Sunday, May 16, 2010

Big Tree

One of the gorgeous big trees I see outside my window, drawn over a photograph in Photoshop Elements with my beloved Wacom tablet.

Succulent

I completed my succulent watercolour a few days back. I just added darker darks to give it a more 3-dimensional feel. And this is one of the rare cases where the original actually looks better than the web version. For some reason, the vivid background blue doesn't show that well on the web.

Jean Byrne - white bubble jacket

Not sure about these funny sleeves at all, Jean!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

7:28. It must be breakfast time



Other videos in www.youtube.com. Search for MHBD46

Foxes

Remember the Kit Kat Pandas? Well, our foxes are behaving just like that. We sat up last night, from 11 to 11:30 or so, and not a peep out of them. When we checked the video this morning, it shows they had been on the decking several times between 10 and 11, while we were watching Series 4 of The Wire in the front room!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sistine Chapel

I'm not a fan of organised religion, but they did commission great art:

http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html (found this through www.stumbleupon.com)

Mother Fox and 1 cub

Mother Fox

As you have probably gathered from my previous post, we have 3 baby foxes in our back garden. Brendan saw one about a week ago, and we then saw 2 of them on the decking at the back of the house last Friday night and Saturday night.

We had noticed that a hole had been dug at the side of our decking. While Willow was initially blamed (he had very mucky paws that day!), we realised that it was too small for him, plus cats don't burrow, as far as I know. We had also seen that Willow was a bit reluctant to go out the back in the last while. Now we understand why. While I'm sure he would love to play with the cubs (like cats do - he would probably break them.), he must have seen the Mammy, and she is big and lean and strong-looking.

Have a look for yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL2zCdrIuJE

This footage was taken by Brendan on a webcam, using movement-activated video software. The light isn't great (they seemed to be very active between 11 pm and 4 am last night), but you can see her quite well.  We're going to try to place the camera in the Shomera tonight, and hopefully will get a better close-up.

There is a good bit of space under the decking, and our back garden is an ideal safe place for babies - it's got high walls on all sides, a gate that closes it in completely, a large decking area with 3 points of access and also an area at the back of the Shomera where we never go. There is a string of bird feed hanging from the roof of the Shomera - with seeds on the ground just beneath it. A compost bin full of slugs and worms. And abandoned terracotta pots full of snails and slugs. They haven't eaten the kibble we left out for them (the chicken was eaten 2 days ago, but the video footage shows a healthy magpie eating it around 5:20 am!), but as you can see, the Mammy carried the full tray away. We found it at the back of the Shomera, along with feathers and chicken bones... Her pantry, no doubt!

We'll keep you informed on their progress. If you want to know more about foxes in an urban environment, check out this excellent factsheet from the Mooney website: http://www.rte.ie/radio/mooneygoeswild/factsheets/fox/index.html

3 cubs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_dYzCCyIns

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Jean Byrne - blue satin dress + leather jacket?

I didn't like that leather jacket before, and I still don't like it. But Jean Byrne clearly does, as she wears it quite a lot!

The Arch Bistro

We were out with Padraig and Mary last night. We had decided to try the Arch Bistro on Landscape Road in Churchtown, having read and heard good things about it.

First impression was very good, as one of us (not me - I wear varifocals) had forgotten their reading glasses.The waiter overheard us, and instantly had several pairs on offer! Service was very prompt, and the food was pretty good. I had cured salmon for starter - the salmon was lovely, but the accompaniment (crème fraiche, avocado mash and beetroot purée) was a bit bland to my taste. My main course, sea bream with celeriac mash, green beans, potato fondants and scallops, was gorgeous. I decided to try the chocolate brownie for my dessert - it was good, but not as nice as a chocolate fondant. Overall, our impression of the food was good, but not perfect - the boys were disappointed with their crumbles - too little crumble and the fruit was too sweet and lacked bite.

There was a good buzz around - the good reviews are definitely paying off for them.

On the negative side, I found the table a bit tight. Mary felt that the decor was lacking a few paintings on the walls, Brendan felt that the tables should have been dressed with white table cloth, and we all agreed that the staff were dressed a bit too casually (jeans and shirt and/or jumper)

But service was good and our overall impression was quite positive. Not quite Bistro One class, though.

Sheep Dog Trials

Airfield had their Woolapolooza today, and, on top of the sheep-shearing, they had sheep-dog trials.  A couple of clever sheep dogs, 3 clueless sheep, and a man with a whistle. Really impressive what these dogs can do, and how well they respond to the commands. According to the man, they respond to different notes, indicating left, right, stop, but sheep-dogs are a particular breed, born with this ability.

Big crowds and a sunny day. Perfect.

Succulent

Busy painting today. I did a watercolour of the lovely succulent plant I photographed in the Botanic Gardens a few weeks back. I'm not quite done yet, but it's taking shape nicely.



That little plant has been quite an inspiration - drawing, collage, Zazzle bags, aprons & mugs, and now a watercolour. I might try an acrylic to explore it in a more three-dimensional way.

Tree - Mount Merrion

Here is the final picture of my watercolour of a tree on Mount Merrion:


The colours are still not brilliant, but the overall effect is a lot better than my previous attempt:


Now, I'm thinking of doing a big square acrylic of light and shadow on leaves. Probably way to ambitious for my skills, but hey, I enjoy the process, even if the result is not always of the highest level.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

That They May Face The Rising Sun

It took me a long time to read this one - That They May Face The Rising Sun by John McGahern. The last book by McGahern that I read was Amongst Women - of which I remember nothing - I must read it again some time!

I started this one a long time back, but then Mary gave me the loan of the Millennium Trilogy, so I didn't get back to it until a few weeks ago.

The best way to describe it is to say it's a slow burner - very slow. There really isn't much happening. Neighbours coming and going, taking whiskey or tea and biscuits, the seasons around the farm, weddings, funerals, days at the mart. Yet, it's very poetic, and you do get attached to the characters, but over time - they are not instantly likeable. The kind of book I might pick up again in 10 years' time and say "Mmmm... Can't remember what that was about. Let's read it again."

Actually, there is one scene I will remember forever - it involves a cat, a dead hare and an open window into the bedroom. I'll leave you with that thought!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Did I tell you that we've finished the last DVD of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer set (7 DVDs for 7 seasons). It was lovely - full of fun, pathos, wit, silliness, deep thoughts - the perfect geek mix for me. And action, how could I forget action and kung fu scenes. And Love too - Buffy and Angel (a vampire), Spike and Drusilla, Buffy and Agent Reily Finn, Willow and Tara (a witch, but Willow is a witch too, so that's OK), Willow and Oz (who is a werewolf), Sander and Anya (who used to be a vengeance demon), and Buffy and Spike of course - he's a vampire too of course. And great story lines, from start to finish!

Next time, I think I might watch the episodes with commentary - just for a bit of variety. "Next time?", I hear you say, "How can you watch a TV series more than once?" I'm a geek, that's all. And the writing is so good that I'm sure I'll enjoy it again (in a few years time - I'm not that sad!).

So, we're back to The Wire now - Season 3 - Avon Barksdale is out of jail, and things look like they might go pear-shaped for Stringer, who wanted to turn the drug empire into a proper business! But Avon doesn't want to be no Donald Trump! And, thanks to Nesta's advice, we're watching it with the subtitles turned on. Otherwise, no hope of understanding a word of what these guys are saying! If you thought a Belfast accent was hard to understand, try Western Baltimore!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

6 Succulents

OK - these ones I've traced (using my good old Wacom tablet). Then I applied various backgrounds in Photoshop Elements. And finally I put it all in a collage in Picasa. Great fun!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Savvy Shopper

While searching for the Japanese restaurant in Ballsbridge (it's Koishi by the way), I came across this recession website: TheSavvyShopper.ie!

4 Cuppas

A bit of collage in Picasa, a bit of background filling and patching in Photoshop Elements, and there you are:

Tree - Mount Merrion

2nd version of that tree on Mount Merrion. I've added more texture, and my sky is horizontal now.

Still to do: some dappling in the branches and a simple long shadow.

Cuppa

Mug of Barry's Green Tea, drawn free-hand. Background added in Photoshop Elements. Barry's Tea's Green Tea is not quite as green as Japanese green tea, I think. It's a big sharper and heavier, but it doesn't give my migraines, so it must be good so! And it actually looks more or less as brown as in my drawing (yellow ochre? I found this lovely painting on the web, called Harmony in Red and Ochre, and yes, it's the colour at the top of the painting all right.)

And then, the Harmony in Red and Ochre painting inspired me for another version. Much nicer than the blue, isn't it?:

Succulent

I'm still sticking to my regime of one drawing a day - some days it's not much (maybe a blue dot on a page), other days, it's a bit better, like this drawing of the succulent I photographed in the Botanic Gardens a couple of weeks back. It's drawn from the photograph, and almost all free-hand (except the pot, for which I used a plate or a pot of some sort - I don't think anybody should be expected to draw a perfect circle free-hand).

Litter

There was a mention of the problem of litter down the country on Countrywide this morning.. Well, it's not just in the countryside that we have a problem.

We were sitting in the car on Pembroke Street this morning, just around the corner from Baggot Street, not far from FXBs. We were just waiting for the downpour to stop (it's just about stopped now, 2 hours later!), listening to the radio and playing games on my iPod Touch.

Then this big silver taxi came round the corner, and the driver threw out a paper coffee cup out the window - with coffee still in it! Lucky nobody was on the footpath nearby.
Could he not keep the coffee cup in a holder (I'm sure taxis have got cup holders, like most other cars?) until he pulled up beside a bin? It's ignorant people like him that make my blood boil! And there seems to be a lot of them around!

PS: also on Countrywide this morning, there was an interview with Mary Walsh, who produces the free range chicken that Bistro One use in their cooking!

Jean Byrne - leather jacket

But for every good dress day, there can be a bad dress day too. Lovely red dress, from what we can see of it. But the short leather jacket does nothing for it. It would be fine with a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt, but not with a dress, I'm afraid!

Jean Byrne - Yellow Dress

Not everybody can carry yellow, and even fewer can wear all yellow. But Jean can! Beautifully cut yellow dress, with simple black jewelery to compliment it. I like it!