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.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

View of Dame Street from KC Peaches

Remember that frustrating morning? Well after a chocolate brownie, I was feeling much better and did my best sketch of the day! Sometimes you just have to push through! Or eat something sweet!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Temple Bar and Grattan Bridge, when things don't go your way

You know how it goes sometimes - days don't work out the way you had expected. It's early September, the weather forecast is ok, and yet the wind is cutting right through you. You sit in a café but by the time you've ordered something to eat and a cup of tea, you realise that they keep the door open and it's actually colder inside than outside. And when you go outside to sketch some more (long-sleeved t-shirt, woollen cardigan, warm jacket, wooly hat, fingerless gloves - don't think I wasn't prepared!), it starts to rain, so you have to find refuge in another café, eat more cake, drink more tea, and just as you're tucking in, the sun comes out and it's glorious. But it's time to go home!
When those days happen, you just have to move on. And rejoice in the fact that you did manage to fit in quite a few sketches all the same, even if it was one of those mornings when the paint wouldn't dry!!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Food and café sketching

Sometimes, you just want to stay indoors and not have to face the elements - particularly when you're wearing a dress and a cardigan rather than your usual jeans and tshirt and fleece! I really didn't have a game plan for this sketch. But I had an appetite - and the Fumbally's Tuscan beans dish was delicious! I was not finding an easy view to sketch so I started drawing what was on the table, completely all over the place and even my shadows were wrong, but I was relaxed and enjoying myself, so they don't all have to be structured and interesting!

After that, I decided I needed to draw more people, following the advice Veronica Lawlor gave me at her workshop in Amsterdam: (I paraphrase) "If you don't draw people, you will improve your skills in drawing other things, but your people will be lagging behind and will always look more amateurish". She said it much better than that. So here is my output (actually, I drew three sets of people but the second one was so awful that I abandoned it!):

Something went wrong with proportions there - I should have changed things around - there were actually 4 people at that table and things got out of hand!
And then the weather looked a bit better and I found a nice spot under an awning where I could stand. And then it started to rain, horizontally! Some days are not meant to be!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Camden Street, buildings and people

Another Sunday afternoon, another Dublin Sketchers outing. The Luas was busy with people going to the match (All-Ireland Gaelic football final - it was a draw, there'll be a replay in two weeks' time) but we were sketching well away from the stadium, so the only busy spots around the area were the pubs, which were all showing the match on their screens.

Here is what I sketched, a pub that still had the banner for the All-Ireland Hurling final!

And a few people sketches to keep on practising! I love my Firmo Diário Gráfico for these quick sketchy moments!Maybe I should add a bit of colour to some of them? Funny the things you notice when you start doing those quick thumbnail sketches. There was a young woman waiting for someone - I sketched her at the bottom of the first page. When I got to the bottom of the second page, she was still there, still patiently waiting. But by the time I had packed my bag and looked again, she was gone. I hope he/she was worth waiting for!

Monday, September 09, 2019

Life Drawing - Hannah

Another very enjoyable session at Life Drawing with Dublin Drawing last Friday. The model was Hannah, another great model. My one-minute sketches didn't work out too good, but I wasn't worried. Things got better with 5- and 10-minute poses. Then I got a bit tired for the 15-minute poses and overworked a few of them. I managed to lift some of the pigment off the page when I got back home but still, I should pace myself better when I have 15 minutes, and avoid retracing all the outlines!

All done with ArtGraf TailorShapes on watercolour paper. The larger ones are my favourites (they're the same size on paper, just made larger on the computer).