great day,

This post should have been written in December but you can have it now, albeit very late! 

These are a couple of photos from a train journey between Perth and Inverness. I was going up to Inverness to catch up with a university friend and to do some Christmas shopping. Where I live there was no snow, neither was there snow in Perth but not long out of Perth on the line northwards snow started falling thick and fast. It looked so wintery and created the atmosphere of a freshly shaken snow globe. 

It was great being able to take photos of the scenes from the comfort and warmth of the train carriage. Mountains are something which I absolutely love to paint. (I started at the beginning of 2015 and had been looking forward to winter snow scenes again. Check out some on my portfolio: www.hcrart.com.) It was not so fun when the train stopped a few times due to the line being blocked but I got to my destination eventually, if an hour later than planned! At least I was rewarded with the photos I took. The drama of the trip up wasn't finished when I arrived in Inverness though as my friend greeted me by saying she was glad I'd arrived there eventually but wasn't sure if I'd get back home as the station announcements board had on it that many trains South were cancelled due to a fallen tree on the line. Just what I wanted to hear (!) 

In case you're wondering, I did actually get home fine in the end. Never a dull day when traveling in snow! 

For more, feel free to follow me on Twitter: @HCRart
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HCR.art 
Instagram: @HCRart for my art or my new account @ScottishScenes devoted to the beautiful Scottish landscape 

Have a great day,
Get out in nature and go explore! 
I have often passed Kinnoull Hill as it is by the A90. The hill and other hill beside it, together part of the Kinnoull Hill Woodlands Park, tower above the busy road at one side, while the wide River Tay, borders the other side. Right at the top of Kinnoull Hill there is a tower modelled in the style of historic towers that projected from the landscape on hills by the River Rhine in Germany. The tower had always interested me and I have a habit of looking out for it whenever I pass it. It's never hard to find, protruding from the peak of the hill. 

This week I went to the woodland park and did one of the signposted walks. I chose the one going up to the aforementioned tower. At some point in the future though I would like to do the longer circuit walk round the two hills as there are apparently ruins of iron age fort at the top of the other hill and the historian in me is excited by that! (I have a degree in history.) 

The walk I did was a nice walk. A well-maintained path skirted around and them rose through the woods at a not too steep incline up to the top. There were lovely views at a few points and the view from the top didn't disappoint but it would have been nicer had the sun decided to shine! I'd have loved to have seem the blue of the sky reflected on the surface of the River Tay. 

Here are some of the photos I took. These are just a few from my phone, I haven't sorted the ones from my camera yet, but these give an idea of the surroundings there. 

View to the north. The Tay is looking quite silvery here! 

View to the south from the top. 

View to the north through one of the windows of the ruins at the top.  

Kinnoull Tower itself. It wasn't as tall as I'd expected but it is a fun thing to come across at the top of a hill. (Well, if, like me, you like old architecture / ruins I guess!)

It was too cold to sketch while there with it being forecast snow later on in the day but I am thinking of doing some  watercolour landscapes of the views from the top. 

In the meantime you can check out my Instagram account (@HCRart) if you're interested in seeing any of my most recent work. Woodland is what is inspiring my latest couple of pieces. 

I'm also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HCR.art and Twitter: @HCRart 

Have a great weekend, 

It's a New Year! Happy New Year! 
For many in Scotland the year unfortunately began with flooding. Where I live was not so badly affected but those in the surrounding areas were. There was a lot of high winds and heavy rain where I am for most of this first week of 2016. Yet, yesterday blue sky finally appeared overhead! I wanted to make the most of the sun being out and went for a 3 hour walk along the coast a few minutes walk from where I live. You can travel far from home in search of beauty, but you should never neglect the beauty on your doorstep. I took quite a few reference photos, including the ones I have posted below, for paintings. It was very, very cold but seeing the blue sky, sun, and white-frothed wave-filled sea after the stormy days before wasa most welcome view. 

I should probably note that all these photos are portrait because I only had my iPhone with me and it's memory was full so I could only take photos through a third party photo app. that only saves portrait photos. Frustrating but better than nothing! 

To see my paintings, visit my website: www.hcrart.com 

You can also follow my latest art on Twitter (@HCRart) and Instagram (@HCRart)

I'm also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HCR.art  

Have a great weekend! 

Helen x

Driving further north skirting right round the coast, the most famous beach in the area, Camusdarach, can be found. Now this is truly a hidden gem of a beach as you really have to be knowing what to look out for in order to find it successfully. The beach cannot be seen from the road. You first have to park in a small car park and walk through a couple of gates before following a narrow trail through the sand dunes until the coast unfolds before you. 

If the sun is out, like it was when I was there, it makes the sand a gorgeous bright sandy white. I'm pretty happy with it as you can see in the photo below!

The beach is partly sheltered by towering sand dunes and looks out across to islands off the coast which creates a lovely atmosphere. Quite a few films have used parts of this beach as filming locations and I could see why. 

I loved the fact there was a reflection like this on the beach. Rolling, rocky hills with sand and a reflection below. My favourite things all together. I'm majorly into reflections whether they be Lochs, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, puddles, wet paving... You get the picture, I'm sure! 

The beach stretches for quite a distance along the coast but it depends on the tide. On the day I was there you can see that further down the beach was inaccessible due to the tide being too far in. 

Despite the sun, the wind counteracted quite a bit of it's warmth so it wasn't ideal for sketching outdoors. It didn't stop me doing a quick sketch though and then had a nice windswept walk along the beach to warm me up! 

When the clouds started to smother the sun, I left the beach and headed back along the trail through the sand dunes to the car park. 

The next beach I stopped at was completely in the shade and really cold cause of that so I didn't stop long enough to sketch. Here's a few photos of the beach anyway. 

The area is called The White Sands of Morar and on a sunnier day the sands would be true to their name. Even on this day, though, you can see the sand is completely different to East Coast Scottish beaches. After going that far up the coast, there was one final stop I wished to make before heading back in the direction I'd come to check in to the guest house I'd booked for the night

That final stop was Malliag, the harbour of which you can see below. Arrived with perfect timing as the clouds had cleared and the sun was once again visible. Look at the depths of blue in the sky, incredible natural beauty, isn't it?! 

Malliag is the end of both the road and railway north through that part of Scotland. The way to get further north from there is by means of the sea, hence the many boats in the harbour. From there you can get to the Small Isles, the Southern part of the Isle of Skye, and from there to the Western Isles such as Harris. Harris has some magnificent beaches I would very much like to visit someday. Although Malliag is a small town, it has most services - places to eat, post office, B&Bs and guest houses, a couple of hotels, petrol station, banks, public transport links, gift shops, a supermarket, book shop, and also an art gallery - always a plus in my book, unsurprisingly. 

H x 

Connect with me on Twitter: @HCRart

Don't have Twitter? No problem, here are my other social media profiles: 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HCR.art 
Instagram: www.instagram.com/hcrart 
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