Recently, we came across two beautiful ink sketches of Stirling on a website named ‘Urban Sketchers’.They were drawn by Fred Lynch, an artist who lives in the suburb of Winchester, Massachusetts, around ten miles from downtown Boston. His drawings of these two iconic Stirling landmarks seemed to capture the essence of Stirling – its architecture, history, and unique stories, giving us a fascinating insight into how visitors see our city.

Ink drawing of Cowane's Hospital, Stirling
Ink drawing of Cowane’s Hospital, Stirling. Fred found that the sculpture of Sir John Cowane looked to him like William Shakespeare gazing up to the heavens
Ink drawing, Stirling Boys' Club
Ink drawing, Stirling Boys’ Club. Above the windows and doors are mottoes written in stone for all to see: “Play the Game,” “Keep Smiling,” and “Quarreling is Taboo.”

Fred and his wife came to Stirling in March 2017, primarily to visit their son who was studying at the University. It was their “first and hopefully not last trip to Scotland”. Fortunate with the weather, Fred drew on the streets of the city. It’s how he prefers to work.

Drawings that capture discovery

“All of my drawings are the result of my roaming the streets seeking serendipity. I’m trying to share the experience of discovery and the experience of place. A big part of sketching is timing. Inspiration has much to do with being at the right place – at the right time. Turning a corner can cause your heart to skip a beat, from the view.”

But it’s not only the view that is important: “As I sit and draw for hours on the streets, I soak up every inch of the scene, along with its sounds, smells and local characters. Translating that rich experience through my drawings is my goal. I hope to share impressions as well as appearances.”

A walkable city

What were Fred’s thoughts about Stirling? “I liked Stirling – particularly its scale. It’s a walkable city. We spent two days wandering and feel that we got know the place quickly. My favourite spots were the cemetery behind the Church of the Holy Rude – combined history and wonderful views in many directions. I loved the train station’s architectural details. And the National Wallace Monument was a terrific site. We stayed in nearby Bridge of Allan and I drew there too, as well as in Dunblane. My wife and I followed the centuries-old Darn Road from Bridge of Allan to Dunblane, which was beautiful in a rugged, muddy way.”

Sampling the local fare

Fred describes being “struck by the charm (and ales) of The Allanwater Brewhouse”. He recalls good times at The Portcullis and The Darnley Coffee House in Stirling, as well as The Riverside Kitchen and Coffee House in Dunblane – where they also sampled pies from David Bennet & Son. But dare we ask what their favourite food experience was? “In America, haggis is a punch line, meaning something you should certainly not eat. Yet, I ate almost every variation of it I could find over the course of a week. I enjoyed it all. That said, fish and chips was my favourite dish.”

Contrasting cities

Fred was struck by the contrasting characters of Edinburgh and Glasgow, visited during the couple’s week-long stay: “When we walked around Glasgow – hunting down Mackintosh creations – it rained quite a bit, so I didn’t draw. However, I liked the city’s sense of creativity: it reminded me of industrial cities in New England, although on a bigger scale. The Pot Still and The Willow Tea Rooms were perfect shelters from the storm. We happened upon sunnier weather in Edinburgh. We found the city striking. After a day with the crowds in the Old Town, I retreated to the quieter areas near Stockbridge. There, I drew along my favourite street of the trip: Gloucester Lane”.

Bridge of Allan, in coloured pencil
Bridge of Allan, in coloured pencil
An Edinburgh alley-way, in ink
An Edinburgh alley-way, in ink
More information:

Fred divides his time between his home studio in Winchester, and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. There, he is Professor of Illustration. He has been drawing since childhood. It is only in the past decade, prompted by a teaching opportunity in Italy, that he has begun to leave the studio behind to draw in situ. To ‘engage in the real world of experience’. Fred spends each July drawing in central Italy. He is known for his drawings from that region.

Find Fred and follow him here:

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