Thursday, October 31, 2019

St Teresa's courtyard, Clarendon Street

A beautiful sunny morning in Dublin - the courtyard of St Teresa's Church, on Clarendon Street, is a haven of peace in the busy city. And it's so interesting to sketch. I've sketched it before, but from a different angle. And I think I could go back again and again and always find something that catches my eye!

This time, I wanted to explore the jumble of shapes of the various buildings, and how the light hit the higher levels, and the cast shadows, which are not very strong at this time of the year, even on a sunny day.

I've just finished two landscape Moleskine sketchbooks, so I'm moving back to my big Stillman & Birn, which is really handy to hold. It was a cold day, so the paint wasn't drying very well, but I managed to even add shadows. I kept the downpipes white because they looked more interesting than black. And also the lower part of the sketch, with the lady on the phone - She actually stood there for quite a while, on the phone, with her back to me. Maybe she needed the quiet contemplation of this beautiful spot to make an important phone call? Maybe she had just received some bad news? Or maybe she had popped out of the office to make a call to a friend? Who knows?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


I know I shouldn't be rushing through this. I should be doing my research, and carefully draw and paint. But I was literally grabbing 5 minutes while the kitten was asleep. I knew that if he woke up and saw me at the window, he would jump on the window sill. And dirty water, wet paint and lovely round brushes would become the next victims of his hunting practise!
So what happened? Blooms and crazy paint going everywhere! But the main thing I wanted to try was using Monte Amiata Natural Sienna for the glow on the horizon. And yes it's true, it doesn't go green when blending with the blue of the sky. I'm very happy with the bit right in the middle of the picture. Never mind everything else!!

See, that's the bit I mean, with the glow on the horizon and the lovely purples in the sky. Never mind that it's actually due North and there's never a glow on the horizon in that direction!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


This one I sketched from a photo. But I was there only a day before. So that's ok.
Practising trees for SketchingNow On Location course with Liz Steel. Considering that I had done just the opposite of what I was supposed to do when I was outdoors sketching, I thought it would be good to revisit this one. The paint went all over the place. That's what happens when you use lots of water. But what fun it was!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Dame Street and Dublin Castle

No plan, no focus. Just draw. Definitely a case where thinking about my story for 5 minutes would have saved me a lot of time! And I should definitely have used the narrow edge of the pen when I tried to do the side of the crazy modern building on the left. It would have been an ok sketch without it. All part of the journey!! That plaza is a good spot to sketch, with stone benches and City Hall on the right and lots of interesting buildings to the left, which I faded out on purpose. Also plenty of street furniture, people and bicycles.

And then, for the second sketch, I did just what I wasn't supposed to do - crazy pen lines over the green of the trees that ruin the effect. Should have kept sky holes instead!! I must go back, because I love how the trees frame the entrance to the courtyard into Dublin Castle, by the printworks. And the building behind the wall is really interesting.

But you know what, I was outside in October. I was sketching. The sun was shining. A lady chatted to me as I was drawing, which is always nice, but then distracting. A few sketchers stopped by too. And I really enjoyed myself. And after all that, I had a slice of carrot cake and a hot chocolate. And got to look through everybody's sketchbooks and chat. What's not to like!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Random sketches - Inktober?

A few sketches done on the Luas or from Sktchy whenever I get a chance! I don't do Inktober, but I do draw with ink all the time!

Pilot Ina Ho ink is one of my favourite colours! I added grey marker when I got home.

Pilot Syo Ro ink and some blue added. I am quite random in my ink experiments.

And sometimes, all I have the energy for is to draw a pen!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Cat and dog

It's over a year that I've been sketching in my diário gráfico by Firmo. It's not my only sketchbook, but it's the one I turn to when I know my time is going to be limited. I love how the pen glides on the paper. And it can take some watercolour. An ideal sketchbook for me at the moment, when I'm snatching sketching minutes when I can. And when I'm stuck at home with a cat on one side of the door and a dog on the other, that's what I sketch! The quiet moments. And the crazy ones. When they're constantly moving and impossible to capture! Fountain pen (Sailor Fude, Pilot Kakuno) and Ecoline markers. I tried an alcohol-based brush marker too, but the cat didn't like the smell one bit!

I'm really happy with this one!

Trinity College

Maybe I should stick to pen and marker in the winter? This was quite soothing, despite my mind going all over the place before I sat down. Plus no waiting for paint to dry, and less to carry! But I love colour so much, and I don't have time to paint at all at the moment, so I don't know if I could face a winter of grey. The ink is nice though, a mix of grey and brown, and maybe a touch of orange. I'm not too precise in my ink-mixing recipes!
So I was lucky to find a bench in a quiet corner in Trinity, on Fellows' Square. I could have sketched the building that houses the Book of Kells and the Long Room. But that strange little secret building interested me more. I've never been inside. I don't even know if it's open to students. It's a bit of a mystery to me. But it's got interesting angles! And a mix of light side and shadow sides!
It didn't take me long to complete, but I felt calm afterwards.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Life Drawing - Trixie

Back to life drawing! Trixie was the model. We'll be sad to see her go. She always gave us dynamic poses. No wonder, she's a dancer!

Again, I worked with my ArtGraf Tailor Shapes. This time, I used the Brown, rather than the Sepia. Trixie is very pale, and I felt that the Brown would enable me to capture her translucent skin better. I'm only sharing the drawings I'm happy with. We did 1-minute, 5-minute, 10-minute and 15-minute poses. So glad to get back into it!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Balancing the first chakra

A very useful video. I feel more calm already!

Building sites on Richmond Street, and Rathmines church

Dublin is changing so much. I mentioned a while back The Bernard Shaw pub which had to close its doors to make way to offices and hotels. Well, here is the building site in its current state. Lots and lots of cranes, which I love, despite the fact that I hate to see the old Dublin disappear. I must skip ahead in #SketchingNowOnLocation to learn how to draw cars!!

And here is a view I've been wanting to sketch for a long time - the dome of Rathmines church as seen from the canal near Portobello. Not my best sketch. I was rushing home. But it felt good to be sketching again! I think there was less grey ink left in that pen, so adding the brown produced quite a vibrant colour, closer to the Sailor Ina-ho colour that I love so much (but which is not waterproof!)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Waiting at the dentist

I don't do Inktober. I've tried a few times, but never stuck to it. Maybe because there are so many people around the world who take part, I don't feel a strong sense of community. I much prefer the #OneWeek100People and #DirectWatercolor and #30DaysOfArtWithAine, smaller, more engaged, communities! But I sketch in ink a lot. I do love my fountain pens, mostly my Sailor Fude 55 degrees. I just got some brown ink for it, so I'm exploring how I can use that to best effect. It's definitely softer than black, and warmer than grey. I didn't clean my pen first, so this is probably a grey-brown mix!

So, here is my hand, while waiting at the dentist! I also did a few faces from Sktchy, but I'm not so happy with those, so I'll spare you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Timber waiting for kitten to make an appearance

After about 10 days of no sketching, no drawing, I finally picked up my pens again and sketched what was in front of me, our dog and our new kitten. Well, the kitten is constantly moving. We might call him box of frogs! Impossible for me to capture him! I always struggled with drawing our previous cat. The dog was patiently waiting to get a glimpse of the kitten. He's finally relaxing more and not obsessing about the cat so much. But we've got a long way to go before we can play happy family!

So I will spare you all the frustrated attempts at sketching the kitten and give you a photo instead!

And you already know what our dog looks like. He's not quite as fat as he looks in this sketch!

Capturing the light and the concept of Dominance

More about light and shadow, and how to manipulate an image by using colour dominance!

These are views from Léran in the Arièges, during the summer. At different times of the day! All from photos I took.

And more of Ross Castle in Co. Kerry, from a photograph I found on Instagram, except I imagined the light shift between Summer and Winter!

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.