Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A few yummy shoes, pencil

Recently I got my classes drawing shoes - very good fun and loved by all. Here's a group shot from the Thursday Girls.

One of the important things to consider BEFORE we start drawing is the view point. Rather than just plonking an object on the table and getting stuck in, it pays off to spend 5 or 10 minutes playing with the height of the object - try putting it on the floor and looking down on it, or putting it high so you have to look up at it. With these shoes, I put them on a box on the table to make them roughly eye-level. Much more interesting.

 Raising the viewpoint by just a few inches can make all the difference.

Lovely colour pencil study by Pat F, student.

Textured pencil work, by J McI, student 
Drawing - always the best route to everything else. 
For info on courses email

Thursday, 14 February 2013

I'm bananas about you...

Close-up from Lucy's water colour
Recently I held a children's class, for just three extremely enthusiatic young ladies, aged 8, 10 and 13. Quite a range in ages, especially as they didn't know each other. But impossible to tell their ages from looking at their artwork.
Focus and attention.

I was delighted with their attention to me, their willingness to persevere, their warm laughter together which I could hear while I was in the kitchen making them a cup of tea, and of course, the wonderful paintings they produced.

Lucy's banana, complete with heart motif!
Look at how much care they are giving - softly applying the paint, mindfully getting the right pressure on the brush. I had expected to cover two subjects during the session, but the girls were so engrossed in this exercise, and learning so much from it that I allowed them to keep going. So these paintings took two hours to complete, and not a sigh or a moan from any of them. Pure joy.

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Given the right  materials, constant encouragement and explaining what they should look for, until they FIND it, allows people of all ages to produce the most stunning artwork. From 8 to 80. (Though I had a lovely student on my distance learning course who was 92 at the time. How fabulous is that?) But more even than the artwork produced is the process involved in doing it, for these young people - focus and concentration are life skills, the ability to stick with something even when it is difficult (because we all know how to quit already) is confidence building, sharing that striving in a group situation increases the learning value and exposes students to alternative ways to solve similar problems - helping them see solutions instead of problems, in an atmosphere where they cannot fail (for I won't let them) and the satisfaction of getting to the end is priceless.

So, although I'm mad about their bananas, it's only a little bit about the bananas. Its all about the everything else.

Well done girls, you're brilliant and I look forward to doing more. xx

Next up: Portrait workshop, Oils workshop, Water Colour workshop and childrens classes. For information emsil

Friday, 8 February 2013

What do I do?

I have just done a straight eight day teaching run, which included five late nights and ended with a talk to NI CTC (which is the Cycling Touring Club, to you and me) entitled, 'What I Do'. Astonishing how one can wonder, before doing a talk like that, What is it that I do..? Fortunately, a good rummage in the storage boxes turns up a lot of paintings, and I remember that Oh yes, sometimes I do THAT!

I was glad that my work is small, making it easy to pack up and transport. 
It's not that I don't know what I do, it's that I do many different things, and working out which one people want to hear about is always interesting.

Tiredness manifests in interesting ways towards the end of a long run of classes. By day seven I was feeling a bit vague, and admitted to the students that I was feeling.. er...indecisive. Today, I think I've passed myself going round the corner.

Many paintings and drawings have been successfully brought into being during those days. At the weekend I had a truly international group of students - from Donegal, Dublin, Wexford, Co Down and OMAN!

Pears in Oils. Top, by Sarah B, student, bottom, by Geraldine O'K, student.

Niamh and Robert, poetry in motion, practicing their water colour washes, in unison! 
Some students were  doing Oils for the first time, others were working towards portfolios. We covered a lot of ground - water colour, drawing on location, observation studies and sketch book work. Everyone was out of their comfort zone for some of the time.

Fabulous drawing by Niamh, who thought she couldn't draw... 
Next up - Childrens Drawing class, Belfast.
email for info

(ps - I notice lots of uninvited ads on my blog, and I'm working out how to get rid of them. Bear with me!)

Friday, 1 February 2013

Loving my sketch book. Water colour.

The thing about the Sketch book is - well, there are lots of Things. Every sketch book is completely unique and you can't do it wrong (unless you don't do one at all). It's a bit of a sanctuary, a safe place, a starting point. A place to be free and to try, to make a mess and not mind. Making a mess is rather rewarding. Being PREPARED to make a mess means we're less likely to. 
The sketch book is also a working-out place, as well as keeper of doodles and notes. Its brilliant for warming up or for keeping your hand/eye in. And for keeping your sanity. Perhaps that's it - it's your foot on the ground, while the rest of you floats about. What a lovely thought. 
Bunch of bananas, water colour and pencil, moleskine sketch book, Julie Douglas
 I sent the above banana painting out in a recent email to students and one reply said 'the bananas actually look happy..'


Liz's beetroot, water colour in Moleskine sketchbook, Julie Douglas. Unfinished and not minding. 
Next up - Oil painting workshop, Belfast. Email for info