Tuesday, 31 March 2015

David Gray workshop at Atelier Nadai, France 2015

Last week I attended a wonderful oil portrait painting workshop in south-east France at Atelier Nadai, with the amazing artist David Gray (www.davidgrayart.com).

Attending workshops is a great way to practice what we know already, as well as learn how other artists tackle the process of painting. David was generous with his knowledge, kind and funny,  and hardly told us off at all... 

The first day was drawing the face, using the traditional measuring technique, and it took us all day. By the end of the day, after a lot of sighing and groaning (in arty agony), squinting and reworking, we had transferred the image onto the canvas ready for the next day. (David did try to make it clear that in fact, HE was the only one allowed to sigh. SIGH.. By the fourth day, I had resorted to growling in frustration at my painting.) 

My drawing, flaws and all.. 

David started each day with a long demonstration before letting us loose. On the second day, we began with a colour study in the morning, and then moved on to the underpainting. Trying out a different palette of colours is always interesting, and David used a couple of colours that were new to me - I liked them (which is just as well, as I was going to be using them like it or not!). One new one was Quinacradone Violet. 

Peering at Davids demo. On right is the lovely Kyoko, who managed the studio and kept us in order.. 

My colour study, top, and the underpainting by end of day 2 

 We were in the studio for long hours, from 8am - 6.30, on average, but it was still a struggle to get everything done. David's hurry-up phrase was, "c'm-ON guys..."

The view from my easel - next to Inge, Laurette, Kristin and Jean-Michel. You can tell that David is a Proper Artist, as he's donned a smock.. 

  I painted the hair in less than an hour, as my taxi was coming to take me to the train station, ah ah aaaaaaah!! But, there's nothing like a deadline to make you focus and slap something down.

My painting by the end of day 4

As my painting was still wet, and very unfinished, by the time I had to leave,  I left it in the studio to dry. I look forward to receiving it in the post so that I can do some glazing.

The proof of the pudding, of course, is less what is completed during the workshop, and much more about what you actually take home with you to your own studio. I have spent two days painting since I got home, on an artwork that I'd already started. And yes, I am working slightly differently, I am seeing slightly differently and I... like it.  I DO feel the benefit of taking the course and would do it again. But remember, a course like this isn't dreamy - it's hard work and not for sissies. 

L-R, our group of Not Sissies:  Inge, Laurette, me, Nicole, Jean-Michel, Elias, Mirko, Keanu, at the back David Gray, then Kristin, Christophe and Michel Nadai. 

The students came from all over the place - Norway, Switzerland, South Africa, some from other parts of France, and David had travelled from Seattle. Obviously, we all take it pretty seriously! 

Atelier Nadai is evenly-lit, lovely and airy. Michel Nadai is a master craftsman, of painted murals and trompe-l'oeil (http://www.atelier-nadai.com/en_GB) and Kyoko runs the studio with an air of graceful calm. She also did an amazing job of translating everything David said, into French, as we went along. 

I know, south of France sounds lovely, but in March, the weather was baltic and wet - definitely the lower range of temperatures. But, we were there for the art and to be honest, it was pretty sunny inside the studio. 

For up coming workshops with me email:  julie@juliedouglas.co.uk 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Titanic artwork

Yesterday I delivered a drawing to The Drawing Office, in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. It was an illustration of Lilian Bland, the first woman to build and fly her own bi-plane..! (as you do!)

Not the best photo, but you get the idea

I used 300b drawing paper, which was almost like card. I stained it with a mixture of Sepia and Black ink (seriously diluted), and applied it with a broad decorating brush. I always say that white paper 'isn't your friend', and tinting this sheet meant the drawing looked a bit oldish, but also softer on the eye. It saves a lot of elbow grease too in the pencil work.

With Maeve Curran, Destination Manager at Titanic Quarter
It will be hung as part of an exhibition in Titanic Belfast for the month of March as part of the celebrations for International Women's Day.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Ulster Festival of Art & Design

hello all drawers and frustrated drawers...!! Lots of great things on offer next week at Belfast's festival of Art & Design, all wonderful opportunities to meet and listen to great artists of our time. 

 I appreciate that some of them are during the day time, but if you (or your creative family member) are at school, and studying art  (or even teaching art) these events are a fantastic creative-experience-booster and worthy of seeking time out.. 

Wed 11th  March - 11am Oil painting demonstration and talk by award winning illustrator PJ Lynch    

Wed 11th March - 6pm - 7pm  Talk by Katherine Tyrrell about her book on Drawing, and how to take your on-line presence from blogging to book publishing. Katherine write the UK's  no 3 art blog Making A Mark and her talk will include ways to use the internet to your creative advantage. 

Thursday 12th - 11 am, a panel of artists (including PJ Lynch, Set & Costume designer David Craig and Michael John Angel, founder of the Angel Academy of Art in Florence), will each talk aout their work and join in an open discussion together with the audience. This will be full of vareity and show the broad range of options within the creative field, as well as lively and fun. 

Thursday 12th - 7pm, a talk by Michael John Angel, founder of the Angel Academy of art, Florence. John lively and passionate speaker, and is coming all the way from Florence to share his experience with us!!  http://www.ulsterfestival.com/michael-john-angel.html

As well as this, I am holding location drawing sessions at lunch times, and a tutored life class on Saturday 14th March at 11am. This is nearly full so don't delay if you are interested in coming. Suitable for all levels, from beginner to more experienced drawers. http://www.ulsterfestival.com/julie-douglas.html

Tickets are just £6 (or £3 concession) - if you are available, I recommend these events and hope you can come along.

Julie Douglas

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Spring Cleaning!

My new website went live yesterday, after many weeks of tweaking, writing, rewriting, scrapping, avoiding, putting too much in, taking most of it out again. 

Sorting out the mountains of information needed was a challenge to say the least, but the previous site was set up 9 years ago, so it was time for a Spring Clean.  If nothing else, technology has come  a long way since then. And so have I!

Mel's heart, from Tenby 

It's good to regroup and reflect. One thing I put on the site were photographs of some of my heart shaped stones. I have a friend in Wales, Melanie, who I taught with at London Art College. Today, after seeing my site, she sent me a very excited email saying - 

Julie, Julie! 

We took our visitor to Tenby and walked along the non pebbly beach and look what I saw! My heart for you, from Tenby :D 


It just shows you, those hearts are everywhere!

I'd like to say thank you to Paul McNally, who loaded all the information for me. If you're ever looking for Mr Patient and Efficient Designer, he's the man! 

and I know there is the odd typo in there, but I need a few days away from it before I look...
                                  If you'd like a look I'd be glad that you did. It's


Friday, 27 February 2015

Festival of Art & Design, Belfast 2015

Arts and culture banner 2015
Festival of Art & Design

9th-14th March
This year’s Festival has over 70 events – a fantastic range of talks, workshops, discussions, performances and exhibitions all about art and design.

Fashion and textiles, drawing and painting, photography and animation, graphic design and illustration, architecture, sculpture, performance art……and much more

Internationally renowned artists such as Axel Scheffler (Gruffalo), Sylvia Ayton (Wallis Collection), Andy Stevens (Graphic Thought Facility), Mark Wallinger (Turner Prize winner) to name but a few.
Full programme at: www.ulsterfestival.com 
Watch our short video: https://www.youtube.com/UUFAD-2015

Arts and Culture, Ulster University, Belfast campus, York Street, Belfast, BT15 1ED
Telephone: +44 (0)28 9536 7285 |culture@ulster.ac.uk www.culture.ulster.ac.uk
© Ulster University 2015

Monday, 23 February 2015

Delicious and unique offerings for March, Belfast 2015

After the success of the Draw In Symposium last year, I was asked to create a drawing theme throughout the Ulster Festival of Art & Design, which takes place from 9th - 14th March 2015 in Belfast.
The festival comprises of many lectures, at lunch times and in the evening, from speakers from all aspects of the creative field. I have always been impressed by the quality of the speakers, no matter what their discipline and I was delighted to be asked to contribute.

Here is what I have come up with - all events take place at Belfast School of Art.

On Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th and Friday 13th March" Lunchtime Location Drawing".  I will be holding tutored sessions at 1pm for an hour.

Saturday 14th March, 11 - 1pm,  I will be teaching a tutored Life Drawing session.

Wednesday 11th March,  at 11am - award winning illustrator PJ Lynch will be delivering a talk and oil painting demonstration.

PJ Lynch oils demonstration 

Wednesday 11th March at 6pm - Katherine Tyrrell, artist, author and the UK's number 3 art blogger will be giving a talk about her new book about Drawing.

Thursday 12th March 11am - Drawing Together: a panel of artists including P Lynch, Katherine Tyrrell, set & costume designer David Craig, and Michael John Angel from The Angel Academy in Florence, will each speak about their work and answer questions from the audience and each other. This will be unique and very interesting.

Draw Together - a panel discussing the nuts and bolts of drawing practice. 

Thursday 12th March, 6pm - Michael John Angel, founder of The Angel Academy of Art, Folrence, will give a lecture entitled 'The Training of the 21st Century Realist Painter'.

Student from The Angel Academy, Florence, with his work

Bookings should be made through the festival website,
All sessions are subsidised and very inexpensive.

I hope you will be at as many of these sessions as possible!

For more details see the website, or email me at julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Friday, 5 December 2014

Life Drawing, Belfast

When drawing the human form, one wonders why one would ever draw anything else. These studies were drawn during Colleen Barry's figure drawing workshop in Belfast. Five days to study form, light, and anatomy - an endurance test in its own way, not only for the model who stays in the same pose all week, but for the artists who get similarly stiff and sore.

End of day 1

I chose a back view for a change, although the shadow of the head was lovely from the front. But  my favourite thing was the light at the top of the model's head and on his shoulder. And I like a blady head. This view required sitting below the model, on a studio 'horse' or 'donkey' - this is a long stool rather like a woodworking bench, which has a hinged board to rest your drawing board and paper on. Basically it's as comfortable as you'd expect, if you sit on a plank for a week. 
But a bit of suffering for our art is all to the good...!

Twenty minute poses
Drawing the figure is one of the most satisfying, connecting experiences.  It is in no way sensual, even though someone in the room is naked. The word 'naked' impies a vulnerability - a life model isn't vulnerable, they are Nude. Modeling is extremely demandng on the body - try standing still for half an hour and see how you get on...  So even though it is not a sensual experience, life drawing is in fact intimate. There is intimacy in studying human form, like a contract between artist and model. 
End of day 2 (though the artwork is not so dark as it looks in this photo)

Twenty minute poses
We started each day with short poses of twenty minutes. As you can see, Robert has an arsenal of diffuclt-to-draw poses.  He clearly has an understanding of creating shapes with the body, to provide the artist with new folds and relationships on the page. this is the sign of a skilled model. 
Each one of the above drawings took twenty minutes. (just in case you thought I did all four in twnety minutes...) 
End of day 4

Twenty minute poses
More twenty minute poses. These were lovely poses, but we all wandered round bewilderedly trying to find the most manageable angle to draw from. We resigned ourselves to the fact that there were no easy angles, they were all just differently difficult. Some of them would have been great for an all-day pose. 
The last day, day 5, I added the front view of the model. 
Drawing is an intellectual act. Be in no doubt that the problem solving nature of observation drawing is good for your brain, your eyes, your appreciation of nature - and learning to draw well improves the intellect. We should all be doing it, more of the time...! 

Upcoming workshops: Oil painting, Belfast, Big Drawing Day. 
For info email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Friday, 14 November 2014

Figure Drawing Workshop with Colleen Barry in Belfast 2014

Figure drawing is one of my favourite things. To have a whole week of it is wonderful.
I was deligheted to welcome Colleen  Barry to teach in Belfast, fresh from a two week course at the Angel Academy in Florence.

Students were from a mixture of past exprience and from many backgrounds - Fine Art, Animation and Beginners. To accomodate this variety, Colleen started each day with 20 minute poses, allowing plenty of practice in the all-important starting point of figure drawing. Robert was our model and he had an impressive (or depressing, depending on how you're feeling at the time!) portfolio of outrageously difficult-to-draw poses for the short drawings, and how we all scurried around the room trying to find the least-horrendous views. (Discovering of course that all views are equally difficult, but just in different ways!) 

But the main focus of the week was one pose, studying form and learning about anatomy. Robert was a fantastic model - I can't begin to imagine how painful it is to stand in one position for several days and I am very grateful for his professionalism.

Colleen doing a demo on form shadow verses cast shadow

We enjoyed watching Colleen demonstrating, not only about the figure but explaining about light, shadow, tone and form in general. Colleen is a gentle teacher, an incredibly knowledgable artist who is willing and able to spend time explaining so that everyone understands. She is a lovely combination of inspiring, and modest.  

One of the daily anatmony talks. 

Alice, Jeremy (aka Leonardo), Caroline (showing Peter how to sharpen his pencils), Peter, Sarah, Pat, Colleen Barry and jacinta) 

Julie, Jacinta and Alice, suffering on the wooden horses.

To make it even more perfect I'd have to suggest a shoulder and back massage at the end of each day - sitting on a hard wooden 'horse' for a week is not comfy.. ! I had a great tip froma  student I worked with in GCA, who recommended support socks for days when standing to draw. 
Colleen was joined in Belfast by her husband Will St John, who is a wonderful painter and sculptor - he spent time seeking out his family roots, in Comber, County Down! 

Ciara, who was kindly practicing the pose just in case Robert needed a break..!

The whole group, skeleton and all (giving Robert an affectionate hug). 
A fantastic week - I hope to display some of the drawings during the Belfast Festival of Art and Design in March. 

Upcoming courses - Oil workshop, Colour Pencil workshop, Belfast. For info email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Draw in Symposium, Belfast, 2014 - an Extraordinary Experience

The last weekend in August 2014 was very special, for many many people. The Draw In Symposium was an incredible two days of open hearted sharing, with artists from many disciplines coming together to share their experiences, to swap stories and ideas, providing a lively, passionate, authentic creative experience for students of all ages and from all backgrounds. The place was buzzing, and everyone who was there was changed in some way.

L-R: Colleen Barry (from the Grand Central Academy, New York), Matt Weigle (also from GCA, NY) Aidan McGrath (architect and photographer, Belfast), Paul Foxton (artist, London), Peter Cooper (animator, Belfast), PJLynch (illustrator, Dublin), Shevaun Doherty (botanical artist, Dublin) and me, wth an L-plate,  introducing everyone to the sessions ahead. 

And while, in my teaching, I have regularly witnessed individual students having AHA moments of understanding, watched the great relief some experience in truly understanding something they thought was beyond them, and seen many people joyfully uplifted through their own progress, I have never seen it happen to so many people at once. It was humbling and hard to describe.

Me introducing Paul Foxton

I think it was the most profound, moving, inspiring and fast moving weekend of my LIFE. Such an incredible experience, so much knowledge shared. Amazing.
But it was so much fun too. Energetic and delicious!

PJ Lynch giving his portrait demonstration. 

Big screen was so helpful behind PJ Lynch. my son modelled for him 

Peter Cooper encouraging students to view his sculptures. 

Believe it or not, Paul Foxton is in the middle of this crowd, doing his demonstration. 
Paul Foxton
Shevaun Doherty, talking us through her wonderful botanic paintings, in the gallery. 

A bit of audience participation, playing with clay during Peter Cooper's demonstration

One of my figure drawing workshops

 On the first day we began with a panel discussion where the artists answered the questions I asked, each of them describing the relevance of Drawing within their own practice. This  gave the audience a glimpse into the practicalities and nitty gritty of creative development. We had demonstrations in Creature Sculpting by Peter Cooper, oil portraiture by PJ Lynch, Studio Practice with Paul Foxton, talks by Colleen Barry and Shevaun Doherty. In between all of this, students peered at the drawings and sketch books and roughs on display in the gallery.

My wonderful volunteers, Pamela, Katy, Rory, Niamh, Liz, Lisa (chief whip) and Judith. I couldn't have done it without them, they were fantastic. 

On the second day, PJLynch, Paul Foxton and I gave workshops (in portrait drawing, Studio Practice and Figure Drawing) and this was a marathon for the students AND us! I worked out that over 300 pieces of artwork were generated that day - that's a lot of drawing.

It was an extravaganza. And I look forward to doing it again!

PJ Lynch portrait workshop

Some lovely student drawings

By the end of the weekend, my volunteers were a bit the worse for wear... 

Here is just some of the lovely feedback I recieved from students:

From G.M. - A really talented and inspiring bunch of people - all gathered by you and infected by your enthusiasm. Well done on it all. The organisation, balance of presentations and goodwill engendered was fantastic.

From R.K - I just wanted to let you know what I thought of the weekend symposium which you organised. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and we came home fired up and even more enthusiastic to get cracking to find out if we can do it! I felt as if the whole course was set up for me alone, as you made it all "do-able". I loved the artists, so cleverly selected and I would love to have heard more and more and more about their practice. 
PJ Lynch was so fantastic and I could have stayed with the portraiture all day but then I felt the same about the figure drawing.

Most of all I feel affirmed and a little more confident (something I have spent my life giving others in teaching). I don't know how long that will last but I am determined to give myself a chance now that I have given up teaching.

I loved the course, the tutors, the people, the art of course and the craic. You were a breath of fresh air to listen to and see in action.

From J.F. - Well I absolutely loved the course and was really pleased I got to take part in it. I was there for the weekend only. My highlights were

  • Colleen Barry's talk - I felt privileged to be in the same room as her. 
  • P.J.s Workshop - Thoroughly enjoyed this and was very happy with my portrait. I'm a member of Illustrator's Ireland, as is PJ and I was feeling trepidation about doing his workshop. I draw cartoon people while he creates masterpieces so I was feeling a bit mortified but he was great and I really learned a lot.
  • Your workshop and I'm not just saying that :)  I feel like my drawing is very stiff so your workshop was EXACTLY what I need to loosen up and look at things differently - inside edges instead of outlines. 
            So thank you again for the opportunity Julie, I left feeling really inspired.

Paul Foxton made comments about it on his blog here

Photos are here on PJLynch's Facebook page


More photos here on Paul Foxton's Facebook page:

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Oil painting workshop, Belfast - painting against the clock

Bottle and plums, Julie Douglas, oil on canvas. 
It's always a treat to be attending a workshop, as a change from teaching. But the week-long oils workshop with Matt Weigle was very busy for me, making sure Matt had everything he needed to deliver the workshop in the way he wanted, making sure the students atending were getting everything they needed, and taking many phone calls along the way regarding the upcoming Symposium weekend. Oh yes, and fitting in as much painting as possible too.

Here's how we did it. we started with drawing...

Day 1 - drawing the arrangement to a comfortable size. A3 study, Julie Douglas 
Our goal over the week was to do one drawing, one small black and white tonal study, a small colour study and a larger full colour painting. Ok then... 
I drew on A3 paper, with the shadow box at my eye level. 
We photocopied our original drawings down to the appropriate sizes for our canvas, and transferred the image as Matt showed us. It was great to get painting, and the B&W was done by the end of the ssecond day. It was very small, which really forces you to be general - this doesn't compromise accuracy, it requires clarity and contrast and balance and broader decision-making.

So small...
Finished B&W study
to give you an idea of the scale
Day three - we outined our transfer of the larger painting, so as not to lose the line during the underpainting process. 

Outlining the transferred drawing on canvas for the final (larger) painting
We did the underpainting quickly, in an hour or so, then left it to dry overnight. In the meantime, the colour study was waiting. 
Underpainting for final canvas
I was always a good bit behind everyone else, and was regretting having chosen the glass bottle, as it had a bit more detail to paint (meaning it would take longer..). By the end of day three I hadn't started my colour study.

Day four - this is where I got even busier, and I wondered if I'd not finish anything. I didn't get to sit  at my desk till after lunch, but when I returned from taking a phone call, I discovered that Matt had prepared my palette for me. How very very encouraging.
I finished the colour study by the end of the day, in time for us all to go out together for dinner. 

Hurrying UP....

Colour study, done in an afternoon approx 21cm x 12 cm

Again, to show scale
my desk, and the transfer sheets
Friday - the pressure was on, big time. We had to stop by 5 at the latest, as the walls had to be removed from the studio to make room for the Symposium on Saturday. Some students had already finished and were working on a second large painting. Sob sob... 
Nearly done...

Marathon painting, watched over by the resident skeleton.

But you know, there's nothing like a deadline... and with moments to spare, I got the painting finished. No time to celebrate though, the porters arrived on time, and we began the big clear-up for the weekend of creative delights ahead... 

Finished painting, 30cm x 22cm Julie Douglas

Upcoming workshops with Julie Douglas in Belfast: Portrait drawing, Oil painting, Drawing and water colour. For details, email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Julie's workshops are friendly, focused and fun. Fully structured courses so you know you are learning.