Drawing by John Barradell

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Here are some pages from my sketchbook this summer.  We went on a rail and ferry holiday organised by McKinley Kidd a company based in Glasgow, which included visiting Oban, Mull, Loch Lomond and Arran and some short ferry trips. We had a brilliant holiday and did see golden eagles, white tailed sea eagles and ospreys.

sketch by John Barradell

John Barradell, sketchbook 2018

Since April 2017 I have been keeping a daily journal, the A5 books I use have alternate lined and plain pages and as well as writing I try to produce some visual work in it every day. I find this self imposed discipline to be very positive and my journals go everywhere with me. I have for as long as I would care to remember kept a sketchbook and still do, these sketchbooks are worked into directly but also contain cuttings , photos , experiments in fact anything which might attract me and are often referred back to. The Scottish Sketchbook was a very different exercise to these visual records.

John Barradell, Scottish sketchbook 2018

Before our holiday I had started working with water-colour pencils, a medium I had dabbled with in the past and felt them to be merely a poor substitute for “real” watercolour. Whether it was due to using a different manufacturers product or that I was using them differently and not trying to ape watercolour painting I got hooked.


drawing by John Barradell

John Barradell, Scottish Islands sketchbook, 2018

Painting and drawing are different disciplines and I feel that I am more at one with drawing and mark making than I am with painting. 

Watersoluble crayons also lend themselves to travel, being light, small, uncomplicated and easy to transport.

So, taking an A4 sketchbook as well as my journal, I set off travelling by rail and ferry to Glasgow, Oban , Mull, Loch Lomond, and Arran.

Scottish sketchbook by John Barradell

John Barradell, Scottish Islands sketchbook 2018

On arriving at Oban I was captivated by the ever changing land and seascapes as clouds revealed, obscured or affected the light in a dramatic kaleidoscope.

coloured drawing by John Barradell

John Barradell, Scottish sketchbook 2018

It was the ferry ports, particularly of Oban and Brodick which I found to be a treasure trove, the ferries which, like the clouds, were perpetually moving, their arrivals and departures providing a heartbeat to the islands and an exciting subject for me.

I have used the sketchbook since the holiday as a reference for producing some “finished“ work.


sketch by John Barradell

John Barradell, sketch 2018

sketch by John Barradell

John Barradell, sketchbook 2018 

coloured crayon sketch by John Barradell

John Barradell, Scottish Sketchbook 2018

Without giving away all of my secrets, I take a largish bundle of the crayons - I prefer Faber Castell, but Derwent are ok - a very cheap brush with artificial hair, a small plastic jar, a plastic test tube with a screw top with water and some tissues. I think that is about it. Oh, and I only draw on dry paper or over dried “ paint”, but the first rule as always is that there are no rules.

John Barradell - Scottish Island sketchbook 2018

John Barradell, Scottish Islands sketchbook 2018

Paintings by John Barradell based on his sketchbooks from his Scottish Islands rail and ferry holiday by can be seen at the LSA Annual Exhibition 2018 at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery from 9 November - 8 December 2018