Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Another Corbières morning

I've been told I'm churning them out. I take it as a compliment. Because if I don't paint, I don't learn. And what's the point in staying static?
This is another view of the hills near Saint André de Roquelongue in the Corbières. Again, I used a limited palette, ultramarine, ruby red and vanadium yellow. But I achieved a very different mood from the previous painting. Painted on Saunders Waterford Rough watercolour paper, with a Jean Haines mop from Rosemary & Co. It's a big brush! And I love it!

PS: No Joycean quote here! But don't worry, I'll be sketching in Dublin again as we get closer to Bloomsday!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Farmleigh - "(he) sent me ... an obscene photograph... I have it still."

Having discovered Farmleigh with the Experience Japan Festival, we'd always meant to go back there on a quiet day. And we brought Timber with us. Yes, dogs are allowed, which is great. Lovely morning. And a few sketches is always a bonus.

And I managed to find a Ulysses quote that vaguely connected to the area - well, we did pass the polo grounds in the Phoenix Park on our way to Farmleigh. And there is an exhibition called James Joyce in the Park currently on view in Farmleigh (I didn't see it!).

"THE HONOURABLE MRS MERVYN TALBOYS: .... Also me. Because he saw me on the polo ground of the Phoenix park at the match ... This plebeian Don Juan observed me from behind a hackney car and sent me in double envelopes an obscene photograph, such as are sold after dark on Paris boulevards, insulting to any lady. I have it still. "
Circe, Ulysses, James Joyce

Notes from Joyce Project on the matter:
"In addition to these soft uses of sex to sell photographic products and services, there was a burgeoning pornography industry. Almost from its inception, the art of photography had been turned to prurient uses. In later Victorian times and the Edwardian decade (1901-10), the market was flooded with naughty picture postcards, ranging from titillating shots of scantily clad young women to graphic depictions of intercourse. Bloom knows these lewd postcards well. "


Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017 Kilmacud Art Group Exhibition

Update 2: thank you all for your support! It was a wonderful weekend!

Update: a good bit of early interest! I love red dots! 4 sold so far!! Thank you to all of you who came by to say Hi! We're still open on Sunday until 6pm!!

The year has gone so fast. Time for the 2017 Kilmacud Art Group Exhibition. The exhibition is opening on the 26th of May in the evening (let me know if you want an invitation) and the show will be on view all day Saturday and Sunday 27th and 28th of May at the St Laurence's parish centre, between the Mill House and St Laurence's church on the Lower Kilmacud in Stillorgan.

Here are the paintings I will be showing this year (all watercolours). I would have liked to show a few more, but it's not the Marie-Hélène Art Exhibition after all, so I had to choose 8 paintings. I am quite prolific!! I will try to get pictures of some of the other artists' work to post here over the next week or so.

Entry is free. And there is absolutely no obligation of purchase! But if you are interested in buying, let me know!

Mountain - Glenveagh National Park 

Sky - Killiney - SOLD

Rain on the Horizon - Inis Oírr - SOLD

Beach - Derrynane

Sky and Mountain - Gap of Dunloe - SOLD

Sunset - Gap of Dunloe

Big poppies - Airfield

Small poppies - Airfield - SOLD

And here are a couple that won't be in the show - they might be added on the Sunday if a lot of paintings are sold. Otherwise, I will have to find another venue for them:
Water - Venice

Water - Baros - SOLD

And I won't be showing my monoprints, which is a shame, as they are really beautiful - I would like more people to see them:

Boulders - SOLD

Hope 3


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Docklands - "When I makes tea I makes tea" and "Mr Bloom walked soberly"

It was a frustrating afternoon - the sketching area was huge, and it turned out to be cooler than I had expected. I even had to wear my wooly hat. In mid-May!! So I couldn't really settle. I sat outside a café for a while and sketched my pot of tea - proportions are way out of kilter. But it did warm me up and gave me the energy to go exploring further.

I found an empty building with a nice covered area at the front, overlooking the Liffey, not far from the Samuel Beckett bridge, or the Calatrava bridge, as some people I know call it. Although it has to be noted that Calatrava has actually designed two bridges in Dublin, the Samuel Beckett Bridge and the James Joyce Bridge!

At that point, I had only about half an hour to sketch, so I set to work, without thinking too much, and definitely without planning. My starting point was the second lamppost - it provided a good measuring scale - everything I drew was in relation to it. I didn't have time for precise measuring, nor for a pencil framework. I should have put my gloves on. It would have kept me warm for longer, but it's mid-May (and thankfully, the weather has changed in the last few days - I wonder was Joyce obsessed about the weather, like most Irish people?) So, it was straight to pen (my trusted Lamy Safari, with De Atramentis waterproof ink). And then quick dabs of watercolour.
I added the quote when I got back to the CHQ building.

Quote from Lotus Eaters chapter - I was looking North West, whereas Bloom was walking East.

(PS: to get the notes in the Joyce Project, hover your cursor until the arrow changes to a hand, then click and the note will appear in a new window - it took me a while to figure that out, so I thought I'd save you the trouble!!)

And yes, I know, I'm doing this the wrong way round, picking a location, then finding a quote to match. But since most of Dublin seems to be in Ulysses, it works for me!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The fishgods of Dundrum

I did a lot of sketching in April, but May, not so much. And I miss it. So I decided to pick up my paint brushes and do a quick watercolour sketch of the trees I can see from our upstairs window.

I didn't find any Ulysses mention of Goatstown, but Dundrum is mentioned once, so I added the quote. I did a quick Google search about those fishgods of Dundrum, and found out all about it, and the weird sisters and the year of the big wind, 1903! Isn't the Internet wonderful!!! Specifically, the site for in-depth notes, and the Project Gutenberg for searching through the whole book!

PS: most of my sketchbooks are not very scholarly - they are about figuring out a composition for a more finished piece, and keeping a record of the pigments I've used. Yes, I'm a pigment geek! For instance, I'm fussy about my cobalt blue - some brands use ultramarine (PB29) + white (they call it cobalt blue tone). But I like PB28 best, although it is toxic if inhaled or ingested - so I make sure not to lick my fingers after painting!

And even if I don't get the time to paint a proper painting, I have a record of a particular moment, or a particular place. I often think that even if I could never leave my house again, I would have enough material to paint for the rest of my life, between thousands of photographs and sketches, without mentioning a cat and a dog that I still struggle to capture, an easy-going husband, and mirrors for self-portraits! And of course, I can look out my window and paint the trees, the houses and the sky!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

National Drawing Day - The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle

A lovely hour spent at the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle - It was National Drawing Day, and the OPW had opened the doors to the Chapel for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. It's not normally accessible, unless you're on a guided tour. So it was extra special to be able to sketch there!
I was a little early, so I started with an outside sketch, choosing a spot where I could retreat in case of rain. And it did rain, quite heavily actually, so I was glad of my little bit of planning!

What I didn't plan, however, was my page layout.  Yes, I am one of these people that start sketching from what catches my eye and then see how far I can go, rather than planning the big shapes first, often ending up with not enough space on the page!

At 12 o'clock, I went into the chapel, and I was immediately overwhelmed by all the beauty and grandeur. When that happens, I tell myself "How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time!". So, I just sketched one window panel, and I kept adding, panel after panel. There was a lot more to that window, but what interested me was that shape. Plus I was getting hungry. But then, I moved towards the front of the chapel, and I looked up at the beautiful arches. So I picked up my pen again and did a quick sketch, squiggles more than drawing. It was hard on the neck, but worth the extra 10 minutes!
PS: I wasn't on my own. Lots of tourists were very happy to pick up a pencil and give it a go. I must find where the OPW have posted the photos of all the drawings! Can't wait to see what caught other people's eye!

Kilmacud Art Group exhibition

Over the next few days, I'm hoping to display here a few of the work from some of the other artists who will be showing their work at the Kilmacud Art Group Exhibition 26-28 May, at the St Laurence's Community Centre, behind the Mill House on the Lower Kilmacud Road in Stillorgan.

San Paolo - Rosanna Shaw

Rosslare Strand Beach - Rosanna Shaw

Bird of Paradise - Rosanna Shaw

Dancers in grey - Rosanna Shaw

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kilmacud Art Group annual exhibition of paintings

The colourful brochure for the Kilmacud Art group annual exhibition.
25 artists will be showing their work in Stillorgan this weekend!

Early morning mist, Montséret

As I'm exploring how to paint convincing skies and clouds, I've been digging through my Pictures folder and found a lovely photo taken on the hills between Montséret and Saint André de Roquelongue, early one morning, two years ago.

The Corbières region is one of my favourite places on earth. So quiet. So rural. And such good food!!

That morning, we got up early so we could get a walk on the hills before it got too hot. The mist was still lifting and the light was golden.

This is the final version

This is an earlier version - it was too bright, although I do like the colour of the sky on the left-hand side

Here is how the first painting was started, from the sky down. I had to lift paint in the dark cloud and over the mountains to soften the effect

I always do a sketch in my sketchbook to figure out how I'm going to approach a painting, deciding on colours and composition. I still think the sky was best in this version!! Sometimes, it's hard to reproduce the freshness of a quick sketch in a finished painting. But it was a useful exercise to help me decide that I didn't want the tree right in the middle!

Monkstown Church

Trust me for sketching in the one place that's not mentioned in Ulysses. I just love the churches in Monkstown, though! Fantastic location for urban sketching, lots of space, interesting buildings, easy access with buses and the Dart, and proximity to the sea.

My mind goes jumping around. Here is how I got to bread and butter:
  1. Monkstown
  2. Carrickbrennan
  3. Brennan's bread
  4. bread and butter
I did the initial sketch, the tower, in 8 minutes - that was how much time I had between parking the car and my appointment. I took a photo and did the main building and the wash effect afterwards. Some artists I follow would do the whole thing in 8 minutes, but I'm not there yet!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Views from Collins Barracks

It was a beautiful day, but I was more interested in capturing the heavy clouds bringing showers to the city than a boring blue sky!
The location for Dublin Sketchers was Collins Barracks, the Decorative Arts & History Museum. But the weather was too nice to go indoors. And I didn't want to sketch the building itself, far too intimidating! So I found the perfect view, from the side of the carpark - the Guinness brewery was just across the Liffey.

Here are my steps (pretty standard for a watercolour sketch)
  1. I started by drawing the skyline in pencil.
  2. I painted the sky, with quite a wet wash - I made it more like a sunset sky. I will have to learn subtlety, but not yet!
  3. Then I continued my pencil outline, comparing measurements the best I could (I am hopeless at measuring when drawing!)
  4. I switched to ink and drew the main shapes and shadows
  5. I finished with watercolour, trying to capture the changes in plane to represent the shadows. The roundness of the tanks (vats?) was a challenge, so I kept the shading simple.
  6. I added a little bit of text - the paper was rough watercolour, so I kept it brief.
If I had put a little more thought into it, I could have added this quote from Ulysses "(Many most attractive and enthusiastic women also commit suicide by stabbing, drowning, drinking prussic acid, aconite, arsenic, opening their veins, refusing food, casting themselves under steamrollers, from the top of Nelson's Pillar, into the great vat of Guinness's brewery, asphyxiating themselves by placing their heads in gasovens, hanging themselves in stylish garters, leaping from windows of different storeys.)" - next time, I must remember to save a border around the paper with masking tape, so I can write around it!

Friday, May 19, 2017


Another movie with Masahiro Motoki, Departures is available on Netflix. The movie won the Oscar for best movie in a foreign language.

Motoki is a cellist, who goes back to his own town with his wife after the orchestra he plays with is disbanded. He answers an ad for a job, not really sure what it's about, a travel agency maybe? It turns out the job is that of encoffiner, a ritual mortician who prepares the body before the funeral. After a rough start, he becomes good at his job. The problem is that there is a Japanese social taboo against people who work with the dead. When his wife finds out what his job is, she has a tough time accepting it.
A beautiful, delicate movie, dealing with a difficult subject.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Happy Hour

Another movie from the Japanese Film Festival - I would have gone to see many more, but there were not enough hours in the days.
Be warned. Happy Hour is over 5 hours long. But worth every minute! It's the story of four women's friendship, and how what happens in one woman's marriage provokes the others to think about their own lives. Some scenes are long, but every moment counts.

My thoughts when the credits rolled were:
  1. Japanese women want more out of life than what's traditionally on offer.
  2. Japanese men haven't got a clue.
If you've got 5 hours to spare, Happy Hour is well worth the time! And if you understand the ending, let me know! Because it did confuse me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Long Excuse

Another Japanese movie - seen at the Japanese Film Festival at the Lighthouse cinema in Smithfield.

The Long Excuse is about two men whose wives die in a coach crash while on a weekend away. The men couldn't be more different from each other. They grieve very differently. And yet, life, or death rather, forces them onto a common path.

A wonderful performance by the lead actor, Masahiro Motoki - did you know that he started his career in a boy band? I can see why!!

Bonus: the cutest little girl, Tamaki Shiratori - I don't generally like movies that throw in a couple of cute kids just to appeal to a broader audience, but this little girl is the best! Ganbare Ganbare!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


April was not only a month of Fake Journaling, but it was a month of Japanese movies for me - a combination of the Japanese Film Festival, Google Play and Netflix.

To say that An was a sweet movie might be a bit of a bad pun (the English title is Sweet Bean), but it is the fist word that comes to my mind when I think of it.

A very gentle story about an old woman who starts to work in a little dorayaki shop. She makes her own delicious red bean paste, and the shop soon thrives. However, rumours start to spread about her gnarled hands... It's not all sweetness and pie, but it is beautiful.

PS - I've never tasted dorayaki, but I will have to try it some day!

Available on Google Play.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Winter sky, Redesdale Road

Back to my own painting style! Brighter colours is probably the best way to summarise it. But I have learned a lot from exploring the style of other artists.
This one is based on a photo my husband took in late December while walking the dog towards Deer Park, on Redesdale Road actually. I was suffering from a bad cold and stayed in bed/on the sofa for most of the day, but he did send me a few pics from the walkies. The sunrise that day was particularly stunning. I took a few liberties when painting - I removed a light hedge of medium-sized trees that are in front of the house and I did a mirror-effect on the tree at the bottom right - it looked better for the composition. But if you live on that road, it's actually quite an easy house to spot! If you know the owner of the house, show them the painting. I hope they like it!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trees - experimenting with colour and style

And just in case you thought I was no longer compulsive-obsessive, here is another little Ray-Campbell-Smith-inspired watercolour. I must explore what kind of brush would work best for trees. Whatever I used here didn't produce the expected effect.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Things are going to slide

Great exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, running until 11th of June - Mark Doherty and Kelly Ratchford - Things are going to slide. Well worth a look!

Here are a few of the pieces on show:

And for those of you on the Southside, there is plenty of parking near the gallery (it's close to the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Irish Writers' Centre, Belvedere College and the Dublin Writers Museum). The easiest way to get there if you're driving is to go up Gardiner Street and turn left at the top of Mountjoy Square. And you can also reach it by public transport - the 11 or the 7 buses are within a stone's throw. And if you want to combine it with a nice meal, Mr Fox, on Parnell Square West, is just round the corner. We tried it last night and we enjoyed our meal!

Landscape with subdued colours

I'm still reading Ray Campbell Smith's book on watercolours, picking up lots of useful tips on the way.

Here I simply copied one of his paintings (omitting the shed and boats to the right!), using ultramarine blue, yellow ochre and venetian red (all from a Schmincke set). Amazing what you can achieve with just three colours. I painted this on cheap paper and found that it didn't stay wet long enough for my sky colours to blend smoothly.  The overall result is quite pleasing, but it still lacks punch - too much of a quiet English countryside feeling (which is what it is). I would like something brighter. Maybe I should stop pussy-footing around and try it on good paper!

Note that the colours look much brighter on the screen than on paper - something to be aware of if you ever buy paintings online without seeing them in the flesh first!

And then, not content with one attempt, I had to try again, on slightly better paper (Fabriano student-grade paper - be warned that the glue around the block doesn't hold well!). I think this time, I used yellow ochre, ultramarine and PV19 as a red - much less subtle than Venetian red, but definitely more to my liking! Although I made one big mistake with the sky (memo to self: never, ever ever, think that you can add a second layer to a sky and end up with a good result), I had a lot more fun with this one, except for the tree on the left, which is too blocky. I do love bright colours. I am not a subtle girl!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Natural History Museum

Catching up Catching up. Here are my sketches from a very enjoyable Dublin Sketchers outing on a rainy day.
1st sketch - I was early and it had started to rain, so I waited in the car and drew what was there!

I found a good spot in the Natural History Museum, slightly out of the way, but with a good view of the Sable Antelope. I went straight to ink, so there are a few mistakes, but hey, it doesn't matter. It still looks like an antelope to me! Most of the children that I showed my drawing to thought it was brilliant! I should probably have added a background to anchor the sketch, but at that stage, I was getting tired and I needed to stretch my legs.

I still had a bit of time after sketching the antelope, so I went downstairs and did a bit of work on the elk. I need to add dark shadow to the right-hand antlers to make them stand out better. But I'm quite satisfied with how the vertebrae worked out. I wasn't too close and there was a lot of people about.

There were quite a few sketchers out that day and the table that had been booked in McGrattan's was pretty packed! A lovely afternoon.