Oor Wullie Seabird Spotting

Hooray, hooray, the trail starts today! The first ever Oor Wullie Big Bucket Sculpture Trail has begun. All over Scotland sculptures of Oor Wullie, made by Wild in Art and fantastically decorated in more ways than you can imagine, are being revealed to the expectantly waiting public. These wonderful pieces of art are not only bringing colour, happiness and joy to new corners of Scotland, they are also raising funds for the hugely important work of some of Scoltand’s children’s hospital charities. My Seabird Spotting sculpture is hopefully raising money for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity.

To make all of this even more exciting, my design was selected for a sculpture and I was able to paint an Oor Wullie all of my very own! Let me tell you how it went.

Day 1

My Wullie and I first met in the painting room, kindly given over for artists to use by the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, Edinburgh. There were several other Wullies there already, all half complete and some with their artists too. Although I had been given the dimensions of the sculptures, it was still exciting to see just how big they were and how much surface area there was to cover. The last project I worked on like this was painting a double bass with a Rousseau-inspired jungle design, but that was really some time ago. How on earth was I going to transfer my flat designs onto such an undulating surface?

I started drawing it out in pencil, because I had to start somewhere.

Day 2

Next came the first layer of paint, and what a difference it made! I discovered that some parts of the statue were quite tricky to access, especially the soles of his feet. Today I learned that my sculpture could be placed outside the Scottish Seabird Centre. My first feeling was excitement, what a prefect place! I wanted people to see the birds I had painted, to count them and to maybe look for them in the sky or on the waves. Perhaps even visit the centre and learn more about these incredible special and beautiful creatures. And then a tiny seed of doubt began to grow. what if there were skilled and knowledgeable people seeing my work too? Were my gannets accurate enough? Would anyone mind that I had included black guillemots, which really don’t live near North Berwick but on the West Coast? Please forgive my artistic license, and do let me know if you spot these anomalies.

Day 3

Details! Eyes and beaks and feathers and fish. Each layer of colour made it all the more vibrant, and adding the deepening blues of the sea felt very satisfying.  It’s a lovely sensation, painting on a sculpture. You have to be constantly moving around it, altering your position to see your work from different angles. This felt much like doll-making, thinking about and feeling the surfaces, and working on art that will be viewed in different ways. How will a child see this? Or a taller adult? How do the shapes balance from a distance? How does the surface pattern relate to the shape of the figure underneath? And will anybody else enjoy the hair as much as I am?

Day 4

Almost done. Some of my Wullie’s studio buddies were now  finished, and their talented and friendly artists had moved on. I was the only one to arrive at 7:00 in the morning, in order to get as much done as possible before school pick-up time ends my painting for the day. 7:00 is an eerily quiet hour in a shopping centre.

Here is my Seabird Spotting Wullie next to his studio buddy, beautifully decorated by the friendly and talented MrASingh

Day 5

The final touches were added. My birds were ready to fly and my fish to swim. I snuck back to the studio to finish the final stages, and that evening I had the place to myself. The silver waves and bubbles were the very last thing to go on, being drawn onto the paint with thick and squeaky acrylic pens. As if in celebration, the sky had a beautiful sunset that night, which I could see through huge windows stretching the length of the painting room. What would anyone think of my work? Would people come and look? Had I really painted the right number of fish in the sea? I would have to wait to find out, but nonetheless it had been a wonderful project to work on.

If you are passing by North Berwick, do go and visit my Seabird Spotting Wullie. Go and see how many birds you can find, then go and learn about them in the Scottish Seabird Centre. And do tell me all about it, or share your photos on #SeabirdSpotting or find out more @owbigbuckettrail 

Published by Hannah Sanguinetti

I am a author/illustrator of children's books and a dollmaker living and working in Trieste, Italy.

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