Friday, March 29, 2013


We watched Looper a couple of weeks ago - interesting concept: Time travel has been invented in the future, but is forbidden. Gangs from 30 years in the future are using it to send enemies to the present time to get killed by "loopers", hired guns who blast the victims the second they appear in the present.

Occasionally, the victim is himself - in which case the reward is a large amount of gold, enabling the looper to live the good life, knowing that it will all end in 30 years.

What happens when a looper refuses to kill his older self and the two of them end up in the same timeline? Or if his older self escapes? Well, it's a Bruce Willis movie after all, so there is a lot of blasting guns, many dead baddies, a few innocent victims, and a small dose of romance.
Very enjoyable.


I was trying out various techniques for this little project. I like how the trees in the distance look, well, in the distance. My foreground trees are a bit too blue and the ground is too dark and the water is a bit messy. And the shape of the trees is completely wrong. But it's a start.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Siobhan Ryan, red dress with back zip, 26 March

Very sharp look for Siobhan Ryan yesterday, with this simple red dress - she carries it well.

And again, a lovely smile at the end, making it easy for me to get a good print-screen from the RTE Player. Thank you Siobhan!

Siobhan Ryan, black dress with lace detail, 22 March

Lovely dress (or skirt and top?) with a front lace detail.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013


Another art journal project, using my lovely Neocolor II pencils.

I got a dragonfly stamp and a pigment ink pad at the Art & Hobby shop at the weekend, and I applied to the bottom of the right-hand page, but I have to wait for it to dry before I show you. 24 hours later, and it's still sticky. I read somewhere that you need to set the pigment ink with a heat gun, which I don't have. I've tried for a few minutes with a hair dryer, but it didn't dry it fully. It says nothing on the box. If anyone can advise, I'd be most grateful!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Green Tree

An actual green this time.

Green Tree

Here is another one - same colours, different mix.

Green trees

Well, I did a few aboriginal snails all right, but also a good few trees with backgrounds in many shades of green. More precisely cobalt blue + aureolin yellow + burnt sienna. Amazing the range of colours that I managed to produce by varying amounts of just those three pigments. Hopefully I'll be able to reproduce the vibrancy and range when I start painting for good. This weekend, I'm just buying time before I set paintbrush to watercolour paper!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Art Journals - turning a new leaf

This one is a camouflaged failure, or maybe just a failure, pure and simple!

I tried to use an old dried maple leaf as a stamp, but it got all messed up, so I covered it up with phthalo turquoise acrylic, applied with a cute little sponge brayer which has been hiding in a drawer for years  - the sponge is cut out in alternating up and down lines, which gives this lovely line effect.

But who am I fooling, really? If it wasn't in my little book, I would be using the back of that paper for something else. Colours are quite vibrant, though, and the process was fun. And the one on the right isn't too bad?

I'm hoping to get a set of Gelli-Arts printing plates for my birthday later on this year, and I'll then be able to explore printing techniques! Can't wait!


Art journals

Still having fun with art journal pages - gesso, Neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels, and bubble wrap!

Ideal for a weeknight, when I don't have the time to embark on a big painting project, but I want to keep the artistic juices flowing.

I used BIG bubble wrap for this one!

I should add collage elements, but the colours are so pretty I don't want to cover them!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jordi Fornies' egg, MHBD' scarf

Photo taken in the CHQ building, where the 100 eggs from The Big Egg Hunt have been gathered.

This is Jordi Fornies's egg, Treeborn.

I am a fan of Jordi's work, but I want to point out that I didn't dye my hair that colour on purpose!

Monday, March 18, 2013


I don't really know where I'm going with this one - I've been looking at a lot of YouTube instructional videos on how to paint trees in watercolours, but I'm not sure if they're helping or just making me feel inadequate! Their paintings always look better than mine!

So I'm going to go back to basics - mixing colours and trying them out with my good old aboriginal snails!

Composition-wise, I love this photo I took in a park in Tokyo two years ago. I also love the really dark values in the shadows. Maybe I should paint it in greys first, to really figure out how to render these darks?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Siobhan Ryan - 15 March - green top and skirt

With a nod to Saint Patrick's day no doubt, Siobhan Ryan was wearing a fetching green top and skirt yesterday. And she always gives a warm smile at the end - making it easy for me to take a print screen!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I thought you might like to see one of my poured cards in more detail. Acrylics are very hard to photograph - if you use the flash, all you get are reflections - if you don't use the flash, it's all a bit dull. But I hope this one gives you a good view of how the poured paint swirls about without mixing. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Watercolour techniques - 3

Here is the third set. The salt technique didn't really work for me, although I waited until the shine was nearly gone off the paint. Maybe my paint was too thick? And I added a couple more techniques that I use regularly - applying wax and oil pastels as a resist, and using a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen.

I love the sponge effect - it's definitely one I'd like to use in a painting some time.

Watercolour techniques - 2

Here is the 2nd set, which is my favourite:

Watercolour techniques

Last weekend, I decided to go back to basics. I haven't been much inspired lately - it's a while since I've produced a frameable painting. But there is nothing wrong with doodling, I keep telling myself. I found a YouTube video with miscellaneous watercolour techniques, and I decided to follow it. I've used all those techniques before, but sometimes, when I'm in the middle of a painting, I forget I have all these tools at my fingertips. So I thought it would be useful to have a chart of the most common techniques at the ready.

Here is the first set I did:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Art Journals

Maybe it's not very original, but I decided to keep these journal pages simple - two words printed with acrylics on stamps, and we're all done!

Art journals

Every week, I get suggestions from YouTube - mostly art technique videos. Yesterday, I discovered a lovely tutorial on backgrounds for art journals, using gesso and watercolour pencils.

It inspired me to try the technique with Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels that I got a while back. I hadn't quite figured out what to do with them, but they are ideal for this technique - rub it on gessoed paper over two facing pages, then apply a little water with a flat brush. Close the pages together and open to discover a vibrant blend of colours.

On one of the pages, I decided to apply a sheet of bubble wrap for a more textured effect.

It looks pretty as it is, but I'm not sure what to do next with it!

PS: The box I have is a set of 10 but I have seen on Cheap Joes that there are lovely greens and blues in the set of 15, and plenty more hues in the set of 126 - it's pricey, though, so I don't think I'll be getting that one unless I become very rich!

Red and Cream

This one I really like - very different from my earlier pouring projects. Instead of pouring all my colours at the same time and letting them mix and swirl into each other, I waited and poured them one at a time. And of course the string gel provided a kind of barrier between the areas.

You can't really see it on this photograph, but the top part is a lovely delicate cream colour. Instead of using pure white acrylic, I dropped a touch of Reeves green yellow into it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Ant

This uses the same colours as my previous pouring, with a much sunnier  result. The addition that made the difference is Liquitex string gel with black acrylic paint. I wasn't trying to draw any shape in particular - the blobs settle in their own way. I'm still learning how to control string gel, to be honest. It's not as stringy as I thought it would be, so I'm getting more blobs then string - Maybe it will be more liquid when the weather warms up? Maybe I should warm it up on a radiator before I use it? If you have tips on how to use string gel, please let me know!

Greens and browns

This pouring is a happy accident - when I was pouring my brown layer, a lot more medium blobbed out of the pot than I had planned. I had no choice but to work with it. When I added the blue green, the brown provided a lovely dark foundation for it. I don't think it's birthday card material, but it's got a biblical quality to it, I think - the opening of the Red Sea, or God talking to Moses on the mountain?

(Liquitex pouring medium, Liquitex soft body acrylics, Reeves lime yellow acrylic green from the Art & Hobby shop, on board (9x9cm))

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Neil Diamond 1971 BBC concert

Just found this on YouTube. Yes, I love opera, but I'm also a Neil Diamond fan!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Bruges - Beguinage

Still a long way for the daffodils to come out in Belgium. They've been out here in Ireland for the last three weeks nearly!

Bruges - Doors

Love that green/grey. The three bottom photos were doors in the Béguinage area of Bruges. So peaceful.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Bruges - lintels

Actually, I'm not sure they're called lintels. They are the brick or stone work over a window. Do you know what they're called? When we had builders over in 2008 building our extension, I knew all the technical terms, but, like any language, if you don't use it, you lose it.
I ran the name of the street through Google Translate, by the way, and here is what appeared on my computer screen: "Holy Spirit Street"! What a lovely address it makes! "I live at Number 3, Holy Spirit Street". I wonder do credit card companies, banks and policemen think you're pulling their leg when you give them this address?

Bruges - Wall art

Anywhere you look, you will find amazing sculptures or bas-reliefs. What a feast for the eyes! I love the dog in the window. What's your favourite?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Bruges Skyline - 3

It's pouring again

I find that cards painted with pouring medium make excellent birthday cards! So I have to make some more. I went for slightly crazy colours this time! And I added string gel (tinted black). I'm going to try more subtle colours next, inspired by photographs I've gathered on Pinterest!

The Bruges Skyline - 2

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Met HD 2013-14 season

A lot of Russian opera in next year's Met HD season! I'm not sure that's to my taste. I did see Rusalka in Wexford a good few years ago and I have fond memories of it. But I also remember walking out of a Russian opera at the Gaiety - it was just too tedious for my liking!

But I won't be able to resist Anna Netrebko in Eugene Onegin!

And I will definitely book the lively Cosi fan tutte (with Danielle de Niese, whom I just discovered in The Enchanted Island) and La Cenerentola (with Juan Diego Flores who delighted his audience in Le Comte Ory!)

I might also be tempted by Massenet's Werther - though I have just read the synopsis on Wikipedia and it sounds very very gloomy!

And of course, the big news is that James Levine will be making his come-back for some of the operas - so I  will have to add Falstaff to my list just for that reason!

Which ones are on your list?

The Bruges skyline

Monday, March 04, 2013

Jean Byrne, 3 March, black dress and chunky necklace

I'm actually not sure if the necklace is separate or stitched to the dress? If you know, leave a comment!

It's very hard to do a print screen of Jean, by the way. She's constantly moving!

Drama Queens

Listening to Joyce DiDonato's Drama Queens album on Spotify.

It's only recently that I discovered Joyce DiDonato, with the Met HD's Maria Stuarda, and I was immediately taken in by her voice and presence!

Sunday, March 03, 2013


We were in Belgium for a family event last weekend. BB and I spent a day in Bruges. I had the long lens on the camera, so I took a lot of photos of architectural detail!

Yankeediva about The Enchanted Island

Joyce DiDonato answers students' questions about her Sycorax in The Enchanted Island.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Becoming Caliban - The Enchanted Island

Plenty videos about this opera - I know I'm more than a year behind. But I only just saw it recently on Sky Arts 2 and I thought it was a gorgeous production.

Here is Luca Pisaroni's transformation into Caliban.

The Enchanted Island - Luca Pisaroni

I loved Luca Pisaroni as Caliban in The Enchanted Island, in many ways the most human of the cast of characters who make their way to Prospero's island. Yes, Caliban looks like an aboriginal incredible Hulk, but all he wants is a woman to love!

Wonderful singer - and owner of Lenny and Tristan, surely the two most adorable and photogenic dogs in the opera world!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Agitata da due venti

And now, the original version! I knew this song from Cecilia Bartoli's Vivaldi album. A signature Bartoli performance! She's having a lot of fun!

The Enchanted Island - Ariel's big aria

Ariel has just been freed by Prospero. She is on top of the world! A thrilling performance by Danielle de Niese.

"Can you feel the heavens are reeling" (Ariel)
Based on Vivaldi: Griselda, RV 718, Act II, scene 2, "Agitata da due venti"

Does it sound familiar?