Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Portfolio course and Oil Painting..

This week I am in Killaloe, Co Clare, doing a Portfolio Course, and the drawings being produced are deLIGHTful..

(engine part by L. Herlihy, aged 17 - you see, never throw anything away...) 

I thought I wasn't bringing so much Stuff (props boxes) but then there was this, that and oooh, the tailors dummy... So the car was as full to the gills as always. Weather is tremendous, I'm teaching above the Wooden Spoon Bakery again, so we're tortured with wafts of onions, garlic, bacon, melting cheese...chocolate... you get the idea. The aroma is strongest near the door, so I try to stay well clear..

Anyway, in spite of bringing more-than-enough Stuff, my initial delight at sorting internet access here was shortlived, when I realized that I had my laptop, but not the...LEAD.  You're getting the last bits of battery life right now..  But, not to be flustered, as you can see, I have a new motto for the week, stuck just above my painting..

This is the painting I am working on right now, its not quite finished. Oil on Board, 8in x 10in. 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Tanya's Eggs, Colour Pencil on Bristol board

For the season that's in it, I had to post this drawing of Eggs!
These eggs were given to me by a neighbour who loved chickens, but not eggs.... (Personally, I like chickens and eggs.) At that time I was mostly painting people and animals, which I love, but I was also feeling Visually Envious (is that possible?) of the still life subjects I was giving my students and decided that it was time for me to join in with the still life fun. This artwork took...longer than I expected..!

Your weekend Homework... get out and appreciate the fabulous cherry blossoms and the freshness of spring greens. 

Next Up - Intensive Portfolio Course, Killaloe Ireland
Portrait and figure Drawing, Killaloe Ireland
Water Colour, Drawing and oils workshops Belfast Uk and Ireland
contact me on

BIG NOTE.... I  really love teaching. Not everyone can say that. If I can help you in any way it would be an honour to do that. Just ask me a question. But I know that you will not learn anything by copying my work. Not a thing. So please do not do it. Don't print out my images, don't try to draw them, for the copyright is mine and you don't have my permission to do it. Thank you. Rest assured I will never, ever try to copy anything that you have created. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

oil painting workshop..

I did an Oil Painting workshop over the weekend in Dublin.. The prep began on Friday with a visit to St George's Market in Belfast to see what colourful fruits I'd not be able to resist.. I was after artichokes, but they weren't colourful enough this week... And sometimes that's good, as it means I have to spend a bit longer wandering, looking, pondering and rejigging my thoughts. I'd not been on a Friday before and my Usual Veggie stall wasn't there, oh shame. But there was a bigger stall in the middle, and wow, the colours... I was only feeling a little bit disloyal, when who should pop out from behing the parsnips, but My Veg Man, same stall, different spot! And I'm afraid he knows me by now, and before I knew it, he was walking me around by my elbow in case I'd missed something fabulous. Purple and green you want, he says - extolling the purples in the aubergines (not today...) or how's about a cabbage? (nah....). And as I filled up my bag with oranges and plums, I noticed that he looks like... Tom Cruise!! Perhaps I should ask him to model for the next portrait class..?!

My students worked tirelessly, and produced fabulous paintings, seemingly without pain! The table got messier by the moment, the coffees went cold and hardly any paint got on the clothes... Just on the hands and elbows and noses instead. And the glasses - one student confessed that she was worried about her vision after the first day, and everything looked a bit misty -  till she realized that she had a fingerprint of white paint on her specs... 

Next Up - Water Colour workshop, then Intensive Portfolio Course. 
email: for info

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

In Praise of Pears (POP), Belfast

                           This week my classes are mostly drawing...pears.

(Colour pencil in moleskine sketch book, 4in x 3in, Julie Douglas)

Every now and then I get slightly self-conscious that so many of my subjects are food, and make rash promises to students that we won't do any foody painting for a bit. But after a couple of sessions, I get over it, and back we go.. Yum. No apology. I have a secret passion for pears - not so much eating them, but I love their plump, dumpy shape. They're a bit cheeky. Quirky. They're having a bit of a laugh, like they're leaning on a lamp-post, all casual... There's something comforting about their broad bottom, whether they're standing up, leaning over or totally collapsed. You can't lose, with a pear... And then there is Colour.

Look at these photographs from my evening class - the first thing I see are the colours. That doesn't mean green - it means mossy-greens, blue-greens, gray-greens, muddy-greens, yellow-greens, pink-greens, pink, pinkey-orange, orangey-pink, peachy, blue, khaki, purple - PURPLE, my favourite, and on and on. We don't have enough words for the colours around us, so the less we try to label them, the more open we are to seeing the array of colour-treats in everything. This is one of the things students are most amazed about in their own learning - the way they can suddenly See colour. SO many students tell me, after a couple of weeks, that they can't believe how much colour there is in everything. 

So, lets get looking... 

(drawing 4in x 4in, colour pencil, by Aisling Allum, student)

Occasionally I've thought about buying really good quality fake fruit (did I just SAY that?!) so that I'd always have them to hand. But I can't, because one of the other secret pleasures is going out and rummaging in the fruit boxes for The Right One... Its got to look lazy, it has to have a stalk, ooh that one's Blushing, and look at the size of THAT... 

(drawing 4in x 4in, colour pencil, by Alison Walker, student)

Next up - Oil Painting workshop, Dublin Ireland.
Distance Learning Courses available too. 

BIG NOTE.... I really love teaching. Not everyone can say that. If I can help you in any way it would be an honour to do that. Just ask me a question. But I know that you will not learn anything by copying my work. Not a thing. So please do not do it. Don't print out my images, don't try to draw them, for the copyright is mine and you don't have my permission to do it. Thank you. Rest assured I will never, ever try to copy anything that you have created. 

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Distance Learning, Drawing block.

This fabulous drawing was done by an advanced distance learning student of mine from Norwich, K Galliford. Truly magnificent! An iris from his own garden, drawn in coloured Pencil. the value of distance learning should not be underestimated, for while it hasn't got the advantage of a weekly class, it certainly gives students the discipline required to commit to producing work regularly enough to improve. This drawing is approximately A4 in size. 

Remember what I was saying before about feeling inspired, visually, about everything around you, rather than relying on other peoples artwork to Do It for you? I took the snap below the other evening while out walking the dog on Belfast Lough. So I had the double creative blast - its a fact that being outside, in the elements, is good for us, creatively. It clears the head (or at least shuffles everything around a bit into some semblance of order...), opens the lungs and allows the over-busy dust particles in our head to settle... As well as possibly putting off getting on with some artwork, in the time-honoured art of procrastinating. And not only this, but if you're lucky, there'll be a visual feast too, and you are reconnected to the beauty all around you. I admit that a sunset is nearly cheating - but at least I was OUT THERE, and SAW it... And if you think you have no time to stop and stare, think again. You have time, for everything. 

Next up - Oil Painting workshop, Dublin Ireland. Email for details and booking

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Rory's Hands, Oil Painting 8in x 10in.

Well, this week I have learnt a lot about paint, though, mostly how NOT to do things. Which is still learning nonetheless. I have been working on a painting of hands, the attraction being the skin tones, but didn't I only decide to have the hands playing the piano... So the great majority of time was spent on painting the piano keys - WHAT a nightmare. You'd think after all these years that I'd see the nightmare bits coming, but, oh no. I'm just Attracted To Things, and away I go... It didn't take long to dawn on me that the task was rather larger than I'd expected, once I started the white-keys-black-keys. Black paint loves to smudge. You only have to glance at it from across the room, and oops, it smudges itself.
And how to get a straight edge - I mean a REALLY straight edge? I decided to try masking it off. It took all morning to cut the stuff out, and the idea was loosing its appeal, but it worked well-ish, until I started peeling it off, and most of the glue from the tape stayed on my board. Sigh. I 'solved' this by liberally slathering black paint on top, and thought I was a genius. How wrong... The painting was too wet to continue, so I decided to have a tidy up and run the vacuum cleaner round. I know, what was I THINKING? When I went back to the painting next day, sure enough, all the thick black paint had turned into a Fluff Magnet.  For the entire street...

You see my difficulty. Anyway, I got there in the end, and while it may seem good to have a reason not to vacuum, the down side is, it means slow-motion mopping instead. It'll be at least a week till the painting dries. Have you ever seen pictures of Francis Bacon's Studio? Total mess. Now I know why. Try explaining that to your mother.. 

(the colour is far from true in this photo, but I can't move it for better light, see above...)
                                Tip - don't use anything sticky on your painting.

Next Up: Monthly Mondays Drawing and Painting, Killaloe, Co Clare, Ireland
Portrait Drawing, Dublin, Ireland
Water Colour Workshop, Dublin, Ireland.
Two day Oils Workshop, Dublin, Ireland
Email for info.

COPYRIGHT - just a refresher for all. The copyright on everything in this blog belongs to me - words and pictures, unless otherwise indicated. This means you may NOT copy it, print it out, or paint from it, or even mimic the layouts, without my permission. It would be theft. Rest assured, I wouldn't dream of stealing anything from you. On the contrary, here I am, sharing!
Copyright is a legal issue, and its Interesting Neighbour, Plagerism, is a very large and emotive subject, and one that causes argument, particularly among students, and one which I won't discuss here.  Except, to remind you that, whether you agree with it or not, Copyright means the Right To Copy has not been granted.
As I said in my last post, half the pleasure is in Seeing the things around you, and Your vision is spectacular. Trust yourself!