Etchings by Robert Bryden

I was approached by the Townscape Heritage Initiative in Ayr for South Ayrshire Council to do some artwork for their town centre regeneration project. Every year there’s a Doors Open Days event where local buildings that aren’t usually available to visit to the public open their doors so everyone can have a look and a lot of special events are put on and this year they wanted some of the empty shop windows to look a bit more interesting.

Robert Bryden was an Ayrshire based artist famous for his etchings of scenes and characters around Ayr amongst other things and my project was to copy some of his etchings onto the windows of one of the empty shops in the High Street. The windows were painted with a mix of cream paint and water and I then used plastic clay modelling tools (you know the kind that have different ends and edges) to draw freehand on the windows from mirrored print-outs of the original drawings. It took me about a day and four completely worn down tools to realise that splashing a bit of water on the dried paint helped a lot but after that it came along quite quickly.

I got a few visit from the butchers’ across the road who thought it was very fascinating and from the local newspaper as well. On Days Open Days (7-8 Sept 2013) the shop was finished and available to come and see from the outside. It’s still there and will be for a while yet (although they don’t know exactly for how long yet) so if you want to see it, you should go down the town centre of Ayr as soon as you can! It’s in the shop that used to be the Ayr Bed Centre (and from what I’ve heard “The Rangers Shop” and “Burton’s the Taylor’s” before that) next to Watt Brothers.

I’ve added some photos from my work in progress. Hover over them to see the descriptions, click to make them bigger.

The empty shop before I started my etchings. My tools and the copy I worked from. My first window. Close-up of the first window. A view from the inside of the shop. Robert Bryden himself. Coat of Arms from the centre panel of Old Malt Cross. Coat of Arms from the inside of the shop. The final big window, Old Wallace Tower. The doors. The finished shop.

My Muse Project

Way back when I started drawing portraits, I tended to use photos as references (I still do a lot, actually) because 1. they always sit still and 2. it doesn’t matter how useless the result is because nobody has to see it. There is also the sneaky (and a bit cheaty) advantage that you can measure all you want and compare your drawing to the photo without showing a piece of paper into someone’s face. At this time I was a teenager with a bunch of online friends, one in particular who loved being the centre of attention so my “Received Files” folder was full of pictures from him and I would often find myself basing my drawings around these. Even when I started drawing other things and experimented with other things than pencil, his face popped up in my drawings over and over again. Every time my style changed, when I wanted to experiment with new materials and even when my interest in photography started, there was Matt. His love of attention and my fascination with him created the perfect circumstances for something I hadn’t had before – a muse. Nearly 8 years later our friendship is still strong and for my fourth year creative project in Digital Art at university I decided to base the whole thing around him. It took countless hours and nearly burnt out my computer’s graphics cards but after two meet-ups for photoshoots and a LOT of drawing with Photoshop’s Freehand Pentool, I had 16 portraits of my muse, created by painstakingly drawing each layer on top of each other. They range from 41 to 116 layers with an average of 66.25 layers and 1060 layers in total (if anyone is interested in statistics).

This project won me the award for Best 4th Year Creative Project 2013 at my university’s showcase.

The final pieces can be seen here and on my Facebook page and if you’re interested in seeing all the layers, here’s a video:

my muse thumbs