Sunday, December 15, 2019

Combining sketches on one page

I don't carry my big A4 book with me everywhere, obviously. So when I sketch in a smaller book, it's hard to keep track of when things happened. So I heard somewhere the idea of adding those sketches into the big book. I quite like that!

Tyre patching

Always good to carry a little sketchbook and a pen - even waiting for the car tyre to be patched wasn't a chore as I sketched in the waiting room!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Café sketching - pros and cons

I've been doing a lot of café sketching lately. Well, it's just the weather, really.

So the pros of café sketching are:
1. It's warm. Although that's not always true. Some of the places I've been to have been less than cosy
2. I get to eat a tasty scone and drink a cuppa. And sketch it too.
3. It's a good opportunity to sketch people. If you time it right, they're likely to be in the one spot for at least ten minutes!

The cons are:
1. Someone sits right in front of the view you were about to sketch and you have to rethink the whole thing. You can't really get up and move to another table if it's busy.
2. The manager asks you to leave as it's getting busy (never mind that you had breakfast AND lunch there already) and they want the table for other, more desirable, customers! Well that's what happened at the Cali Kitchen in Dun Laoghaire last week. They didn't even offer for us to move to a smaller table. They just wanted us gone. Between the 4 of us we'd had at least 4 coffees/teas, 3 scones, 1 soup and 2 eggs and toast. I don't think I'll be back.

Stella in Rathmines

We were invited by the Harold's Cross festival organisers to the Dublin City Council Culture Company event celebrating all things culture and community at the Stella in Rathmines. A beautiful venue. So I had to sketch it. But then I added paint when I got home and ruined it, and it's so bad I won't even share it with you!

ADD coloured sketch

Friday, December 13, 2019

Corner of Hume Street and Ely Place

December and still sketching outdoors. That's the contradiction of living in Ireland. Some days are cold, but sunny and dry and not windy and it's actually ok to sketch outside. Other days are mild, wet and windy and feel colder.
It's three years since I've started sketching the destruction and construction work on the old Hume Street Hospital. This time, I sketched it from the corner outside rather than the cosy window sill inside the RHA. Because of my back, I was using a wheelie, and I knew I would have to leave it at the reception desk (they don't even have lockers), and that would defeat the purpose. 
As soon as the sun turned behind the corner, it felt so cold, and I had to abandon my position and go to the café for a warming cup of tea. Maybe it was for the better, stopping me from overworking my sketch

I was glad I had a second sketchbook in my wheelie, as the direct watercolour cups took forever to dry (even indoors). So I decided to practise cars. I couldn't finish the one in the forefront, as a man sat right in front of me. Again, maybe that was for the best.
Lots of cars clamped in the area, as it's disk parking even on a Sunday in that little cul-de-sac, whereas it's Monday to Saturday just around the corner.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

When Gelli prints don't quite work out

I love monoprinting with a Gelli plate. But like everything else, if you don't practise your craft for a while, the results can be disappointing. So, what do I do? I play some more!

with stamps (over the rolled painted from the brayer, onto print paper)

with stencils, a make-up sponge and acrylic paint

and the same stencil in a matching colour over a ghost print that had too much white in it

or I cover most of the print with extra paint, and then stencil a contrasting colour

and if it really didn't work out, cover most of the print with a layer of plain colour, and use another stencil to apply paint with a different pattern

Kitten Kitten

Yes, I am still trying to capture him from direct observation, rather than photo.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not! And he's black and white, not lavender, but the glossy black coat reflects the light!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Fleet street corner

Books Upstairs has a café on the second floor, with great views of Trinity, D'Olier Street and the corner of Fleet Street. A beautiful window seat area. So a few of us settled there for an hour of sketching.  The tea was fine, the scone ok. But then we were told that the manager was wondering how many of us would be sketching. They were concerned that we would take over the place and leave no room for other customers. Of which there were absolutely none at that time!! And we were consuming, tea, coffee, scones, more if they'd had a wider choice! So we won't be back in a hurry! A pity, given the gorgeous view! The scone was all right.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Life Drawing - Felicity Hannah?

This model was introduced as Felicity, but then at the end she told me her name was Hannah. She was really lovely and a joy to draw. 15-, 10-, 5- and 1-minute drawings. Some of the 1-minutes (in black) are my favourites.

Monday, December 09, 2019

How to draw a cat?

I am determined to sketch Sumi from life, rather than from photo. But he's not nicknamed 'box of frogs' for nothing. So maybe what I should do is practise from photos first so I understand his proportions better. Otherwise, we're going to end up with a lot of weird cat drawings!

Café sketching

Some days, I just don't have the energy for sketching outdoors - it wasn't even particularly cold, but my back was still at me and I just wanted to relax. So I headed to Candy Café at the top of Parnell Square and relaxed. Not the most exciting scone, but an interesting indoor view, and a nice mug of tea. I was using my mini-palette, so I decided to sketch it too.

Sunday, December 08, 2019


I could write lots and lots about this opera, but the videos say it much better. Philip Glass at his best, Anthony Roth Costanzo at his best.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Tea cup and teapot

I was getting frustrated with some of my teacup sketches, so I went back to basics and found some of Liz Steel's best tips on how to sketch your teacup! It's all about measuring at the start of course, something I had stopped doing over time!!
For these practise sketches, I used my favourite teapot and tea mug - I don't have any tea cups. I wish I could find a café that has interesting tableware - everywhere I go it's white mugs and metal, white or Suki teapots - not easy shapes to draw, and a definite lack of colour.
PS: I used a pink watercolour pencil for quick setup lines! And the white squiggles were added with a Uniball Signo Gel pen in the broad format - the fine tip never seemed to work so it was a revelation to try the broad tip (Another Liz Steel tip! Pardon the pun!).

Friday, December 06, 2019


Sometimes, the more I sketch, the better I get. Sometimes, not so much. I wasn't really thinking much when I started drawing the view of the construction site at Newmarket, and the whole thing fell apart the more layers I added. Maybe a case where working in layers with an iPad would have saved the sketch? I have to admit I haven't tried sketching with an iPad - but the more I hear about it, and the more my back gives me trouble, the more I'm tempted! Not that it would have saved this sketch, which was really a problem with a lack of focus at the very start, rather than a problem with the execution. Or maybe it's both! The soup was nice, though!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

77 Francis Street

I don't know how professional artists cope with pets in the house! Cats in particular want to be at the centre of attention (he's sitting in my lap as I type this - I had planned to paint for a bit, but I don't have the heart to disturb his cosy sleep!). 

With the colder, and wetter, weather, we're retreating to cafés a lot these days. On this occasion, a few of us got a good window seat in Two Pups on Francis Street. I could have brought Timber! But he would definitely have been a distraction from the sketching! So after doing a little direct watercolour  of my tea and banana bread, I sketched the lovely building across the way, and the new hotel in the street behind it. I worked paint first, then pen, then white gel pen. Happy with the result!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Playing with India ink

So much to explore. But when you don't have much time, you tend to play more, and explore without the need to plan a full painting. The trees on our estate are beautiful at this time of the year - or bleak, depending on your perspective. But you can see their branches, their structure. So I picked up the little bottle of India Ink from the Amsterdam Symposium goodie bag, and I played. I had to close the door to make sure the kitten (whose name is Sumi, how appropriate) wouldn't jump on the desk and cause havoc! And now I'm so happy with how it worked out that I want to paint it! Typical!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Barn in Tuosist

I can't believe it was August when I first started thinking about this painting. It's just hard to paint with a kitten in the house, whacking everything that has the potential to move, like paint brushes or pencils! Not to mention not enough time in the day!

So I decided to focus on the barn after all, and the lovely shadow play on its white wall.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Just a quick doodle with my current Triad colours, Hansa Yellow Medium, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue. Just playing.