Monday, August 31, 2015

Nurses and Doctors

I was in hospital for a little over ten days. I'm home now - all good!

Hospital was an eye-opener - you hear all the horror stories - not enough doctors and nurses, MRSA, bad care, patients being left on trolleys for days, etc.

Well, I went in to St Vincent's hospital - I went in to A&E early on a Saturday morning by ambulance. I can't comment on A&E as I was not conscious then, but my husband tells me that everything was running efficiently and smoothly there.

I went up to St Patrick's Ward later that day - I don't remember much of the rest of the weekend.

But after that I found that all nurses, carers, doctors, porters, cleaning staff and catering staff I encountered were professional and friendly and did all they could to make my stay in hospital as good as could be.

The doctors did not jump to conclusions, they reviewed my case daily, talked to me, talked to my husband. They asked all the right questions to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything in my medical history that might give them a clue as to what was going on. They made sure we understood where things were and what to expect next. They pushed me up the waiting list for a brain MRI (it still took 2-3 days to get that MRI - hospital time is slower than real time) that helped them in their diagnosis. And the junior doctors were working the whole weekend. And even one of the senior consultants was there on a Saturday evening to review my case and transfer me from A&E to the ward. And a junior consultant, Aoife, knew exactly who I was when I rang back a few days later with an enquiry.

The catering staff were always in good form, offering a smile, remembering that I don't drink tea but hot water. The food I found very comforting - spaghetti bolognese, beef, ham salad, vegetable soup. Nothing fancy, but easy to digest and tasty. The desserts were mostly water and sugar (the first ingredients in both the ice-cream and the jelly), but when you're dealing with bed-ridden patients, you don't want too much roughage maybe. Breakfast was a highlight of the day, with porridge or corn flakes, and lovely hot toast (perfectly toasted, not too dark, not too light) and butter and marmalade

But the big heroes are the nurses and carers - working 12-hour shifts, dealing with shortages, having to care for long-term patients that should be in a nursing home, not a hospital. Dealing with all sorts of situations, including a 94-year-old lady who was so lost she would hit out if approached too suddenly! Always with a smile, a kind word, and respect for every patient, even if this was the tenth time they were being called just to straighten a pillow! I had young Irish nurses in the final weeks of their internship year, foreign nurses and carers, agency nurses - it takes a while to figure out all the uniforms - My favourite nurses: Plato, Gertrude, Aisling, Anne and Mary, and also Ursula and Josmi, who managed to get canulas and needles in me when nobody else could. My favourite carer: Villy. They deserve our thanks, our respect, and for our government to give them all the resources they need to make their jobs easier. It's not a job that most people would be able to do. That they do it with such efficiency and dedication shows to me what wonderful human beings they are.

If all resources were working on the same schedule as the nursing staff, hospital time would go a lot faster - why was the MRI machine not available for me on a Sunday, or in the evenings? I had nothing better to do, believe me. Why do you see all administrators leaving at 5 on the dot every day? To me, it's a no-brainer: patients are in beds who could go home earlier if all the scans and diagnostics were finished earlier and if all the paperwork was done. Expensive machines are sitting idle because their operators will only work 9-to5, or because there are not enough operators to have 2, or even 3, shifts a day!

I was in a six-bed room. It was noisy. The nurses' rounds start at 5:30 and end at 22:30. It's hard to get any sleep. There is a constant stream of visitors - most people very nice, but some are noisy. By evening, I just could not wait for my sleeping tablet - I just wanted to be knocked out and forget about that world for a few hours. If I ever need to go into hospital again, I will invest in some kind of noise-blocking headphones, and an airplane sleeping mask. But the bed was cosy!

As for the follow-up? Don't get me started! I got a letter from St Vincents saying that my case had been reviewed by the consultant neurologist, who deemed my case routine, which put me in a 9-month waiting pattern. Then I got a letter from Beaumont, where their consultant neurologist wants to see me too, but in 12 month's time! And no news of my follow-up MRI, which was supposed to take place 6 weeks after I was discharged (2 weeks on, no news). And no word on my 24-hour blood pressure monitor. (Thankfully, I'm in good hands with my GP in Ballinteer Medical who is doing the follow-up there).

So all in all, would I like to go to hospital again? Of course not! But my thanks and gratefulness go to all the doctors, nurses and carers who looked after me so well. You're heroes!

Monday, August 24, 2015


Slowly getting back on my feet - I haven't started drawing again yet, but I was given the gift of a Zentangle colouring book, and I found that it's a great way to pass the time and keep my mind engaged at the same time - adult colouring books is what they call them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Craftsy class - Pen and watercolour landscape

What attracted me to this Craftsy class was the promise of watercolour skies.

So here is the landscape I chose:

Wish me luck!

The paper I used wasn't great so I might have another go on good watercolour paper. And I will add less texture to the grass! But I do love my trees

Friday, August 14, 2015


I am re-reading Taking Risks with Watercolours by Shirley Trevena. I have taken up watercolours up again recently, and I find I am struggling with hard edges and flat colours. Shirley Trevena to the rescue! She mentions at the start of the book that she would use photographs she finds in newspapers or magazines as an inspiration for a painting. 

And I just happened to come across a photo from an old newspaper, that I had cut out as I found the child's expression striking. This is just a little sketch, done with Inktense pencils, but I might develop it into something more elaborate. 


This is a mug really. Trying out a new sketchbook. The colours went a bit flat. Next time, I'll try a wet-in-wet wash instead.

And a friend of mine was telling me about a creative writing course she went on, where they explored poetry, short stories. And haikus.  

I had this little reverse haiku written before I actually checked the rules (5-7-5, if you want to know). But it captured the mood.

Friday, August 07, 2015

In the Style of... 1 to 4

These are the few Gelli prints that I was telling you about. The two at the bottom were executed with soft-body Liquitex acrylic. Much more interesting, I think, are the two at the top, done with heavy-body Liquitex (and a dab of soft-body red)

What I was trying to imitate are pieces by the artist Sean Mulcahy. I haven't achieved quite the same texture, and perhaps I could try not filling the whole Gelli plate with paint, but I feel I am on the right track. I might try them on wider card paper?

Detail photos to follow...

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Mad burst of creativity

This is how your room turns out when you start gelli-printing! I was using my round Gelli plate to create one of my Gelli Babies, when I saw interesting patterns created by the heavy paint I was using.  I had to explore this further. Straight Away. There was urgency in my quest. I had to try soft-body paint, and heavy-body too.

14 prints later, here is how my room looked.  Out of these, 3 or 4 are good enough to frame, if I can get around the problem of the lack of border space on the sides The rest? Could make good backgrounds for other projects, or I might add extra layers, if I have the patience to register the print carefully.

On the bus

Lady on the bus, sitting in front of me.  I'm still quite anxious about drawing in public places. But I was sitting at the back of the bus, and nobody could watch over my shoulder.

The bus?, you're asking. I was in town at the Olivier Cornet Gallery - they're moving very soon by the way, from Cavendish Row to Great Denmark Street, a lovely big space besides Belvedere College. I had just seen the new space with Olivier, and I was getting ready to walk across town to the Luas at the top of Grafton Street, when I spotted a Number 11 bus stop - and there was a bus due in 5 minutes. So I had to try it. The bus is not the fastest, but it probably got me home in about the same time as it would have taken between walking and the Luas.

And I found it wasn't all little old ladies and foreign workers! Another prejudice of mine nailed on the head!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


Quite a challenging object (to draw, that is), this little Dyson vacuum cleaner! 
But what a joy to use - I was in the market for a small vacuum, to save myself from having to lug the big Dyson up and down the stairs all the time. The guy in the shop said that the little vacuum cleaners were generally useless, except this one. It wasn't cheap (my only gripe). But it does a fantastic job!


I love my L'Occitane boxes! And what's in them!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


Here is another old watercolour painting that I have reworked - a haze of gouache (to the left and bottom right, in diagonals) and spattered gouache and watercolour paint to bring in more texture. 

I have done a few versions (here is one). I will continue to explore techniques around this theme, I think, as I am not where I want to be with this. Where do I want to be? Well, more like a Shirley Trevena water lilly is what I had in mind - I need to introduce a lot more texture and a lot more colour!

A lot done, a lot more to do!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Sea - Western Australia

Painting inspired by the sea in Western Australia near Kalbarri - gesso on board, watercolour, pastel

I almost like the details better than the overall painting - inspiration for an abstract approach maybe?

The photos below are the same painting, before I applied pastel. Pastels are a great way to jazz up a boring watercolour. And to fix mistakes (in this case, the rocks I saw in the Kalbarri area of Western Australia - they were pale yellow, not dark brown). 

As you can see in the picture above, I haven't applied fixative to it yet. I'm in two minds about pastel fixative:
  1. It does what it says on the tin - it fixes the pastel powder - no more smudging, easy storage, durability
  2. It can make the pastel look a bit dull - I have found that it kills the beautiful looseness of pastel, its evanescence. Or maybe it's because the can of fixative I have is a bit old?
Any suggestions anyone?


I was able to drive for the first time in two months! Hurrah! My shoulder is far from sorted - the orthopaedic surgeon last week told me it would take six months. But he felt I could start normal activities, like driving, again. I'm not ready for long journeys yet - I'll have to build that up gently. I was so happy I had to draw our car - the original is a little bit longer. Cars are not something that interests me. Driving is not something I particularly enjoy. But I missed it! The freedom of it! And I'm back to being the designated driver!

Well I wrote this a week ago. And now I am in hospital after a seizure, and I won't be allowed to drive for at least six months! Ah well!

Gelli baby

Gelli-printed birthday cards...

So much more fun than going to a shop. Using a smaller version of my Gelli baby stencil!

In the Style of ... - details

(Just as well I had written a few posts in advance last week!)

Yummy, aren't they?


Two interpretations of the same subject - a moisturiser by BYPHASSE, a low-cost, good-quality  brand for body, face and hair. I discovered it at Christmas when I found that a hamper full of products was costing the same as a tiny little bottle of Khiel's eye cream. Considering that the said eye cream has done nothing to remove the bags under my eyes, I am turning more and more towards better-value brands, such as Cien (Lidl) and Yves Rocher, for instance. Now, don't get me wrong - I will still drool over the Elemis, Dermalogica or Clarins counters, but, despite all the pseudo-science advertising, I can't believe that they are doing more for my skin than a cheaper brand. That said, I am at the age where lines are appearing everywhere - over the lip, around the mouth, ... - and if someone was to promise me a miracle cream, I would probably fall for it! Women, hey! Full of contradictions.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

DLP - Extra page

Sometimes, two pages isn't enough. Simple solution: add an extra page. A quick gelli print with bubble wrap. Punched-out circles. Ephemera. Photos from the week. And the reverse side is for personal journaling. 


No, I'm not branching out to anatomical drawing.

DLP - Home

What do you do when you have two places you call home?

This was my starting page:

Photo here is from BB:

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Gelli Babies

These girls may not be as colourful as their older sisters, but they worked out really well in my next DLP challenge. I have this thing - I can't stand cute female figures or children in art journaling. I don't know why. I just don't. But this sassy silhouette is different - womanly, confident, cheeky. I will be working with these Gelli babies again, no doubt