Wednesday, July 27, 2016


When you run out of ideas for drawing/painting, look around you: cat, dog, cup of tea, hand, self portrait, even dirty laundry will do! Actually, dirty laundry is very forgiving, as, once it's in the washing machine, all evidence of wrong angles or lack of measurement disappears for ever!

Monday, July 25, 2016


I've decided to call this series Hope - given the way the world is going, I think we need a lot of hope.

This one is all alone. But it will soon be joined by many others

Hope - About 30cm diameter

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Serenity I, II, III, IV - small monoprints

I'm not sure what to call these guys yet - are they planets with strange dark fissures and red bursts of lava? Or are they circular ponds with reeds, flowers and fish floating on and below the surface?

Will I call them Small Peace? - they make me feel all quiet and peaceful when I look at them, as  if my brain is all like a calm sea, with a few bursts of creativity and passion? And they are fairly small (about 10cm in diameter).

Lord knows we need peace more than ever these days. Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Bagdad, Damascus, Nice, Turkey, Munich, Kabul, ... Very unsettling times. So now, more than ever, I think we need to flood the world with love, kindness and peace.

Maybe I will call them Hope? Maybe the red dots were my subconscious representation of all the people who are killed every day in acts of war, terror or violence? And the background colour is my colour of hope and serenity?

Aaah. Serenity. I think that will work.

Moon cards

Planets on a smaller scale. Maybe we'll call this series Moons. When we think of a moon, of course we think of our own barren rock. But not all moons in our solar system are so uniform in colour and texture. If you've watched Professor Brian Cox's Wonders of the Solar System on Netflix, you'll know all about Titan and Europa, fascinating moons.

The universe is my current inspiration. It is everything.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Morning in Airfield - sketches

I enjoyed my morning in Airfield a couple of weeks ago.

Lots of inspiration - plenty of material to work from - right now, I'm at a stage where I'm doing sketches, trying new materials, new colours, ... But I haven't painted proper paintings since the end of May. I miss that. What I need to do now is set aside two hours a week to actually tackle full paintings. No excuses! (And I'm fooling myself if I believe that making those statements in public is going to motivate me! But I know I need a routine. So if I put it in my calendar, it will actually happen!)

Morning in Airfield - Flowers

Not as many flowers in bloom as I had expected in Airfield last week, but still plenty of inspiration. I will be going back in September - I see from my blog that there was a lot of colour there, including sunflowers, at that time last year!  I must pencil that in my calendar!  In the meantime, plenty to work from!

Friday, July 22, 2016

More Planets

These round monoprints look better in reality, with some really interesting detail. But I'll have to think about the colours I want for the overall effect. I'm not sure at this stage. They might look very good framed. But there is a cost to framing them. I'll put them away and look at them again later. 

The Wake

I don't go to that many movies. I go to even fewer plays.

The Wake, a play by Tom Murphy showing in the Abbey in Dublin, got a lot of praise.

Me, I don't understand why:

  • it was the usual story that comes up again and again in Irish theatre, writings and movies - Irish families and all their tensions, emigrants coming back, a will that sends all the characters on a collision course, alcohol abuse, child abuse in religious institutions, a family secret, ...
  • it didn't know if it was a tragedy or a comedy - and I think the actors didn't know either. Maybe the idea was that, like real life, there can be funny moments in the middle of a lot of sadness. But to me, it looked like the main character, Vera, was schizophrenic. Maybe she was?
  • the bit of nudity that was on display was not necessary - I'm not a prude, but I really don't think it added anything.
  • the acting was just too much - Fair City school of over-acting is what I call it - the posh brother in law, the main person, Vera, vulnerable and bolshy at the same time, the scheming sister, the meek sister, the drunk ex-boyfriend, ... To me, none of them came across as real people, just archetypes.
  • the actors were shouting - and yet I couldn't hear them properly (and I am not deaf)
  • and it was way too long - 3 hours? Please
All that to explain why I left at the interval. Life is too short. Thankfully, my better half's verdict was the same!
Maybe the second act was much better. Sadly, I will never know!

If you want to find out for yourself, I think The Wake will be at the Abbey until the end of the month. I saw it in early July, but didn't want to spoil anybody's appreciation of it with my opinions!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

101 sketches

I really need the discipline of a challenge, or a regular routine. So I came across this on the web a couple of months ago, and I drew my shoes. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trying out colour mixes

You know me when I have leftover paint in my palette - I find it hard to part with it, let's say.

Perfect excuse to try out my new sketchbook, Daler Rowney's Ebony. Which by the way is not designed for wet media, but it's the perfect paper for trying out composition and colours and ideas. I got the A4 portrait hardback version. And I love how soft that paper is. And as you can see, the colours look lovely on it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Colour mixing

I recently acquired a few new colours for my watercolour palette:

  • Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71 - Daniel Smith)
  • Pyrrol Red (PR254 - Daniel Smith)
  • Green Apatite Genuine (Daniel Smith)
  • Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50 - Daniel Smith)

What prompted this exploration of new pigments?, you might wonder. Well, I came across an excellent article by Grahame Booth in Artists & Illustrators about choosing new pigments for his palette, and what mixes were particularly interesting.

I've tried out a few of his suggestions below, and I was delighted with the results. The only disappointment was that Daniel Smith's Cobalt Teal Blue is exactly the same pigment, PG50, as Schmincke's Cobalt Turquoise, which I already had.

PS: you can get Artists  & Illustrators online via your local library (in Ireland - I don't know about the rest of the world) - you need a library card and you log on to a site on your ipad, then you can open the magazine via Zinio.

Man shouting

Another poured acrylic. This one is quite small, 10x10cm. And it looks better in photo than in reality. Somehow, it doesn't look as transparent as the previous one. So this is where it ends. For now.

Monday, July 18, 2016

ISS Live Stream

These days, I'm all into space things - watching Brian Cox on Netflix, and checking out the Live Feed from the International Space Station on UStream.

I find it all so beautiful, our world, our galaxy, our universe, the possibility of other universes. And it makes me question why governments are not funding more space exploration. We're so busy hating, killing, suppressing, destroying, both the people and the planet. What a waste. When you see how wonderful the world is, how unique, and how special. And yes, I do strongly believe that there are other planets with life on them, somewhere out there. Too far for us to ever find out. And maybe those civilisations are dead already. Self-destroyed. Just like we will be some day. Probably sooner than we'd like to think. So, we should concentrate on exploring what's out there. And who, maybe.

Nebula 1

OK, no more Kerry photos. Although, I have just found a few on my phone, so the Kerry bombardment might not be over yet!!

I'm re-exploring some acrylic techniques that I had forgotten about. This one, which I've called Nebula 1, as we're watching Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe on Netflix (I still can't believe he's 48 by the way!), was painted with Liquitex pouring medium. Not a difficult technique per se, but one difficult to pull off. The reward is a fantastically glossy painting. The drawback is that it's very hard to achieve a completely flat surface, without bubbles (or insects or cat hairs) getting trapped in the paint as it slowly slowly dries. And if, like me, you only have one working desk, you can do nothing else while it dries. I would leave it a minimum of 24 hours without moving it. And I use an Ikea cardboard box to protect it from harm. And then, even weeks later, it can still be tacky. Don't lean it against any paper, or they will stick to it.

I worked three layers for this one, so there are elements that shine through from below. I love the transparency of this technique.