Thursday, September 29, 2011

Separated at Birth

Brendan came up with this one the other day - uncanny resemblance, isn't it?:

Separated at Birth! Sharon Ni Bheolain and Lady Penelope (from Thunderbirds TV Series)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Red Sky, Red Earth

I'm juggling a few projects - the best way to operate if you don't want to get bogged down with a painting that's not going too well! 

This one I started on Sunday, and it's the one working out best so far.

A Gloss Super Heavy Gel from Liquitex mixed with yellow and white, applied with a painting knife, provides the underlying texture. Then, just two colours, cadmium red and process cyan, mixed with Liquitex Slow Dri Blending Medium.and Liquitex Matte Medium, applied with rough fan brushes I bought in Lidl a while back, and scored with a plastic painting knife. I'm now working on adding small touches of copper oil pastel.

Next, I'm going to experiment - I would like to achieve the same effect on a bigger scale - I need a wide piece of plastic and 3 bigger fan brushes, and a lot more Liquitex medium!

Clementines - The Return

In the meantime, I'm also working on Clementines - The Return. I applied white oil pastel to the background and  did another layer on the scarf. I am further than ever from the original colour of the scarf, but this greener version works quite well. I used a Liquitex slow-dri blending medium to give me more time to work the highlights and shadows. I mixed in a bit of matt medium to tone down the gloss of the slow-dri, but it's still quite shiny. It looks almost like velvet now.

Next, I'm going to have to tackle my Japanese plate. And I'm going to have to rework the background some more. And then probably apply a gloss medium over the whole thing. Right now, the clementines, the plate and the glass are matt while everything else is glossy.

This will keep me busy.

PS: just read the information on the Liquitex slow-dri blending medium on the website, and I have found that you can use this medium, mixed half and half with water as a fixative for pastels. I must get myself an atomizer to try that out! That would be ideal for my mixed-media projects!

Milford Sound

I promised you a better picture of the Milford Sound watercolour, didn't I? Although the picture is better, that doesn't correct the flaws - I'm going to remove the foreground bushes - the pastel effect clashes with the rest of the painting. As for the Mitre and the mountain in front of it, I will need to make them a simpler texture, less fussy. I like my sky, water and mountains in the background on the right. We'll get there eventually.


She's got a really annoying voice, but I'm going to try this walking-at-home program. I need to lose a bit of tummy fat before Christmas, and I don't really want to get up earlier to do more at the gym. I'm already finding it hard to get up these mornings, so trying to get up earlier would probably only make me want to stay in bed longer!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The big C

This summer, we watched the first season of The Big C, a new TV series with Laura Linney. She plays a standard American housewife who discovers she has skin cancer and it is terminal. She doesn't tell anybody, her husband, her son, her brother, and decides to start living life to the full. She wants a swimming pool in her garden, takes a lover, buys a fast car... She kicks her husband out, and the poor man has no idea what's going on.

It's quirky, it's funny, it's sad. I'm looking forward to Season 2

The last of the movies

These rugby matches on weekend mornings are a great opportunity for the likes of me trying to catch up on blogging.

Not too many more movies to cover, so here we go:

Watchmen: a super hero movie with a somber side. The superheroes are mostly retired, and one of them gets killed under suspicious circumstances. And these heroes have some dark secrets. Squeakly-clean they are not. Quite good, but probably not for those who have never watched a super-hero movie before.

Dodgeball: much better than I expected. Light, silly, family entertainment, plenty of laughs.

Duplicity: with Clive Owen and a too-skinny Julia Roberts. Both are spies who quit their jobs and move into the world of industrial espionage. Set in Dubai, Rome, New York and Cleveland, it's a complicated story with many jumps back and forth in time. I enjoyed it. I saw a review that said that Julia Roberts was curvier than in earlier days. Now, I don't agree with that statement. I think she looked too thin. But it just shows the pressures actresses over 40 must come under to stay in shape.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jean Byrne - white leather jacket over black lace?

Over the last few day, Jean Byrne has been wearing some of her lovely dresses - the turquoise one, and also the black one with the golden belt. Beautiful.
Today was an off day, though, with a strange bell-sleeved white leather jacket over black trousers and a black lace top. Not my favourite.

Milford Sound

Here is the final product for Milford Sound (the photograph was taken in artifial light so the colours are a bit yellow. I'll try to take a better picture tomorrow). And also, a black & white version of it - always useful to check the value contrast. I had to add detail to the bushes in the foreground using pastels - the dark block of watercolour was too stark.

Acrylics and watercolours and Zazzle

It's been a few weeks since I've done anything arty at all. Just life, being busy, and other commitments. But it's amazing how hard it is to get back into it. The left side of the brain that keeps going, in its nagging little voice, saying "you can't draw, you can't paint, why waste time trying, it'll never be any good" If I was really good at art, I guess I wouldn't even hear that voice. It's a bit of a struggle.

So here are my two works in progress - a bigger version of Clementines (acrylics) and a more painterly version of Milford Sound (watercolour). Actually, I realise I never posted the original Milford Sound watercolour- I got a few paintings framed around the time I did that one and it got framed before I took a picture of it. It's now on our bedroom wall. So here it is. I had to take the photo at an angle to avoid reflections:

For Clementines, I'm hoping to achieve a more dynamic look by using oil pastels, but it's not going well right now. I'm not even getting the basic blue right, so I'll have to add another layer, and it's starting to look too worked already. I'm a bit conflicted about what I'm trying to achieve, I think that's why it's not working out: I have a notion of a more dynamic feel, but at the same time, I want to achieve a realistic representation of the scarf and bowl. I don't think you can have both. At least, I don't know how.

For Milford Sound, I'm trying to introduce more texture rather than my trademark colour-block approach. Again, something I'm not comfortable with, so it's looking contrived right now. But let's reserve judgement.

The project I enjoyed the most this weekend was to design a Doodle speaker cover - I really didn't put much thought into it (Translate: the left side of my brain didn't interfere) and it's turned out quite pretty!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More movies

Here I am, "watching" the Irish rugby match against Australia in New Zealand on the telly with Brendan. Great opportunity to catch up on my much-neglected blog. I'm going to try and get all these old movies out of the way. Here we go:

The kids are all right. Was that the one with Diane Keaton and Annette Bening playing a gay couple with children and a few issues? All I remember is tastefully designed interiors and frantic acting by Keaton and Bening. Not much good. Actually, it's Julianne Moore, not Diane Keaton. Still not much good.

Easy A: a pleasant enough movie about a girl who pretends to be a slut to help gay friends in school from being outed. It all gets very complicated, of course, but it will end well. She is a good girl after all.

Men who stare at goats: the weirdest movie I've seen in a long time. George Clooney as one of these ex-special ops, with a most interesting skill. He can make a goat die on its feet, just by staring at it. Also with Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey. Great fun, if you're into that kind of weird humour.

Into the wild: this is based on the book by the same name, one that Véronique had recommended to me. The story of a bright young man who leaves everything behind to go and live in the wilderness of Alaska. But disaster strikes and he dies alone. The film, like the book, follows the young man's journey from a comfortable middle-class upbringing to his lonely death in the Alaskan bush, and tries to find out what went wrong. Fascinating journey into the mind of a young man.

Banksy - Exit through the gift shop: on the face of it, not the kind of movie I would have gone for. But I have to say this was a very entertaining movie. It follows a Frenchman based in California who starts to film graffiti artists around the world, and then who decides to have a go at it himself. Art imitating art.

Presidential race

Big day yesterday in the race for the top job at Áras an Uachtaráin.

David Norris has announced that he's decided to join the race again, after withdrawing a few weeks ago in the midst of controversy over his support for his boyfriend at the time, who had been in grouble with the law in Israel over sex with an underage Palestinian boy. What remains to be seen now is whether or not Norris will get enough nominations to make the ticket.

And then, trumping Norris's big announcement, Sinn Féin decided to put forward Martin McGuinness as their candidate.

A gay man or an ex-IRA chief of staff for president? Much more exciting than Gay Mitchell, Michael D Higgins, or even Dana! The next few weeks will be very entertaining!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apple & Mincemeat pie

We're getting an average of 4 apples a week from FruitFellas, and we're not in the habit of eating that many apples, so what a perfect excuse for baking! Aine McAteer's Apple crumble and her Mincemeat and apple pie have been on the menu over the last few weeks. It's not helping our efforts to keep tummy fat at bay, but there is no butter or sugar in any of her recipes, so it must be good for you, only maple syrup, coconut oil and other healthy ingredients!

A word about FruitFellas - we've been getting our veggies delivered every Friday for the last couple of months now and we're very happy. For €20, we're getting plenty of fruit and vegetables, all the staples like potatoes, onions, carrots, bananas, mushrooms, and also things we would not necessarily buy ourselves, like broccoli, oranges and peppers, but that we end up cooking and enjoying more regularly now. For instance, we now both drink a glass of freshly-pressed orange juice at the weekend, something we rarely did before (You know the way, you buy a net of fresh oranges, you make juice on day one, and then they stare at you for the rest of the week, until you have to throw them out, then you don't buy them for months because you felt bad about the waste. The €20-package from FruitFellas generally only contains 2 or 3 juicy oranges, so they get used straight away)

We're struggling a bit with the 2 pears and 4 apples, but it's the perfect time of the year for those yummy apple pies, so nobody here is complaining. (We've managed to eat it without the addition of custard, so hopefully, our waistlines won't suffer too much!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not much time to post these days. Nor to paint, unfortunately. Will get back to posting as soon as I have a bit of time. Hang in there!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day at the Seaside

We've had a miserable summer in Ireland this year - the coldest August in 25 years, grey, and not even that much rain, but just dull and dark. So it was such a bonus when the sun peeped out this afternoon and gave us pure blue skies and temperatures of 20 degrees. Heaven! We've been so deprived of sun this year that even just one good day is enough to make us happy.

So we headed to the beach - Killiney. It was perfect, the water was a gorgeous colour and there were not too many people around. After Killiney, we headed to Sandycove and sat on the wall overlooking the little beach, watching kids play in the sun and in the water.

Just one good day, and I now feel ready for the winter ahead, which apparently is going to be another cold one (something to do with sun flares - too many or too few, I'm not sure which, but it's not good, I'm told, enough to counteract the effects of global warming).

PS: yes, it was quite windy. Our hair is not normally lifted from our foreheads.

Wagamama in Dundrum

Last weekend, with Amy, we tried the new Wagamama's in Dundrum. The one in South King Street is our favourite lunch restaurant when we're in town, so we were delighted to see this new one. Menu was slightly different, but then again, it's a while since we went into town, so they may have changed the menu there too. It's quite big and noisy - a lot of little people - but the food was identical and service was good.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Jean Byrne - red, black, white

Not too many new outfits for Jean Byrne this season, but some old favourites that always look good on her. Actually, I'm not sure if I've seen the red dress before?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Abstract Acrylics

Struggling a bit with my paintings these days. I've been playing with colours and layering techniques in acrylics, but nothing worth keeping. I was trying to develop a theme from my Jungle Fever painting, but the colours I chose for the top layer were just too dark, and absorbed all the light. A further contributing factor was the heaviness of the canvas - the paint settled into it and couldn't be lifted sufficiently to show the vibrant underlayer.

Lessons learned:

  1. if you're planning to lift paint, work on paper or very fine canvas.
  2. don't use a grey or brown for your top layer - it will suck the life out your painting.
  3. paint over it all with gesso and start again

(PS: they actually look better here than in real life, but you get the idea)

Fright Night

We took Amy to the pictures on Saturday - we had heard about Fright Night - it got a good review on Newstalk radio and 2 of the actors were on the Late Late Show on Friday night to promote it. It seemed harmless enough (for a vampire movie, that is). NOT. Within 10 minutes, there was blood gushing in all directions and slow death for some poor souls. Plenty of jump-in-your-seat-and-scream moments. Lots of humour. Scary special effects. And great acting - with a special nod to Colin Farrell and the guy who does Doctor Who.

Great movie. As long as you're not afraid of the dark.