Thursday, October 21, 2021

Pumpkin season!

It's pumpkin season!! Otherwise known as Halloween! I don't like much about Halloween, and in particular, I hate the fireworks and bangers that terrorise cats and dogs. I don't see the point of trick-or-treating - these kids have been brought up to not talk to strangers, so why should their parents trust strangers to give them sweets! Anyways, we turn off the lights and we don't answer the door!

But I love pumpkins! Last year, we were in lockdown and you couldn't get pumpkins for love nor money! This year, Brendan managed to get me this beautiful collection in Lidl, our local supermarket! I will be putting other art projects on hold and I will be sketching and painting these cuties for weeks to come! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Urban Sketchers - Sketch Together Zone 3

If you're wondering what's been keeping me busy in my free time over the last few weeks. I've been working behind the scenes to help with this wonderful project - Urban Sketchers Sketch Together 2021. I was a small cog in a very big wheel, but it was so much fun! You will find the other zones on Urban Sketchers's YouTube channel! And I want to say it's been such a pleasure working with the wonderful Federica, our host for Zone 3!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Swapping colours again!!

Creative block or busy mind? The latter, definitely! But no time to do much more than colour swatches these days. I'm assembling tree colours from my White Nights selection. I would never have thought of consciously using orange and purple, but, you know, I probably would have instinctively dabbed my brush into some similar combination. I'm liking these mixes. 

As for the pen scribbles? That's what happens when you empty a cartridge of its remaining ink, rinse it with water and refill it with another ink. It takes a bit of scribbling to bring the ink down to the nib!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Thinking about a composition

Something Delphine wrote the other day resonated with me - you have to think about design. Up to now, I have just been copying the photo in front of my eyes, and let's face it, all I have is a big square barn with the road running away from the other corner. (options 1, 2 and 3 below, where I was trying to reduce shapes and figure out values and cool/warm temperature.)

So, finally, the penny dropped and in the last thumbnail at the bottom, I decided to change the road so I can lead the eye to the barn door! These things don't come naturally to me, believe me!! I'm reading a book on creativity at the moment, but today I feel I'm still very much at the start of the journey, where I still have so many technical elements to master before I can even think about creating something new!! A humbling experience!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Autism in girls and women

I came across this wonderful video. Olivia has a lovely channel with lots of useful information. I have never been diagnosed, but I am very self-aware and there is no doubt in my mind where I stand on the spectrum. I feel good in my own skin these days, but it wasn't always so! I share this here so if any girl or woman thinks they might be on the autistic spectrum, they can find out more, and, most importantly, know that they are not alone!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

It is Inktober after all

My art room is currently inaccessible, as I'm rehearsing with fellow urban sketchers for an Instagram Live event on the 17th of October.  I can't really get to my easel, there are boxes of pens and pencils on the floor, my shelves are covered with a grey Ikea blanket, ... So when it came to my weekly paint and chat session with Shelley, I had to improvise. I had lots of ink samplers, a bottle of diluted grey ink, a dip pen,  a round stamp I carved out of an eraser. And a strange dry fruit that Brendan found somewhere on the street in France and that survived the trip home! It was such fun!


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Barn with green doors - thumbnails

With 4 watercolour thumbnails under my belt, and notes, and mindmaps, am I ready to move big? I'm going to have to think about my composition before I do that. It's a lovely barn, but it's a bit plonked there in these thumbnails, isn't it? And I need to think about what I want to draw attention to - in my mind it's the gorgeous green colour of these barn doors, but what about all the reflected light? What's your favourite of the 4?

And by the way, I have painted these from a photo I took in Saint André de Roquelongue, a lovely village in the Corbières region. It's a big wine-producing area, and you will find these big barns in every town, and will be amazed when you see the farmers reversing into these with their tractor and trailer - the streets are not wide!

And also, don't expect to see any people in these paintings - the villages are so quiet you could film a zombie movie without any problem! I don't know if that's because they're all working in the fields or in the city? Or that there is nothing to do in the evenings? But when you meet someone, you have to acknowledge them with a bonjour or bonsoir. I bet everybody in Montséret (population 600) knew who we were - well, my name was displayed for all to see behind the counter in the local grocery store, as I had reserved a baguette for every morning of our two-week holiday!

And if you're interested in what goes on inside my head, there you go!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Saint André de Roquelongue

After a few days of procrastination, I just opened a random photo from our holidays. Lots to explore before I can get to the painting stage! Roofs, reflected light, gate, door, vegetation. And I really need to think about my composition. Maybe the small house on the left doesn't need all that vegetation? I actually like my first drawing under the thumbnails the best. Just the barn and the trees.

Sunday, October 10, 2021


Some days are happy.

And some days are just ugly. I just need to let them be and move on.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Bridges and cafés

And then some days are just wonderful! Even if it was so cold outside that I spent more time inside cafés than on the streets! 

Thank god for urban sketching. I couldn't bear to be in my art room with no flow happening! 

The plan was to sketch Grattan Bridge from the South quays after the Millenium bridge. I arrived a bit early and after taking my sketchbook and pen out, realised that I was not going to be able to stand in the cold wind for long, so I decided to go into Dollard, a great big café with views on the quays and at the back too. It gets a mention in Ulysses and I have sketched there before. They've actually extended the eating area - it used to be half fancy grocery store, half café, but now it's all café with different types of food available from different counters. They didn't have matcha latte, so I just ordered a hot milk. They only charged me 50 cent, which was very nice of them! It was very quiet still, so I was able to settle facing a window overlooking the quays and sketch to my heart's content. It was a limited view, but it had lots of interesting elements, a bicycle, which thankfully didn't move the whole time I was sketching it, lots of traffic going by, so this van is a combination of vans and buses that went by, the wall that hides half the view, then the beautiful houses across the Liffey, each slightly different from the next.

Onto the quays - it was still cold, with no sun on this side to warm us up. A quick impression of Grattan Bridge, the prettiest bridge in Dublin, in my humble opinion!

Lots of people walk across Grattan Bridge - nice wide footpath and it's connecting Parliament Street and Capel Street, both busy areas. At this stage, I was on the bridge, sitting on one of the benches, with the sun on my back. It was still cold! Despite wearing my winter coat and a warm woolly scarf! We just have to get used to it!

After another break in Dollard to warm up and eat, I did a final sketch, of the O'Donovan Rossa Bridge, with the Four Courts behind. It was actually getting warmer by then, but I had things to do, so that's as far as I got that day! 

Lunch break in Dollard, with a chicken katsu, which was delicious, and a much bigger portion than I had anticipated. 
You won't recognise Pat in this sketch! 
Dollard was a printing company, and I love the industrial feel of the interior, with the big windows to let the light in, the brickwork, and big pillars throughout. I found out that Chris's uncle and aunt worked there, which was a lovely connection to the place. 

I added colour after I got back home. The meat in the background is from Tomahawk Steakhouse, one of the food concessions there. We debated whether it was nice to see the meat like that on display. I think I was the only person who liked to see the raw meat!

Friday, October 08, 2021

Ink and stamp

Dragging ink around the page, even blowing on it with a straw, then adding little round stamps is another way to explore what's going on inside my head! It's Inktober after all, not that I ever participate!

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Ideas and mindmaps

I was reading a book on creativity while on holidays, and I found useful ideas to get the juices flowing, association lists and mindmaps. I will refer to these when the summer light has gone for good and I need to be reminded why I took so many pictures of vineyards and narrow streets! And hopefully these will help me find focus and connections!

I know this one has nothing to do with our holidays, but I thought about octopus recently and it's a theme I'd like to explore some day, so having it written down there in my little book is a start!

Again, not specifically about our holidays, but trees is another thing on my mind.

Interesting how this one is different from the one I drew up while I was still on holiday. It's like it was more immediate, and this one is more abstract!

I keep saying I must sketch the cranes in the construction site beside our estate! That probably should be my priority, because they won't be there forever!

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Tree silhouettes

This always happens to me after holidays. I've had so many sensory stimuli, so much inspiration. And then I get home, and it's all jumbled in my head, and I want to do it all, paint everything. And then I can paint nothing! It's only a phase, I know. It will pass. But while it's there, you will see coloured darks, otherwise known as mud!!