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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interview #17--meet Catriona Andrews!

Sorry for the delay, all, I know you must have gotten impatient!  Catriona and I BOTH got busy!  I'm delighted to finally be able to bring you this interview and NEW work to inspire you.  I know you'll be astounded at Catriona's range and delighted by her skill.
Wonderfully delicate study of grasses...
But let's let Catriona speak for herself!


I grew up all over the world, travelling in all sorts of countries ranging from Colombia to South Korea, and even did a stint in New Jersey!  This in turn has greatly influenced my drawing in both style and content as from a very young age I was encouraged to draw as often as possible and whenever possible, whether it be sitting in a restaurant and drawing on the paper table cloths, or going to a beach and drawing the boats and people.  

This passion for drawing led me to do a course in Illustration at Loughborough College of Art and Design in UK, graduating in 1998, which only fuelled my desire to carry on sketching whenever possible.  I carry a sketchbook everywhere, and have even been known to draw in the middle of a live music gig, surrounded by bouncing people!  I find looking back on my drawings immediately takes me back to the time I drew it, and I remember the sights, sounds, and smells of that very moment, which is what I love the most–the ability to step back in time so to speak.  Now living in Scotland, I find my passion undimmed and hope to carry on recording all the amazing things that keep coming my way.

Look how energetic and vibrant this landscape is...Catriona feels free to experiment with color and not be locked into what she sees.

Could you add where you were born, what your favorite medium is, what turns you on/inspires you to sketch? 

I was born in Colombia from Scottish parents, and from a young age was fascinated with nature, probably as being so young I was on eye level with most things out there! My mum is an artist and encouraged us all to paint and draw, so its always been second nature to carry a pen and paper with me. My favourite medium is definitely pen and ink, though watercolour runs a close second. I’m more at home with drawing though, I’m definitely in my comfort zone there and don’t need to think about the ‘technique’, I’m just in the zone. I’m not sure what specifically inspires me to sketch. Many things do, sometimes its extremely obscure things like bits of old machinery, but it could also be the tiniest detail in a flower to a view from the top of a mountain.
What’s your studio like, or do you have one?  Where do you do most of your work? 

I’ve got a friend who converted an old Dutch hay barn up in the Lammermuir Hills of the Scottish Borders which he converted into a workshop downstairs and a studio upstairs. I’ve managed to get myself a gorgeous spot by a long wide window looking north over the valley and hills beyond. I do most of my work there, and try to keep my mess to my side, though its not always easy as I have a tendency to spread! I have also been known to work at my kitchen table till the wee hours of the morning as under pressure I find that I work best late at night.

I love this quick sketch of Scottish sheep...the ink works perfectly as a sketching medium.

How do you decide what medium to choose?

It usually depends on what subject I’m working on. Landscape is usually watercolour, though I am trying to get my head around oils and love the richness of colour you can get. Lately I have used coloured inks, I love the vibrant colour and luminosity they bring. The pictures I do for children are usually in watercolour, they seem to work with well with the style of drawing.
One of my favorite inspirations from Catriona are her small sketches to capture events of a whole month!

Does your sketching enrich how you make your living? 

Sketching informs and shapes how I look at the world, it helps me understand how things relate to each other, and how I relate to the world. The observing, noting how things work and move, get stored away in my memory bank and then gets recalled if I ever need to draw something. Obviously I haven’t drawn everything there is to see, so if I do need to find out what something looks like, I research it, sketch it from various angles if possible, find out how it works, then add it to the picture. That is then stored away in my memory till the next time. Or if my mind fails me, I at least have a tatty old sketchbook to look at. Sketching certainly enriches my living, but doesn’t quite earn me a living yet!

Do you enjoy travel sketching?  Do you ever choose to travel someplace with the idea in mind of sketching, or does it just happen because that’s what you do?  Do you travel alone or with someone, and if the latter, how do you manage to sketch?

ravel sketching is the best thing. It always takes me a wee while to get the confidence to sit out in the open sketching, I usually have to start with my back against a wall or pillar till I get the measure of a place. I don’t usually travel somewhere specifically to draw, it just happens. Though Morocco and India are definitely on my wish list of places to go, I think I would fill hundreds of sketchbooks there! I usually travel with someone, though I am always conscious that they’re bored when I stop somewhere because “I just have to draw that – wont be a minute...I’ll catch you up...” Luckily most of my friends and family understand and are quite happy to let me wander off. If they’re not, I try and set aside an hour or two to do my thing, then put the sketchbook away and get the camera out when we join back up. When I was in New York recently I got up early and was out on the streets at 7am, drawing some of the buildings near the hotel. It was great, saw the city at a different time of day, and met various locals walking their dogs before they set of to work – my kind of people being a dog owner myself, so lots of interesting conversations were had.

Do you ever write in your journal?  What kind of notes?

I sometimes write in my journal, especially if its a travelling one. I usually write down things I’ve heard, things that have inspired me, ideas for paintings, and quotes and poems that catch my eye.  The back of my sketchbooks usually contain thumbnails, shopping lists, names of artists and quick sketches of paintings that have inspired me, and random bits of ideas and leaps of imagination! I tend to keep the front for just sketching but sometimes it all intermingles. 

One of the brilliant sketches from her recent project.

Tell us some more about your recent project, please!

I got chatting to a photographer, Cheryl James,  who told me she was doing an installation in an old tweed mill. I told her that I would love to draw something like that so she said she had space for some extra work if I wanted to join her. So I went along and it was all so inspiring. The mill, Andrew Elliot Ltd, was using the old traditional machines and I think the oldest one dated from 1901. The man working ‘her’ said she had been around during the Titanic, both world wars, and god know what else and said if she could talk! There were only 2 men left working at the mill, both nearly 70, one was completely deaf and the other one told amazing stories of the old days when thousands of men worked at the mills along the River Tweed. I was fascinated by all the intricate machinery, all the amazing parts that each had an important role to play. I started in black ink drawings, but the machines although made of cast metal parts all working together had a life of their own, and they were handling such delicate threads that I wanted to try and capture that lightness and life. So out came the blue and carmine and magenta and all the bright colours to try and capture that life. Cheryl and I ended up working really well together, our work seemed to complement each other, and we’ve decided to try and plan a few more projects together in the New Year which is exciting.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m learning how to etch at the moment, or I’ve learnt the basics, and am just trying to master it! I would love to try and capture the lightness and speed of sketching and transfer it to a metal plate, but its still a work in progress! I’m saving up to buy my own press, as at the moment I travel up to Edinburgh which  is a bit of a hike from my hideyhole in the hills especially through the snow, but then its also a good excuse to get a bit of culture and see the bright lights of the metropolis when I’m there.


I know you've enjoyed this interview, especially after our teaser in THIS post--so thank you so much, Catriona! 

Be sure to check out Catriona's blog, at http://inkling-blots.blogspot.com for more inspiration!


  1. Catriona's sketches are ALWAYS fascinating, no matter what the medium. I especially love the light and texture captured in the above woolen spools!

  2. Wow thanks Cathy for the lovely comments. You've been a massive inspiration to me too, and taught me more than you know.

  3. You're welcome! You all are what MAKES the book the wonderful resource it is. I'm delighted you were able to be part of it, and hope you're seeing on the great comments on our Facebook group!

  4. That's a really great article. Through reading it you feel like you get an insight into the artist as a person rather than just the technical stuff. Good luck with everything Cat, it sounds as though you are doing things that make you happy.

  5. Thank you Cathy, it is really inspiring to look into the artist's story. I enjoy combination of loose lines and intense colors in Catriona's inkings. :-)

  6. Great interview you two! Catriona, you colours satisfy a particular craving I get. Love your choices!

  7. Great interview you two! Good to know you a little more, Catriona. Love your work and always look forward to your posts.


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