Monday, January 30, 2006

Do I sound obsessed?

And here is some more about Mondrian - maybe I am obsessed!
This is still from the Harvard site - a mine of information:
"Mondrian's favorite yellow pigment was cadmium yellow. The British painter Winifred Nicholson remembered the following exchange:

"You are the first person who has ever painted Yellow," I said to him once, "pure lemon yellow like the sun." He denied it, but next time I saw him, he took up the remark. "I have thought about it," he said, "and it is so, but it is merely because Cadmium yellow pigment has been invented.""

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More about Mondrian

Have a look at this link for a comparison of various stages of one of Mondrian's Transatlantic paintings.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I got my first commission for a painting a few months ago - well, I'm embellishing! Brendan asked me to paint a copy of a Mondrian for his office... At first, I wasn't very enthusiastic about it. Why would I want to paint squares and lines?? What I really enjoy is painting nature, so this would be of no interest to me!!

Well, like with all things I do ("tout ce qui mérite d'être fait mérite d'être bien fait" says the little voice in my head), I started researching the subject some more, and now, I'm hooked!

I started with some investigation into composition and how to make the picture interesting, how to draw the eye in. Then, I did a quick mock up with colour. Then, an acrylic on watercolour paper, to figure out how to keep my lines straight. I read up on a site that his black lines are quite flat, that the coloured boxes have lines all going in the same direction, and that his white boxes have a lot of lines going in different directions...

I'm now at the stage where I've started my layers on the canvas, and I've discovered this site from Harvard where they analyse Mondrian's techniques, and I'm discovering plenty more!
My painting won't be an exact reproduction. For a start, I'm using Acrylics, while he used Oils, but I don't think I can face another medium at this point! I have found it fascinating that he is using brushstrokes in different directions for different layers, building up the painting layer by layer.
Here is an example:Here is the information from the Harvard site about this detail:
"This micrograph illustrates Mondrian's characteristic buildup of paint in layers. The surface layer has horizontal strokes, but through this layer you can detect the vertical strokes of a lower layer. Yet another horizontally painted layer of red, somewhat deeper in color, is visible next to the black line, and this one too has a vertically painted layer beneath it."

And I've also found out that he even painted the side of the canvas! I think I'll do that too, although I'm not quite sure how I'll get a masking tape to stick to it, so I might have to just paint over the nails and hope for the best. I'm not sure what a masking ribbon is, and how to attach it.
Here is an example of his technique and the information from the web site:

"The tacking edge of the canvas is an integral part of Mondrian's paintings. He covered the nails that attach the canvas to the stretcher with a strip frame, or in this case with a masking ribbon."

There are many other examples of his technique on that website from Harvard. Go and have a look. It's well worth it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More about yoga

I started attending yoga classes many years ago. The first classes I remember were on Pearse Street, in the Library building I think. Either Unn or Lisa told me about it. The teacher was Marlene, a Flemish lady. She was a very good teacher - she gave me a strong foundation. She is supposed to be a bit strange - apparently, she has wolves at her place in Co. Wicklow...
I attended a couple of other classes - one in Bray at some stage, that focused on chanting (I only went to one class!), and another in St Lawrence's school, which was basic, but enjoyable all the same.
Then, a few years ago, I started attending Patricia Murphy's classes in Airfield. The fact that it was so close was a big plus. Even if I was getting home late from work, it was easy to change quickly, get a bite to eat, and still be there in time. At first, I found that Patricia was jumping a bit too much from one thing to another, but once I got into the rythm of her classes, it became addictive. I've been going to her classes for a good few years now, and I would not miss a class for the world. She is down to earth (no mysticism), and she enjoys introducing new angles all the time. She's introduced us to the chakras, to good breathing, to meditation, as well as more dynamic workouts and the importance of a balanced diet. She's always cheerful, and I always feel good after the class.
In the summer of 2004, I went to the Burren Yoga Centre for a week, as part of my sabbatical. I"ll talk about my experience there some other time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Yesterday's yoga class was good. Patricia pushed us a bit more and we all enjoyed it. The only bit that gave me trouble was the inverted posture in full or half lotus. I just can't get my back up with the legs crossed so high. It's a great class. Most of us have been with Patricia Murphy for years now, and the whole class is moving at a nice level. She's really helped build my strength. I'll probably never be able to do the crow posture - I just have a mental block about it - but I give pretty much every other posture a try.

Monday, January 23, 2006

30 lengths

I did 30 lengths in the pool today - that's 750 metres! I'm very happy with that!

Check out Brendan's art in his blog (we're a very talented family!)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

14 magpies

Yesterday, I saw 14 magpies on one of the big trees in the green at the front of the house. It was quite a sight. Unlike a lot of people, we like magpies. Last year, 2 fledglings had fallen from a tree into our back garden - not a good spot! Remember that Willow likes chicken! To him, these 2 little helpless birds looked like the next best thing to cooked chicken!
We discovered them when we saw the fledglings' mother (or father?? - I'm not sure how to distinguish them) sitting on the ground 2 metres away from Willow and hitting its beak against a tree, causing a racket and trying to distract Willow away from its young. Willow hadn't seen the fledglings at that stage, but he could smell something was up.
So we spent the next week protecting the 2 fledglings - keeping Willow indoors most of the time, and putting the fledglings in a box in the shed whenever Willow was allowed outside. We even left out some food and water out for the 2 poor things. They could not fly yet. The best they could do was flap their wings and jump into the bushes. Day by day, they were getting stronger and were able to take shelter higher up in the trees.
One day, sadly, we found one of them dead in the back. It must have died of stress or cold. There were no marks on it. We're pretty sure Willow isn't guilty.
The other one (we had called him "Scruffy", as he looked to be the weaker one of the two) flew off one day.
Here is some information on magpies if you'd like to find out more about this fascinating bird: Magpie

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ancient Sound

I don't have very much to say today, so I thought I'd post this painting by Paul Klee. It's called "Ancient Sound", and I think the colours are to die for. They just resonate beautifully. It looks so simple, but to get the colours just right takes more than a good understanding of colour theory, it takes talent!
Here is a passage about Paul Klee which I found in Wikipedia - "In 1914, he visited Tunisia [...] and was impressed by the quality of the light there, writing: "Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever ... Color and I are one. I am a painter.""

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

I went to the pictures with Lucinda last night, to see Brokeback Mountain. It was a good movie, and I shed a few tears at the end of course. It was a love story after all. The sex scenes at the start were very explicit. It must have been a shock to the little old ladies in the cinema!! And also the reason why there were so few men in the cinema (there were a few husbands with their wives, fair play to them).
When I looked at the web site for the movie this morning, it struck me how beautiful the music was. It really carries you through the whole movie.

On another note, I have to make a correction to my previous posting - the length of the pool in Total Fitness Sandyford is 25 m, not 28! I must have been still asleep when I wrote my post yesterday! So, I've swum only 550 meters! Ah well! Today felt tougher than on Tuesday. I had forgotten to take my asthma medication last night, and I was very short of breath!! I wouldn't survive long without my uniphyllin.

And on another note again (plenty to write about today!), Brendan has started a blog for PC Medic, so have a look here if you want information about computers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lever de soleil

Hier, le lever de soleil était fabuleux, vu de la petite piscine de Total Fitness [oui, aussi bizarre que cela puisse paraître, je vais à la gym! Pour le moment, je fais uniquement 10 minutes de marche et 22 longueurs de piscine (28 mètres par 22 égal 616 mètres, ce qui n'est pas mal si on considère que j'arrivais à peine à faire 14 longueurs avant Noël!)], rouges et violets intenses, jaunes pâles et bleus profonds.

Quand je faisais les trajets vers le travail, je voyais souvent des ciels que je voulais peindre, mais je n'avais jamais le temps de m'arrêter et d'en profiter, même cinq minutes. Je n'ai pas encore acquis une routine qui me donne le temps de dessiner pendant la semaine, mais je vais m'organiser, au fil du temps.

Monday, January 16, 2006


At the weekend, I finished my Christmas Rose (Cotman and Winsor&Newton watercolours - I'm not talented enough to buy the expensive paints!). I had not stretched the paper properly and it started buckling when I applied water of course, so the paint settled in the valleys. The fact that the paper buckled actually contributed to the organic feel of the picture, so I'm pretty pleased with the result.I got watercolour pencils at the weekend and experimented with them - the colours were a lot more vibrant than I anticipated, and I was really pleased with the result. So, they will be my tool of choice for the holidays (along with my pencils of course!).

(I bought the watercolour pencils (Derwent Aquatone) in the Art&Hobby shop in Dundrum Shopping Centre, with the AnPost voucher I got as my going-away present from IBM. So, thank you to everybody in the IBM Dublin Software Lab who contributed - Plenty more money left in the voucher to get more paints! - I'm enjoying my new life and I now have the time to draw and paint more!)

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Today is a miserable day, but we go to Airfield anyway. The rain abates somewhat and we get a bit of a blue sky and a rainbow towards the end of our walk. It's mucky out there, but I feel refreshed after our walk around the gardens. Poor Betty the pig was hoping for an apple, and came running towards us, but I had come empty-handed...
The bulbs are starting to come out... I love this time of year.
Here is a link to Airfield: Airfield
And here are a couple of pictures that we took on sunnier days:

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Une photo d'Alexandre

Voici une photo d'Alexandre/Sander prise par Yves 3 minutes après sa naissance:

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bienvenue à Alexandre

Alexandre est né hier à Bruxelles. 3,8 Kg. Félicitations à Ingrid et Yves

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More posts!

I'm really enjoying this.
Here is a link to Bryant Park:
The pictures are so gorgeous that I had to share them.

And now, for a little self-publicity, here is a link to our PC Medic web site.


And of course, I have to have a picture of Willow, our beautiful cat. He's 5 years' old and weighs 9 kilos, and he loves chicken and sleeping.

Bryant Park, New York

Here is a picture of one of my favourites places in New York, Bryant Park. Where else can you find such a lovely spot, with tables and chairs where you can sit for 5 minutes or for an hour without having to buy anything! Although I have to say that the vanilla milkshakes you can buy at the kiosk on the corner are to die for.
You can even read a book or a paper at the open-air library..