Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Life Drawing - Paul

So, this was the first time ever I was doing an online life drawing session, and I have to say it was so much better than I had expected. While you're looking at a screen rather than a 3-D person, there is still the buzz of drawing from life, of the clock ticking, of the slight shifts in position that you have to adapt to. Plus Tadhg from Dublin Drawing had organised everything perfectly, and the model, Paul, had his room beautifully lit, and he used the space so well, leaning against the wall for instance, which is something you can't do in a normal life drawing class. These are not normal times. We're now on Day 4 of our full lockdown (food stores and pharmacies only, walks no more than 2km from home, cocooning for over-70s and for people with underlying conditions that put them at risk) and I will need these life drawing sessions and my yoga with www.yogasoulacademy.com to keep me sane. Plus sketching sessions with Dublin Sketchers! And a loving husband, happy dog and crazy cat!

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Sane.

Man and beer

When pubs were still open! Done from a photo by @beebeepix1. I was inspired by Marc Taro Holmes's direct watercolours. I need to practise this too! But quite happy with how it worked out

Another one from the car

I didn't think much of that sketch when I did it, but now I want to do more and more of those, but I feel I shouldn't. Although if I keep the windows closed, I should be OK. But really, I have plenty to draw at home, from the window and interior landscapes. We all need to pace ourselves!!

Monday, March 30, 2020

More skies

Another sky experiment inspired by a photo from Inchydoney. And this time, I was clever enough to take a photo of the painting with my little note so that I know which goes with which!

Steps 1 to 5:

Here is a little test I did to figure out whether to go wet in wet, wet on dry, tickle or drop!

Added a foreground, and my little note of how I got there:

Final painting, after I used a bit of gesso to fade the lower right part of the painting. It's a bit dull, but that's ok.  I'm reading through all the tips on John Lovett's website. I need to practise a lot, but lots of information and clear examples. So I'll be trying that again!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

View from my window

Still playing with clouds. I painted this from a photo I took from the bedroom window. Sometimes we get amazing skies in the evening. Although today is grey grey grey.
Mmm. I think I went a bit heavy on pigment there. I should be more methodical and keep a record of my pigments. I used to have a sketchbook where I'd try out colours and compositions, but I got to the end of it, and now I'm using an IKEA note block. And I have lots of little pink pages with notes that I can't match to a painting. So I think that the cloud is Idanthrone Blue, Cerulean Blue Chromium and PV19 Quinacridone Rose. And the sky is Quinacridone gold and PV19. I think.
I know it looks like the house are sinking down quicksand. But it wasn't about the houses! Great excuse, that!

Sky and waves

Well, sometimes a fantastic photo doesn't turn into something I can paint. Yet anyway. When things go wrong, I always need to remind myself that I have never actually been taught how to paint landscapes in watercolours. All learned from books, before YouTube videos and online tutorials even existed. So I need to be kind to myself!
So for this idea, I used a photograph taken by @beebeepix1. Dramatic sky, rolling waves, silhouetted headland. It all looked good. But I can't make it work in watercolour. Maybe I need to step back from it. At least I have learned that the dark water is under the white of the wave! Hopefully I'll remember that. And also, that Phthalo Blue is hard to work with. Or was it Indanthrone blue? I'd better go look for my notes. Still have to figure out how to do orange reflections in blue water. And no, I don't want to use masking fluid!! So maybe I need to leave a lot of white to keep the two colours separate

Attempt #1

Practising the waves

Attempt #2 - dramatic sky.

So it is Phthalo blue (red shade)

Did another wash on the sky (kind of sorry I lost all the crazy effects) and added the sea and headlands. But although I used all the same pigments, it's like the sky and the sea don't belong to the same scene!

I ran another wash over the sea and it's unified the piece somewhat. It helps. Still. I think I need to use more artistic licence and change the colour of the sea altogether! That will be for another day, though.

My desk

So, I am getting to the stage where days are starting to blur one into the next. I should really have numbered them, but it's too late now! All I can say for sure is that An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made his speech announcing the first set of measures while he was in Washington before Paddy's Day. So I think that's a little over two weeks ago! I did this sketch of a few things on my art desk a few days later. I wasn't feeling terribly inspired. I think some people have thrown themselves into DIY, spring cleaning, or major art projects. For me, it's taken a few days to adjust and get my mind into art mode again. But I'm getting there. And as there is less happening, there is more time for art. But sometimes, the more time you have, the less you do. There must be a physics formula explaining this!

And even for such a simple sketch, I did manage to find a quote that works, linking my sketch with the idea of the feminine in James Joyce's Ulysses.

'And she could see far away the lights of the lighthouses so picturesque she would have loved to do with a box of paints'

The other quote is from the previous page in my sketchbook, which you can find below, just in case you're not reading my blog in chronological order!!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

sketching from the car

This was only two weeks ago, I think. Our Taoiseach had already introduced measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And we had decided to cancel our Sunday sketching meetings. So I got into my car and drove to Monkstown, parked and set up my sketching kit at the wheel and sketched to my heart's content from the car.

That won't be possible anymore, as further measures have been introduced, and we cannot go beyond a 2-km radius from our house, except to do the shopping if there is no shop nearby. But it's OK. If we all stay at home and practise physical distancing, we'll get through this. I am lucky that most of the activities I love have moved online, so I can attend 4 yoga classes, 2 life drawing sessions, and 1 sketching group every week! And we walk the dog every morning. And when I'm not doing yoga, I'm doing my physio exercises so my back doesn't hurt. And right now, my husband is meeting his friends for a drink via Zoom. So we're adapting!

Back to this sketch - Monkstown is a lovely location for sketching - wide footpaths, two really interesting churches, the seafront, beautiful Georgian houses and cottages. The two churches are challenging buildings, so I used techniques I learned from Liz Steel's SketchingNow Buildings, and I'm pretty happy with how it worked out. As soon as this is all over, I'm definitely going again and I will get out of my car! The row of cottages on the right has hoarding in front, hence the grey area there, just in case you were wondering

And although nothing has been organised yet, I'm planning for the Dublin Sketchers' participation in the Olivier Cornet Gallery Bloomsday project. A difficult theme for urban sketching, 'The Morphing Feminine', but never fear, I'm already coming up with lots of ideas!

So, here is the quote I chose for this image:
"and to hear the music like that and the perfume of those incense they burned in the church like a kind of waft. And while she gazed her heart went pitapat. Yes, it was her he was looking at, and there was meaning in his look. "
I'll talk about the facing page in my next post! In the meantime, be well. Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Oblate Church and Inchicore

This sketching outing dates back three weeks I think. A reminder that things were not always like they are now. And that it will get better. Maybe not just yet. But I have to keep thinking to the future.

So here, we were in Inchicore, exploring the area.
I picked a building way above my skill level, but it was really calling out to me. It’s the Church of Mary Immaculate. Founded by the Oblate Fathers, it’s a really imposing construction. I could only sketch a small part of it, as it’s very long. So I focused on the front entrance. Plus it was the only spot where I could sit and still see above the cars in the car park at the front. And with the sun behind me so I wouldn’t be blinded. I was very close, so it was towering over me. I started with the shadow shapes, just to get past the I’m-so-overwhelmed-by-this-building stage. And I then tried to add and subtract. It’s still cold here, so the paint was still quite wet when I started adding lines. Challenging, but fun! And of course, for me, urban sketching is all about the encounters with the locals - I do love a chat.
Church services are restricted now.

We had started our outing with a tea in Riggers D8. I wasn't quite feeling it. So I left this sketch unfinished. I'm often like that. I do like the social aspect of sketching, up to a point, but then, I just want to go off on my own and get stuck in.
Pubs, restaurants and cafés are closed now.

After sketching the big church, I needed to wind down with something less imposing. So I just crossed the road and sat on a wall in a small industrial estate. Cars are not my specialty, but I really couldn't avoid them!
All non-essential businesses that can't be run remotely are closed now, except, strangely enough, the construction industry.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Well, it was wonderful to be able to chat and sketch with some of my fellow Dublin Sketchers! The group is too large to be able to do video calls with everyone, but we have a sub-group of sketchers who have been roaming the Inchicore area over the last few weeks as part of a project with the Dublin City Council Culture Company at Richmond Barracks. Obviously, we can't do that for now. Which reminds me I haven't posted my last sketches from there yet. Somehow, the days fly and things that I thought I might catch up on are just not happening! Ah well!

So we met at our usual time and chatted over a cup of tea, and we started sketching each other. And it was lovely. Although it's hard to chat and sketch at the same time. This is the new normal!
Thank you Zoom for extending our 40 minutes of free video conferencing. Ten days ago, I didn't even know Zoom existed! And the image and sound quality was excellent!

Next week, we're sketching each other's teapots!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

View from my window - back

Getting into a rhythm. More measures are due to be announced shortly, but we have enough food, and we can do a lot from home. In theory, that means more time for painting and sketching, but up to a few days ago, I was finding it hard to motivate myself. I was constantly checking the news, watching the ever-growing numbers and thinking about all the lives cut short around the world.

I am so lucky though, that I have friends that I can talk to, and even do video calls, which I always enjoy.

And also, I am lucky that my yoga teacher already was set up to do online classes - she's now organised 4 classes a week, so check her out at www.yogasoulacademy.com for live classes and the videos remain available if your timezone is too far apart. There are two teachers online, Lisa who teaches Kundalini, and Paula for Hatha yoga. I don't normally practise Kundalini, but I've enjoyed it so much - it's an hour when you can forget the world out there, and focus on your own well-being. The monthly fee is very reasonable. I'd love to see a few of my friends from around the world joining in! It's chair yoga at 2pm today! I'll be there!

Which brings me back to sketching, a meditation in its own right. Urban Sketchers around the world are sketching the view from their window, or the inside of their house or apartment. One guy in Paris lives in a 28-square-meter apartment with his partner - she teaches yoga via Instagram, he sketches everything, including the toilet bowl and the last roll of loo paper! Check out #USkAtHome on Instagram and you will see what we've been up to. Our local group, Dublin Sketchers, have embraced this too and we all sketched at our usual time on Sunday and posted our pictures on our blog. I chose the view from the back bedroom. I am lucky that there is plenty more to sketch here. Soon, the neighbour's cherry tree will be in bloom and I will sketch it over and over! That's the plan anyway!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

One Week 100 People

Well, this feels like a lifetime ago. But just two weeks. When we were oblivious to the tragedy unfolding in Italy. When we didn't think it would be a big deal here, as long as we washed our hands and didn't touch our faces. When you could go to an event in town with lots of people milling about. When you could still get on the tram and feel safe.

One Week 100 People, an initiative managed by Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes to encourage us to sketch people, ran from the 9th to the13th of March. Full disclosure - I started a day early - it is, or was, easier to get out and sketch on a Sunday than a Monday.

8 March
Dublin Castle's "At Home" performance by Smashing Times, bringing us closer to the women of 1916. I sketched the actors and the spectators. Up close and personal. Because I could. Two weeks later and I'm still fine.

9 March
It was a shaky start - I saw someone else's sketches on Instagram that morning. And they were so good. And I thought, I haven't even started, and my people sketches will never be as good as that. A good friend gave me a pep talk. And once I got started, I couldn't stop. A couple from photos, not my best effort. Then I took a break at Starbucks and a library and filled my quota for the day! And I'm not even counting every person!

10 March - took a quick break in a café, mostly people of a certain age reading the paper. And did the rest from a photo from a book about the Harold's Cross Ladies Club. It was just a busy day and didn't have time to do much more. The Harold's Cross Ladies Club were celebrated by the Dublin City Council Culture Company recently and the book they produced had some lovely photos that inspired me.

11 March - one day before the Covid-19 measures of social distancing were introduced in Ireland. And we were still going about our lives as normal. Yes, everyone was talking about the Coronavirus, but it still felt like our lives would not be affected by it. How wrong we were! I even took two Luases to get to Inchicore. Because I wanted to sketch people! Some of my more successful sketches of the week by the way! On two occasions, I did change seat when I saw people coughing nearby.

12 March - at 11 am, our Taoiseach (that's Prime Minister to you all) announced a number of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus and ease the pressure on our health system - school closures, events restricted to no more than 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors. Some pubs just didn't care and were jam-packed on the Friday night. So all the pubs had to close. Most restaurants have seen their business significantly drop and are only doing take-away now. And the introduction of social distancing. No more sketching people from life, then. I had to do a major rethink. A few more ladies from Harold's Cross Ladies Club. Some from Instagram. A self portrait. Some worked out. Some didn't. Hard to focus.

done from life while my hair colour was taking!

13 March - I decided not to go to life drawing. As it turned out, it was cancelled. Hard to focus. checking the numbers on Wikipedia, reading the news. But late in the day, I did manage to sit down. Sketched two more Harold's Cross ladies. I found a few photos in a brochure. Browsed Instagram And put on a yoga video on YouTube and paused it to sketch (thank you Yoga with Adriene). At this stage, I was determined to get to 100. I didn't care about practising new techniques or achieving quality. I just wanted to be done. And now, of course, I would love to go out and sketch people. But it will have to wait! ?Wishing everyone well. Stay safe.