Monday, July 24, 2017

Sketching while waiting

As I am the kind of person who always likes to be on time, I tend to be early for appointments. that can be infuriating to some, but, me, that's the only way I can actually relax. What better way to use the dead time than sketching (from the car or the footpath)? Two pens and a small sketchbook is all that's needed - in this case, a fine pen (Micron Pigma) and a grey bold PITT pen. The dark darks were achieved by adding several layers of the grey PITT pen.

It would be an interesting project to map all the locations I've been to since I started sketching - Ah, there's another potential project!

A watercolour a day

I set myself a goal of painting a watercolour a day for the summer. I'm currently failing miserably.

I am working from Veronica Lawlor's book, One Watercolor a Day, a good tool for trying out different techniques without pressure.

This is how far I got since around the 25th of June!

Tackling roses, a subject I find particularly difficult

Painting only in red, with juicy wet-in-wet washes around a dry shape

Monochrome painting

Analogous colours

Not sure what kind of colours this is. It was supposed to be split complementaries, but I got confused somewhere along the way

This is what happens when you try to use old masking fluid - the lesson? If the bottle has been opened more than a couple of months, throw it out. I think I will stay away from masking fluid for now, despite the flexibility it offers

Another attempt at a rose,with masking fluid this time. Not very exciting.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Elgin Road

Being early for an appointment at the embassy, I was glad I had my sketchbook with me, and a couple of nice pens (including the dreaded Pentel brush pen!). Cars are to be added to the list of things I need to practise.

So I decided to draw just a car on its own, the car that was parked right in front of me!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Wolfe Tone Square

Another Sunday, another Dublin Sketchers location! Wolfe Tone Square. One of these places you normally pass through without stopping.
We have been blessed with the weather, and Wolfe Tone Square was busy with families, children, tourists, pigeons, seagulls, and a group of Eastern European men (Romanians?) engaged in very animated conversation. And sketchers of course.

I wasn't the only one to be drawn to the dome over Penneys on Mary Street, the old Todd Burn's Department Store, but my sketch was probably the most colourful! (OK, not quite as colourful as this, but Picasa seems to struggle with orange - the sketch is actually a little more pink than this)

And while I'm at it, I couldn't help this Picasa Invert Colours trick. I must try this in real life next time! A great excuse to use yummy colours!

And now I know why the bar that was facing me (to the right of the sketch) is called The Church!

Since I had some time left, I did a second sketch, trying to capture the group of men talking, a couple of sketchers, the palm trees and the beautiful big tree in the background.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mud Island Community Garden

A little gem of a location for Dublin Sketchers a few weeks ago: Mud Island Community Garden, just off North Strand Road, Dublin 3. Lots of vegetables and flowers and a caravan. And also a lovely lean-to with benches and a table - ideal for Sketchers tea and chat.

The artist at work
I love discovering hidden corners of Dublin. Particularly when, in this case, it brings me back to parts of the city I used to be familiar with. When I first came to Dublin in 1982, I stayed with a family in Raheny for 3 weeks. And I took the 29A bus into town most days - this was pre-Dart, remember! I had forgotten all about that area, but it was like I was back at the top of that bus, smoking Major cigarettes, and falling in love with the city for the first time. I still do, love it.

Courgettes and Nasturtiums

Yes, I know, my caravan is too short, but look at the lovely colours and shapes!

Drawing what's in front of me

When life gets too busy, my desk gets messy!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Powerscourt on my birthday

Do you know anyone who gets up at 6am on their birthday and goes out to paint at 7 am? I am so lucky I have a friend who was happy to do the same!
We met at Powerscourt just before 7 on that beautiful sunny morning and set to work straight away. Painting is serious business! Particularly so in Ireland when the good weather is never guaranteed to last.
By 10 am, we both had two paintings done, and we went to the coffee shop for a celebration slice of banana cake and a cup of tea. I was home by 11, ready to open my presents!

Powerscourt house and gardens is a wonderful location, apparently voted Nr 3 Best Garden in the World by the National Geographic! - gorgeous mountains in the distance, lots of trees, meadows, and if you go into the gardens themselves, you could spend the rest of your life painting there: fountains, statues, Japanese garden, walled garden, pet cemetery, beautiful views over the moutains, tourists, ... It's got it all. On this occasion, we stayed outside the main garden - we didn't want to have to pay to get in. I could have painted the Sugar Loaf view in the distance - it is picture-perfect after all. But, maybe I was intimidated by it, I chose instead to paint this set of conifers in the east.

The first painting, as done on location. I was very happy with it at the time, but when I got home, I felt that there were too many busy bright shapes competing for attention.

So I reworked it - lifting quite a bit of paint and applying simpler washes to push shapes further back. I also greyed out the little house in the distance, as it was competing for attention with my centre of interest, the big conifers on the left.
Second painting of the day. I turned around and tried to paint one of the beautiful trees in the middle distance. It didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped. I applied the same treatment, but the patient didn't respond too well. What I needed to do in this case was start again, giving the leaves more fluid strokes and thinking more about the colours for the bark. Plus I should have worked wet-in-wet for my sky. Another day's work. I'll just have to go back!


After rework at home

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sketches and paintings from the holidays

A month has gone by, and I've been so busy that I never got around to sharing holiday pics, paintings or sketches.

Photos will have to wait a while yet - too many to review in the time available!

I did sketch and/or paint more or less every day, but I'm afraid it's quantity over quality. Still, I'm happy I fitted in that much, despite the weather and the distractions (good distractions, might I add).

A lot of clouds over the hills, so I tried to work quite wet to get that sense of softness. I hope it shows!

The paintings below are all views from the house we rented in Dunquin - I did not include the endless stream of bungalows and houses that blight the landscape, but rather, I painted what I saw - the sky, the sea, the mountains! And most of all, I edited out Kruger's pub, the ugliest yellow rambling building I've ever seen! (and service with no smile, to make things worse!)

My favourite of the week - captured the softness, the greens, and a beautiful house. Just like I wanted.

Slea Head is just behind that hill
That day, it was raining. A lot. But the painting would have worked better is I had kept the house brighter (and not botched my electricity poles!)

Great Blasket Island. As seen from the house.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The human form - sketches

Every time I get back to drawing the human form, I struggle with it - proportions, form, volume, edges, ... Maybe some day I will take a class. That might help!

These sketches are from Line-of-action (photographs) and Croquis Café (videos), two great resources for practising your life drawing skills from the comfort of your own home! I like the one-or-two-minute poses! I even did several of them on top of each other, as I was frantically trying to keep up!
Now if I could only be disciplined enough to practise this several times a week...

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Views from our house in Dunquin

We had fabulous views from the house we rented for a week in Dunquin earlier this month. None of my paintings do it justice.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Portrait of a gallerist

Done in less than 3 minutes, while we were talking. No likeness whatsoever. But it was fun!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Peppercanister and National Gallery of Ireland

If you were walking on Upper Mount Street Sunday afternoon before last and saw this mad woman standing at a doorstep with a sketchbook in one hand and a red pencil in the other, that was me.

I was on my way to the National Gallery for a sketching afternoon, but as I walked down Mount Street Upper, I turned back and I thought to myself "I've always wanted to draw the Peppercanister". So I did! Carpe Diem and all those good things. That street is fairly quiet on a Sunday, as most of the offices are closed, but there were enough people walking by or parking their cars that it was a safe spot - particularly if you stand at the top of the steps; nobody can come from behind you, unless they live in the house, but let's not think about that.

After finishing the Peppercanister, I made my way to the newly-refurbished National Gallery. I had a fair idea it would be busy. Plus the sun was shining by that stage, so I just sat outside and started drawing the façade. I knew my sketchbook's format would not allow me to draw the three arches of the centre section of the building. So I just started with one, moving from one section to the next, against all the rules of going from outside in and from larger to smaller shapes. That's the way my eye takes in a building, I guess. I can't comprehend the vastness or monumentality of it, so I just go for a striking detail, not thinking much of composition or finished product. All that matters is that I get so absorbed in the process, without a care in the world!

Sketches from Dublin Sketchers are here.