"Towards Kenbane"

"Towards Kenbane"
Spectacular Irish coastline on a stormy day

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Over the past week we have had very stormy weather, one day in particular the wind speed was in excess of 70 mph and the waves were SPECTACULAR!  I grabbed the camera and we headed for Ballintoy.  The only other people there were, of course, other mad folk with cameras just like us.

I have never seen such waves at Ballintoy - what a wonderful opportunity to get some new painting reference material.  The wind and driving rain did make photography really difficult [one man actually got blown off his feet!] but I managed to take over 300 pics - now all I have to do is find some time to sit and sort them out.

I can hardly wait to get started on some new paintings.  This time I've decided to take photos of each work in progress and post them here along with a write up of my painting process.

Keep watching!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Getting to grips with things!

I have to start out with an apology...... am finding both Blogging and Twitter quite a technical challenge [yes, I know it's supposed to be easy!].  So, nothing has happened here for a while and now I can't seem to get into my Twitter to post any tweets. Will have to rectify that quickly....

To tell the truth, I have been working on a gallery order and two commissions, both now finished and delivered.
So, with a few hours to spare this evening, I decided no time like the present to write a bit about OBSERVATION:

No matter how much you think you may know about any subject or object, you can never actually spend too much time studying it.  I'm not just talking about vaguely looking in your subject's general direction but rather, 'look' and 'analyse' what is actually in front of you. Let's say you have chosen to paint an apple.  Without realising it, your brain has already decided what an apple should look like and you will not be taking in the specific details of the actual apple in front of you.  When you switch off that mental image, you'll begin to notice your subject's 'local' colour [i.e. is it predominately green or red or a mixture of both?].  What tiny marks or imperfections does it have and is it bathed in natural or artificial light [natural light leans towards blue and artificial light, unless you are using a daylight bulb, will be yellowish].  What surface is it sitting on, does that reflect any colour back onto the apple and, what colour is the 'cast shadow' [shadows are never just black]?  Once I get my act together, I will start posting photographs, sketches and 'paintings in progress' to explain all this and cover shadows in more detail.

Take breaking waves for example - I have absolutely no idea how many hours I've just sat watching, studying the form of each wave as it rolls in, what the foam patterns look like and making mental notes about how the sky colour and the light reflects off each surface and so on. You would think I'd be rather an expert on the subject but you would be wrong.  Two days ago down at the beach, with coffee in hand, a particular pattern of light reflections in front of each wave suddenly caught my attention.  Why had I not noticed this before? Simple really - light changes so much with each weather condition and I had never witnessed this particular combination.

In short, you never can take too much time observing everything around you.  The amazing thing is that, the more you look, everything takes on new meaning in the world around you and the way you 'see' things is so much more interesting and exciting!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

One Hundred Paintbrushes & Counting - The Blue Cat Paints

I have a blue cat in my studio.... as well as a stuffed cloth frog, a puppet with a paintbrush and, amongst a lot of other "stuff", no less than three wind chimes [which drive everyone else nuts!] and countless pots with 100 paintbrushes - do I need them all? Yes, of course [like a hole in the head!].

I have lots of visitors too - huge spiders which lurk behind canvasses and under palettes on purpose to give me a heart attack. Unfortunately, the blue cat isn't any help at all [that's left for my long suffering family to deal with].
The studio is attached to a gallery section where up to four students at a time will soon meet every week for watercolour class. Of course, the obligatory dog bed lives there too - it's dragged around by our German Shepherd 'Mika' who can usually be found wrapped around my easel. You don't have to guess what colour palette I've been using..... just look at the dog! In fact dog DNA makes my work totally unique!
Tip:  It is strongly recommended to remove all dog hair before delivering commission work to a client!

We artists are indeed a rare breed - eccentric, sensitive, absent minded about all things 'non-art', excitable, tortured, warm hearted and in general, just clean mad! We unknowingly 'wear' our paint, go to the supermarket wearing slippers [yes, guilty as charged] and surround ourselves with all sorts of pets..... until recently I had a Bearded Dragon "Sam" and a Boa Constrictor "Phoebe" but had to find them new homes for the sake of my poor hubby's nerves! Now we just share our lives with a German Shepherd "Mika", one elderly and rather grumpy Oriental cat "Mugsie", numerous Koi Carp [who even I couldn't name] and a wonderful fluffy goat called "Nanny" - yes, a really naff name..... any suggestions? We also had two gorgeous red hens "Harriet" & "Henrietta" and a plethora of daft noisy ducks but, alas, the fox was hungry.
Tip:  Look in the mirror and check your feet before leaving the house!

Why Blog?

I've been thinking about an art blog for quite a while - something that injects a bit of humour into teaching art, something a bit different! So, here it is... I have all the 'lessons' and 'tips/advice' planned as well as a series of YouTube clips at some point in the near future.... but, as yet, they're all in my head so please watch this space....
Born with a brush in my hand [now there's a thought!], I turned professional a number of years ago. The thirst for knowledge never ends, certainly for me anyway, so I'm sure there will be something for all levels of experience as this blog evolves.