Thursday, June 30, 2016

Clogher Beach

One of my favourite beaches on the Dingle Peninsula was Clogher Beach near Dunquin.  The sand was soft and warm and the water crystal clear (but not safe for swimming, due to dangerous currents). It was fairly calm the day we were there, but apparently it gets pretty wild when the winter Atlantic storms are hitting (check out some of the photos by Helene Brennan on this website or this one by Barbara Walsh.)
Plus, it's right beside my favourite place in the whole wide world, Clogher Head!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


It wasn't just the sea and waves that were interesting on the Dingle Peninsula. I found the rocks fascinating too - and much easier to draw and paint!!

This example here is from Ballincolla beach near Ceann Sibeal (of Star Wars fame). It wasn't a great beach on the day we were there (a dead sheep at the entrance path to the beach didn't help). But it has a really interesting rock formation. All these pointy rocks are deadly if you have a fall, so it's probably not the best beach for children.

And this is my interpretation of what was in front of me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Definitely will have to paint these scenes

Coomeenole beach - small beach, big waves

Inch beach - big beach, small waves

Painting waves

With masking fluid (and no softening)

I struggle with drawing waves. And I struggle even more with painting them in watercolours. I painted one in gouache for my Fake Journal, and it worked out all right. But in watercolours, you have to plan and protect your whites at the very start, and it's hard to keep the values light and yet, give the wave volume. I tried a few paintings, and I find that the only way I can keep the whites white is by protecting them with masking fluid. The only thing with masking fluid though, is that it gives a very sharp edge, so the trick is to go back over the edge with a little water to soften it, without losing the shape. Easier said than done.

These three examples are from Coomeenole beach, where the waves were seriously big!

Without masking fluid - I found that I kept painting where I should have kept the white of the paper
With masking fluid and softening

Monday, June 27, 2016

Big waves at Coomeenole beach

No wonder I find waves so hard to paint - constant movement, contrasting light playing on all surfaces, vertical and horizontal, transparent water. At least I can freeze the video and analyse each moment. How did they manage to paint waves before the invention of the camera?

That's the beach where Matt Leblanc and the other chap sat on a picnic bench with the sunset behind them, by the way. Star Wars and Top Gear - everybody will want to go to the Dingle Peninsula now! Best place in the world (when the sun shines)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Big Brother - Friday night's eviction

With the voting system back to "vote to evict", instead of "vote to save", the results are much more predictable (maybe they should have thought of that with Brexit), so it was no surprise to see (spoiler alert! Since I'm two days behind the curve, it's probably no harm) Natalie gone.

And what is it with Emma, who thinks she actually caused the rain that flooded the house? Does she not realise that it was already raining when she started dancing?

Here are my sketches from the highlights.

Drawing waves

A few sketches done on Coomeenole beach. Waves are hard.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Big Brother - Who are we?

Busy with real life, so I'm way behind. Really annoyed with the Channel 5 website, which should have spoiler alerts. I now know who was evicted on Friday (and I've only just watched Tuesday or Wednesday, so should I skip a few days? I haven't even seen the flooding bit). But hey, compared to Brexit, it doesn't really matter, does it?

Little game of who are we - guess the housemates (or ex-housemates) I've depicted below:



Thursday, June 23, 2016

The What

Here is my first attempt at focusing on one element of the landscape, rather than trying to capture it all. (Remember the "ah go on" post?).

My sketch on the day was trying to do too much -every colour was vibrant, every shape was important. But hey, it was done on the side of the road, with sheep and passersby showing an interest in what I was painting. And it retains something of what I felt at that moment

Rule number 1: always do a thumbnail sketch, so here we go. Oh, hold on, actually, what I did there was focus on different elements as if I was using a view finder. Mixing my metaphors. Never mind. It's a start

So, the first one I decided to paint was the sheep close-up:

I had sketched the sheep on the day, which I think helped me get a feel for what a sheep shape is like. Oooh I love that sound "sheep shape, sheep shape, sheep shape".

And here is how it turned out. I did move a few boulders and mountains, and yes, the sheep will need a second leg somewhere, but I'm not trying to achieve framable quality here, just to explore different approaches and techniques. And the painting reflects my memory of that happy day, the summer light, the pure blue sky, the heat, and that start-of-the-holidays feeling.

Here he is now with his second leg (colours a little bit too bright - reality is something in between)

Kissho gansai

So excited! I got a present of a Kissho watercolour set, all the way from Japan. Of course, I had to test it straight away and the pigments are so vibrant! I also tried a few light mixes, with lots of water, and the resulting colours are beautiful.  It's set in a plastic travel palette, very streamlined, perfect for slipping in the handbag! Some of the colours are very different from what you'd traditionally find in a western palette (the pale blue for instance is quite unusual) so I'm looking forward to exploring Japanese colours.
Like all paints, it will take a little while to figure out what mixes work best, but I love the reds a lot, and also the beautiful cobalt teal (right-most, second from the top, under the bright red. And I will have to memorise all the colour names in Japanese too

Here is the first painting I've tried with it - I love the colours so much already (more about that one-legged sheep in a little while)!

DLP - book 2

I haven't posted much about the Documented Life Project this year, as I find that the ideas presented by the project leaders are just a rehash of what they've been doing for the last few years. That said, I'm still doing my own thing, art journaling in my own way. And I can see myself pursuing this for the rest of my life.

I had bought the package for the year, which included two folders, dividers, stickers, plastic envelopes, ribbons and other goodies. I never thought I'd need the two folders, but here we are, not even at the half-way point and I've just started the second folder. I opted for a simpler cover decoration this time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

UCD Festival

Great day on Saturday at the UCD Festival. They were blessed with dry weather.
There was too much choice, too many things to do, but that's not a bad complaint!

There was a booking system for some of the activities - that didn't really work in the end though, as most things were free, which means people booked everything, then didn't bother turning up (typical!). I got the last place for the yoga session at 10am. When I got there, I asked the instructor how many people they were expecting - 50, he said. Less than 15 turned up (and that's including young children, who gave up pretty quickly). Imagine how many people didn't go to it, thinking that it was booked out and there was no point. Same thing for some of the tours: a turnout of 10% or so is what it looked like. That said, there were a good few people on the guided tour of Belfield House and Ardmore House (which was very good, despite the guide adding a tour of the outdoors sculptures, because he has a particular interest in sculpture himself).

There was a good turnout, although it's difficult to get a sense of how many people were there in total as the campus is so big and there were events and activities all around.

A great day.  I hope they'll do it again next year.

Highlights for me:

  • The yoga class with the warm sunshine on my back
  • Seeing Ardmore house and the room where BB worked on his PhD
  • Meeting one of the artists-in-science who draws beautiful maps, and also details of parasites on old parchments.
  • Eating in the main restaurant (the lamb stew was surprisingly good)

Here are a few quick sketches I did while watching the match on the big screen (I'm not into football me):

Shades of Green

In my memory, this was much closer to the road into Dingle. Maybe they've changed the road? 
How much greener can you get, though?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Big Brother - Saturday or Sunday?

I'm losing track of the days. I think this is from Sunday's show, which was about Saturday. Anyways, Marco is gone. Nobody is jumping into the pool or showing their tits. Thank god for that! Lots of tension building up. Good old Big Brother is back!

Gap of Dunloe - Details

OK. I'm sorry. I gave you the impression I was done with the Gap of Dunloe. But then I decided to crop a few photos, and these two really inspire me. I love the play of water against the rocks. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Inch Beach - waves

We spent a couple of hours on Inch Beach, experiencing both the driving onto the beach, and the never-ending walk (we didn't get to the end), and also the little golden scarabs that constantly try to get under your towel!

There are plenty more beaches on the Dingle Peninsula, more secluded, less busy, but Inch is a classic. I was fascinated by the movement of the waves that keep rolling in. Expect lots of paintings of waves over the next few months. The thing though is that it's so hard to paint waves. In the two examples below, I've used Schmincke masking fluid, and then gone back to add very light shading onto the waves.
Here are the colours I decided to use, and the various mixes I think will work. I like to limit my palette, so there is a unity of colour that works throughout.
The two important elements I noticed from this reference photo are the shadow right under each wave, and the light reflection just under  the shadow. The one thing I loved about the waves at Inch beach is the last little wave - it looked to me like moving "noise" on a black and white TV screen. I'm still not sure how to translate that in my painting.

This one is on hot press paper (really smooth)

This one is on rough paper. Also, this paper is not as white. I think I prefer the first attempt

And in case you're interested, here is a picture of the scarab - pesky and relentless little things they are - one of them pinched me on the leg!

Big Brother - Friday 17th

We're a few days behind. But I think it was worth capturing Charlie's big hair day! And declaration of love to Jason. I wish I would have been able to capture the look on his face!

I've moved to a different sketchbook, with lighter paper. So now I'm using Derwent Inktense pencils instead of Winsor&Newton watercolour paints.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Big Brother First Eviction

Here are my drawings from Friday's live show. So glad that Marco has been evicted. He couldn't believe it. He's not used to people putting him on the spot. Good on Emma Willis!