Monday, 30 July 2012

Chopping and Lopping and Mellow Yellow Lemons in Oils.

Where have I BEEN? Well, in the garden mostly.. Or rather, garden-dump-garden-dump-garden-dump..  Some days I have a hard time choosing between painting and gardening, and if the weather is fine, recently the garden has won. I can't help myself. Anyway, its all creative. I had an overgrown rhododendron and a couple of dead shrubs which I chopped down (I'm tougher than I look) and two very big Leylandii trees, which were cut down by a man with a very big chain saw, and the job of removing it all was left to moi. Slowly and consistently I've been taking it all away in my trusty car - smells all woody-lovely in there! I love a good lop - better than a workout in the gym. And that gigantic shrub behind my head is next for the Big Trim.

 And now, as well as a good lot of logs for the fire,  I have a HUGE space to fill with new plants! And a greenhouse. And maybe some bee hives.. And a chicken coop and a shepherds hut...And a swing.

I brought some baby plants here from my last garden, and amongst my favourites is this one, just peeping out some new leaves, called Bear's Britches. I'll show you the flower when it gets growing. Every garden needs a bit of a Bear in it.

As well as all this outdoor activity I have been doing lots of teaching and oh yes, I've also painted some lemons (when its been raining). They're not quite finished, a few more highlights to do and the sticky labels. Yellow is meant to make us feel happy, and I certainly felt a warm glow, painting using these colours.

Next up - Portfolio Course Killaloe
Water colour workshops both in Killaloe and in Belfast
Oil painting workshop Belfast
and art for Teenagers

Email for info

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Portrait workshops

I have done a couple of portrait workshops recently, and I do love them. Students are often amazed at how quickly they can draw the face, well, and in giving attention to the right things, they get a likeness too.  The top two drawings by students B. McKinley and P. McCormack, were self portraits, looking in the mirror.

Facial expressions are good fun to do too. (shock, horror!)

Next up: Illustration workshop, Belfast
Intensive Portfolio Course
for info email

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Creativity and Contribution, in many forms.. Fish and Chips..

Recently a student reached into her art-bag for some materials and brought out some... knitting. When I asked what she was knitting, she said it was an outfit for the Fish and Chip Babies - babies orphaned at birth in Africa who are wrapped in newspaper as they have nothing else to clothe them. From what I have found on the internet, I think the knitting began in New Zealand a couple of years ago and has spread around the world, people sharing the very simple pattern to knit a small all-in-one garment for the babies.

She sent me the pattern and I got to it - it knits up very quickly and you should get two out of one ball of wool.

My first little knit for quite a while. Delicious.  

If you would like to knit one, here is the pattern. It is very easy. You are asked not to use white or baby pastels as they will probably not be washed.

  • 8 Ply Yarn (double knitting)
  • 5mm needles (tight knitters) or 4.5mm needles (loose knitters)
  • Cast on 44 stitches
  • Work 18 Rows in K2, P2 rib
  • Work 30 Rows stocking stitch (1 row plain, 1 row purl)
  • Cast on 12 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows and at the same time change to K2, P2 (for sleeve)
  • Rib 22 more rows.
  • Next row: Rib 21, cast off 26 stitches, rib 21
  • Next row: Rib 21, cast on 26 stitches, rib 21
  • Work 22 rows in K2, P2 rib
  • Cast off 12 stiches at beginning of next 2 rows
  • Work 30 rows stocking stitch
  • Work 18 rows, K2, P2 rib
  • Cast off
I discovered that the local wool shops are happy to recieve these as missionaries call in to collect them at regular intervals. 

If your local shop doesn't do this, the address to send it to is: 

c/o Foto First,
180 Murchison Street,
Ladysmith 3370,
South Africa


Mowbray Maternity Hospital
12 Hornsey Road
Cape Town
South Africa

Friday, 6 July 2012

Black Cockerel, Colour Pencil on Bristol Board

I love drawing animals, and have done a few drawings of chickens. This is a very small drawing of Pat Mitchell, who owned the (VERY unfriendly) geese I drew running in snow (well, the geese were running in snow, with me following, but I wasn't drawing IN the snow. If you see what I mean...). He lives in a fabulous, crumbling demesne house in Woodford, County Galway, and just loves his chickens and geese. A student of mine lived near him so took me to meet him. He only lived in a small part of the house, with candle light only. I didn't see much of the house inside, but remember that when I looked up the curving, highly carved staircase, at the very top was a fantastic glass dome, flooding us with shafts of light.

Outside was a menagerie of every type of chicken imaginable (and some beyond imagination!) This splendid black cockerel was left in a plastic bag attached to Pat's railings - someone had rescued it and assumed Pat would look after it. And they were right!

Colour pencil on Bristol Board, approx 7 inches x 7 inches (17cm x 17 cm), by Julie Douglas 

Last week I got a lovely email from a mature student who did a portfolio course with me last year. He had no previous drawing or painting experience - the course was a bit of a shock to his system (on account of me taking no prisoners, so to speak), and he worked very hard. But it was all worth it. He wrote:

Wow! Those onions look amazing.
I should let you know that I have been offed places on the Architecture Degree Programs at UCD, DIT and UL.
Also a place at Limerick School of Art and Design.
The architecture courses required an interview process as well as a portfolio assessment. Portfolios were additionally examined during the interview process. Curiously, during all interviews, the show stoppers in my portfolio were the water colours that I completed at your portfolio course. That is despite serious endeavour with many artistic media since.
Who would have thought that architects would be so interested in a banana, some lemons, a chili pepper and some vague trees.
Please accept my thanks for your instruction, for opening my eyes (and ears) and for awakening my artistic potential.
I intend to accept a place at UL to study architecture. Their interview was rigourous and demanding which endears me to their tuition.
Continued success to you and I hope our paths cross again.

Up coming courses - Portrait workshop, Illustration workshop - this is a new course and
Intensive Portfolio Course. Also summer classes for teenagers.
 Email for info:

Monday, 2 July 2012

Onions, Oils on board 8in x 10 in.

I love onions.  I found this box of onions outside Coffee's butcher shop on Lisburn Road. He had great rhubarb too..

This took quite a while to do as I have been busy with other things. And it's really difficult to photograph - it's a bit darker on the bottom than this suggests. But you get the gist.