Thursday, September 22, 2016

People's Art - St Stephen's Green

I will be exhibiting my art again at St Stephen's Green People's Art this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is forecast to be wet, so we'll have to play it by ear, but the other two days are to be dry. I will be on the East side this time, just round the corner from the last time. It should be a brighter spot, and I will not be breathing the tour bus fumes as much this time - all good!

Much less panic. We've done it before. We know we can do it again. And I've got some lovely paintings to show - all abstract or semi-abstract acrylics. I'm looking forward to showing them off, and maybe sending a few of them to a good home!

If you're in town, pop in to say Hello. If it's wet on Saturday, I might skip it, so ring me if you're planning to head in!

Here are a few examples of the paintings I will be showing, all reasonably priced!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Foundations Lesson 3 - Shapes

Liz Steel's Foundations Lesson 3 was all about shapes - how to paint shapes without thinking about lines, how connecting objects will appear as one shape, and how to think in negative shapes.

My initial attempts were not very satisfying, but once I got into negative shapes, I couldn't be stopped!


Most Dublin Sketchers stick to buildings, trees and silhouettes of people we don't know. But Alice, our newbie sketcher, loves sketching people, so she did a portrait of me, double chin and all!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

More Point-to-Point Contour, with a little shadow

I made the best of the good weather last week and got out for quick sketches over lunchtime.

I was still following the Liz Steel Foundations course - Lesson 2, Feeling Edges.

Here I mixed the point-to-point contour method with a looser line for the foliage, as per the outdoor prompt in the assignment for the week.

And then I added a little shadow, as the light was strong and I thought it was worth capturing!

Monday, September 19, 2016

National History Museum

The Natural History Museum is a favourite amongst Dublin sketchers. It holds a fond place in my heart, as it was the location for my first outing with the sketchers, last March. My sketches have grown in confidence since then. Can't believe it's only 6 months!

So I was delighted to go back there last week. Fun was had by all!

And my own, below:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Summer Project 1 - reworked

So rather than paint another version of this painting (frankly, I was too sick of it to ever consider that option), I went back and applied the Picasa improvements: I added quinacridone gold to tone down the brashness of the yellows, I reinforced the Phthalo blue background, and I cropped. That's it. Done. Still not frameable in my opinion, but I'll have to leave it a while before I can even think about painting it again!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Big Dark Sky - Deer Park

This little watercolour sketch is based on a photo I took one day when I was up in Deer Park with doggie. It was a threatening sky, and I wanted to capture it. Definitely one I want to develop further into a painting!

How to handle criticism

Not really much advice in this video, except to say that people will have their opinions about your art, and to remember that it's just their opinion, and it is your art.


Another sketch for my homework of "feeling edges" from Liz Steel's Foundations class. It didn't quite work out as planned - I soon realised I was in trouble when the lines and angles I had drawn for the roof proved to be wrong - in reality I could not see the roof, just the fascia and gutters. I realised something had gone very wrong somewhere when I joined up my lines, and there was a roof in my drawing. But I decided to soldier on. I was using my Rotring ArtPen on a lovely fine grain paper I had forgotten I had, and I loved how the watersoluble ink bled when I touched it with a water pen! The Shomera is completely wonky but I love the tree behind it. It was fun.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Slea Head barn

Maybe I worked in the software industry for too long. I definitely don't want to get back to the madness of my project management days, or the even crazier craziness of system test management. But it's like I need the adrenaline shot of having lots of balls in the air at the same time.

So not only am I exploring how to sketch the human body, but I'm also learning how to draw straight lines and accurate angles, and also how to simplify a scene by drawing it in a small number of shapes (5 à 7).

So this drawing is about that last concept, plus a little bit of shading! Lots of wrong angles and proportions, but it was fun!

Airfield Food Festival

Airfield was open to the public for free last weekend, for its food festival. It's normally €10 per adult to get in. BB likes food, and I like to look for sources of inspiration. So we went for a little look.
First thought was: too many children running around! But the food was worth it. A company called Hibernia was promoting its wares: bread, meat, organic fruit and vegetables, cheeses - they normally only sell to restaurants and hotels, but not to the public. And we were blown away! Fresh shiitake mushrooms, long radishes like the ones you can find in France, rustic sourdough breads, seaweed bread, gorgeous Irish cheeses. We loved it all. (We didn't try the meats, as we didn't fancy walking around with two pieces of steak in our bag). It would be wonderful if they decided to open a shop in Airfield. We had the fresh Shiitake in a Japanese ramen and the whole house smelled of umami!

We also enjoyed our stroll to the quieter spots, away from the running, tumbling, screaming children (I heard a parent say "use your indoor voice, Alice" (I have changed the name of the child to spare her embarrassment))

We both took plenty of photos. Lots to paint. Some day soon I'll sit down and actually paint it all! What do you think of this beauty?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Foundations - Lesson 2 - bottle and box

I need to do a few more of these, but I was happy with how the bottle worked out!

Maybe I should practise my drawing when I wake up at 4:30 and I can't go back to sleep, which is not something that normally troubles me. Or maybe I should have had a drink from that bottle - Oh I remember, it's empty. Plus I don't drink. 

I did this drawing in a sketchbook I started well over a year ago, and it was the last page of it. Something really satisfying about finishing a sketchbook. I shouldn't start so many in parallel. But I need different paper for different media. And I just can't do all these practise sketches in a "good" sketchbook. It's not in my nature! 

But it was lovely going through all the old pages. It was quite a big sketchbook, with basic cartridge paper, so it's mostly pen or pencil sketches, a lot of them not very good. But there is also a whole section in gouache, when I was doing my Fake Journal in April. (I must pick up my gouaches again, and set them out on a plate before they set in the tubes). And it's nice to see that I do draw better now than I did when I started that sketchbook. I must dig out some really old ones to see what my drawings looked like ten years ago! Or maybe I'll have to dig further, because I just found a drawing I did in 2006, and it's pretty good, and you must be wondering how it is I haven't improved since then (putting it nicely - me, I put it down to social media distractions - I can't blame the EU, although it seems that's what most of our politicians are doing these days). I must dig out my Betty Edwards book to figure out head proportions again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Foundations Lesson 2 homework - More point-to-point contour - Outdoor prompt

There was also an outdoor prompt in Lesson 2's homework. Again, I shied away from going to a public location. I can't explain it. I have no problem sketching in public with Dublin sketchers, but the idea of going around my neighbourhood and sketching is a little strange. Maybe I'm afraid someone I know will see me? Maybe I should go a little further afield? But Dublin is such a small place, you're always bound to bump into someone when you least want to.

So I stayed in the back garden. And I enjoyed drawing that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Empty watercolour palettes

I hate shopping for clothes. I am just not that interested. But paints and art supplies is a different matter altogether! I have to stop myself from buying them - I just don't allow myself into art shops, and I avoid the online art stores as much as I can, but once I start, it's hard to stop. I recently had such a binge - I bought new brushes, new watercolour paper, new pens, and also two new empty watercolour palettes. (I now have told myself that I am not buying anything until at least Christmas - the truth is that I probably have enough art supplies to last me until the day I die of very old age)

I have chosen one medium-sized palette for studio work and one small-sized one for urban and travel sketching. I already have several ready-filled palettes of course. But I really wanted these ones because I can fill them with my favourite colours! Plus they were not expensive.

So I really enjoyed picking my favourite colours from my watercolour tubes and organising them.

  • I love Vanadium Yellow, because it mixes beautifully with Ultramarine. And it's so bright!
  • But I also love Aureolin Yellow because of the vibrant greens it produces with Cobalt Blue. 
  • And Quinacridone Gold creates more muted colours. 
  • And I love PV19 (Ruby Red in the Schmincke range, but it's called many other names in different brands) because it's the perfect pinky red for roses. 
  • And then there is Pyrrol Red, which is really fire-engine red, but transparent at the same time. 
  • And Phthalo blue - so dark and transparent too. 
  • And Phthalo Turquoise and Cobalt PG50 for the sea. 
  • And crazy Phthalo Green, which becomes a subtle water hue when mixed with ultramarine. And produces rich dark greens when mixed with a touch of Pyrrol Red.
  • And then the earth colours: Raw Sienna as a pale wash for a sky, Burnt Sienna to bring down the harshness of some green mixes. 
  • And Paynes Gray and Burnt Umber, both dull on their own, but useful for dark mixes, and they look surprisingly good together. 
  • And Green Apatite Genuine too, a dark ugly green, but it comes to life when you add a dash of yellow and I love to see how it mixes with Phthalo Blue, and how it granulates with Ultramarine!

In other words, I love colours! One of my favourite books is "Blue and Yellow don't Make Green", a whole book on colour theory. I can spend hours painting colour swatches!

So, Da-Da, here are my new palettes - The big one was easy - there was room for all my favourites. The small one a bit harder, as difficult choices had to be made!

The cobalt blue in the little palette is different from the big one - it's actual cobalt blue (PB28) rather that a mix of ultramarine and white, which is what I had until now. So I'm looking forward to seeing how it behaves in mixes!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Croquis Café

I was told about Croquis Café by a fellow Dublin Sketcher a good while back. I'd had a quick look at it at the time, and thought it would be useful, but since I've been drawing landscapes and urban locations in the last while, I didn't get to use it until a few days ago.

The overall website of OnAirVideo seems to be more about selling DVDs than anything else, but they have an extensive free resource of life drawing videos - with each model doing a number of 1-minute poses, then 2-minute poses, followed by one 5-minute pose. 

Since I've been looking at figure sketching on Craftsy recently (remember, "drawing the verb" and "line of action"? I haven't gone further in learning about this - one step at a time), I thought the Croquis Café videos would be a good way to practise from the comfort of my own home!

Here are a few of the shorter poses - I was clearly warming up!

Then I started to get into it. I have to say I struggled with the model's face (she was very good-looking, don't get me wrong. I just found it hard to draw her features), so it was nice to have a pose where she was hiding her face.

Then, by the time we got to the 5-minute pose, I felt more comfortable with the whole process. Her face is completely wrong - I should have left it blank, but I'm happy with how her body looks!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Foundations - Lesson 2 - Feeling Edges

Liz Steel's Foundations Lesson 1 was easy. There is nothing I love more than art materials (well, apart from my husband, my cat, my dog, my family, my friends, Ireland, soaps (the ones you wash with, not the ones you watch on the telly), shower gels, makeup palettes, beauty potions, candles, handbags, scarves, and many other things I can't think of right now, but that I'll probably regret not including in this list the minute I've pressed "Publish").

So drawing them and experimenting with them came naturally to me. But an online class would be of no value to me if it didn't challenge me! It's only Lesson 2, and it's already pushing me to all the things I struggle with - straight lines, angles, ellipses - all the things that are essential for urban sketching and still life! Just what I needed to push myself beyond my comfort zone.

Lesson 2 is about really looking at your subject, rather than looking at the page: blind contour, point-to-point contour. Things I've encountered before, but never practised enough. I want to sketch buildings with more confidence (and more accuracy!). So I'm going to need to practise this plenty, believe me.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

St Kevin's Park

30 years I've been in Dublin, and I didn't know this little park existed. That's the beauty of our Dublin Sketchers outings - you never know where you're going to end up! And it feels nice and safe to be part of a group. Because let me tell you, there is no way I would have stayed in St Kevin's Park for more than 5 minutes on a Sunday afternoon if I hadn't known that fellow sketchers were going to appear - as is unfortunately typical in Dublin, quiet little parks tend to be taken over by homeless people, drunks and druggies at weekends. It's probably different during the week, when the park is used by students and office workers alike. So there was one chap sleeping on a bench (he was still sleeping two hours later), and towards the back, there was 3 men, a woman and a dog. They were not young, and they didn't look inebriated so I walked by, said hello, and fussed over the dog (Ruby, who showed me how good she was at sitting!).

Then I picked a spot away from all those and started sketching. At one point, I was approached by a man who had been in the park a while (I thought he might have been one of the sktechers), and he started telling me how he studied in Kevin's Street and became a baker, working for Superquinn, and travelling the world, and winning prizes for his baking. We chatted for a while, then I said I'd better get back to my sketching and he moved on.

At four o'clock, we found that the pub that was our designated meeting point was packed to the rafters, as it happened to be a Tipperary pub, and the All-Ireland Hurling Final was on the telly. So we went to another pub on Camden Street, called Anseo, and we enjoyed a chat about sketching, paper, cats, mathematics and neighbours.

A good way to spend an afternoon.

You'll find everybody's sketches here.

And as you can see, I still had time to sketch the pigeons and a tree. You can pack in a lot in two hours when you set your mind to it!

The pigeon in the centre is my favourite!

Friday, September 09, 2016

Foundations - Lesson 1 - My homework

Back to school time! I decided to sign up for Foundations by Liz Steel. I am sketching more and more, and I am quite interested in Urban Sketching, so I thought it would be a good fit. Plus I love Liz's style of urban sketching, and of course her tea cups!

So I've got Lesson 1 under my belt now - all about knowing your materials. I found it useful because, like a lot of people I guess, I've accumulated a lot or art supplies over the years. Too much choice can be nice. But most of the time, too much choice is just, well, too much choice. It's good to narrow it down, at least for the purpose of this online class.

The pages below look like a lot of work, but I worked on them over a few days, and each was really quick. It was good fun.

Onto Lesson 2!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Summer Project 2 - Exploration

I did say that I would not embark on any more big projects, but here I am already. I decided to go back over holiday photos (two things I've decided to do to look for inspiration: go back through my collection of photos, and use my Pinterest pins and likes), and I found a detailed view of an interesting bridge and rocks near the Gap of Dunloe.

So I'm trying to apply the idea of drawing thumbnails to decide on composition and values. But of course I got distracted and started adding colour straight away.

What I really liked I remember wasn't so much the bridge, but the water, the reflections and the jumble of rocks. And yet, when I try to just focus on the rocks, it doesn't really seem to work, they just appear unconnected, floating in the water. But all these little thumbnails didn't take long, so I feel I haven't wasted too much time. What I should try now is simplify the shapes and draw them in such a way that they appear as one shape rather than a rock floating here and a rock floating there, with a bit of water in between.

Here I tried to boost the colours a bit (just used the same colours with less water). But the shapes are still too disjointed. Next, I'll go back to a black and white thumbnail.

More quick sketches

I was so having so much fun with these quick sketches that I ran out of ink!

These I did on my Dublin Sketchers outing a while back, St Audeon's Church. As is often the case, I was finished early, so I walked to Christ Church, hoping to buy an ice-cream, but the stand I had seen earlier was now closed. So I sat on a bench and practised sketching people.