Monday, September 28, 2020

Dingle Peninsula - sketches

The staycation - Ireland is the best place on earth when you get the weather. And we were blessed. We had one grey day in our week on the Dingle Peninsula. And extra restrictions (Level 3) were imposed in Dublin the day we came back. If we had decided to go on holidays a week later, we would have had to cancel, as, under Level 3 restrictions in Ireland, you cannot leave your county. So, double-blessed!
The Dingle Peninsula is my favourite place in the world, no doubt. I went many many years without going there, but we've been three times in the last four years, and each time, my heart skips a beat when we drive down Slea Head! It's not the easiest place to sketch. It's really only big sky, the sea, the rocks, the mountains. And it's windy. I could sketch the cute cottages, but there wasn't enough time for that! Because the weather was so good, we walked a lot. So many beautiful beaches and headlands. And because of Covid, the coach tours are not running, so the roads are quiet and it's so much more pleasant to walk.

Some sketches I just did a quick pen sketch on location, standing up in the wind, and added colour and text later on. Others, I did fully on location (it got warmer as the week went on). I'll start with the location photos, and you'll see the finished sketches down below.

If this view looks familiar, blame Star Wars. This is Ceann Sibeal, where they filmed the scenes where Luke Skywalker is living in these beehive stone huts. Some scenes were filmed here and others on Skellig Michael, an island a good distance away. Well, the set was at the top of that headland. It's gone now, but the locals still claim that their town, Ballyferriter, is the home of Star Wars!

Grey day, sketch from the car. Not too many trees. This is Ventry. Lovely long beach down the lane behind those trees.

This was the last day, on Clogher beach. The only time I actually sat down to sketch for an hour or so! The sea was unusually calm.

Studying he colour of the sea and the rocks

Looking in the other direction. 

More rocks.

Quick sketch at Béal Bán, another beautiful beach. Long stretch of sand, and good for swimming (not that I did!)

This is me sketching. Yes, that was our warmest day. But this is Ireland, and I was initially sitting in the shade, so long sleeves and woolly hat were essential!

So here below you'll see the same sketches, and a few extras, for which I don't have on-location photos. I've added text, a few lines here and there, or colour. Photos in reverse order from which they were sketched.

And here a few pictures that Brendan took when I was sketching. Not the most flattering. I must do something about my chin (wear bigger scarves?) and my lips (smile more to stretch the lines?). But it's lovely to have them all the same!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sandycove - focus focus

OK, sometimes you just need to focus and get it done. Having practised this scene in multiple ways, I was ready to paint! So I just went for it! After reviewing everything I learned from my draft pieces. I'm very happy with my curves, I have to say, so it was worth practising! My sky is a bit duller than I would have liked, but hey, that's probably not a bad thing - at least it's not stealing the show! 

And you'll find below my notes, of all the things I tried to keep in mind while painting! Next time I'd like to make it a little more organic, but the curves was what it was about for me, so I'm happy with how it worked out. 

Onto the next thing now!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

And then there's days like this

 Days when I keep repeating the same pattern over and over without being really present.

And mixing ugly darks.

And using a brush that's too small for the job. and getting angry. Well, that's a good use for red at least!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sketching while waiting

Waiting for a call, waiting at the hairdressers, waiting in the park, waiting for my dinner, waiting in the car, ... It seems that life is full of waiting time. I could catch up on my social media. Or I could practise sketching!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Irish War Memorial Gardens - by the Liffey

What do I do when faced with a wall of greens? Paint it all! I did try to differentiate between foreground and background, using values and colour temperature!! The little girl who thought that some of my faraway trees were clouds told me that I wasn't entirely successful!!

The Irish War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge isn't a well-known spot in Dublin. It's a little bit away from the city centre. And it celebrates the soldiers who fought and died during World War I before Ireland became independent. So there is a lot of history there. Many nationalists don't want to recognise these soldiers. But the gardens are beautiful, with wild areas and perfect rose gardens. And the Liffey is at its wildest and most gorgeous there, fast-flowing before it hits the city centre.

The sun was in and out, and I struggled with my shadows as usual!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Practising curves - the hard work - I just want to be done now!!

Trying to practise practise without trying to finish a painting. That is hard for me. But every ugly duckling is teaching me something. Although I'm still not connecting the shapes and letting the watercolour do its thing. I need to work faster and let watercolour be!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

What if it's about the sky, and not the curves?

I keep saying art is all about the journey. But I can get lost on the way! I love skies, and it was hard for me to just leave the sky as a sliver in my painting. So I did these two versions. Where I completely ignored the lovely scallop shape of the cove. But I managed to keep a sharp line for the changing room on the left. Back to curves now. I wish I could cut and paste all the good bits from the various paintings together. It's so hard to keep all the elements I need to pay attention to in my head at the same time!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sandycove - progress report

So, here are my attempts 1 and 2 (in reverse order). And I'm making notes of all the things I am learning along the way. The main thing, for me anyway, is that to paint a good curve in one go, you have to start where you want to finish, otherwise, you're carried by the energy of the curve and you forget to leave room for other shapes. So, in 1 I did the big curve of the platform from right to left. And in attempt 2, I went from left to right, which is probably also more natural for me as I'm right-handed. 

I quite like 2.  Will things go downhill from here? 

Sunny in Dun Laoghaire

Well, even when it's sunny, there's always a shower to catch you out. I started this sketch in Dun Laoghaire in glorious sunshine, but within 5 minutes, the skies darkened, the wind picked up, and the rain came. Not much. But enough that I had to open my umbrella to protect my sketchbook. Umbrellas don't do well in our windy weather. And it's hard work struggling to stop the umbrella from flapping over while trying to sketch in watercolour at the same time!

And then the sun came out again, just in time to dry my sky too quickly!!

I'll just have to go again. Dun Laoghaire isn't far. And the spot I found was a perfect location for sketching the beautiful building of the town hall, which used to be a courthouse, but is now home to the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

After all that, I still had a few minutes to practise people (and car) sketching. Some day I'll manage to integrate both into one sketch. Or maybe just on the same page would be a start!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


Arches are hard. But it was worth spending the time to observe carefully. And since this drawing was about the arches, I kept the view of the building at the other side of the inner courtyard at a minimum. We were lucky to get shelter from the rain under these arches at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Not a tourist in site, so we were not disturbing anyone. And we were able to keep our distance from each other, as there are many benches dotted under the shelter of the arches.

After that hard work, and when I was sure it wasn't going to rain again, I moved to the gardens and enjoyed creating a variety of greens to express light and distance.