Friday, April 14, 2017

Fake Journal - Day 12

I'm sticking at it! Some days are harder than others. I think the goal that's slowly emerging is to draw faces every day - most days I'm struggling with getting a likeness. I think I'll have to publish a list of all my models at the end of the month - some are more famous than others. Most are not recognisable! Sometimes, the link to the story is pretty tenuous or obscure. But there is a link every day!

The picture here is of Véronique, who lived in Hamamatsu, and died in 2011. I've tried to draw her portrait a few times. This is the closest I've got, but she's still eluding me.

Odile's style is evolving as she discovers her materials and plays with them. At the moment, she's liking the Neocolor II water soluble wax pastels!

She says she wants to do environmental studies or marine biology, but she still doesn't have much of a social or environmental conscience, much to her mother's chagrin. She does love studying Japanese, though!

Anyways, if you're curious, check it out! Here is a link to today's page:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


My most ambitious, and challenging, sketch to date! The sun was shining and I decided to sit outside the National Library from up close and personal!
At times, I was sorry I had picked such a difficult subject, and only my stubborn streak carried me through to the end. Wonky lines and all.
It took me nearly two and a half hours.
Ellipses and perspective are not my strong suit!

Friday, April 07, 2017


Idomeneo was my last opera for the Met HD season. There are a couple more, but I wasn't interested in them. I like Mozart operas, and I had never heard of this one. As it turns out, Idomeneo was the first opera Mozart ever wrote. He was something like 24! So it might not be his best, but it certainly showed the promise of what was to come.

I loved Elza van den Heever's Elettra - pure rage, pure madness!

The whole cast was fantastic in terms of their singing and performance. The only one I felt was miscast was Alice Coote as Idamante - she didn't work for me as a young prince - I think her body might be too womanly to play a young man. And the costume she had to wear didn't help. Well, the production was old, with a very static set and cumbersome costumes overall, but the music was fantastic. I love Mozart!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Fake Journal

I won't be posting as much here for the month of April, as I am in the middle of Fake Journal madness - so if you want to find out what's going on in Odile's world, click here! Her violent and rebellious streak hasn't emerged yet. She's only 20 after all, living the life of a typical South Dublin girl. Except she's not typical. For one, she's half Belgian. Her mother, who is driving poor Odile mad, might make the odd appearance! The big question is whether or not she'll get to meet her older self. And even if she does, will she recognise herself in that old lady? Will she even be puzzled by the fact that the said old lady has a cat and a dog that look just like her own?

If you want to see the story unfolding, you'll have to go to my Fake Journal page!

Some of the pages are quite colourful. And you can even learn a few Japanese words!

Baggot Street Bridge

The sun was shining, so I took an hour to sketch outdoors. What amazed me was how many options I discovered once I started with thumbnails. I could have sketched another 10 of those and still not captured all the scenes in front of my eyes!

I will definitely revisit some of these and try to develop them into more substantial watercolours maybe, if I ever get the time. I really like the little bridge in the middle, and also the mews with the reeds in front of it.

In the end, the focus I chose was not any of the thumbnails I had drawn. Actually, it started as a thumbnail, and grew from there, and then I decided to add watercolour. So, I was anticipating Lesson 11, Working from a Focus, but I didn't know it! The bridge is wonky, but the sketch captures the lovely day - we were both working in the Baggot Street area, and we went for a bite to eat in a place called Angelina's afterwards - it was just across from where I was sketching, and it looked inviting - I had a delicious California salad - chicken, bacon, lettuce, kale, sunflower seeds, blueberries, avocado, quinoa, apple - just my kind of thing!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Olivier Cornet Gallery

Juggling a lot these days! It's over a week since I was at the Olivier Cornet Gallery with Dublin Sketchers
I arrived early and got a seat in front of the sketcher-magnet plant (I don't know its proper name), so I drew what was in front of me, without worrying too much about the pot. Actually, not worrying at all. I just loved the shape of the leaves!

Initially, we didn't think we'd have access to the Blue Room, but it was free, so I managed to also draw a few of the building across the way. Well, part of it anyway.

Other sketchers accomplished much more than me on the day, but I'm happy with how my sketches worked out all the same!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Rain on the horizon - electricity lines?

Up to last week, I really wasn't sure about these two paintings. Now, it's like they've grown on me! The only decision I have to make is whether to add the electricity poles and lines - They are there in reality - and depending on where on the road you are, they could be coming from the left or the right.

So I'm going to try a few options on acetate and decide what works best before I even pencil anything on the watercolour paper.

PS: It's a week since I wrote this, and I did try the electricity poles and lights, and it didn't work, so I left these two paintings as they are, and they do look good when framed!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

A day at the seaside

Sketching more on location is one of my goals for this year, so I try to carry a little sketchbook and basic supplies with me when I'm going somewhere nice (I should really carry one with me at all times, but I haven't made that jump yet). I was in the Dun Laoghaire area last week, and I managed to fit in three little views over lunch - pen and watercolours.
It was fun, if I don't listen to the little voice that tells me that a martello tower is not a straight-up cylinder but is actually tapered, with the base fatter than the top.

Friday, March 31, 2017

View from my window

Slowly making progress through Liz Steele's Foundations online course. I found Lesson 10 particularly useful. It's entitled "Creating a Focus", and it's all about starting with quick thumbnails before you decide on what view or subject even to spend time developing. I have a tendency to rush through the start of a sketch, and then getting myself locked in with something that's not necessarily the most interesting view or the best story.

So, starting with a few thumbnails is good - it's like taking lots of snapshots of everything around you, and then you only pick one to post on Facebook! Unless, like me, you get so engrossed in the thumbnails that you forget what you actually set out to do.

The indoor prompt, as usual, was to find something you could do without leaving home. For me, that was a no-brainer. I love the view from the upstairs front window!
Then I decided to go for the house - not so much because it was my favourite view, but because it was the more challenging element. I did want to apply the skills I've picked up along the way! So I did a quick drawing of the roof with a yellow watercolour pencil and then bravely picked up my ink fountain pen and threw myself in!

The watercolour is always the fun part for me - of course, at the very end, I realised that the angle of the roof was wrong. Why is it I never see these things until it is too late?? Never mind. I actually corrected it in the sketchbook after taking this photo, so I'll have a reminder for again! As long as I remember which line is the good one!!

Fake Journal 2017

Never mind the dates, we're now meeting Odile, age 20, student, living at home, trying to figure out what to do with her life!

Check out the fake blog for more details!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Festival Big Day Out

Had a great time with Dublin Sketchers at the St Patrick Festival Big Day Out last week. A family day for kids of all ages.

I was particularly taken by the Upon a Tree setup and I enjoyed painting all the bright colours and wishing roses! And they must have been wishing for good weather - I was able to sketch outdoors for the afternoon. 

It did get a little cold after a while, though. That was perfect time for a hot chocolate - and another sketch - next time I must plan a little better and not end up with someone's face in the middle of the spread!

After all that sketching, it was on to the National Gallery for a natter with fellow-sketchers. And a quick look at Graham Norton's portrait!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

She's back

International Fake Journal Month is starting soon.
I haven't given it a thought until today.
But it'll still be about Odile. A younger Odile. And she loves colour.
Will she meet her older self? I have no idea!

So, make sure to check what she'll be up to on my Fake Blog.

Rain on the horizon - are we there yet?

Well, the answer is No, we're not. But getting close!

Of the three paintings I'm working on, one is nearly finished - it just needs a little bit of darkening in one spot and lighting in another. I decided not to include the lighthouse, nor the power lines. So it's all about the sky!

But the others will need more work. Or may be abandoned! I've done little before-and-after collages to show you the progression. Mostly darkening the sky. As you can see, I haven't tackled the question of the lighthouse in these yet. It's still covered in masking fluid. And I'm really not sure if the sky is working.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Fitting given the day that was in it! Kennedys had a 20% discount on purchases over €30 for Paddy's Day. So I hopped on the Luas and had a little look around!

I bought a few colours that I had heard about, but never tried before.  I bought pans, as they are easier than tubes, unless you want to paint really thick (in which case you might as well use acrylics), but I didn't have empty slots in my palette. So I made one myself, using an old metal case and double-sided stickies!

When I started mixing with two yellows I already had, many shades of green started to emerge! My favourite part of painting! I love colours!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Marbling effect prints

The Gelli Arts blog is always a good source of inspiration when I hit a creative wall!  No better way to beat the painting blues than to slap paint on the Gelli plate and see what happens!

This time, I was playing with the latest technique from their blog, how to create a marbling effect, using  hemp rope. I actually tried with three different types of rope and found indeed that the one that works best is hemp or hessian rope, as it pulls into really fine threads, without breaking into patchy felt.

These small monoprints will not be framed, but I think they will work really nicely in my visual journals!

And for the prints that didn't work out, I just turned the card over and tried again!

Here are a few samples (I've made them extra big so you can see the detail)

Friday, March 24, 2017

A face in watercolours

Better than the sketch of the same person I drew from an online video, and I'm quite pleased with myself, considering this is the first time I actually painted a portrait in watercolour. But I clearly have a lot to learn.
Tip number 1: A mix of yellow ochre or burnt sienna with a red and a pale cerulean blue is a good starting point.
Tip number 2: A good drawing is essential
Tip number 3: Wait for each layer to dry completely before you go with another layer - I applied the lipstick too soon, and ended up with bleed lines!
And a million other things, but I never thought I could do a portrait in watercolours - we all have to start somewhere!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

People sketches

A few sketches I did before the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge, all from online videos. Looking back at these, I feel I learned a lot during the Challenge. It's interesting to compare how I drew Marc, Inge and Marten (from the Coursera mooc on linguistics, from the Leiden University) before the challenge, and two thirds of the way through the 100 People challenge (last photo, at the bottom of this post). I need to make time to practise more, though! Actually, I wonder if learning how to draw is like learning a language? Do you forget it all if you don't practise? Or is it more like learning how to ride a bicycle? The first 100 metres might be wobbly, but your body very soon remembers what to do! I hope it's the latter!

I struggled with his hands


I drew this last one during the challenge, and, if I may says so myself, I got a much better likeness for the two teaching assistants, Inge and Marten, than in my earlier efforts. What about Marc? He's still eluding me!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sketching while waiting

Sketching is the best way to pass the time when you're early for an appointment! Mmmm, I will need to learn how to sketch cars better, though!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Line of Action

While partaking in the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge, I used the Line of Action website, both as a source of inspiration and of tuition for drawing the human figure and face.

This is my interpretation of Line-of-Action's three-step human figure

This is one of the sketches I was able to complete in about 5 minutes, using one of the Line-of-Action models, and using what I had learned through their free tutorials.

Nowadays, there is so much online information and training available that I feel I'm continually learning new skills! Interesting to compare the drawing above to one I did in early March last year:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Rain on the horizon - progress report

I have been proven wrong - a second layer in a watercolour sky can work, provided you control where the water goes. Still not sure it's going to work out... So I started another one, this time without the lighthouse. I'll just keep the houses and the electricity poles I think, otherwise it might be too hard to read as a subject.

Making the sky darker has helped, but the dark gouge marks are still too strong for my liking. Will it survive another layer?

Here again, making the sky darker has helped, and I've added some gold tones on the horizon. Still need to fix the clouds on the left - they're too bitty. And I need to make the sea horizon straight. Next time, I'll need a ruler and masking fluid.

Here is the latest iteration, without the lighthouse. I like the feathery effect representing the rain in the distance. Not so sure about the darker colour right under the bright bit in the sky - probably too greenish. A second layer of dark clouds will hopefully work! 

I'm determined to take my time to explore this. But I'm worried I'll get fed up with it and abandon the whole project.

And I still prefer my raw paintings done onsite! Maybe wet-on-wet is not my style?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rain on the horizon - 2nd and 3rd attempts - work in progress

I'm tempted to rename these "End of the World". They're just not working out.  One is definitely not salvageable, in my opinion - I accidentally scratched the paper with the tool I was using to push the paint back (an old credit-card type card), and what does pigment do when there is a groove in the paper? It rushes in. That's what it does. I really don't think I'll be able to fix it, but that won't stop me trying. I really think that successful watercolour skies can only be achieved in one layer.

In the second one, the bottom of the sky is not so bad, but the shape of the highlight in the top right is not so good.

And I'm really not sure about the lighthouse. Either it looks like a Disney castle or a phallic symbol. I'm not sure which is worse?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dublin Castle State Apartments

Great afternoon with Dublin Sketchers last week at the State Apartments in Dublin Castle!

Wrong proportions - the window is a lot taller than the chair, but I think I did the gothic arch pretty well and I like the perspective that shows the thickness of the wall. And I really enjoyed drawing it!

Nearly went blind drawing this! - The light was fading outside and the bulbs were very bright. Just as well I wasn't trying to draw a detailed rendition!

This one is unfinished. I'll have to go back so.