Friday, August 26, 2016


You can see I haven't done enough drawing through the summer! Or I've grown very old all of a sudden! With a double nose and a twisted mouth!

But that's ok, I'm getting back into it

Here are a few tips to get back into the creative flow again after the holidays.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sketches from People's Art

I brought my pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook with me for the weekend, and a couple of pens. I didn't draw a huge amount, as there always was something to do and someone to talk to, but I did these few sketches on Sunday:

A view from my chair.

Some artists moved to my left and to my right around noon, as they were initially set up on the East side of the Green, but moved to the North side when these spots were found to be vacant.

I didn't complete this one, as a friend arrived, and the people I was sketching had moved by the time I got back to my sketchbook.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sketches in Bruges and Brussels

Life has been busy! Busy living and sketching, so no time for blogging. Hard to find the balance!

So, without further ado, here are my sketches from Bruges and Brussels in early August. All done in  a pocket-sized Moleskine book (with heavy paper, but a paper that doesn't take watercolour well, it's like it can't absorb it).

Some of the pages are coloured with Montana markers (I have four colours - I love the sky blue and the sunny yellow. The red and navy are not so easy to use in sketchbooks. I have a page painted navy and I need to dig out one of my white pens to draw something on it.). I like colouring pages first so it's not a blank page anymore, and you'd be amazed at how much of a difference it makes in terms of getting started with a drawing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Life after Life

Another great book this summer. Life after Life is a wonderful story, of life and death and life, again and again. Ursula ("Little Bear") is born in 1910, and then dies before she can even draw a breath. Then she is born again, and this time, she lives.
The strongest part of the story is set during the London blitz. And it's full of surprises.

I loved it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dublin Sketchers - Dublin Castle

Quite happy with my sketch last week at Dublin Castle with Dublin Sketchers. The Sennelier mini travel set (watercolours) gave me lovely rich colours!

And I did try to apply what I have learned from reading Understanding Perspective (The Urban Sketching Handbook)!

I also did a few quick sketches of the actors of Measure for Measure, a lesser-known Shakespeare play (well, I had never heard of it!)

People's Art

A good day yesterday at People's Art on the Green. I was happier with my setup this time, and the weather stayed dry. Plenty of chat with friends, neighbours and fellow artists!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dublin by night

Dublin looked so lovely when I got home from Belgium a couple of weeks ago!

People's Art

Yesterday morning was very wet. It wasn't looking good. But the forecast improved, and we decided to set up around 11:30. By 12, the sun was nearly shining. We only had one shower in the afternoon.
But it was a great day! While the anxiety of what the weather would do was stressful, once we got set up, it was very enjoyable. And it went in a flash.

I couldn't have done it on my own of course, so big thanks to BB, my award-winning Logistics Manager!

This morning, it was too wet to set up, and, although it is dry now, it's still very windy, and there's more rain forecast. So I think I'll stay home today, and hope that tomorrow stays dry!

Friday, August 19, 2016

People's Art

Rain Rain Rain
Wind Wind Wind
Please Please Please
Go Away

Looking South

Another drawing of a view out of the window, this time, looking South. I just used the Rotring ArtPen for this one, and created the shading by adding small amounts of water.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pour Sainte Claire!

007 - Draw a view out of a window

Mixing daily practise with exploring my materials.

I drew this with my new Rotring ArtPen - I paid about 20-25 euro for it, with two ink cartridges, so it's not an expensive pen, but there is a lovely feel to it. A bit scratchy, but I tried it on really basic paper, and it still feels lively and fun! I chose the medium nib. Maybe I should also get a fine nib?
I was told by the lady in the lovely art shop in Bruges that the ink was waterproof, but clearly something got lost in translation. That said, the colour of the black is so gorgeous that it adds something very rich when it mixes with water or watercolours.

The watercolours I added are from the mini set from Sennelier. A limited palette (eight colours, two of which are green), but as you can see here, I am not disappointed!! This was painted on Strathmore Sketch paper, not designed for water media, and the colours sing out brighter than I would have expected!

The other two pens I tried at the bottom of the page are:
  • my trusted Manuscript fountain pen - so smooth and easy to use - the ink is watersoluble as you can see. But the line glides so easily, and I like to use the ink itself for shading - just add a dab of water.
  • my lovely Sakura Pigma Micron pen - a very different feel of course, much more precise. This is not a fountain pen after all, but more a fine marker. The big advantage is that it's fully waterproof. And I used it on a flight recently and it didn't leak at all (unlike my Uniball pen), so probably would be my first choice for travelling.

Trying new watercolour paper

Memo to self: always test new paper before embarking on a project!

I didn't, of course, and ended up annoyed with myself and frustrated when masking fluid and masking tape lifted the fiber from this lovely Hahnemühle Veneto paper. Because it was 325 g/m2, I thought it would be able to take a pounding, but it is actually quite delicate.

So, better late than never - here is how this paper behaved with different techniques.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Project 1 - Second attempt

I used good paper this time, but it didn't help much, as it was a new paper for me (Hahnemühle Veneto) and it didn't behave like I had expected. It is quite a heavy paper (325 g/m2) and I had expected it would be able to take quite a pummelling, but I found that it was actually quite a delicate paper - it tore when I tried to remove the masking fluid and masking tape.

On the other hand, paint lifted beautifully from it - the reeds in front of the trunk for instance were lifted with a magic eraser and the paper was not damaged at all.

I'm still not happy with the chunky feel of the paint - I am using Daniel Smith's Green Apatite Genuine Ultramarine, Quinacridone Gold and Phthalo blue. And some granulation is to be expected with those colours of course, but I "patted the cat", which is never good with watercolours. We'll have to have another go, third time lucky?

Sennelier mini watercolour set

I came across this beautiful little watercolour travel set when I was in Bruges recently. And I couldn't resist. The colours are fairly limited - only one yellow and one red, and two greens (give me Aureolin Yellow, Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna, and I can make lots of beautiful greens). But they are very vibrant - it's because of the honey, I guess (yes, they use honey in Sennelier watercolours).
I'm looking forward to trying it out on Dublin Sketchers outings!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

People's Art

Here are some of the paintings I will be showing at St Stephen's Green on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 
Wish me luck!

We'll Always Have Paris


Some will be medium size monoprints, like these:

Going Round in Circles


And some of the paintings will be quite small, like this one:

Spain for Ever

006 - Draw a stack of books - watercolour

I had enjoyed that little drawing so much that I decided to try it in watercolours. I used cheap watercolour paper (a block of 100 pages, Goldline, Watercolour Studio Pad, 200g/m2, cold pressed, about A4), but it worked out beautifully, with a Rotring ArtPen (not waterproof) and a new Sennelier travel set (isn't it so dinky?).
I used very little water, as I didn't want the pen ink to bleed all over the lovely colours. I'm delighted with the shading and the little darts of colour.

006 - Draw a stack of books

I am sticking at it - I get the feeling that this week won't be so good, but I've done quite well through the month of August so far.

I'm intent on getting to the end of this sketchbook - it's a nice size - about A4. But the paper is not very strong, so not ideal for mixed media and definitely not suitable for wet media. I used it with gouache and it was lovely for that, though.

Here I had drawn a square with a yellow Montana acrylic marker and I drew my stack of books - more or less - within that frame.

Monday, August 15, 2016

People's Art

Pray for dry weather. Or get me a Child of Prague. No rain for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, please please please.

I will be at the People's Art Exhibition on St Stephen's Green this coming weekend, and religion seems like a good bet, as the weather forecast is looking worse and worse.

And this time, I will be on my own - no classmates to chat with, no roster. Just me. And a very supportive husband, who has been promoted to Logistics Director!

This time, I will show abstract acrylics, so quite different from the watercolours I showed in May.

Wish me luck!

005 - draw a scene in a restaurant

Is it OK to cheat? Not a big cheat. Just a little one. What I have in mind is using a drawing that I did while in Bruges two weeks ago for the 101 sketches series. It wasn't intended for that purpose. But I drew it. Let's face it, I don't often draw in a restaurant here. But while on our mini-break (it sounds so Bridget Jones!), I did take my little sketchbook out of my handbag and I drew a few items on the table in front of me while waiting for our food. Service was slow. But the sushi was nice.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Project 1 - first full size exploration

On cheap paper - the paint doesn't flow so well. I like how the tree worked out, but the foliage behind is too blotchy 

Bake-a-yarn: WaVeS

Bake-a-yarn: WaVeS:

It's not often I have a poem dedicated to me!
Do check out Cathy Leonard's blog Bake-a-yarn - she has some wonderful pieces there. And I'm not saying that because she is a friend!

Hope 9 & 10

And finally, a more pastoral Hope, perhaps? Where fields are green, and the wheat is growing thick.


It's a few weeks since I was at a Dublin Sketchers outing - 24 July was at the Irish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA.

It was a lovely day, with one very heavy shower that forced me to retreat from the gardens. But I managed to stay dry, and so did my watercolour paper - one of the difficulties of urban sketching in Ireland! But then again, if Shari Blaukopf can draw in Montreal in the winter, I should be able to draw in Ireland any day of the year! But I do envy Liz Steel, who lives in Sydney!

Rather than draw the beautiful building of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham that the museum is housed in, I decided to draw some modern blocks in the middle distance. Far less intimidating!

I measured the angles and spaces the best I could to draw in pencil first, then I used my Japanese watercolours to give a sense of the light in the windows.

I also drew a couple of sketches of people walking by, which is something I enjoy a lot.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Summer Project 1 - Sketchbook, colours, notes

I'm working on a watercolour from a photograph and sketch I did in Airfield a few weeks ago. I'm also exploring mixes with green apatite genuine, one of the new colours on my palette.

This is the exciting stage, where anything is possible, and the lack of pressure to "produce a painting" makes it fun. And when it's fun, it often works out best.

I did this first watercolour sketch in my new sketchbook, and I love how the colours worked out.

How will I reproduce (that word again, produce) the same spontaneity on good paper, in a larger format?

The pressure. The pressure.

Hope 7 & 8

A more vibrant, militant, passionate Hope? Colour emerging from the deep?

Friday, August 12, 2016


Willow is getting old. He used one of his nine lives when we were away and he was boarding at the vets. He just wouldn't eat, and that doesn't work very well when you're a diabetic cat and your blood sugar goes too low because of the insulin injections.

We were lucky that the staff at Ark Vetcare took good care of him and managed to pull him back from the brink. Over the bank holiday weekend. I am so grateful

He's right as rain now, eating and sleeping and mooching around as if nothing happened at all. I'm keeping a close eye on him, though, in particular making sure that he is eating enough.

How many lives has he got left now, I wonder? I've stopped counting.

Hope 5 & 6

These two look more organic. Maybe the idea of hope for the trees, for nature, for life? Even when man has obliterated himself from this planet. Maybe a deep aquatic world, where life can start again?

The light between oceans

One thing I love about the good weather in the summer is that I get to read more. It doesn't make up for the fact that I'm not drawing or painting as much as I'd like. But it feels good all the same.

And if you're still looking for a good summer read, I'd recommend you try "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman. A beautiful story set in Western Australia after World War I. A story of a Lighthouse, its keepers, the sea, and what it brings. A story of right and wrong, where your head tells you it's so wrong, but your heart tells you it feels so right. I cried at the end.

Unless you'd rather wait for the movie, with Michael Fassbender!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

004 - Non-dominant hand

Even with the projects/series that I'm participating in, I found it hard to motivate myself, so now that's it. I've actually added a timeslot in my calendar for drawing, starting tomorrow!

PS: I don't think my hand looks that bony!