Friday, September 30, 2016

Airfield Grey Barn

Here is my second shadow shape sketch from that productive interlude in Airfield.
Rather pleased with how it worked out, despite the face that the side of the barn is a bit darker than I had intended and that I added a shadow that wasn't there when I started to paint (bottom left). That's what happens when you paint outdoors: the sun moves (or rather the earth moves around the sun) and shadows come and go. But, hey, it's convincing all the same, and I would never have dared tackled such complex shapes a few months ago. It's good to see progress!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Shadow Shapes - Outdoors

The last of the summer sun was shining, so I really had no excuse to postpone this outdoors assignment any longer. So I went to Airfield for an hour. A very productive hour it was. A couple of watercolour shape sketches and lots and lots of photos. Glad I went when I did, as the day clouded almost as soon as I was finished!

I had planned to draw one of the buildings in the courtyard, but there was some Microsoft meeting in progress, and I didn't fancy myself having to sketch under the critical eye of a horde of Microsofties when they were going to come out for their coffee break. So I went between the garage and the hens. It was a wise move, as the hordes did come out, cuppas clinking, and chatter rising. The only watchers were hens and toddlers. I'm not too worried about their critical eye.

And, look!, I managed to draw the building without the roof, as that's the way it was from where I was sitting!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shapes - White mug

Part of the Shape Challenge is to draw with shapes and colour, without using a pen, for a week. But I just got a new pen! A Lamy fountain pen. And I love it already. So it's going to be hard!

So this page has half pen and half shapes

Maybe if I look at it from this angle, my mug won't look too short?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More shadow shapes - Red tea pot

I love practising newfound techniques, so you will probably see a few more still lives with shadow shapes over the next few days!

That teapot is actually yellow, but I thought it would be so much prettier in red! And I cropped the thumbnail section out so it looks better composed!

Here is how it looks with the thumbnail. I had drawn a vertical line to separate the section with the thumbnail from the main painting space, but I ran out of space. Cropping tool to the rescue!

Culture Night

Great time at Culture night last Friday week. Wonderful opportunity to discover places that I had never entered before, despite my 30 years in Dublin. Yes, 2016 is my anniversary year - 30 years in Ireland. And I still think of my quarter century in my beloved country as if it was yesterday. Time is moving too fast. Time to carpe diem!

Here are the three places we went to:

  1. Mansion House - Only a few rooms were on display. And they've sold the round room that housed the first Dáil in 1919 to the restaurant next door! Selling off the crown jewels if you want my opinion! But they do have a fantastic photo of that historic event in the entrance hall.
  2. Royal Irish Academy - well, it was the building beside the Mansion House, and we had no idea what it was when we went in, but we were blown away. It is open to the public, and well worth a visit, for the beauty of the rooms alone. Or if you can't make it, this link will bring you to the virtual tour. There was a live show from an Irish radio station. And an excellent (and short) lecture on manuscripts. All very interesting. But my favourite bit was the ceiling, I have to admit.
  3. National Library of Ireland (Kildare Street) - open to the public too, even on Saturdays. Worth the visit just for the glorious colours of the Reading Room ceiling, and the staircase leading to it.
We had intended to do a lot more, but after a bite to eat as part of our night out, we were ready to go home to our boys.

Here are a few pictures from the night (from BB and me):

View of National Museum from the NLI

Mansion House

Men's Toilets in the NLI (Clearly I didn't take that picture, but the Ladies was just as nice,
but too busy for me to take a photo, although I have to admit I was tempted)

Me and BB at the Mansion House

The First Dáil, 1919

Ceiling of the Royal Irish Academy

Talk on manuscripts at the Royal Irish Academy

Stained glass window at the NLI

Beautiful light - Molesworth Street

Door detail - NLI

Ceiling - NLI

Beautiful light - NLI

Reading Room, National Library of Ireland

Ceiling RIA

Monday, September 26, 2016

Foundations Lesson 3 - Shadow Shapes

I really enjoyed the next section of Foundations' Lesson 3. The assignment was to paint the shapes of 3 objects and then to paint the shadow shapes. I found Liz Steel's advice really useful: 
  • Place a piece of cardboard behind your still life. I know, that sounds obvious, but for years, I've tried to paint these objects with the mess of my desk as a background. A simple background helps to see the shapes!
  • First, draw a thumbnail (I know I know, Liz is not the first person to give that advice, and I should always do a thumbnail before I start painting something, but I keep being lazy, and then I end up painting the same thing 5 times over because it doesn't work out the first 4 times!)
  • Place the shadows on the thumbnail - that's really important if you're outdoors and the light is changing while you're painting, and by the time you're finished, the shadows have turned around and I'm really confused about what's in the sun and what's in shadow
  • Then, use a light-coloured watercolour pencil to draw the shapes. 
  • Then paint the local colour of each object and of the background. 
  • Then paint the shadows, using a nice mix of ultramarine and transparent orange, without worrying about cast shadow or reflected light or any of these difficult concepts!
I like how my still life worked out!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

People's Art - St Stephen's Green

I will be exhibiting my art again at St Stephen's Green People's Art this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is forecast to be wet, so we'll have to play it by ear, but the other two days are to be dry. I will be on the East side this time, just round the corner from the last time. It should be a brighter spot, and I will not be breathing the tour bus fumes as much this time - all good!

Much less panic. We've done it before. We know we can do it again. And I've got some lovely paintings to show - all abstract or semi-abstract acrylics. I'm looking forward to showing them off, and maybe sending a few of them to a good home!

If you're in town, pop in to say Hello. If it's wet on Saturday, I might skip it, so ring me if you're planning to head in!

Here are a few examples of the paintings I will be showing, all reasonably priced!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Foundations Lesson 3 - Shapes

Liz Steel's Foundations Lesson 3 was all about shapes - how to paint shapes without thinking about lines, how connecting objects will appear as one shape, and how to think in negative shapes.

My initial attempts were not very satisfying, but once I got into negative shapes, I couldn't be stopped!


Most Dublin Sketchers stick to buildings, trees and silhouettes of people we don't know. But Alice, our newbie sketcher, loves sketching people, so she did a portrait of me, double chin and all!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

More Point-to-Point Contour, with a little shadow

I made the best of the good weather last week and got out for quick sketches over lunchtime.

I was still following the Liz Steel Foundations course - Lesson 2, Feeling Edges.

Here I mixed the point-to-point contour method with a looser line for the foliage, as per the outdoor prompt in the assignment for the week.

And then I added a little shadow, as the light was strong and I thought it was worth capturing!

Monday, September 19, 2016

National History Museum

The Natural History Museum is a favourite amongst Dublin sketchers. It holds a fond place in my heart, as it was the location for my first outing with the sketchers, last March. My sketches have grown in confidence since then. Can't believe it's only 6 months!

So I was delighted to go back there last week. Fun was had by all!

And my own, below:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Summer Project 1 - reworked

So rather than paint another version of this painting (frankly, I was too sick of it to ever consider that option), I went back and applied the Picasa improvements: I added quinacridone gold to tone down the brashness of the yellows, I reinforced the Phthalo blue background, and I cropped. That's it. Done. Still not frameable in my opinion, but I'll have to leave it a while before I can even think about painting it again!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Big Dark Sky - Deer Park

This little watercolour sketch is based on a photo I took one day when I was up in Deer Park with doggie. It was a threatening sky, and I wanted to capture it. Definitely one I want to develop further into a painting!

How to handle criticism

Not really much advice in this video, except to say that people will have their opinions about your art, and to remember that it's just their opinion, and it is your art.


Another sketch for my homework of "feeling edges" from Liz Steel's Foundations class. It didn't quite work out as planned - I soon realised I was in trouble when the lines and angles I had drawn for the roof proved to be wrong - in reality I could not see the roof, just the fascia and gutters. I realised something had gone very wrong somewhere when I joined up my lines, and there was a roof in my drawing. But I decided to soldier on. I was using my Rotring ArtPen on a lovely fine grain paper I had forgotten I had, and I loved how the watersoluble ink bled when I touched it with a water pen! The Shomera is completely wonky but I love the tree behind it. It was fun.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Slea Head barn

Maybe I worked in the software industry for too long. I definitely don't want to get back to the madness of my project management days, or the even crazier craziness of system test management. But it's like I need the adrenaline shot of having lots of balls in the air at the same time.

So not only am I exploring how to sketch the human body, but I'm also learning how to draw straight lines and accurate angles, and also how to simplify a scene by drawing it in a small number of shapes (5 à 7).

So this drawing is about that last concept, plus a little bit of shading! Lots of wrong angles and proportions, but it was fun!

Airfield Food Festival

Airfield was open to the public for free last weekend, for its food festival. It's normally €10 per adult to get in. BB likes food, and I like to look for sources of inspiration. So we went for a little look.
First thought was: too many children running around! But the food was worth it. A company called Hibernia was promoting its wares: bread, meat, organic fruit and vegetables, cheeses - they normally only sell to restaurants and hotels, but not to the public. And we were blown away! Fresh shiitake mushrooms, long radishes like the ones you can find in France, rustic sourdough breads, seaweed bread, gorgeous Irish cheeses. We loved it all. (We didn't try the meats, as we didn't fancy walking around with two pieces of steak in our bag). It would be wonderful if they decided to open a shop in Airfield. We had the fresh Shiitake in a Japanese ramen and the whole house smelled of umami!

We also enjoyed our stroll to the quieter spots, away from the running, tumbling, screaming children (I heard a parent say "use your indoor voice, Alice" (I have changed the name of the child to spare her embarrassment))

We both took plenty of photos. Lots to paint. Some day soon I'll sit down and actually paint it all! What do you think of this beauty?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Foundations - Lesson 2 - bottle and box

I need to do a few more of these, but I was happy with how the bottle worked out!

Maybe I should practise my drawing when I wake up at 4:30 and I can't go back to sleep, which is not something that normally troubles me. Or maybe I should have had a drink from that bottle - Oh I remember, it's empty. Plus I don't drink. 

I did this drawing in a sketchbook I started well over a year ago, and it was the last page of it. Something really satisfying about finishing a sketchbook. I shouldn't start so many in parallel. But I need different paper for different media. And I just can't do all these practise sketches in a "good" sketchbook. It's not in my nature! 

But it was lovely going through all the old pages. It was quite a big sketchbook, with basic cartridge paper, so it's mostly pen or pencil sketches, a lot of them not very good. But there is also a whole section in gouache, when I was doing my Fake Journal in April. (I must pick up my gouaches again, and set them out on a plate before they set in the tubes). And it's nice to see that I do draw better now than I did when I started that sketchbook. I must dig out some really old ones to see what my drawings looked like ten years ago! Or maybe I'll have to dig further, because I just found a drawing I did in 2006, and it's pretty good, and you must be wondering how it is I haven't improved since then (putting it nicely - me, I put it down to social media distractions - I can't blame the EU, although it seems that's what most of our politicians are doing these days). I must dig out my Betty Edwards book to figure out head proportions again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Foundations Lesson 2 homework - More point-to-point contour - Outdoor prompt

There was also an outdoor prompt in Lesson 2's homework. Again, I shied away from going to a public location. I can't explain it. I have no problem sketching in public with Dublin sketchers, but the idea of going around my neighbourhood and sketching is a little strange. Maybe I'm afraid someone I know will see me? Maybe I should go a little further afield? But Dublin is such a small place, you're always bound to bump into someone when you least want to.

So I stayed in the back garden. And I enjoyed drawing that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Empty watercolour palettes

I hate shopping for clothes. I am just not that interested. But paints and art supplies is a different matter altogether! I have to stop myself from buying them - I just don't allow myself into art shops, and I avoid the online art stores as much as I can, but once I start, it's hard to stop. I recently had such a binge - I bought new brushes, new watercolour paper, new pens, and also two new empty watercolour palettes. (I now have told myself that I am not buying anything until at least Christmas - the truth is that I probably have enough art supplies to last me until the day I die of very old age)

I have chosen one medium-sized palette for studio work and one small-sized one for urban and travel sketching. I already have several ready-filled palettes of course. But I really wanted these ones because I can fill them with my favourite colours! Plus they were not expensive.

So I really enjoyed picking my favourite colours from my watercolour tubes and organising them.

  • I love Vanadium Yellow, because it mixes beautifully with Ultramarine. And it's so bright!
  • But I also love Aureolin Yellow because of the vibrant greens it produces with Cobalt Blue. 
  • And Quinacridone Gold creates more muted colours. 
  • And I love PV19 (Ruby Red in the Schmincke range, but it's called many other names in different brands) because it's the perfect pinky red for roses. 
  • And then there is Pyrrol Red, which is really fire-engine red, but transparent at the same time. 
  • And Phthalo blue - so dark and transparent too. 
  • And Phthalo Turquoise and Cobalt PG50 for the sea. 
  • And crazy Phthalo Green, which becomes a subtle water hue when mixed with ultramarine. And produces rich dark greens when mixed with a touch of Pyrrol Red.
  • And then the earth colours: Raw Sienna as a pale wash for a sky, Burnt Sienna to bring down the harshness of some green mixes. 
  • And Paynes Gray and Burnt Umber, both dull on their own, but useful for dark mixes, and they look surprisingly good together. 
  • And Green Apatite Genuine too, a dark ugly green, but it comes to life when you add a dash of yellow and I love to see how it mixes with Phthalo Blue, and how it granulates with Ultramarine!

In other words, I love colours! One of my favourite books is "Blue and Yellow don't Make Green", a whole book on colour theory. I can spend hours painting colour swatches!

So, Da-Da, here are my new palettes - The big one was easy - there was room for all my favourites. The small one a bit harder, as difficult choices had to be made!

The cobalt blue in the little palette is different from the big one - it's actual cobalt blue (PB28) rather that a mix of ultramarine and white, which is what I had until now. So I'm looking forward to seeing how it behaves in mixes!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Croquis Café

I was told about Croquis Café by a fellow Dublin Sketcher a good while back. I'd had a quick look at it at the time, and thought it would be useful, but since I've been drawing landscapes and urban locations in the last while, I didn't get to use it until a few days ago.

The overall website of OnAirVideo seems to be more about selling DVDs than anything else, but they have an extensive free resource of life drawing videos - with each model doing a number of 1-minute poses, then 2-minute poses, followed by one 5-minute pose. 

Since I've been looking at figure sketching on Craftsy recently (remember, "drawing the verb" and "line of action"? I haven't gone further in learning about this - one step at a time), I thought the Croquis Café videos would be a good way to practise from the comfort of my own home!

Here are a few of the shorter poses - I was clearly warming up!

Then I started to get into it. I have to say I struggled with the model's face (she was very good-looking, don't get me wrong. I just found it hard to draw her features), so it was nice to have a pose where she was hiding her face.

Then, by the time we got to the 5-minute pose, I felt more comfortable with the whole process. Her face is completely wrong - I should have left it blank, but I'm happy with how her body looks!