Thursday, 22 December 2011

Geese in the Snow, colour pencil on Bristol Board

Geese - colour pencil on Bristol Board by Julie Douglas

I want to wish you all a Happy Christmas.
Thank you for your custom and support through 2011 and I look forward to seeing you in 2012. You have made every class fun and inspirational and I find it amazing and rewarding that so many students are life long, becoming friends with me and with their group - there is a strong bond through creativity and I appreciate you very much. Thank you. And while everyone feels the benefits of taking up the pencil or brush, in ways far beyond artwork (because it impacts everything in your experience!), I think perhaps the one who learns the most may well be me. So keep asking those questions, for they make me THINK!

And remember, if you don't have time to paint, make the decision to enjoy noticing beautiful (and ordinary) things that you might like to paint, seeing the way light filters across things, noticing wonderful shapes or colours.  Just observe them, and know you will come to it soon. A big part of the joy in painting is noticing the things you like.

Art - it's not just for Christmas, its for Life!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Tonal Study, Charcoal Drawing.

If everyone did more black and white work, their colour work would be so much better...  I set this up for my students this week and was able to join in with them today. Charcoal is so flexible, I love it. 

White bottles, white hoops and red ribbon, Charcoal on thick, toothy cartridge paper, Julie Douglas.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Water colour leaves, student work, Belfast

G. Bunting, student.

J. Minty, Student

D. Morgan, student

K. Feeney, student

More inspiring water colours from my weekly students. This is just their third time using this medium, wow! 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Autumn, the colour is BLUE.

Have I mentioned that I love trees..?? I know, I know..  My weekly classes have been painting leaves, and when I innocently shared my enthusiastic (if obvious) discovery that, 'isn't it AMAZING that no two leaves are the same...?', one of my students suggested that perhaps I needed to get out more..! Well!! 
I do resist collecting leaves for as long as possible, for once I start, I can't stop. I left it till this week, and it's now or never for they are nearly gone. But a couple of bright days and the dominant colour isn't gold, it's blue. Joy. 

You can't get more Out than this. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Another Big Red Tart! Oils on Art panel 8 x 10inches

I was asked recently why I was painting Strawberry Tarts. I couldn't think of an appropriate reply. Especially as I don't have a sweet tooth. There's just something good-looking about them, like a big traffic light. The demand my attention. I went to the bakery looking for another cake to paint, but was attracted right back to the same red ones as before. So, what could I do??

Not quite finished, but near enough.

I got a really great response from folks on the first tart. Brian, a student in Dublin, emailed and said Fab tart, you made me feel good! Well, that sounds like a good reason to paint them doesn't it?! Right now, my fridge is home to 8 more little cakes, all hoping to be next.. Unfortunately I tried a bit of the coffee one, expecting to not like it, but uh-oh, it was YUMMY...

Next Up - Oil Pinting workshop, Dublin
Water Colour and Big Drawing Days, Belfast
Bookings being taken for Intensive Portfolio Course in January 2012.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The heart of the matter.

I am an Attractor of hearts. I have always been one to walk with my eyes on Search mode, looking up, around, all about me, as well as what's at my feet. And so often, the shape that jumps out at me is a heart-shape. I see it in reflections, clouds, all over the place. I was at a concert in the summer, and was delighted, when I saw the photo, to find one in the lighting..!

When I lived in Sussex, the beaches were full of beautiful stones with natural, sea-eroded holes in the middle, perfect for threading on rope. Nature is full of such amazing things. When I moved to County Clare, my children were still small, and had grown sharing an awareness of their surroundings. They began discovering a new shape of stone - heart shaped. It amazed me, they would come in from the fields announcing MUM, I got you another heart! Wow!

Some of my childrens gifts - but the white one on the left was from a friends son. I picked them up from the airport and Samuel rummaged in his pocket saying he'd brought something for me from Spain, and produced the white heart. Aw.

I have only found one for myself, quite by accident, this black one, on the shores of Belfast Lough. Pocket sized.

Earlier this year, I was on the beautiful beach at Newcastle, County Down, and my (now taller-than-me son) decided he'd hunt for a heart. The stones and rocks there were blue, with fabulous stripes on them, but they were smooth and rounded and I reckoned he'd not succeed.

But he certainly did. Not only did he find THREE (a bumper crop!) heart shaped stones.

 but he also noticed a really big heart. He was walking ahead of me and stopped in his tracks, and everything about his body language said - I don't believe it. He pointed and said - its there. LOOK!

The moral of this story? Be aware. Look. And laugh when everything works perfectly!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Big red strawberry tart, oils on board

Although I've painted it so big that really its a Big Red Strawberry PIE. This painting was done over a couple of days. I did the whole first layer in one sitting and finished it a couple of weeks later. And while there may be nothing too deep and meaningful about a strawberry tart, working on the painting was just pure pleasure, both visually, and in the experience of messing about with the paint. It was an oozy paint job, and a totally delicious way to take the mind off other things.

I am an attractor of heart shapes and noticed while painting that the strawberry is heart shaped. I will show you a few more hearts in the next post. It's very difficult to photograph reds, the original is much sharper and even more In Your Face than this shows!

Next up - Workshops in Oils, Water Colour and Big Drawing Day. (delicious)
Bookings being taken for the next Portfolio Course in January too.
Weekly classes run mornings and evenings in Belfast.
For info email

Thursday, 10 November 2011

distance learning, Drawing - a gift

If you want to know how to make me happy, send me a drawing, unexpectedly, of a delicious subject. Tonight, I got these drawings from a distance learning student in Holland - an extremely talented lady who could teach me as much as I can teach her.  But one of the joys of creativity is sharing - not only sharing our knowledge but sharing our experiences and sharing our Time. 

                                   HB and 2B on cartridge paper by A.W.

It wasn't a set project, she just did it because she knew I love gourds. These are WARTY gourds, the best of all! Thank you Ans, I really appreciate it.

colour pencil, Glass and distortion, student work.

I love glass, and more particularly, the distortions that happen when you look through glass and the even more distortions when you half fill it with water - the results are always surprising, and never predictable, which means you have to really Observe, and let go of what you think you're going to see. If you can manage those things, the subject becomes far easier than you think, and is good fun. A playful drawing, not painful! 

By J. Minty (who has only attended for 6 lessons so far, and this was the first colour pencil drawing. She has discovered her inner Art Goddess, hooray!) 
Colour pencil is a slow medium, but excellent for understanding about colour and shape. These students had a couple of hours on the drawings, so none are finished, but all are wonderful. 

By P. Finlay

Next Up - Big Drawing weekend, oils workshop, water colour workshop, weekly drawing an painting classes. Email

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Portfolio Course, Ireland

Five days of intensive drawing study and project developing is enough to tire out even this girl. A great deal of ground was covered, and all students surprised themselves and produced the best work they'd ever done. Which is of course the Beginning, not the end...! And I agreed to do it all again in January.. 

(see what I mean about making a big mess..?) 

Students taking it in turns to present their work to the group. 

Here are some of the students, who traveled from Dublin, Naas, Galway, Loughrea and Nenagh to do the course in Killaloe. And me, from Belfast. Well done, folks, I hope you have the weekend off!

Next up - Big Drawing Day, Water Colour workshop, Oils workshop,  Portrait Drawing. Also, weekly classes in Belfast and Monthly Mondays in Killaloe.
For info email

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Portfolio Course, Ireland

In spite of the recent downpours, its mostly sunny here in Killaloe, East Clare, for my portfolio course.

Students are busy drawing and tackling the brief for NCAD, and making a lovely big mess - well, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs... 

Unfortunately, I've been given TONS of extra tables, so of course, I've spread the mess out over every one...eek! All for a good cause! 

Next up - monthly Mondays, Portrait Drawing, Big Drawing weekend, Oils and water colour wokshops... 
Email for info. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Drawing - chalk pastel gourds, student work, Belfast.

This week was fantastic gourdy fun, looking at colour and mixing, using chalk pastels. Many had never seen a gourd before (what???!!!) but all enjoyed their gaudy bright colours, warts and all (literally!). I think gourds are nature's little joke, a sarcastic splash of vibrant enthusiasm before the Winter Shut-Down. And they are wonderful to paint.

K. Feeney, Student.

N. Thompson, Student

G. Bunting, Student

All of these students have only attended 3 or 4 sessions and had not used chalk pastels before. I think they are amazing!! (I think they're rather amazed at themsleves too!) And they're SO well behaved, they hardly moan at all, so long as I make them coffee... 

K. Greene, Student

G. Evans, Student 

               And while chalk pastel is very messy, its good fun, so long as you work large enough.

K. Feeney. 

W. Bukowska, student. 

Deirdre, demonstrating the Hands On approach to green!

 Fortunately, I have a mirror by the front door, so folks can check themselves for chalk dust on their way out - some students definitely had a green look about them!
Thank you to The Floral Boutique in Holywood who allowed me to strip them of their entire supply of gourds. The crop was poor this year, and I got the best of them (mostly from ther window display!), thank you so much.

Next up - In Ireland and Belfast, Water colour workshop, Oils Workshop, Big Drawing Days, Portrait Drawing days and Intensive Portfolio Prep course. As well as this, weekly classes in Belfast. All good fun, and very good for your health!
Email for info

Monday, 24 October 2011

Trees - oils on board

After a small number of  special people, I think trees are my favourite thing. And I've said before that my office is The Woods. Great place to think, to watch and to recharge.
Here's my second attempt at capturing something of the woods. Its extremely hard to photograph, there is a bit of glare on the last shot, the top left is darker than it looks here.
I'm not at all sure that I achieved what I set out to achieve, in fact, I am inclined to think not, but moving on anyway...

oil on board, 13in x 10in.

Next up - water colour workshop, Oils workshop, Big Drawing weekend, and Intensive Portfolio Course (full). 
For information on courses email 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Gourd-eous gourds, pencil and colour pencil, sketchbook

It's been a poor year for pumpkins and gourds, apparently, but I kept popping into the florists, full of hope, and eventually he had a few choice warty specimens waiting for me.

I don't know why I love them, I only know that I do. I think they are so weird that they're wonderful. And they're great to draw and paint, warts and all. 

Next up, Monthly Monday Killaloe, Art for Teenagers, Belfast, and Intensive Portfolio Course. Email for info on these as wel as Big Drawing Days, Portrait days, Oils and Water Colour workshops.