Thursday, April 18, 2019

Life Drawing - Jennifer

After a short break from life drawing, I thoroughly enjoyed last week's session with Jennifer. 

Seated poses can be a challenge. Well, the chair is the main trouble for me actually!

This one I did all in watercolour, trying to leave the highlights as I worked, and finding the form through negative space.

Another seated pose, this time done with watercolour pencil first, then watercolour. The shirt wasn't green, but I thought the colour would work nicely!

And here are the charcoal studies I did first (1-, 5- and 10-minute poses, in reverse order):

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fruit and Veg

I revise my statement - the universe cannot entirely be found in Ulysses - no mention of courgettes, peppers or aubergines! Ah well! I will have to check the text before I draw what's in my fridge!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Life Drawing - Anonymous Double D

Bad weather, bad back, bad form. Sometimes things conspire against making art. But a generous model brightened my evening!

Monday, April 15, 2019


I think I will submit a painting for our Dublin Sketchers exhibition at the Harold's Cross festival.
I've done a few versions - that's often the way I work in watercolours - it takes me a few attempts to get closer to what I want. 

This is the one I'm happiest with. Based on sketches done on location and a few photos, I drew freehand with my Sailor Fude, then painted using some of my favourite pigments (Transparent Red Oxide, Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Quin Rose (PV19), Moonglow, Ultramarine, Lavender, and of course Potters' Pink!). So I'm going to get it framed, along with two other watercolours of laneways that I painted in the last few months.

The first version lacked oomph, although I have to say I quite like this little cropped section of it!

And in this version, I made the lane too wide and the buildings' perspective was off. I would have kept it, but the thing that really got to me in the end was that the chimneys on the left were leaning, and that wasn't by design!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Life Drawing - Izabella

Izabella is such a pro, it's always a pleasure to sketch her.

 I always enjoy playing with the Fude pen and watercolour.

 My favourite pose of the night. She wore a chiffon tunic and adopted a beautifully relaxed pose.

This one is an experiment that didn't work out, clearly! I was standing holding my board with my left hand, sketchbook and small palette clipped on, and two small water containers attached with blue tack, and paintbrush in the right hand. Plus I used watercolour pencils and the paper was too grainy for pencils really!

I got a new charcoal fixative, one that's non-toxic. I think it's casein? But I found to my cost that it wrinkles the paper. So next time, I'll take the pictures before I spray!

Thursday, April 11, 2019


Sometimes you stumble across a scene and you just have to capture it. This lady was practising a dance routine. She was on her own, quite a distance from me - far enough that she couldn't see me and I could only see her general outline and gestures.

It took a little while to get into the rhythm. She reminded me of a majestic tree with branches dancing in the wind, hence the Ulysses quote:

'THE YEWS: (Mingling their boughs.) Listen. Whisper. She is right, our sister. We grew by Poulaphouca waterfall. We gave shade on languorous summer days.'

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


After a cold afternoon, I was glad to get indoors for a chamomile tea. I arrived just in time to do a quick sketch of the jazz duo before they finished up for the afternoon.

And I knew I would find plenty about music in Ulysses: 'Numbers it is. All music when you come to think.'

Tuesday, April 09, 2019


I was at IMMA with Dublin Sketchers recently. I wasn't feeling confident enough to tackle the façade or the inner courtyard, so I decided to take a stroll down the garden and found these two statues that beckoned me. I painted them in negative space. One worked out better than the other, so I'll know for again to avoid trying to paint the face!! I had fun with pigments from Daniel Smith - Lavender, Moonglow, Green Apatite Genuine and Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, amongst others.
Then it got cold again, and I went for a stroll inside the museum - some good stuff, some strange stuff too.

And I couldn't resist my Ulysses quote: 'Cold statues: quiet there. Safe in a minute.'

Friday, April 05, 2019


For me, it's often the case that a thumbnail ends up better than the finished watercolour. In this case, I was very happy with the first layer, where I went straight to the darkest darks. But then the painting lost its energy somewhere along the way. I cropped it tight to keep the best bit. I'll have another go some time, trying to keep more whites so I don't lose the sense of the sun hitting the rocks. But for now, that's as far as this one goes. Os as they say in Japanese, それだけです

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Harold's Cross

I love it that life is full of connections. So I was delighted when Dublin Sketchers were invited to sketch in Harold's Cross and exhibit their sketchbooks during the Harold's Cross Festival! So, we've been there for one outing on a Sunday, and two more on Wednesdays. The Sunday was bitterly cold but the two Wednesdays were gloriously sunny and the first one was actually warm. It's funny how you forget that it's actually wonderful to sketch outdoors - I need sunshine on my skin and heat on my bones! Being an urban sketcher in Ireland is a challenge, no doubt. And I can't complain - Dublin is actually a lot drier than many other parts of the country!

We'll have one more outing in April and then we'll be exhibiting our books in HX on 18th and 19th of May. As always, I've been quite prolific - I might go back again a couple of times on my own. There are some little corners of the place that really appeal to me. It's fascinating how what looks at first like a fairly plain suburb of Dublin is actually full of history and stories and architectural gems!

Here is what I've drawn so far (and I haven't sketched in the cemetery or Mount Argus park yet!):

 Love this little alleyway right off the main street. It leads on to a quiet cul-de-sac.

Nosh became our de facto headquarters on that cold Sunday afternoon. Great spot for sketching people!

Did you know that Harold's Cross Park, the little triangular-shaped park that divides the main road in two, is like a Tardis - definitely a trick of space-time the minute you walk in. It even has a pond with a waterfall and ducks!

That was the last sketch of the first day I sketched there. The trees caught my eye, and the mountains in the distance too, of course.

 A pot of tea in HX 46. Love their teapots, and cacti!

Such a fascinating building, this one. An old Quaker house. On the main street. I had never noticed it before. It's just been sold.

 I was full of joy and energy when I sketched this view, so my line danced on the page! Russian Orthodox church, trees, entrance to Mount Jerome Cemetery, and flower vendor.

The Hoover Centre that was featured in the movie Once. If you need your vacuum cleaner repaired, this is the place!
I had to use my Koh-I-Noor Magic pencil for this drawing - the colour of soapy suds! Gorgeous little building on the main street. A busy launderette.

This is the peaceful little street at the end of the laneway beside the Centra. I love the house at the end, the cables that criss-cross the street. And that I managed to draw cars that actually look like they're not floating mid-air (I really concentrated and remembered that the rules of perspective apply to cars too, something that normally eludes me!).