Tuesday, October 15, 2019

shadows and teacups

Lots to learn about shadows - how to mix colourful shadows, how to paint shadows in values 2, 3 and 4, or even 5, the difference between the shaded side of a building (which is often just a darker shade of the local colour, and which can have a lot of reflected light in it) and the cast shadow (which is normally darker); the existence of the terminator, such a revelation!, and lots lots more! I loved painting the white cups the best, I think. Although colour charts are one of my favourite things!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Red Earth

Deb sent me a lovely picture from Tom Price - Tom Price is not a person, as I thought originally, but a town in Western Australia, and it reminded me I have a tube of Aussie Red Gold from Daniel Smith that I don't get much chance to use around here. The view below is not the photo, but a shot from Google maps which I like a lot and might paint too, some day! Look at that red earth, isn't it wonderful! And the fresh green in the vegetation on the side of the road is such a gorgeous contrast to the red. Definitely going to paint that!

Anyways, the photo I have is a red-earth path going up a hill, with golden grasses on both sides, the whole scene lit by a low sun. And the question I'm asking myself is how to represent the light grasses against the darker shadows of the earth, which look purple in places. So the mix I'm thinking of is Aussie Red Gold, Hansa Yellow Medium, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine blue, which is looking quite promising in my witches brew recipe testing book (an old Winsor and Newton sketchbook). I might have to flood the paint with water (with a pipette) to create that light flowy wavy effect, but that's feasible. The big question is the size of the paper - I have a lovely Hannemülhe in a long format and it's not too large so that might do the trick. Now all I have to do is make time to do it! Easier said than done given my current busy schedule!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

boxes and castles

This lesson was all about value and colour. And how tricky it is to translate values into watercolours.
I learned a lot. And hopefully will remember some of it. Like trying to map all shades and shadows first. And then mapping cast shadows, which are darker. And taking account of local colour, and how we often paint local colour darker than it should be. Deciding whether to start with a light wash of local colour or with the darks first. Lots lots lots to learn.
Practising from simple boxes first, then from some photographs. Some worked out better than others. The hardest bit was the slivers of light in the castle crenelations!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

De Sluyswacht - part 2

This version didn't work out quite as well as the white-grey-black marker version, which just shows it's hard to translate values into colours. But I had fund trying, anyway. The dark I used was a mix of Aquarius Caput Mortuum and DS Ultramarine blue. Gorgeous dark. And for my mid-tone, I decided on Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, which glows nicely! And by the way, don't ask me what the weird ellipse to the left is. Just that I didn't want to waste paper!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Finding a focus

I was struggling to keep up with this online course, Sketching Now - Watercolour on Location, by Liz Steel. But since k-day, it's pretty much on hold. Anyway, life will eventually return to normal. But for now, let me share what I have so far.
So this was the on-location exercise for lesson 1, finding a focus. As you can see, I had very ambitious plans at the start - trying to fit everything in. In the end, I had to zoom right in. My initial idea was to include the fountains and a corner of the DLR Lexicon library, but that was too much. And I didn't really get to tell the full story I had in mind, of this church which is now a maritime museum, in Dun Laoghaire. What I should have done is also draw one of the big anchors that was in the yard, not far from the door.  That would have provided the context I needed. Next time, Next time! And also, a note that I'm still struggling to keep my drawing loose and free when I'm doing an architectural subject. It's all part of the journey!

Monday, October 07, 2019

Dodder Valley Park

One of the sketchers in our group lives in a beautiful area at the foothills of the Dublin mountains. Nearby, there is a wonderful park, full of wildlife - it follows the Dodder, a major green corridor for all the local fauna. But South Dublin County Council are planning to destroy it to make more playing pitches. I'm not a local, but apparently there are plenty of playing pitches already in the area, and they are under-utilised. So you have to wonder about the logic of this move.

We visited the Dodder Valley Park on Sunday - a beautiful, wild, tranquil green belt, with the river, fields, wild flowers, trees, bushes. Home to many insects and animals. Which will soon be bulldozed over if the council have their say. The barriers have already been erected and the bulldozers are in the field where I sketched, waiting to get started on their extinction mission.

Wasn't our Taoiseach in New York not long ago talking the green talk? When will our politicians finally get it? It doesn't matter that we are a small country. We still should do the right thing. Cut our carbon emissions significantly, plant trees, and protect natural habitat. It's our duty to the next generation - what use will those playing pitches be when the bees are gone and the crops are failing, and when the temperature has risen beyond the tipping point, along with the sea levels, wiping most of our cities off the face of the earth?

Hughes pub - no life drawing, so we sketched instead!

I'm playing catch-up from a few weeks back at this stage. 

All I'll say is: don't believe the Facebook videos showing a loving kitten sleeping beside a doting dog - the reality is very different, and is the reason why I haven't posted much lately. Every free moment has been taken in managing the interactions between our 6-year-old dog (30kg) and our new 3-month-old kitten (1kg). It's going to take longer than we thought!
So, this was before k-day (kitten day).

The room for life drawing wasn't available and we had decided we'd go sketching in Hughes pub instead. So we had a nice mix of people from life drawing, people from Dublin Sketchers and people who just turned up because they were in town that day! I didn't stay very late (I'm not a late-night-pub person, just in case you didn't know!), so the pub wasn't too busy, and the trad music hadn't started yet, which made it very comfortable for sketching (but next time, I'm definitely staying for the music!). We had a good spot, and an American couple talking to an Irish guy at the bar, which provided great eavesdropping opportunities! We also sketched each other, which I always enjoy! Lovely pub, Hughes, near the Four Courts Luas stop. Not trendy or fancy. Just a nice place for a quiet pint. Exactly what a pub should be!

Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Bernard Shaw

It was raining, it was miserable, I wasn't in the humour. But still, I wanted to sketch in The Bernard Shaw before it closed for demolition, and construction of more hotels and offices. A lively spot on a Sunday afternoon. Sorry to see it go. Dublin, the destruction continues.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Capel Street

Another architectural gem in Dublin City - Jack Nealon's pub on Capel Street. Such a beauty! Next time I'll zoom in and do a more detailed sketch. But I wanted to capture the windows and the overall shape of the building - it's got such personality. And I've read it's got an ornate gilt ceiling inside so I'm definitely going in next time! I love Dublin!! It keeps surprising me with its beauty. And I've been living here 33 years!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Sunlight Chambers

Another day, another sketch or three. Learning from Sketching Now On Location, I was thinking about my What, Why, Where, and rather than packing everything into one sketch, I did three! There was a lot I wanted to say - the beautiful Sunlight Chambers, which looks like it belongs in a Tuscan town, not Dublin; Grattan Bridge, with it's green balustrade and crazy horse mermaids and its palm trees in lavender/pink wooden boxes; the tourists looking at maps and waiting patiently to cross the street, with signs pointing them in all directions!!
So I'm happy I had the tools to say it all over the two-page spread.

Monday, September 30, 2019

De Sluyswacht

Just started Liz Steel's Sketching Now On Location, and I'm falling behind already, but you know what, it doesn't matter - I'll do it at my own pace and take the time to absorb the basic concepts. I'm sure I won't be the only one. Lesson 1 was packed with theory, information, demonstrations, tips and assignments. All good stuff, but a lot to take in! I have no problem with sketching on location per se - actually it's one of my favourite activities! What matters to me is that I apply what I learn along the way to my sketching, rather than complete the assignments quickly. And I am already thinking differently when I start a new sketch - actually I'm simply thinking about what matters to me in the view that's in front of me, rather than jumping in without a thought. (Sketching with abandon is probably my modus operandi. But a minute or two of looking and thinking before I pick up my pen won't hurt!).

So here is where I got so far, and I was really pleased with the result in white, grey and black, after a few thumbnails, which I found frustrating, but which helped me understand the scene in front of my eyes. This assignment was to work from a photo, so I used one from Amsterdam, a scene I didn't get to sketch while I was there! I still have to do a version with two colours (and then an on-location sketch using the same principles). That might have to wait until next week as I have a few busy days ahead of me!

Learning so much, and loving it! But in my own time!

Here are the photos I have

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Bluebell Project - Sometimes the Signal Jumps - Full rehearsal

The power of a full orchestra is an amazing thing. And the power of a community that works together towards a common goal! I was blown away by the performance of The Bluebell Project - Sometimes the Signal Jumps at the National Concert Hall. I was at the rehearsals and I just loved it! Can't wait for the actual performance at the NCH on the 17 September (tickets are free but you need to book)!

But don't take it from me and my sketches, see it in the Irish Times, no less!

Many many thanks to the Bluebell Community Development Project and the Dublin City Council Culture Company to allow us to sketch during the rehearsals, and most importantly to all the local men and women who invested so much of their soul into this adventure. You are all heroes!

I've added colour to some of these sketches, and for some of these I'll share both the original ink sketch and the finished ink and watercolour one! You can click on any image to see it in a larger format.

Initially I had difficulty taking it all in, and my sketches also reflect the stop-and-start nature of rehearsals. But in the second half, they did a full run-through of all the pieces (songs and poetry by local members of the Bluebell Community) and I tried to sketch it all in one piece, so I'll share that one first so you get an idea of how epic it was!

Following are my less structured sketches - wow, I sketched a lot more than I realised! No wonder I was tired afterwards!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Bluebell project: Sometimes the Signal Jumps - orchestra rehearsal

The Bluebell Project will perform with the RTE NSO at the National Concert Hall on Tuesday, in cooperation with the Dublin City Council Culture Company's National Neighbourhood.

"This performance has been two years in the making and began when composer Seán Millar began visiting the Bluebell Community Development Project as part of The National Neighbourhood, a Dublin City Council Culture Company programme.

Clients of the Bluebell Community Development Project visit the centre once a week for breakfast and social support. They include young adults with disabilities brought from their care projects, older men who live on their own, a group of older women who run the weekly lottery, as well as those recovering from various addiction issues.

The stories that have emerged from the ongoing relationship built with the breakfast club, and gathered through the process of conversation, have been developed into a series of compositions that celebrate the richness of lives lived by all attending these weekly breakfasts. These songs are portraits of how people find joy amidst the everyday difficulties and they document a passion for history, night walks, unearthing via archaeology and pets." (Text from the Dublin City Council Culture Company - they say it so much better than me!)

Dublin Sketchers were lucky to have been invited to some of their rehearsals. Here are some of my sketches:

It took me a while to get going - there was a lot of waiting around, but also a lot of movement and I had difficulty deciding how to approach my sketches!

Then the local residents took to the microphone with their stories, and it all started to fall into place. Once again, everyone was very welcoming and appreciative of my efforts at sketching them!

Ray was enjoying the music so much. Louis had asked Liam to read his piece for him but was very proud that it was his words that became the title of the whole piece: "Sometimes the Signal Jumps"

May was very confident in her reading, and quite relaxed about it. She told me she's got a big birthday coming up in the next few days - all I'll say is that she doesn't look her age! She was looking forward to the performance in the National Concert Hall and was already thinking about how it would all feel a bit empty after it's all over. But seeing how vibrant a community they are, I have no doubt they will come up with other ideas and new amazing projects! 

There were violins and cellos and electric guitars and acoustic guitars and percussions. Hard to capture it all! Graham was enjoying being part of the whole experience!

And I got really interested in the cellos and violins, and the hands holding the bows, but I didn't get to know the musicians, so in some cases I just drew the instruments and the hands!!

The Bluebell Ladies Choir

It was wonderful to be invited to sketch at the rehearsals of the Bluebell Ladies Choir at the Bluebell Community centre. Many thanks to the Dublin City Council Culture Company for making this possible. The ladies will be performing in the National Concert Hall, along the orchestral pieces of the Bluebell project on Tuesday.

I don't sketch people very often, at least people who know I'm looking at them and drawing them, so I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I even dreamt about my pencils rolling all over the desk the night before! But everybody at the Community Centre was so nice that I soon left my nerves behind!

I really enjoyed getting to know them while sketching them. There was a lot of banter going on before they actually started rehearsing!
They were all wearing lovely colours, which made my job easier.
Initially, they were all sitting in a circle, so I started sketching them individually, but then they went into formation and I got a chance to sketch them as a group. (I added the colour background when I got home). And I also had the time to do a quick sketch of Graham on the guitar. Apologies to Sinead, I didn't get to sketch her. Hopefully will manage to sketch her at the National Concert Hall.

Next, I will be sharing with you my sketches of the orchestra rehearsals!

Life Drawing - Lexy

I'm really enjoying Life Drawing these days. Since I've decided I don't like charcoal and I'm using my ArtGraf tailor shapes instead, I'm relaxing more and I think my positive state of mind shows in my drawings! It's taken me a while to figure it out, but charcoal is like pencil - you can rework anything that doesn't work out, erase, draw again, etc. And that doesn't work for me because it makes me second-guess myself from the start - and then I tense up and that's not good. With a material I can't erase (waterproof ink, ArtGraf, direct watercolour), I feel more confident and I just go for it with abandon. Which generally results in a better drawing, in my humble opinion anyway!

Lexy was the model - she's lovely, always in good form. She's really tall, so sometimes I have difficulty making her fit on the page!

5-, 10- and 15-minute poses.