Saturday, June 30, 2018

Travelling Sketches

Just one 20x20cm sketchbook, and one fountain pen (Lamy Safari, with watersoluble ink). That's the trick for me from now on. No more bringing two sketchbooks, no more watercolours, at least not on a weekend break! I did add the greys using a touch of a waterbrush to dilute the ink after I got home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A rose

Another painting with Green Apatite Genuine. But not on its own this time.
I first painted the negative space around the rose with just the one pigment. And when it was dry, I hinted at the rose, using PV19 and Rose of Ultramarine (a gorgeous pigment from Daniel Smith), and a little blue of some sort.
Quite happy with how it turned out.

Green Apatite Genuine

Mmm. It doesn't look like much. I painted this from a photo I took in Airfield a while back. The exercise was to do with using just one colour, Green Apatite Genuine. I did manage to create lights and darks. But it's a bit ... monochromatic. I must try something similar with Ultramarine and Green Apatite Genuine - I think that would be a bit more exciting.

Anne-Laure Jacquart, the artist who inspired this, managed to make a much more interesting painting out of the one colour! Check out her video below.


A view of James Joyce tower in Sandycove. (Trying to catch up on posting what I've been doing over the last little while, just in case you were wondering why I'm posting so much to do with the #30x30DirectWatercolor2018 challenge!)

One thing is for sure is that I love painting skies and water. For the other elements of the landscape, I really do need to spend more time planning and measuring. But, hey, one painting a day is the challenge, so it's simply not possible for me to spend hours on each one. It's a great exercise, though. Through sheer quantity, I am learning more in a month than I would in a year normally! Maybe I'll revisit all these paintings in the winter, trying to recreate the spontaneity, but striving for a better finish!

The lesson learned for this one is that I need to keep the details in the distance fairly light - the windows of the house second from the right are way too dark!

Stone - attempt at negative space painting

Another attempt at negative space painting. Does it even look like a stone?

Ferns and hostas

Trying negative space painting, trying ferns (inspired by Anne-Laure Jacquart, but clearly not as talented as her - I definitely need to watch her videos again!! ðŸ˜‚)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Reclaiming the Wounded Soul

Reclaiming the Wounded Soul, by Lisa Burke

Honestly and beautifully told – the story of a woman who finds her own path to wellness and happiness after a shocking and traumatizing emergency caesarian section

This is not a step-by-step get well book. But yet, I think it will help a lot of women, and men, who are suffering from anxiety, PTSD or depression, suggesting a way forward, and simple actions that will guide you back to your own, happy and balanced, self.

Lisa Burke tells her story simply and clearly, and with humour at times, – she’s not in the blame business, but the facts are stark. This book is about one of those events in life that you hope will never happen to you. Where one moment, your life is going well, and the next, you’re in hell.

Her story is about how the doctors and consultants, who were supposed to provide care during the birth of her third child, did not communicate with her, did not listen to her, but were solely focused on the task, even when she was screaming in pain.

It is shocking to know that these things are still happening in 21st century Ireland.  And it is very much of the moment, with the HSE’s Cervical Check scandal, where patients, women, are still not at the centre of the decision-making process by doctors and hospital administrators.

Lisa Burke survived to tell the tale, and what struck me is that she is not angry. She decided to get well, and let go of the fear and the anger. And in this book, she seeks to help others in their journey out of hell, back to happiness.

An essential read for anyone who is going through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression or anxiety. It’s not going to tell you step by step how to solve all your problems, but it guides you through the first actions you can take towards regaining and reclaiming who you were.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Clouds over Belfield

A view of Belfied. (You might just recognise the water tower). Well, actually, more a view of the sky above it and the tree line, but that's the kind of landscapes I'm drawn to!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Red acer

A quick loose sketch of the small acer in front of our house. I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm trying to find the balance between loose and controlled! Someone told me that adding some shadows under the red leaves would do the trick. I must try and remember that!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

View from upstairs

I'm still doing the 30x30 direct watercolour challenge. There's over 2500 people participating in the challenge all over the world. It's pretty exciting, and a little overwhelming. Basically the aim is to paint something directly in watercolour, with no pen or pencil drawing, every day. Needless to say, some days work out better than others.

Unlike urban sketching, you can work from a photo. Which is handy. This is the view from our bedroom window. I took the photo a few weeks ago - I love dramatic skies! I should really go to the West of Ireland - best sunsets in the world!

The one disadvantage of working from a photo is that you paint what you think things should look like, rather than how they are - the tree must have green leaves, the roof must be red. The reality, with the rose glow of the sky, was more pink everywhere!!


The same poppies, painted again before they drooped. I tried a different style, with lots of splatters.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


More flowers given to me after Willow died - a beautiful colourful bouquet of garden flowers! Again, done in direct watercolour, not even a pencil dot on the page! I like how the poppies worked out, and the purple round flowers. My rendition of the ferns lacks substance. The main thing I regret about this painting is that I didn't leave enough room for the vase. Next time, I must do watercolour dots to mark the overall shape of my subject!


We were given lovely flowers when Willow passed away. So I knew they would be the perfect subject for a direct watercolour. As they are white, I thought I'd try some negative painting. Mixed feelings about how it worked out. But this is one of the better ones I've done so far in the direct watercolour challenge. I definitely need a more pointy watercolour brush for details! (that's my excuse anyway...)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Store Street Plaza

This was an interesting outing with Dublin Sketchers! How do I put it? Well, Store Street is not exactly a tourist location - it's got a big Garda station (that means police station in Ireland), railway bridges, buses, trams, and a lot of people walking by, or hanging around. The day we were sketching, there was flowers on the railing of the garda station, for the 13th anniversary of the death of a young man in garda custody in the police station. A lot of the locals walking by were clearly very resentful of the police (if you click on the link above, you will find the different points of view and details of the coroner's report). I even heard a father tell his son that the police inside the station had killed the young man.

So, maybe I wasn't as focused on my painting as I would normally be. Or the circumstances gave me a different energy.
Or maybe it's just that the first sketch was done in direct watercolour - no pen, no pencil.

And when I found I still had some time, I decided to go to pen only - somehow this month of direct watercolour is helping me to appreciate pen-only sketches! It was done in less than 10 minutes, starting with a visiting sketcher from Switzerland and a man who was quietly drinking behind him, and then the tree in the centre of the stone bench, finishing with the big concrete boulders strewn on the pavement (art or some form of protection against cars driving onto the plaza?).

An exciting afternoon, with a lot of visual interest. Do look at the Dublin Sketchers website to see how other sketchers looked at the scene.

And, yes, I did manage to fit both sketches into my Bloomsday project, with appropriate quotes - by the way, don't forget to go and see our sketchbooks in the James Joyce Centre if you're in Dublin. They will be exhibited there for a month or so. The James Joyce Centre is also running a beautiful exhibition by artist Frank Kiely, which I highly recommend. And while you're in the neighbourhood, drop over to the Olivier Cornet Gallery, who is running a Ulysses-themed exhibition, called Drawing On Joyce.

They passed the main entrance of the Great Northern railway station, the starting point for Belfast, where of course all traffic was suspended at that late hour and passing the backdoor of the morgue (a not very enticing locality, not to say gruesome to a degree, more especially at night) ultimately gained the Dock Tavern and in due course turned into Store street, famous for its C division police station. 

He thought, but not for long, of soldiers and sailors, whose legs had been shot off by cannonballs, ending their days in some pauper ward

Thursday, June 07, 2018

At the hairdressers

I have no patience with hair colour. Yet, it needs to be done, every six weeks at least! Over the last few months, I have been bringing a sketchbook with me to the hairdressers, often doing a stark self-portrait while the colour is setting. Last Halloween, I even sketched a plastic skull that was decorating the counter! It helps that my hairdresser is into art - he's actually very talented, so we're always chatting about drawing, painting, and science fiction movies, another thing we both like!

Last week, I brought my big sketchbook (A4 Moleskine) and did a direct to watercolour sketch of the house across the way. I started working around the whites, so that I would not lose them. Did the house, windows, door, steps, the chimney. I then added the tree to the right. It got a bit chunky. So I decided to just suggest the tree to the left, and ignore completely the neighbouring house. I then had another go at the door, in pen this time. And by then, it was time to get my hair rinsed. And this is how I get to sketch and paint so much. Not a moment wasted!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Sketching around Belfield

I'm struggling to keep up with my blog at the moment - a sign that life is busy. So I'll be brief.

Experimenting with different styles, and new subject matters (for me). Two direct watercolours, as part of the #30x30directwatercolor2018 challenge, and one done very quickly with a brush pen, with light watercolour added. I like that one better actually. Which is weird, because brush pen is not my strongest tool. But I guess since direct watercolour is actually quite tough, there is a comfort factor in using line!
The motorbike was an interesting challenge. I should have measured better, but given that it's my first time ever ever sketching a motorbike, I'm pleased enough!!

Kilmacud Art Group poster

I'm proud to have one of my paintings on this year's poster!

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Cricket Weather

The weather was supposed to be good. The showers were going to be "isolated". Not so I'm afraid. But I got into a dry spot in time for this sketch. A loading bay actually. Nice thing that they are elevated, loading bays. With steps. There was plenty of room for 5 sketchers I'd say, but I was on my own for the good hour and a half it took me to do this sketch. People walked by in search of shelter, but no-one asked if they could join me until the rain stopped. I was in my element. No distraction. No chat. Just pure concentration. Which I needed as I was doing this sketch in direct watercolour, i.e. no pen, not even a pencil mark. I started by working around the whites of the cricket boards (whatever they are, I was told that they provide a clear background for bowling, or something like that. I clearly wasn't paying attention) and of the building itself. I made some mistakes, but I soldiered on.

And although this wasn't an official Bloomsday sketchout, I had brought my DrawingOnJoyce sketchbook and I found the perfect quote. Cricket Weather.

And the reason why I chose direct watercolour as a technique was that I'm doing the #30x30DirectWatercolor2018 challenge. So I'm killing a few birds with one stone.

When I was done, I made my way to the Lincoln's Inn, to meet with fellow sketchers. After eating a delicious slice of Bailey's cheesecake and drinking a hot chocolate to warm myself up, I sketched people at a table across the way, using my ArtGraf Tailor Shape. A completely different style, but I like that in my sketchbook. I'm always trying out new techniques and new materials.

The quote I used is not from the same pub, but the Lincoln's Inn claims a Joyce connection all the same - it used to be part of Finn's Hotel, where Nora Barnacle was a chamber maid. It is said that James Joyce first met her there, on the 10th June 1904 and they started going out on the 16th of June 1904, hence the date chosen by Joyce for Ulysses.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Kilmacud Art Group Annual Exhibition -

UPDATE: Five sold in total, 4 at the exhibition and one direct!

Put the date in your calendars : Friday 8 June 8pm: opening of the Kilmacud Art Group Exhibition! The exhibition will be open on the 9th and 10th of June too.
You are very welcome to the opening on the Friday evening at 8pm. It will be at the Kilmacud Parish Centre, behind the Millhouse pub in Stillorgan. Lots of beautiful art in a variety of styles!

Here are the pieces I will be showing. Contact me if you want more information on sizes and pricing, and if you would like to view the work before the exhibition, or reserve a painting.  All are watercolour, painted with high-quality pigments on acid-free watercolour paper.

Poppies, Corbières - SOLD

Stormy Sky, Seapoint

Sand Dunes, Béal Bán, Dingle Peninsula - SOLD

Winter tree and snow, Kilmacud

Country Road, Beara Peninsula

Sunrise on the new lake, UCD - SOLD

Beach, Bettystown - SOLD

I will also have a few other pieces that may not be in the exhibition, but which are available for sale.

Healy Pass, Beara Peninsula

Low Tide

House, Beara Peninsula - SOLD

I also have a few unframed acrylics - they don't photograph very well, so let me know if you want to have a look at them.


I hope she recognises herself.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Harold's Cross Festival

The weather wasn't perfect, but we didn't let a few drops of rain spoil our fun. I even finished one of my watercolours with an umbrella in one hand! A few of us Dublin Sketchers sat at the front row for the Harold's Cross Festival's music event, as you can see in the photo (courtesy of Harold's Cross Festival website).

And we sketched to our hearts' (and ears') content. The two acts we saw and sketched were fantastic! Martin Tourish and Daire Bracken dazzled us (accordion and fiddle). And Eleanor McEvoy brought back memories from long ago.
Tourish and Bracken even played an encore so we'd have more time to sketch. And Eleanor McEvoy was initially worried we might be critics, but once she saw the paintbrushes, she relaxed into her set!

And the dog?, you're asking. Well the dog's owner was eating an ice-cream, and the dog knew he had to be good if he wanted a lick! I never got to sketch the ice-cream nor the man, but you can see him in the crowd picture above.

I did all my sketches in direct watercolour, getting ready for the 30x30 challenge coming up in June. Then I did one in pencil, just because I still had 5 minutes! I still need to add text to the pages. It will come to me soon.

Sketches from the other Dublin Sketchers are on Instagram.