Saturday, August 06, 2022

Bluebell portraits

Drawing more portraits of the lovely people at Bluebell Community Centre. 

This is Richard. He was quieter than some of the other sitters. But he looked straight at me and posed well!.

Eileen was very keen to get her portrait done. While I was sketching her, she made a friendship bracelet for me. She's bubbly and full of energy!

Davey! There is so much to say about Davey. He's a talented singer and musician. If you've never heard him sing, you're in for a surprise! He's also a very kind person, who is always thinking of others. He sketches with us on Sundays. I might have made him look a little bit younger than he really is!!

These are the original sketches done on location, and given to the sitters. I added colour at home.

Friday, August 05, 2022

More colour mixing and starting to think about a painting

Thinking about a big sky and a vibrant sea. I have a photo of the sea at Killiney with a dark big sky and the sea shining with an unreal glow.

Trying a few colour mixes that woud match the mood. 

prussian blue, carmine, burnt umber

It didn't quite work out so well when I went to paint it, though! Will try again!

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Local sketching

It was a one-day heat wave in Dublin. And I didn't have the energy to drive all the way to Saint Anne's Park on the other side of the city. So I asked Delphine if she wanted to come over. And we sketched in the shade of the trees at the top of my estate. It was such a relaxing afternoon.

I was trying out a new sketchbook, a big Waterford and Saunders hot press paper book. I'm pretty sure I bought Hot Press by mistake. I'm not great with painting on Hot Press. But it's good for pen work, so will be useful for urban sketching. It's a bit big to fit in my backpack, so I'll have to bring a tote bag for it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Hello Kitty on Blue and Yellow

Using some of my pre-painted backgrounds  - Hello Kitty has nothing to do with Ukraine, but the crane is a symbol of long life, so I will use it to wish for victory for Ukraine and the end of all the dying.

PS: I'm really bad at origami, but thankfully Shinobu gave these to me and I have managed to keep a few from our cat's claws.


Quick triads on a day when I don't have time for anything else.

All pigments by Daniel Smith, except for the Cerulean Blue, which is from Holbein.

Hansa Yellow Medium, Cobalt Blue and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Love the luminosity of this one.

Quinacridone Gold, Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Rose (PV19). Maybe not so good for greens, but very luminous darks.

Hansa Yellow Medium, Cerulean Blue and Transparent Red Oxide. Transparent Red Oxide is really a burnt sienna, not a red red, but there were interesting variations with the Cerulean Blue.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022


One more session on Richmond Street. Finally reaching the canal. 

The little red house looks like it's the next shop that will be replaced by something bland and modern. Although I have to say that the architects did a decent job of 43 Richmond next to it - it seems to be a fancy eatery, but the façade still has lots of character. I worry about this whole area, though. It is changing so much since I lived around the corner on Adelaide Road (well over 30 years ago, admittedly). All these beautiful brick houses with beautiful details are being replaced by apartment blocks and offices. Who is going to live there, I wonder?

Green tea at Wall & Keogh. It was bitter and vile. She  probably poured boiling water, rather than the 75 degrees recommended for the tea I had picked. Yep, I can now definitely say that I will not be going back there, despite its cute interior!

Looking towards Rathmines church. It's been such a beacon for us sketchers on this journey, peeping over chimneys in the distance. We're finally getting there.

People walking through the plaza near the canal. The area gets really busy when the students from the language schools come out on their break. My drawing of them is a bit stiff. I'm out of practise. But I am enjoying using different tools to express the various layers of the landscape in front of my eyes. 

Monday, August 01, 2022

Bridgefoot Street Park

A new park in Dublin, at the back of Thomas Street. It took me a while to settle and decide on what to sketch. It was a hot sunny day, by Irish standards. But it was hard to find a shady spot, as the trees are all newly planted. 

This was my favourite view, looking up towards the windmill. But the only good angle I could find was standing up in the sun, so I just did a quick sketch of it in ink, before moving on.

I tried to sketch some more people. Not too happy with these. They're too stiff.

People dancing

I'm at the next stage in Inma Serrano's Domestika course, where she shares some techniques for drawing lively people. I need to explore this some more. Some didn't work out so well.

Others were a little happier, but I still feel I have regressed in my ability to draw people in movement. My art practise is not in a happy place at the moment.
Japanese drums, Hip Hop and K-Pop dance videos to the rescue! More of that needed!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

still life

Connecting shapes as an exercise in Inma Serrano's Domestika course. I'm kinda chasing my tail at the moment, but I really want to do more of this practise. And yet, I still want to paint sea, sky and rocks. I wish I was more focused these days (I just typed this while looking out at the amazing clouds that I can see outside my window, and there was only one typo! I had forgotten how much I love touch-typing! And how much I love clouds. I could never live in a country where the sun shines all the time!). Anyways, let's try and focus after this. But I am a great believer in the fact that all art practise is good and will lead to improvements. So, if I draw more, my painting skills will improve too. If I'm learning composition, that will also have a positive impact. If I learn how to draw people, I will be able to populate my urban sketches and paintings with convincing figures. In other words, it's all good!

I did two versions. Which do you like best?

Saturday, July 30, 2022


I'm getting towards the end of the Direct Watercolour challenge for this year (and yes, at this stage, I'm about 4 weeks behind in my blog and 6-7 weeks behind on Instagram). So when we went to IMMA at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, I sketched in direct watercolour in the formal gardens, then I felt the need for ink and markers when I went inside the courtyard. I'm forever pulled between different techniques, forever experimenting.

Then a quick sketch, which probably would be better if I added watercolour. But it's done now.


And yes, the walls were green on that side of the courtyard, but I had a lovely red marker, and also the walls were red on the other side, so my sketch is not a complete lie.

lily pads

More lily pad experimentation.

This one in direct watercolour

This one with an ink drawing first. I like the colours here better, like the transparency of the water and the greenery underwater.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022


Continuing to practise with Inma Serrano's Domestika course. This section was about "Buildings as imaginary monsters". I'm paraphrasing. But it really helped me tackle Saint Marc's Basilica in Venice. No, I didn't sketch this from life. It's, mmm, 5-6 years since I was there. And I didn't have the skills or courage to sketch this amazing building then. 

Time to go back? I need to have a chat with Françoise!

For this one, I used a Schmincke liquid watercolour as a base, then drew with pencils and markers on top.

I drew them on facing pages in my sketchbook, and I do like them both.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Richmond Street

The journey continues. In a new sketchbook. I'm not sure I'll have enough material to fill it, but I could come up with a few ideas that could work.

Like leaving a lot of white space on some pages.

Although I feel it looked better with no writing at the top. All the people were drawn on location from direct observation, by the way.

The area around Richmond Street is changing a lot. It was not the most salubrious when I lived around the corner on Adelaide Road, but there was a charm to it. Back in 1987. Now, we're seeing so many of the original houses and shops replaced by high-rise blocks - offices, hotels, apartments maybe. Soon, it won't feel like Dublin any more.

After a short break during which some of the watercolour got smudged, I went back out on the street, fixed it the best I could, then I drew the bicycle that was just to the right of the first view.

It works quite well together I think.

After walking around for a while, we met up in Wall & Keogh. They have a cute little courtyard at the back. The sandwich was quite greasy. There was plenty of conversation going around. But I just sketched. Some days, I'm not much of a conversationalist. Or it just depends who is there and how comfortable I feel with them.