Saturday, March 31, 2018


As willow is getting older, I feel the need to sketch him more. He's such a long-hair cat that it's actually quite hard to draw him!

Willow drinking from his bowl (bowl not drawn)

Willow settling down on his bed

 Willow sleeping

Willow sitting up to cough.

After that he went for a bite to eat, then a little drink of water, then settled for sleep under my desk, where he knows he won't be disturbed.
He's getting old, but he still enjoys life.

All sketches done from life, using Suhita Shirodkar's method of drawing verbs.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Fake Journal Month

1st of April is fast approaching. April is International Fake Journal Month. Fake Journal Month is an idea brought to life by a wonderful artist called Roz Stendahl. Basically, you draw, paint, journal, as a character you have invented. This will be my third year of participating. And yes, Odile will be back. But which one? Young Odile from the present day? Or old Odile from the future who's escaped back to the present and met her younger self?

I haven't planned much. So I probably will be using old art supplies again. At the moment, I am interested in practising drawing and painting the human face and body, but if a nice tree or a dramatic sky presents itself, I will be flexible. And maybe I will let Odile play with my watercolours...

So, if you don't see much activity on this blog for the next month, come and join me and the Odiles on!

Let International Fake Journal Month begin!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

More seagulls

One of them is starting to look like a seagull, but which??

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Low tide

Another snow day (a little over a week ago), another painting

Lavender, English Venetian Red, Moonglow, Buff Titanium, and a touch of Naples Yellow (which I should have left out!)

Or should I crop it and make it a portrait view?

The view is originally from a photo I took on Killiney beach at really low tide, but somehow my clouds on the horizon have turned into distant hills, hence the more generic title!!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

After the storm

This tree lost one of its branches after one of our autumn storms - I can't remember which, it feels like it's been winter forever here, and I can't wait for spring to come! I haven't even done as much sketching as I normally do - the weather seems to have constantly conspired against me, and I've been feeling cold to my bones too.

I fully intend on catching up now that the temperatures are starting to hit double digits again.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


I tried to draw a seagull from life last week and it clearly didn't work out. So I decided to practise from photos this afternoon. Still a lot more work to do before I can successfully do this. There are so many seagulls in Dublin that it's an essential skill I need to acquire. A visit to the Natural History Museum may be needed!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Great Blasket View - Dún Chaoin

Another version of the same painting, in a smaller format (slightly smaller than A4). Although the sky worked out well in this one, I decided not to mention the sky in the title, as I made the house bigger, and therefore, it's more about the house itself, called Great Blasket View, and the islands in the distance, of course.

I'd like to paint a fourth version, combining the best elements of each of the three I've painted so far. But I'm not sure I've got the energy right now. One thing is for sure, though. I'm getting good at painting utility poles and power cables!

For the sky, I worked on damp, rather than wet paper, and I think that worked better for me. And I also altered my "stormy sky recipe". It's normally ultramarine blue, PV19 (quinacridone rose), Quinacridone gold. This time, I tried Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (it's a transparent pigment, unlike a traditional sienna), Potters' Pink (very light pigment in hue, but granulating), PV19 and ultramarine. It's nice to create new recipes!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Stormy Sky, Great Blasket View - Dún Chaoin.

A darker sky. A better composition. A lovely house (it was a really nice house that we rented last year for a week in June - as evidenced by the sky, the weather wasn't the best, but we had a great holiday all the same!). And better utility poles!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stormy sky in Dún Chaoin

A pretty dramatic sky, painted from a photograph taken last summer from the house we were renting in Dunquin (Dún Chaoin in Irish). I like how the sky turned out. But the overall composition is a bit too dominated by the sky, or rather, I haven't got enough space for the house and the other elements at the front.  I've had to raise the wall and vegetation towards the left, because there was an issue where the sea suddenly disappeared, so that helps a bit. But my electricity poles and cables are a bit chunky. Maybe I should have left the foreground more as a silhouette, but it's a start. There will be more!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Trying out pigments

I should be trying to reduce the number of pigments I use, not expand my collection of watercolour tubes. But Daniel Smith do dot sheets, which are hard to resist!

And I was inspired by fellow sketcher, Emma, who did colour charts on what was hopefully the last snow day of the winter!

And in a way, dot sheets are useful, as you get to try colours without having to spend money for a full tube. I was very tempted by Amazonite Genuine, for instance. I just liked the name. But having tried it, I'm not so sure now.

On the other hand, I had never heard of Rose or Ultramarine or Under Sea Green. But, having tried them, I think they are full of watercolour magic potential, and they are on my list for the next time I order art supplies!! Maybe just a small tube to start with!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sketching while waiting

I was a bit early for a meeting, so I sat in the car and did a quick pen sketch. I added watercolour later that evening.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bloomsday sketching - Lestrygonians

Last Sunday was a Bloomsday sketching afternoon. The chapter we were covering was Lestrygonians, a chapter where Bloom walks across the Liffey, in a path that looks like the human digestive system. A lot of references to food, and its journey from the mouth to the anus! And also seagulls, swooping to catch any bit of food going! On his journey, Bloom passes in front of Brown Thomas on Grafton Street, and thinks of all the beautiful silks and ribbons that women love.

Still recovering from my flu, I decided not to do the full route from O'Connell Street. Instead, I went to the Marks&Spencers Rooftop café, with its terrace overlooking Grafton Street, and a great spot for seagulls! Another interesting note about it is that the original Brown Thomas store was at 16 Grafton Street, which is now occupied by M&S! After they bought Switzer's in the 1990s, Brown Thomas moved across the street, in what was Switzer's and sold their original store to M&S.

The seagulls were too quick for me to sketch one accurately, hence the very long beak and strange shape. And none of the photos I took worked out, as they kept moving. I should have bought some food, but then they would have pestered me the whole time!! I will have to practise by looking at photos on the Internet! Being able to draw a seagull is an essential skill in Dublin, I believe!

The tall tower with the green roof is from St Teresa's church on Clarendon Street, which gets a mention in Penelope, where Molly Bloom remembers singing there a year previously.

So there you go, that's what inspired me!

The hungry famished gull. 
Flaps o'er the waters dull.

He came out into clearer air and turned back towards Grafton street. Eat or be eaten. Kill! Kill!
Ulysses, James Joyce

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Glenbeg Lough, Beara Peninsula

I've had a productive few days with the snow two weeks ago (more is forecast for tonight and it's cold today - I always feel sorry for the Texas majorettes at the St Patrick's Day Parade! But at least they're moving! I feel sorrier for our president and also for Mark Hamil (Luke from Star Wars), who is the International Guest of Honour, who will be sitting for hours while the parade walks past!)!

This is a view of Glenbeg Lough, on the Beara Peninsula. The day we walked that road was a soft day, indeed, after a gloriously sunny day the day before. So we couldn't see the hills at the end of the lake. A good excuse for wet-in-wet painting! We encountered a few sheep, and a man who seemed keen on us not walking towards his house. We respectfully retreated!

For the greens, I used a technique from Marc Taro Holmes, which he calls "charging" I think, whereby you drop pure pigments into a damp wash. It makes for a lot of unexpected watercolour magic!

Now, I'm going to try and make the most of the long weekend for some more painting!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Coumeenole Beach Two

Another version of the same view on Coumeenole beach. Slightly different composition. I added a little bit of sky and even a sailing boat on the horizon (it's actually in the photo I took!). And I moved the main rock slightly to the right - I wanted it to be more about the waves this time. In terms of colours, I think I used cobalt blue rather than cerulean chromium blue for the main part of the sea. And I was bolder with my sand, rock and waves colours. I used another Ken Bromley sample paper - Winsor and Newton Classic 140LB NOT. Fantastic paper. It handled beautifully, allowing the paint to granulate, move, merge and split. The masking tape I used around the edges lifted the fibres, something to watch out for. But, strangely, the masking fluid did no damage. Will definitely be tempted to order some more of this paper!

And by the way, if you're tempted to go for a swim in the Atlantic ocean, be warned that the currents at this beach are dangerous and it is unsafe for swimming. Not that it stops Irish children and adults from enjoying the water in the summer. But then again, the Irish don't like rules! Béal Bán, a few miles down the road, near Ballyferriter, is much safer.

More from Anne-Laure

I loved this little video and I must definitely try to paint more freely!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Coumeenole Beach

Watercolour on Bockingford 200LB NOT paper - much heavier paper than I'm used to (140LB, which is 300gsm). So quite interesting to try it out (was from a set of papers from Ken Bromley). But I found the paint didn't glide as much as I'm used to (although I generally use rough paper). This paper might be good for a lot of layering.

I used a wax pencil to keep the waves white - a little blockier than I'd like

And if you're thinking that I just take a photo and paint, check out this link where you'll see the pen and watercolour sketches I did on site, and the photos and videos I took. And that's a year and a half ago. I've been working a lot on my watercolour techniques since. 

I used a few new colours in this painting, getting familiar with them, and I have to say that so far, I love them! Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Transparent Red Oxide, Potters' Pink, and Cerulean Blue Chromium (not sure about that blue, it's very granulating). All from Daniel Smith. All discovered via Liz Steel's Sketching Now Watercolour online course.

Value Sketches

Trying to decide what to paint, I'm working my way through some photos from a few locations in Kerry.

I'm currently working on the third one (the one that you have to rotate your screen to see properly). And I must definitely refer to this value sketch before I go any further with the painting!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Snow movies

4 days more or less house-bound with the snow. We managed to keep ourselves occupied, so we didn't binge on Netflix too much. Two good movies.

  • The Revenant: Beautifully shot and a tense story. A man is abandoned after he is attacked by a bear in the wild west mountains somewhere in North America. His struggle for survival, and revenge, takes its time to unfold. A tad long, but a good story.
  • I don't feel at home in this world any more: Don't be put off by the long title. I have trouble remembering it. This is a great movie. About a nursing assistant, Ruth, who is finding life frustrating, with a lack of connection to others. Her house is burgled and the police isn't exactly helpful. So she takes matters in her own hands. It's dark and gruesome in parts, hilariously funny in others (or even in the same parts). It's full of humanity. 

Inagh Lake

I've been thinking of this view of Inagh valley and lake for a good while now. We were there with my good friend Shinobu nearly four years ago! I actually did a watercolour sketch of it about a year ago. And I did think about values - the lightest light and the darkest dark beside each other. And I love my colour mixes on the mountains and in the trees. But my tall fir trees are a little stiff maybe. I don't think I've worked this view out of my system yet! But I've learned a lot from it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#OneWeek100People2018 - Day 6? ALL DONE AT LAST

After a break for a couple of days (well, life, actually), here are the last of my sketches for #OneWeek100People2018!
The first lot, in pen, were done in the dentist waiting room, looking out the window at passersby.
And for the watercolour people, I followed the White Rabbit, i.e. Anne-Laure, with her 20 very useful tips on how to draw and paint people silhouettes. I really enjoyed doing these! I must find ways to draw women silhouettes next!!

How to draw figures - video from Anne-Laure

Two brilliant videos by Anne-Laure - she makes it look so easy! But she is also very generous with her fantastic tips!

Colour mixes

A useful exercise from SketchingNowWatercolour - to look at all the colours I am likely to use and to keep track of how I mix them. For each colour, the original colour, and how to mix a darker version of it. Some colours are trickier than others, like yellows - the best way to make a darker yellow is to add another, more orangey yellow or a greener yellow. Anything else added to yellow will make it muddy.
I must practise these so I can memorise them!!

Testing new sketchbook

Well, the sketchbook is actually a year old - it's a Fabriano handmade watercolour paper book I bought in Venice last year. I had great hopes for this book, but it's going to be a lot more challenging than I anticipated - the paper is very rough and watercolour behaves very strangely on it - it's like it sits on top of it and takes forever to absorb. Fine if you want to do a lot of rework I guess. Not so good if you want a quick sketch and turn the page!! 
And I found it almost impossible to draw with a fountain pen - the roughness of the paper made it a very scratchy experience. 
But no doubt I will find a good use for it all the same - it just needs more experimentation!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Life Drawing

This was actually over a month ago, but between the flu and the snow, I didn't get around to publishing this! I had never been to a life drawing session before this. But I will definitely go again (and I just did!). Never saw time pass so quickly. Never looked with such intensity. There wasn't a peep out of anyone. And no chat before or after. I'm glad I went with a friend - it would have been too intimidating otherwise.

I didn't include the 1-minute drawings. They don't look like much. But yet, they were essential to the process. The watercolours were the longest poses, although the one I'm happiest with (just below) was probably no more than 5 or 10 minutes!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

HVI rules

This is from a good few weeks ago. Still very much in catch-up mode here!
These exercises were from SketchingNowWatercolour, exploring Hue, Value and Intensity. What I discovered during this exercise is that I think of Hue (pun not intended!), but Value can be a bit of an afterthought, and as for Intensity, most of my paintings are full on! So I had a lot to take in! 

Liz Steel has three rules when it comes to Hue, Value and Intensity:
  1. Reduce the number of hues. 
  2. Create value contrast. 
  3. Balance intensity. 
I'm generally not bad at reducing the number of hues - I try to stick to a few colours that I mix together to create others. Although, that said, I am working on a watercolour right now where I have 7 different pigments, but I think it's ok, as 4 of them are used for greens, and the other 3 are used for greys. So, strictly speaking, it's only 2 hues: green and grey, isn't it?
I'm not sure I'm quite ready for Intensity balancing, i.e. trying to avoid high-intensity colours outside of the centre of interest. 
But I'm definitely trying to work on values. I've even done a value sketch for my current work in progress. I must remember to review it as I progress with the painting. Yes, I have been known to do a value sketch and then ignore it completely. And for the exercises below, I should have done value sketches, but I was running behind and I rushed! 

Looking at this black and white photo of the top sketch, I can see that my sky should be lighter and that my dark tree should be darker, and the roof of the big house is too dark a value.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Winter birds

All photos copyright of Brendan Brohan. All photos taken locally, some near the Dodder and one at the Forty Foot.
I don't tend to paint birds (or foxes), but looking at these photos, I'm tempted, I have to say.