Sunshine on Grantown

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With the glorious sunshine shining down on the town, we were to have the chance to get onto the roof of Grantown Grammar (after the appropriate risk assessment and trip hazard warnings!) on Wednesday night.

A small group braved the stiff breeze and enjoyed lovely views of the Cairngorms and the Cromdales – as well as an exercise class, tennis players and football training. The atmosphere was even topped off by the skirl of pipes!


Sketchbooks ready?

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Well, that’s the excitement of the exhibition over for another year. It was a fantastic show and excellent contribution from everyone -whether you submitted a work, took part in the organisation or manned the display.

But now we’re back to work…

Angus is plannig to guide us through still life, starting with drawing some of the weird and wonderful objects you find in a school art department. He’ll set a few drawing exercises to get us in the mood.

So come armed with a sketchbook and a pencil or two!

Fancy learning something new?

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The latest list of courses offered by the Cairngorms Learning Partnership has been released.

On the schedule is French, outdoor painting, landscape photography and life drawing. Even if you’re just looking for inspiration, perhaps the birdsong course is the one for you!

And our very own tutor, Angus Grant is doing another silversmithing course.

Better quick to book your place! Get more information on the CLP website.

May - JuneComposite

Art classes in Badenoch and Strathspey

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The Cairngorms by Angus Grant

Our counterparts down the valley – the Society of Badenoch and Strathspey Artists – have a few arty workshops on offer in the next few months.

The first is ‘Object and Memory’ led by Eleanor White, of Bridge House Art, Ullapool. It will explore everyday objects and consider the stories that they tell. This course, costing £75, runs over two days:

  • Friday April 22 – 7pm-9pm, and
  • Saturday April 23 – 10am-4pm

Get more information by clicking here.

The second is ‘Painting on Location’ with local artist Dan Cottam. He will teach a number of techniques for oil and acrylics landscape painting. This class will take place on May 7 at Loch Insh Watersports from 10am-4pm.Price – £55. Get more by clicking here.

And the third, which is also taught by Dan, is a life drawing class at the Iona Gallery. You’ll learn how to draw the human form, including lessons on composition and proportion. Get more information on the course by clicking here.

They’re being organised through the Cairngorms Learning Partnership. Even if you don’t fancy these ones, the CLP has a range of crafty workshops, all taught by local experts. Even our very own tutor, Angus Grant, is taking part. He’s teaching a felt-making workshop on March 19.

The Old Spey Bridge Challenge

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This week Angus challenged everyone to pick their favourite media and work from the same source. He chose the Old Spey Bridge at Grantown and provided a number of different views. Some showed the whole bridge, some just a section, while one photo even had ivy obscuring the structure almost entirely.

A busy class took to the task with gusto and there was huge variation in approach. Among the media on the go was pencil, pastel, acrylic, collage – two members even got their lino-cutting tools out. We’re looking forward to seeing how their prints turn out.

In an extra twist, at coffee break time everyone had a wonder round the room to look at other’s work. Then Angus opened up a discussion where people had to say a little bit about an element of someone’s work that they liked and how they thought it could improve their own piece. Despite a bit of embarrassment in having to speak out loud (it was like being back in school), everyone had some inciteful things to say. Many admired the freedom which people brought to their painting, while some wanted to emulate the tight detailed brickwork achieved in other works.



Telling a story through painting and drawing

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coloured pencils

This week Angus showed us a technique to create a narrative painting, with a bit of a coloured pencil lesson thrown in.

Narrative painting tells a story. Angus illustrated this with some famous – but complex examples.

One is Pieter Bruegel, a Dutch artist whose works include Netherlandish Proverbs, a sprawling work that features images representing 116 proverbs.

A second example is Hieronymous Bosch. Among his works is The Garden of Earthly Delights , a triptych that is rich with symbolism.

Angus also talked about the work of Martin Handford, who created the Where’s Wally books – a more modern version of a narrative artwork.

After a few minutes trying to find Wally, Angus showed us an easy technique to start creating our own detailed masterpiece.

First we made a number of different drawings around a theme. Then we traced them all onto a larger piece of paper, arranging and overlapping them to create a frieze-style picture.

Finally we were able to add colour using coloured pencil. An effective technique was using white pencil to mask off areas that we wished to remain white. This was useful for creating dots and patterns. (We also used this technique when learning about watercolour pencils)

Angus’s example centred around ‘The art room is a strange place…’.




Can you spot yours?

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Lots of excitement on the first day of the new term. We got to see the new laser cutter, which was purchased by friends of the school at Revack Estate. This fantastic machine can cut and engrave wood and other material.DSC_3544

After a demonstration from Angus, he set us on making a simple black and white drawing that could be turned into coasters. Bugs and birds were the order of the day.

Angus has now printed everyone’s coasters and they can be picked up on Wednesday February 10. Remember that it’s the committee meeting (and another parents night at the school) so bring your own work along.

Water, water everywhere

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This week’s lesson was on how to use watercolour pencils – a versatile but often overlooked medium. Is there anyone who doesn’t have a box in their collection but isn’t sure what to do with them?

We all had a go at using them, with varying results… at least using the skooshers was good fun.

Angus talked about a number of different ways to use watercolour pencils:

  • adding the colour to areas of a drawing and then washing over with water to achieve a pale effect;
  • using a normal white pencil to ‘mask’ parts of the painting: when you paint over the top with watercolour, the coloured pencil should stay fixed; and
  • adding details to watercolour painting.

He also talked about the different effects that can be achieved by using the watercolour pencils in different ways:

  • dry pencil on dry paper
  • dry pencil on damp paper – allows good coverage
  • dry pencil on wet paper – creates strong lines of colour, making the watercolour pencil a ‘weapon of colour’.



This week: Dribbly drawings

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Hopefully, if the snow disappears by Wednesday, this week’s lesson will be about how to use watercolour pencils. They’re one of those media that you get and then disappear into your massive art box forever.

So take them out dust them off and we’ll do some dribbly drawings.

If you have some of your own, please bring them along, otherwise the group has a small selection that you can use.

And if you want to bring your own source imagery, that’s great – it’s easiest to experiment when using a simple image, i.e. single flowers are easier than large landscapes. I’ll have plenty of pictures if you’re not sure what to do.



All wrapped up?

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Last night was a tutoring night – punctuated by school bells controlling parents’ evening. But Angus just had time to show us a crafty way of creating our own wrapping paper, which someone shared with him on Facebook.

So for those who missed it or others who want a wee reminder. . .


Step 1
Step 1

Step 1 – On a piece of paper slightly smaller than A4, draw a number of related objects in pen, overlapping them with each other but staying away from the edges and corners.


Step 2 – Using a guillotine, cut your drawing in half lengthways. Yes, honestly – cut it up.







Step 2
Step 3


Step 3 – Tape the two sections together, but the wrong way round.

Like this. . .

As you can see, if you had another sheet identical to this, you could continue the pattern to either side.


Step 4 – Cut the drawing in half horizontally. Aye, again.







Step 3
Step 5

Step 5 – Tape it together, again the wrong way round.


Step 6 – You should now have piece of paper with your original drawing distributed in the corners and a bit of a gap in the middle.










Step 4
Step 7

Step 7 – Fill the gaps in the middle with another drawing or two.











Halloween paperYour master sheet can now be photocopied and tessellated in any direction to make a striking repeating pattern. Like this. . .


And you could colour it in, making lovely wrapping paper for birthdays or Christmas!