Thursday, July 18, 2019

View over the Liffey

You think of Temple Bar, and you see crowds, people taking selfies, drinking on the street, Irish music on a loop, fresh puke on the pavement. And that's at 2pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Not the best place to be sketching! But we had access to a private terrace at the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios and I got there early (mais oui) and got the best spot, standing at the balustrade. I sketched with a fountain pen and an Ecoline marker, and when I got tired of standing, I sat down on my little stool and added watercolour. I had to stand up every so often to check the actual colours. I think the best part of the sketch is the chimneys, they look like cherry trees dancing in the mind, don't they?

I still had a bit of time before our meetup at 4pm, so I went downstairs, had an energy ball and a glass of lemonade, and did another quick sketch of people who were taking part in a creative workshop.

Lots of new sketchers turned up. Maybe we'll see them again some time!


I did a 10-minute sketch while I was on location to get the main shapes. And then I started the tedious process of hatching some evening when I had a bit of time. This is why I'm a watercolour person.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pancakes and tea

What was I saying about not sketching my food? Well, on this occasion, I was with pals from Dublin Sketchers, and I needed the food to stay warm. And those carrot and walnut pancakes (with lemon curd and bananas) were to die for. I quickly sketched them in watercolour pencil before digging in. The shapes were simple, except the plate. Ellipses are so hard. I know the theory and all, but drawing them free-hand is another matter altogether.
I didn't give much thought to the arrangement of the elements on the page - I was getting cold and when I get cold (or hungry), I can't think of anything else. I did get absorbed in the teapot, though. But when I had the plate, the cup and the teapot done, it was a bit disjointed. So I picked up my fountain pen and drew other bits and pieces that were on the table. And it kind-of tied it together.

Dim sums

Normally, I only ever eat out with my husband. That means I don't sketch my food. He respects food a lot more than me, so sketching while it goes cold would be a sacrilege. On this occasion, I was on my own, going from A to B and I had a quick lunch of dim sums. I had sketched the background while waiting for the food to arrive. And when the plates were placed on the table, I quickly sketched in pen. Then I had my food. Which was delicious. Then I added colour and shading. That was fun.

Evening sky on the horizon

I started this painting nearly two weeks ago, but I haven't had time to progress it. I like the colours and the pigment mingling already! We'll see where it goes in a few weeks' time!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Life drawing - Trixie

Back at life drawing last week. I was worried that I hadn't gone in over three weeks. I was a bit shaky at the start, but I got into it pretty quickly!

Lovely model, Trixie. And we covered the anatomy again, but every time, I learn something more. Or you could say that I forget so much that it feels new every time!
 (And I got to play with the dinkiest little projector I've ever seen, called a PIQO!!)

Just one more,,,

Well three actually. I didn't have time to paint these, but I really like the play of light and dark on the bit behind the flowers (whatever it's called, I have no idea). In another life maybe, one where I have more time and more skill!!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Sunflowers for ever

As you can see from this photo, the foliage is a huge part of this bouquet (do you say bouquet in English? Bunch sounds like a flimsy bunch of flowers you've bought at the petrol station on the way home)

My next attempt had some promise, but I had to crop it in the end, as the flowers on the left just didn't look right.

For the next one, I decided to depart from direct watercolour, and use watercolour pencils to get started.
And I really like how it worked out, with the flowers bunched up towards the top, and the leaves and stalks taking up most of the page. And I was happier with the colours too. I used a mix with Prussian blue for the leaves (with mostly Hansa Yellow Medium). For the flowers, mostly New Gamboge, some Hansa Yellow Medium, and some Pyrrole Red. And a mix of Carbazole Violet and Transparent Red Oxide for the center of the flowers. My only regret is that I didn't use a larger page. This is about 1/8th Imperial.

I tried one final one afterwards, but I overdid the pencil drawing (graphite, not watecolour - big mistake).

The flowers are now in the bin. So this is the end of this particular deep interest (I was going to say obsession). On the spectrum anyone?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

More sunflowers

 I don't think I've ever immortalised flowers so much. Well, I guess generally they fade before I have time to get tired of them! These sunflowers are hardy! They lasted a full week. So be prepared for more sunflowers in the days to come.

Having failed miserably in the direct watercolour approach, I picked up my fountain pen and attacked it from a different angle. I loved how the stems shifted from outside the vase to inside and then again when they hit the water. Proportions are all over the place - my drawing looks like the flowers are standing in a pint glass - actually the vase I have them in is huge. But, hey, I won't worry about proportions at this stage!

Saturday, July 13, 2019


Oh I do love a good industrial scene! Two weeks ago, Dublin Sketchers were in the Docklands area, where there is a lot of construction happening. Probably all offices and maybe a few fancy apartments and a hotel or two. Nothing that will solve our homeless crisis, that's for sure.

The person who was organising the location told us there were good views from the balcony of the Gibson Hotel. And she was right. I spent most of my afternoon there, drinking lots of tea and eating a delicious waffle to stay warm!
I started the afternoon standing at a bus stop, under the cover of a construction hoarding. It was raining a bit. But the view was gorgeous, high-rise blocks, the canal opening onto the Liffey, cranes, the mountains in the distance. I worked with three Ecoline markers, to keep things simple!

After a warming cup of green tea, I settled into my main sketch of the afternoon, a mix of watercolour pencils, Ecoline markers and watercolour. I loved the colour of the portakabins and the cranes. And the sun must have come out for a bit, as I even saw (and painted!) shadows on the ground. A rare thing this summer in Ireland!

I still had time for one more. I had a chamomile tea then, so I wouldn't be too hyper. And a waffle for a little sugar boost. I sketched standing up, using a Pentel brush pen mainly, and some watercolour pencils. It was a bit messy. But I added colours, darks and patterns when I got home, and I'm happy with how it turned out.

Friday, July 12, 2019


It was my birthday not that long ago. I decided to treat myself to a bunch of sunflowers from a street vendor. They lasted a week and offered me many painting opportunities!!

This first bunch was done in direct watercolour. I think I was trying to pack in too much, and it ended up in a dark heavy mess.

This one is quite deconstructed, but still bright enough.

This one is ugly ugly. I had nothing left to lose, so I played with lifting paint in different ways. Still a mess. I will have to run the shower over it, or paint on the other side.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


I was lucky to have been invited to the Arièges region by a very good friend. When I accepted the invite a few months ago, I had no idea how much I would need this short break! What happened is that we got no Spring in Ireland this year (4 nice days at Easter doesn't count), and so far, Summer has been elusive - 15 degrees and heavy grey skies is not Summer! And I was delighted when the forecast showed 34-36 degrees in the Mirepoix region for the few days of my stay. Thankfully, I avoided the 44+ degrees that hit areas not that far away. So, I had a wonderful stay, mornings spent discovering the area, afternoons by the pool, evenings with a glass of rosé. I did fit in quite a bit of sketching, mostly by the pool and in the gardenss, as it was too hot to do much - just perfect!

You can't have a holiday without airport sketches - though I'm very bad at drawing planes!!

And passenger sketches. Next time, I must draw some context around the head!

The house we were staying in had a shared pool (we only encountered other guests on one of the days) and the wall behind the pool was this amazing crumbling structure, an old castle with no roof, just stone walls and empty windowframes. I became quite obsessed with it!

This view was a struggle - the paint was drying so fast that my washes were dry on the page as soon as I applied them. 

Morning and lunch in Mirepoix. A beautiful little town.

As you can see, I'm still in directwatercolor mode!

When I saw that there was a Lac de Montbel nearby, we had to go there! My favourite raincoat is a Montbell (OK, there is an extra L)

We spent a lovely morning there, sitting by the shore, under the shade of the trees. It was warm and quiet. I bet it's a lot busier now, with the holidays in full swing in Europe.

Just a little closeup to show your the pigment granulation

Rather than just the wall, I decided to do the full view. The sun umbrellas worked out nicely. Sunlounger not so much.

Too hot to do much else, so we went back to the Lac de Montbel. It was a lot busier, including a slide pedalo (a pedalo, with a slide on top - the 4 young Germans disappeared on the horizon and we never saw them again -ah well!), school trips, families, music. It was fun to watch and comment on it all! This time, I sketched it with a foreground.

Just a little detail

By the last day, I had finally figured out how to get juicy washes that wouldn't dry too quickly - well, lots of water, that's it really. Typical! This is my favourite sketch of the holiday, I think.

One last sketch for the road. I didn't sketch at the airport - if you ever go to Carcassonne airport, you'll understand why!