Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Did I mention I'm growing a few vegetables in our garden? I'm not a very talented gardener, but radishes are so easy. And pretty!
And I found the perfect Ulysses quote:
'Before and after'

Monday, May 20, 2019


I don't usually sketch my food. But this time it was cold and I was on my own, so I decided to have a go. Quite a healthy lunch, don't you think?
No Ulysses quote this time. Sometimes vegetables are just vegetables!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Life Drawing - Dimitri

I missed life drawing in the last two weeks. But the previous week, we had a fantastic model, Dimitri. He had such presence!
I was sitting down, and using a relatively small sketchbook, so there was a good bit of distortions, and I ran out of space for the legs and feet, sometimes shortening the legs too much just to make them fit on the page. Next time I'll go back to the easel! But I very much enjoyed drawing his muscled torso and arms.
Poses from 1 to 15 minutes.

 Legs too short in the last few drawings, and particularly in this one.

I'm not into the Roman soldier costumes, to be honest, but I have to admit he carries it well!


Just a little doodle, inspired by the intense skies over Sandymount beach a few weeks ago. The kind of skies that remind me why I love living in Ireland. I haven't painted clouds in a while, and really want to get back into it. So much to do, so little time. A dash of Phthalo Blue in the top left, over a still-damp wash of Cobalt Blue, brought the intensity up a notch.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


Thinking about rhododendrons still. They are such an amazing flower. I haven't developed this further. Just ran out of time. And also struggling with how to paint the stamens - I tried white watercolour, and also white Posca marker. But they don't stand out enough. I don't really want to play with masking fluid. But I might have to! Or maybe the moment has passed and I'll paint something else!


Another piece inspired by our walk around Blessington Lake recently. Although this one has got the feel of a location sketch, I painted it from a photo. I tried to capture the brightness of the day - I used a pale yellow for the sky, something that I must remember to do more often!
The gorse were in flower. They are such a gorgeous intense yellow and they smell so sweet. A real feeling of Spring for me.
I played with running paint, and then I tightened everything up with a few strokes of ink.

Friday, May 17, 2019

More Harold's Cross Sketches

With the Dublin Sketchers exhibition opening tonight at Harold's Cross, I managed to squeeze in a couple more sketches. We're so lucky to have been invited by Eoin Mac Lochlainn to participate in the Harold's Cross Festival - it was such an opportunity to discover this lovely neighbourhood that is Harold's Cross. Full details on Dublin Sketchers and Harold's Cross websites!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tree and shadows

Over the Easter weekend, we went for a lovely walk around Blessington Lake. The sun was shining at last, it felt like summer, and we were so early that we nearly had the place to ourselves. We had our dog with us, so I had not planned to paint or draw. But I took lots of photos. And I painted this at home a few days later, working directly in watercolour with no drawing, and painting everything more or less in one go - I did darken the shaded side of the tree as a last step. I really wanted to capture the freshness of Spring, and I think I succeeded. This particular tree was still quite bare, but the trees in the background had these lovely soft colours that I tried to reproduce by mixing Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Potters' Pink and Cobalt Blue. And Sap Green, which I've been avoiding for years, was the perfect recipe for fresh grass, mixed with a a little Carbazole Violet for the shadows.
There's no better place than Ireland when the sun is shining.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Art supplies in assorted colours

Energized by Liz Steel's bonus videos in Edges. Painted these directly in watercolour, no drawing with pencil first.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


A fantastic sketchwalk with Dublin Sketchers a couple of weeks ago. On the theme of Olives, Oysters and Oranges for #Bloomsday2019! James, one of our sketchers and a James Joyce expert, read extracts and told us about the locations we were at and where they fitted into Ulysses. Entertaining and educative all at the same time. We even got to feed the seagulls (well, I didn't, I'm a bit clumsy and I would have ended up with a seagull sitting in my hand, probably).

I'm not great at sketchwalks - I need a little bit of time on my own to settle and decide how to approach a sketch, plus I normally sketch in a fairly large landscape sketchbook. So on this occasion, I used a smaller sketchbook, more practical, but it doesn't give me the same amount of space to play with the layout. Plus it was cold. That's plenty of excuses, isn't it!! So I only did one sketch on the sketchwalk per se. And three in Davy Byrnes where we all warmed up and chatted for an hour or so.

While I'm not strictly sticking to the brief in terms of references to food in Ulysses in my sketches per se, you will find that the text I choose in each instance has a connection. I am an urban sketcher after all, not a still life painter! And I'm a rebel. That's probably why I don't do commissions.

And by the way, when we were getting ready to leave, one of the waiters gave each one of us a lovely high quality photo from the first Bloomsday, with Kavanagh and his pals outside Davy Byrnes. Apparently the first Bloomsday ended up as a pissup - too many pubs on the way - and they never got beyond Duke Street!

'If you cram a turkey say on chestnutmeal it tastes like that. Eat pig like pig. But then why is it that saltwater fish are not salty? How is that?'

'His gaze passed over the glazed apples serried on her stand. Australians they must be this time of year.'

'Crumbs adhered to the tissue of his lips. '

'Eat drink and be merry.'

Monday, May 13, 2019

Spring tree

I've learned a lot from this painting. The first version was a total disaster. I'm not even going to try to recover it. And certainly not show it here! But it got me thinking about my process and what paintings work for me. I realised for instance that painting a light under-layer rarely leads to a successful painting - I know it's a recognised watercolour method, but it just does nothing for me. Except for loose floral paintings. And also that using masking fluid or masking film makes my paintings too stilted. So here is what I came up with - call it a mission statement, or a reminder of who I am as a painter:

'I like to paint my watercolours in one session and one layer mostly, with no masking and minimal drawing, letting paint mix on the paper. I often start with the sky, which is the main subject of a lot of my paintings. Failed preliminary pieces are often part of the process'

I think part of the reason this works for me is that I do a lot of urban sketching, with pen or with watercolour. And what I love about these is the immediacy, not the accuracy. And the moment I start planning a painting, I lose that sense of urgency, that passion to capture the moment. One thing I like to plan though, is what colours I'm going to use, as I like to work with just a few colours, so I can avoid painting mud. So maybe let me reword:

'I like to paint my watercolours in one session and one layer mostly, with no masking and minimal drawing, letting paint mix on the paper. I will think about colours first. I often start with the sky, which is the main subject of a lot of my paintings. I try to paint like I sketch, feeling my way and following my instincts. Failed preliminary pieces are often part of the process.'

And then I tried another version on a larger sheet of watercolour paper:

Which do you prefer?

Saturday, May 11, 2019


A sunny but cold morning in Kilmacurragh Gardens over the Easter weekend. The rhododendrons at their peak. Probably all gone now. I should have asked my husband to stand beside this one while I was painting so I could give it a sense of scale. It was big.

'All quiet on Howth now. The distant hills seem. Where we. The rhododendrons. I am a fool perhaps. He gets the plums, and I the plumstones. '
(James Joyce, Ulysses)

Tuesday, May 07, 2019


I had to do a painting trying out these new colours I discovered a few weeks ago, in particular Cascade Green and Piemontite Genuine. As I was flicking through old photos, I came across a view from Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, and it brought back lovely memories. I tried to capture the feeling more than the exact configuration.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Cherry blossoms in your hair

A couple of weeks ago, they were at their peak. Now they're gone. Just mush in our backgarden.
I'm so glad I captured them!

And let's move from James Joyce to John Spillane, with The Dance of the Cherry Trees:

Let me tell you 'bout the cherry trees
Every April in our town
They put on the most outrageous clothes
And they sing and they dance around
Hardly anybody sings or dances
Hardly anybody dances or sings
In this town that I call my own
You have to hand it to the cherry trees
And they seem to be saying,
To me anyway;
"You know we've travelled all around the Sun
You know it's taken us one whole year
Well done everyone, Well Done"

Every year, it makes me just as happy!

Sunday, May 05, 2019


Lunch in a nice little Chinese café a couple of weeks ago, Bowls on Marlborough Street. Dim Sums were delicious. Pasteis de nata too, but I don't want to think about the calories. I remember the ones in Porto half the diameter, which was perfect! I must go back to sketch the decor some more, and the food!

And here is my Ulysses quote:
'Chinese eating eggs fifty years old, blue and green again. Dinner of thirty courses.'
The whole universe, I was telling you, the whole universe.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

SBS - People Drawing People

I had dedicated April to drawing people more. So Sketchbook Skool's new People Drawing People seemed like a good idea. Here are some of my doodles - most of these are from online videos! Some worked out better than others (find the lobster hands!). So far Felix Scheinberger and Koosje Koene are the two instructors that have inspired me the most. Personally, I would like less talk more action.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Life Drawing - Anuta again

This was the best way to get over that life drawing class that didn't go so well. And I couldn't believe it when it was the same model, Anuta - she's so poised! We were in a new location, which is much handier for me, but I think that was a one-off. It had pluses and minuses - being closer to home a definite plus. But the lighting wasn't great, which was quite tiring on the eyes.