Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Moving On

I've got plenty of inspiration material, collected over time, magazine clippings, internet photos, our own photographs. Sometimes, that can be overwhelming. But yesterday, it enabled me to quickly move on. This one is quite unusual - it's a photograph I found on the National Geographic website, of a volcanic eruption underwater in the Atlantic ocean near El Hierro in the Canaries. I just loved the mad colours, and El Hierro is one of the Canary islands I haven't seen yet and a friend of mine went hill-walking there a few years ago and said it was wonderful - she even snorkelled there. So, it's on my list of things to do some day before I die. But maybe I'll wait until all that seismic activity settles down a bit. In the meantime, I'll dream of the deep blue sea with a lime green stain!

Colours used are: indigo + prussian blue for the sea, burnt sienna + a touch of indigo for the mountains, and phthalo blue (what else - when you need a mad green, phthalo blue is the one you want) + cadmium yellow. I played with the colours before I launched into the painting itself. This is something that Shirley Trevena recommends - it's a warm-up before you start on the real work, a way to relax into it, to get the creative juices flowing, and to check that the colours are going to work! Very often, I tend to jump straight into a painting, but then I end up having to scrap my first attempts until I've worked out my colours and techniques, so there is a lot to be said for these watercolour doodles. In this one, I used the colours listed above, as well as a blue oil pastel. The mottled effect is achieved with a Schmincke Aqua effect spray.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Impressions of Christmas


Here is the photo that inspired that little watercolour.
And another picture of the painting, taken in better light. It's a strange little painting. If you look at it close, it's just splatter and strange white lines. But if you step back and view it from a distance, it takes shape and looks quite convincing. I'm not sure where to go from here - I don't think it's frameable, but I don't know how to improve on it. Maybe I'll just move on?

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I'm still exploring the theme of the colour green, or rather the million of hues that fit under that label! This little painting is created from 5 pigments only: cobalt blue, aureolin yellow, burnt sienna, hooker's green and black (yes, black, not something you see much in watercolours, but hooker's green + black is a combination recommended by Sherley Trevena, an artist who is not afraid to paint with bold colours. Hooker's Green is pretty boring on its own, but with black, it develops great depth. I've also just tried it with Interference Gold, and I think that will be worth exploring too!

This is a scene from a photograph taken in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin in the spring of 2010. Must go back there soon to take more photos!

Plenty of splattering for textures. I had to use an old shirt to protect my clothes. Messy business.

Reasons to drink Green Tea

Green tea is good for everything! And I love the taste of it. My personal favourite is Clearspring's Sencha.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Siobhan Ryan, Christmas Day

A modern look for Siobhan Ryan on Christmas Day. Somehow, I knew she wouldn't be wearing a tight-fitting silver dress! Would love to see the bottom of this dress. Is it long, is it short? That's one thing RTE never shows: the weather forecasters' legs. Very different picture on TV5 (we've watched a good bit of French-speaking television in the last 10 days) where one of the weather presenters was showing quite a bit of leg!

Jean Byrne, black dress, 22 December

Classy black dress for Jean a few days before Christmas. I don't think Jean was on duty on Christmas day, so no silver dress this year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

If you want to purchase some of my designs, go to
make custom gifts at Zazzle

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little House in the Prairie 3

I shouldn't have started with the sky. It's too different from the rest of the painting. It was a good sky, though, just not right for this painting. I got the steps for painting the sky in a Cheap Joe video - the colours are Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna. For the rest of the painting, I used a variety of mixes using just my three favourite  colours: PB29 (ultramarine), PV19 (permanent rose) and PY184 (vanadium yellow).

So, after taking a picture of it, I scrubbed my sky off and applied a strong wash of ultramarine with just a dash of vanadium yellow. The picture below is not quite the final painting - with all the colours so strong, the white dashes in my foreground grass stood out too much, so I dabbed a pale vanadium yellow wash over it. I'll have to see in the morning if that works or not. If not, I'll add a diluted ultramarine wash. PS - the sky is not quite that blue. I must take another picture of it.

So, here is the final product. The vanadium yellow worked really well. And I decided to crop the painting tighter, to get rid of some of the sky, which I felt was dominating too much. And the colour in the picture below is truer to the actual painting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I drew another pair of shoes earlier in the week, but not pretty enough to show here. But I think my little pepper is quite nice so I decided to show it to you all. Peppers are very forgiving - even if you don't get the bumps and dips quite right, your drawing will still look like a pepper. An art teacher friend of mine told me once that she always starts the year with nature subjects, just for that reason. The talented students can then move on to urban landscapes and portraits. Some like me will stick to the peppers for life!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Les Belges du bout du Monde

For those of you who missed it on Belgian Televison: Les Belges du bout du Monde - Marie-Hélène Brohan Delhaye - RTBF Vidéo
It's a really strange feeling to see myself on the telly, but Dublin looks good!
Wondering if the number of Belgian visitors to Ireland will noticeably increase after this? Is that even something that is measured?

My Shoes

My summery espadrille platforms. That was a tough one to draw. Not 100% sure where it went wrong, but I didn't get the proportions right - either the straps are too narrow or the sole is too long, but they just don't meet where they're supposed to. I'm definitely trying a simpler shoe next time.

Still and all - it doesn't look too bad.

Last summer wasn't great, so I didn't get a chance to wear them much, but they're really comfy, so I can't wait for good weather to start wearing them again!

Jean Byrne

A few outfits worn by Jean Byrne recently. I can only assume that RTE/Met Eireann have reduced their presenters' clothes allowance - it's the recession for everybody after all, and I approve of cutbacks to unnecessary spending - as Jean hasn't bought new clothes recently. 

I think the red dress is relatively recent, and a favourite of the boys who spend time discussing her attributes on the Facebook group "The Jean Byrne Appreciation Society" and other forums. I may have seen the black lamé jacket on her before. And the biker jacket is definitely a favourite of hers - though not of mine I have to say - I think it looks wrong over a dress. Of the three outfits here, I prefer the lamé jacket.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

We'll always have Paris 3

Finally, and it turned out easier than I thought, "We'll always have Paris" on 700x500mm canvas. If I was to do it again, I would add a 5th background layer, to correct the slight unevenness in my brushstrokes. But I don't think I can face another go. I'm happy with the textures, the colours (the actual red is not quite as fire-engine red, it's a lovely subtle mix of burnt sienna and quinacridone red), the fluidity. I'm looking forward to seeing it hanging over our mantelpiece.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Flying Dutchman

VDH sent me a link yesterday for a free live web transmission of Wagner's Flying Dutchman at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège. And also for free streaming from La Monnaie, the Belgian National Opera House. Here I was, thinking that all there was online was the Met. How wrong I was. If I start looking, I'll probably find another dozen opera houses streaming their live performances free of charge. I guess they do it as a way to attract new audiences, who may then go onto actually buying a ticket some day.

I haven't reached a stage yet where I'm comfortable with Wagner, apart from Tristan & Isolde, with its beautiful sweeping music. I did watch the whole performance of the Flying Dutchman though. It's one of Wagner's shorter operas, at two and a half hours. I can't say I loved it, but I did appreciate the music and the drama. Maybe it was the speakers on my laptop, but I didn't think that the voices were very strong at the start. It did improve when I moved to my iPad with headphones, so I think the problem was at my end. The lady who sang  Senta, Manuela Uhl, sounded to me like the perfect Wagner singer, beautiful voice, full of thrills. But she wasn't fat! So that killed one of my preconceptions about Wagner operas! And Mark Rucker, the Flying Dutchman, was a big presence on stage.

The set was interesting, but maybe distracting too. One of the first scenes is on the deck of a ship caught in a storm, and that was nicely done, with projections representing the huges waves pummeling the boat, and the cast leaning left and right, just like on the deck of the Starship Enterprise! When the Flying Dutchman arrives, the ground lifts up to reveal a vision of hell, with skeletons and giant red cobwebs. I quite liked that bit. The set and production reverted to a more static form after that, not quite as dramatic.

From what I can see on the website, they will offer a replay on the 17th & 18th of December. Keep an eye out for it. Also available on the site are cast interviews and promotional clips.

Friday, December 02, 2011

My shoes

Nothing like a public statement to motivate me! Almost as soon as I had written my previous post, I picked up my pen and paper and another pair of shoes (Imelda Marcos, eat your heart out, although she probably didn't go for flats like I do). I didn't use the flash for the picture at the top, so it's not quite as sharp,but the colour is fairly true to the original. For the the picture at the bottom, I used the flash and I also made it black & white in Picasa. Here is the result, my beautiful little leopard-spot pumps. BTW, I'm a size 37.5/4.5.

My shoes

I have to start practising what I preach - drawing every day! Sometimes, I go for weeks without drawing anything, except for what I'm planning to transfer to acrylics or watercolours. Drawing for its own sake is real fun and I should do more of it. I started on Tuesday, with a pair of shoes that I love. I didn't get around to it on Wednesday. But I forgave myself and drew another pair on Thursday, another of my comfy favourites. I'll probably skip today - it's the night of the Late Late Toy Show after all, so I won't find 15 minutes to draw! Great excuse, isn't it? No, no, no. There is no excuse. I probably spend 15 minutes every day playing Solitaire (I am an addict, let's face it), so I could easily swap that for 15 minutes of drawing. But will I, really?

If, like me, you need help in motivating yourself to draw, I recommend The Creative License, by Danny Gregory. He's even got a full chapter on "Resistance", with a section on "Excuses" and "Procrastination".

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Siobhan Ryan, black and pale pink outfit, 28 October

Another nice outfit for Siobhan Ryan last night, though I think it looks a bit old on her.

More bad weather on the way! The map shows the rain we got yesterday morning. It was pretty bad, sheets of heavy rain, relentlessly peltering down.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Siobhan Ryan, classy LBD, 27 October

Simple but classy, and beautifully accessorised. Siobhan Ryan got it spot on with this little black dress last Sunday evening.

And as you can see, some cold weather on the way this week.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Little House in the Prairie 2

For this second attempt (it's the 4th actually, but the first two were really bad - it does take me a while to get all the elements lined up: composition, center of interest, colour dominance, values), I was trying some techniques I found on a Cheap Joe video for mixing colours on the paper without ending up with mud. No mud here, that's for sure! I even went a bit mad on the orange. But the whole scene lacks harmony. I used something like 10 different base colours, so no wonder it's like a mad orchestra without a conductor.But I like the composition. So I'm going to have another go!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Breaking Bad

We were on the lookout for a new TV series to watch over the winter when Niall recommended Breaking Bad to Brendan. I don't know how we had never heard of it - maybe it's not been showing on the Irish & UK channels? Like all the best in American television, what gives it its power is a good story, with characters who feel like real people. If you're not afraid of a few violent scenes, this story of Walt White, a struggling chemistry teacher and family man in New Mexico who finds he has lung cancer and decides to start cooking meth, is just amazing. No special effects (well, apart from the occasional explosion), no vampires or special powers. Just the exploration of how a terminal-cancer diagnosis changes your perspective on life. In a very different way from The Big C, it has to be said. I can't imagine my old chemistry teacher getting involved in the drug-dealing trade. I guess you have to accept a certain level of suspension of disbelief to enjoy these things.

There are plenty of side stories that will develop over time, I'm sure. Like that of Walt's sister-in-law, whom we've just found out, has a propensity for shop-lifting. And Jesse, his drug-dealing partner, who comes from a posh family and whose little brother is a high achiever. But so far (we're at Series 1, Episode 7), it's mostly about Walt, his humdrum life as a teacher, his meager income supplemented by a part-time job in a car-wash, his son Walter Jr, who has cerebral palsy and is in high school, his wife Skyler, who is expecting their second child. One interesting complication is that his brother-in-law, Hank, is a DEA agent. I won't go into too much of the detail of how Walt discovers he has cancer and his impulse decision to make money for his family by making and selling drugs. But each episode so far has been full of surprises, twists, horrific turns (it's a violent world, after all), family love, and lots of good chemistry.

And the great news is - they're making Season 5, so we'll have plenty more to look forward to.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Little house in the prairie

Well, sponge painting is not as easy as you'd think! While my little trial trees looked lovely, I wasn't able to reproduce the effect on a proper painting. Where I went wrong, I'm really not sure. The colours are lovely, but it lacks structure and shape. What happened, I think, is that I got colour-happy and didn't create an individual shape for each tree.

I still went on with the rest of the painting, as I wanted to experiment with how I'd paint the little house. As it turns out, it became the centrepiece of this watercolour. I had really intended the trees to be the centre of interest, but it didn't work out that way. The trees ended up looking more like fire actually, which is quite interesting, if that was the effect I had been looking for!

You'll notice also that I didn't paint the lime-green tree beside the house. It's not that I forgot, no, no. I was trying to use some of the tips from Powerful Watercolour Landscapes, and as I wanted the trees on the hill to be my "What" (the focus of the painting), I decided to eliminate the bright-green tree altogether. Well, the little house became the "What" instead (and, yes, I know the roof isn't quite right - I'll fix that in the next version). I've got a lot to learn! We'll get there eventually!

We'll always have Paris II

OK, I'm slowly building up to the large size painting. I've moved from 405x305mm to 508x405mm. It doesn't sound like much but if you were to see the two side by side on a wall, you would notice. This is still on acrylic canvas paper, which is lovely and fine, but a bit too thin for the kind of knife application I'm thinking of. My next step is roughly 700x550mm, on canvas.

Anyways, I'm happy with this first step. Let's hope things go well for my next.

I'll just have to learn how to take better pictures of acrylics paintings. They tend to catch the light, so I guess I should photograph them in a North-facing room, using a tripod to minimize camera shake. Next time, next time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks, wasn't an easy book. I nearly gave up on it at the start. I thought it was a war story, but there is a long preamble, set in prewar France, where our hero, a young Englishman, is falling for his boss's wife. It's not that I don't like a good love story, but I felt the emotions were over-exaggerated, not to mention the sex scenes! I just didn't see the two lovers as a likely pair.

Where the book's strength lies, though, is in its meticulous depiction of WWI, in the trenches and the tunnels and on the hopeless battlefields of Northern France, where the bodies are so pulverised by artillery shells that most of them can't be identified, where lice cause an incessant itch, and where friendships, brief or lasting, depending on your luck, are formed.

I'm sure I studied WWI in school, but it didn't make much of an impression. In the case of WWII, I suppose Saving Private Ryan gave us all a sense of the butchery that is war. But, until I read this book, I didn't really have any idea of what it was like for the soldiers in the trenches in 1914-1918. The depictions are so vivid that I don't think I'll ever need a movie for a better sense of the conditions that the soldiers had to endure.

There is a third part to the book, set more or less in the present day, which took me by surprise. Not sure if it really worked for me, but I suppose it ties the whole story together. I felt it was more a literary tool than an integral part of the story, and I don't like to be manipulated by an author.

All that said, I think Birdsong is worth the read, just for its central story of men and war.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Day

Just finished reading One Day. It wasn't bad but I don't really see what the fuss was all about - Dexter doesn't deserve Emma, he's a spoilt, selfish, rich kid, with not too many redeeming qualities. I kept on thinking "what does she see in him?". And the ending was (spoiler alert) a bit like Cold Feet, not very original. Don't get me wrong, I loved Cold Feet. But that's a few years ago.

Aha! I just read that the author, David Nicholls, used to write for Cold Feet. So that explains it all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Satyagraha - Philip Glass on the piano and Richard Croft singing

At the end of the day, it's always about the music (I picked this up from the Met website).

Satyagraha - Staging

Interesting little video showing different aspects of the production of Satyagraha, Philip Glass's opera about Gandhi's formative years in South Africa. As there is little action per se in the opera, the staging was essential in creating a visual projection for the characters' emotions, with all sorts of unusual props - newspapers, giant puppets, sellotape, fire, clothes, lanterns and people pulled up into the sky.


One of my favourite parts from Satyagraha, Philip Glass' opera, broadcast from the Met HD Season last night. Visually beautiful, and full of emotion.

I loved the fact that the words didn't matter so much - I often find that I get distracted by the sur-titles. Here, you could just relax and let the visuals and music sweep over you.

 PS: I think this version is played faster than at the Met. It's actually better played slower, as the "hahahahahahaha" of the men's chorus sounds more sinister at a lower pace. Have a listen here to compare (+ some photographs showing the stunning staging production)!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Walk Walk Walk

OK, she's still scary, but I just did the three-minute walk-at-home, and I feel good.

Don't Feed the Fairies

Don't Feed the Fairies, was recommended to me by one of our customers, who told me that this book was Eileen Gormley's first work of fiction.

I don't normally read fantasy/science fiction (though I watch a lot of it), but Don't Feed the Fairies grabbed me  straight away. Great start to the story, good characters and a roller-coaster of a ride. Don't expect something too serious. This is simple light good fun.

It's the story of an alien woman who finds herself stranded on earth after her plans to farm humans don't work out. You see, these aliens are not exactly vampires, but they suck the energy out of animals on their planet, and they have found that humans are very tasty. She meets a few humans on the way, and rescues a baby alien, who looks just like a cute little fairy.

The only thing that disappointed me in the book is that it ended too abruptly. All of a sudden, it was all wrapped up, a bit too swiftly for my taste. But I guess the author is planning plenty more stories around Cytolene and her motley crew, and I can imagine it quite well making the transition to the big or small screen.

And it's great value too. You can buy the Kindle edition for $3.51 on (For some strange reason, Irish customers still can't buy Kindle books from the site? I don't get that.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I decided to play with the gorgeous burnt sienna colours that I used in The Eye of the Tiger, and I have big plans. The problem is that I always try out my new ideas on small acrylic canvas paper (405x305mm), like this dynamic abstract painting here.

And when they turn out well, I feel that I will never be able to achieve the same again on larger canvas. There is the question of size of course, and the tools to use to create lines and areas of colour. But there is also the question of the canvas density. Acrylic canvas paper is very finely-woven, whereas the canvases I have (from Lidl - I'm not at the stage where I want to spend big money on expensive canvases, but maybe I should!) are rougher, more of of loose weave. The issue is that paint will always seek the lowest ground and pool in the weave.Which makes it hard to draw quick sharp lines. I'll try it anyway. In the meantime, we'll always have Paris. That's what I just decided to call this one! Better than Abstract Number 10.

BTW. the background colour is a mix of Phthalo blue and Raw Umber - a beautiful rich dark. I've also tried Ultramarine blue and Raw Umber - not as vibrant, but really really dark too, particularly when you apply two layers.

Fall Colours

I can't resist a good challenge, me. I'm already on my second disastrous attempt at painting this lovely pastoral scene I found in The National Geographic. At each step, I'm learning more. Or rather realising that I'm not applying anything I've learned over the last few years of painting. That's the problem when you're jumping from one medium to the next. But I think I'm on the right track now - I'm going to do sponge painting. Great fun and quite a good technique for trees and foliage - I hope!

I tried out a small sample yesterday and I'm pleased with the result. I'll just have to find a way to vary the pattern more, and to increase the contrast between background and foreground, without going too dark.  What I'd really like to do is stamp painting, as I've seen some lovely effects in books, but any attempts I've made in the past have been no good.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Eye of the Tiger

Painting is like horse-riding, you might fall, but you have to pick yourself up and get back in the saddle (on the saddle? It's the little words, isn't it?). Well, I've never done any horse-riding, so I wouldn't know.

I got myself some nice burnt sienna paint at the weekend and played with shades inspired by a Creature Comforts colour composition.

Here is the result - not frameable, but a whole lot more colourful than my previous efforts.

Christmas Cards

Today, we received the Christmas cards we designed, me and BB, on Zazzle, and I'm really pleased with them. Simple but gorgeous!

Autumn in the United States Photos - National Geographic

I'm always on the lookout for art inspiration. I have tons of beautiful photographs, taken by ourselves or found on the web.

Some lovely ones on National Geographic, as always:
Autumn in the United States Photos - National Geographic

No wonder I feel a bit overwhelmed! How would I even start to tackle something like this!

Friday, November 04, 2011

We need to talk about Kevin

It sucks you in. "We need to talk about Kevin" follows the mother of a Columbines-type school murderer in the aftermath of her son's actions, as she tries to make sense of the events that have taken her life from under her feet.

She remembers Kevin as a baby, how difficult he was from day one, how she was too exhausted to bond. And yet, she never gave up on him, even if she found him strange and disturbing.

It's not a conventional movie. Tilda Swinton is not a conventional actress. There is a lot of red colour, but not much blood, so don't expect to be shocked in that way. But this movie is so powerful, you will not forget it.

Pan Am

Still not sure if we like Pan Am or not. It's light. What I find really grating about it is the bad sets - In this day and age, surely, there are ways to give the illusion of Paris or Berlin without spending a fortune. In Pan Am, unfortunately, it looks like they left the set designs to a teacher producing the school musical!

Not sure if we'll stick with it!

Siobhan Ryan - grey dress with zip, 31 Oct

Siobhan Ryan is becoming more confident in her delivery of our weather forecasts. It's not always good news, but that's the life of a weather forecaster!

Don Giovanni

I love Mozart's operas. They are so much fun, and there is a great tune kicking in at every turn. Don Giovanni is no different, every time a singer takes a breath, it's to start a beautiful aria, charming duet or bracing ensemble. No other opera composer does it with such verve!

And, for that, I enjoyed last Saturday's Met HD transmission. The singers were fantastic. And I loved Mariusz Kwiecien's baritone in the title role, and the energy he brought to it, despite his recent back injury and operation. And Luca Pisaroni's Leporello was full of mischief, just as he should be - I loved his first aria, Madamina, il catalogo è questo. (And if you like cute dogs, make sure to check his "Dogs on the Road" and Dog Blog page. Lenny & Tristan even have a facebook page!)
To me, it is pure Mozart, lively, fun, light and bubbly.

Special mention also has to go to Barbara Frittoli and Marina Rebeka, in the roles of Donna Elvira and Donna Anna, respectively. Though it has to be said that Donna Anna is a rather dull character, or, as Marina Rebeka herself explained, she is mourning for most of the opera, so she is quite a difficult one to play - she is sad and angry, not a wide range of emotions.

The production was quite traditional, nothing new or modern about it, and for that reason, a bit disappointing. But when you have such beautiful music and great acting, you don't really need a fancy set, choreography or interesting lighting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Cheap" Joe Miller-Non Traditional Watercolor

I find this demonstration of non-traditional watercolour techniques even more interesting than the previous one. Beautiful colours that sing together. To me, it shows that the subject matter doesn't need to be lofty in order to produce a good painting. Here, Joe is painting a few pharmacy bottles and a big paint brush, making references to his two careers - one as a pharmacist and the other as a painter and artist supplier. That's what prompted me to start my "Pag" project. I'm a translator, a project manager and a computer repairer. So, I decided to go back to my love of diachronic linguistics (the history of language to you and me). I don't think I'll make something as pretty as Joe's painting, though, but the joy is in the making. That's good enough for me. I'm not planning to sell any of my paintings - though we're running out of walls, so I'll have to figure something out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Cheap" Joe Miller-Traditional Watercolor

I know it's really about selling products (their American Journey watercolours are currently on special offer), but I love Cheap Joe's videos - he just makes it look so easy and the colours are always vibrant. I wish all my  watercolours looked that good. Or maybe they would if I bought Periwinkle and Halloween from the American Journey range! I'm tempted!

Siobhan Ryan - 24 Oct - Blue dress

New dress for Siobhan Ryan. She also wore a nice pink dress a few days ago, but I forgot to snap it on the RTE Player.

I think she's growing her hair longer, but I think I like it better when it's not pulled back so severely from her face.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Red Sky, Red Earth

I didn't think that a larger version of Red Sky, Red Earth would work, but I was wrong. It was quite easy to do in the end. I had to get plenty more acrylic glossy medium for my base layer, which I got in Kennedy's. I had rung earlier to see if they had what I needed, but I got quite worried when I saw a lady ahead of me buying tons of acrylic medium, and I thought I had made the trip into town for nothing. But the gentleman whom I had talked to on the phone had set aside the medium we had discussed, fair play to him.

I've used less oil pastel, which I think works better, less fussy. On the other hand, I wish I had used a slightly stronger yellow as a base - I find it too pale. Not sure how we'll go about framing this one - it's painted on canvas board, but no doubt the man in Village Framing will work something out.

Les Belges du bout du Monde

Coming soon - click on the video for a taste of what Belgians around the world are getting up to these days - Les Belges du bout du Monde

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I've got this notion in my head about a painting around my favourite indo-european root, pag. Not the easiest thing to express in a visual way, so I'll need to explore for a while. I've started here with a few clothes pegs, courtesy of Padraig who took this lovely photograph, that I manipulated with Photoshop and Picasa. How I'll incorporate fasten, page, travail, travel, newfangled, peasant, peace, pectin and Pacific into this, I have no idea! And a peg is hard to draw, so I might need to make a little stencil that I can paint over. I might start with a collage, then move on to watercolours. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jungle Fever

I'm doing more acrylics work than watercolours these days. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. Acrylic colours are easy and vibrant. But I get so lost in the glorious hues that I forget composition and structure. It's certainly a great way of ignoring the fact that I should practise drawing more.

But never mind all that. I picked up some cadmium deep red, process cyan and cadmium yellow the other day and dabbed it all over canvas paper, with a touch of slow-dri blending medium. It wasn't particularly pretty.

Then I mixed more process cyan with lemon yellow and cadmium yellow, and applied it all over, again with slow-dri blending medium. Before it had time to dry, I pulled the paint around the canvas with a plastic painting knife. The result is more like graffiti than painting, and the green is too green, but I like the idea of it, if not the actual result. Yes, I think I'm going to explore this theme with a more natural green maybe, or a deep red. Hard to know what will work best.

I've tried a few variations in Photoshop and I can't decide between the olive green and the maroon. It makes for a nice collage though!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Anna Netrebko video blog

For a glimpse into Anna Netrebko, check out her video blog - down to earth &  funny, not your typical opera diva!