Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Water Colour Workshop Belfast, UK and Ireland

My recent water colour course was in Landscape, Trees and Skies, an introduction for students who had some water colour experience, but not of painting outdoor subjects. The students produced an amazing amount of work in just two days - the days are intensive, and very tiring. (in a good way!) Here's just some of their pieces.

Student work. 

Loose tree painting, water colour, by G. Hickie, student

Student work.

In fact, these students were so enthusiastic that I had to force them from the table to have a lunch break, and even then, they took just 20 minutes then back to the drawing board - most impressive..!

Lunch was, as usual, Hearty!

Up and coming - weekly and fortnightly classes in drawing and painting, 
weekly oils, weekend worskhops in Portrait drawing, Oils Drawing and Water Colour. 

For programme info etc contact julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Water Colour Landscape, Skies and Trees, Belfast. And Tea.

At the end of a workshop, I'm often pooped. And the very best thing to do, after a nice cuppa tea, is to go out in the fresh air, either with the dog, or on my lovely bike. There's nothing quite like getting out into the elements to regain your energy. And after helping students to learn to really Observe, getting outside gives me time and space to do some new observing too. One of the best things about living in this city are the wonderful green spaces, the parks and walkways, filled with fabulous trees and birds and great cycle paths. 

This weekend was a Water Colour Workshop in Belfast, doing landscape, trees and skies. The amount of work the students produced was simply amazing. (what a task master..) I'll show you some in the next post. (right now, I'm off out on my bike..!)

 And for me, there's nothing more inspiring than nature, being In it, being a part of it. It confirms that sense of well being.  Just looking, breathing it in, absorbing it, and looking again, helps decide what to paint next. Seeing how light plays, how shadows move, the magic of balance everywhere, the height of the sun, the impact of cloud, shafts of light through the branches and the warm softness in the colours right now in the weak late summer sun, is like the best painting ever. And its what we all strive for, to capture something of what is effortlessly happening naturally all around us, the most amazing beauty - if we remember to Look.

The more we Look, the more we understand. The more we Understand, the more we Love it. The more we Love,  the better we can paint  - whatever the subject. Learn to look and to love, to let go and trust, and everything else will fall into place. I saw this sign in a shop window recently:-

Next up - Weekly and fortnightly courses starting soon, and my Autumn Programme of weekend workshops is now ready. Portrait classes, Oils, Drawing, Teenagers classes and Water Colour. 
  Email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk for deails. 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Portfolio Course, Sketch book drawings, chickens and a message to students.

On the last morning of my recent portfolio course, the students gathered around a large cage which housed a rather splendid...hen, which had been Volunteered into doing some modeling. She was placed on the table tennis table and pecked and clucked happily while students.. well, while they STARED. So charming -  their exclamations of.. She MOVED. Well, yes!  I was very sympathetic, and demonstrated this by leaving them to it while I made them a nice cup of tea...!  By day 5 they all know that I don't mind if they Huff, so long as they draw anyway... Their drawings were fabulous, just like I told them they would be. 

(Rebecca, left, BEING a chicken) 

However, the best thing I saw all week, really, was when they had all just left. I went back into the cottage and there was a large note, lying on the table. It was from one student, about to go to college in London. These last few days before they head off are stressful in so many ways, for parents and students. Its the slow end of one part of their lives and the exciting but scary Beginning of something new. Loaded with fear and anticipation. I am thinking warmly of ALL my students heading to college. I know you will do SO well, for your foundations are secure. Please REMEMBER THAT. Your foundations are secure. 

Here is the note that was waiting for me. 

Well, as anyone who has ever been to one of my classes knows, I believe in all of you. 

Thank you, for all YOU have taught me, in every class, every day. 
Julie xxx

Monday, 22 August 2011

Light, red and green. Red stops you, green lets you Go.

Well, I was going to write about Green. Green is my favourite. But...

The other day I got lost in my local wood, an astonishing acheivement as I knew I was near the car park, but er, where is it..?  So next day I deliberately followed the same route to become more familiar with the place that I thought I knew already. They do say that getting lost is the best way to learn... (but maybe not half an hour before your class starts...?! I made it on time, phew!)

The air has changed a little, the sun is a bit lower in the sky and has taken on the suggestion of Autumn. (don't panic, it's just the Suggestion..) I know that some people don't like Autumn, and I can understand that to a degree. But its a long slow season, a foot in both camps, with so much going for it, so much colour, that I've begun to view it more like natures big Flush, fully bountiful, the climax of giving the fruits of its labour, rather than the beginning of an end. Look what I'm GIVING you before I have a  winter-rest so that I can start again...  So I was relishing the greenness, the not-autumn look of the wood, when oops, there's some fabulous RED.

There was no Light, too early in the morning, it was overcast and the camera (which lies) wasn't picking up the vibrancy of the colour in the way that my eye did - after all, there were just a few red leaves on the grass, but it was enough to shine out like a beacon to me). 

I had a closer inspection of the shocking redness, totally FABulous, and was relieved that the colour which allowed the red to sing out the best was my favourite after all - GREEN! 
So don't get blue over the autumn, not yet. Not ever. 

Next up - Water Colour workshop (Landscape, Skies and trees) Belfast.
Potrait Drawing, Portfolio Prep, Big Drawing and Oils. 

Contact - email, julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Water Colour Painting and life drawing, Dublin

There are so many myths about Water Colour painting that I couldn't begin to start... Mainly, the impression that students have is that it is more difficult than other mediums. This is simply Not True. (Trust me, I know these things..) Water Colour is a lovely medium, and its a great way to learn about colour, as it uses pure pigment, and no White. I did a long Crammer-Day in Dublin recently and none of the students had used water colours before, but their work was stunning. We used a variety of techniques and subjects. 

Selection of paintings by students who had never used Water Colour before, Dublin.

In the next room to mine during this course, a Sports Shop was having a sale, and I spied some wonderful plastic Torso which were displaying the sports shirts. I tried to buy one, without success, but one of my students sneaked off and did a better job of persuading them to sell one, and presented me with my very own Plastic Model for drawing. I've never been given such a wonderful gift in my life, THANK YOU Mary! My students on the next course also loved it.. (the next thing I'm after is a Bust, maybe Beethoven, or Mozart..!)

Being silly (wearing my drawing...! But it shows you the scale) 

Compressed charcoal, demonstration drawing, by Julie Douglas

Next Up - Big Drawing Workshop.
Contact details - From UK call 07730560517, from Ireland, call 087 1330040
email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Portraits in Oils 8in x 10in on board (skin tones, hair)

I recently had the pleasure of painting portraits of two fine and delightful young men, Rory and his younger brother Aidan, both of whom I have known since they were Bumps. I painted Aidan first and it was the first real attempt at hair in oils. After some considerable trial and error (more error..) and multi-layering, something hair-like began to emerge.. I think I even Enjoyed some of it...


Painting Rory was different again. With Aidan, I had painted dark-light, but I tried it the other way round with Rory, and painted light-dark. It's too soon to say which way I preferred to work, I'l try a few more times. Needless to say boys, you are Delicious!

Skin tones are a really big challenge to paint, I think its a lifetime's work in the understanding. (Just as well I'm so young then..!) But the best part of painting, I think, is the Learning factor, the frequent new discoveries and the constant challenges every time.

Many students come through my house every week and get a good look at my work in progress. Often, they really like something when its at the Bad stage, which sometimes bewilders me. Though I try to remember to say Thanks. Frequently, when I comment on the current Problem or Frustration, students tell me that if they'd painted what I'd just painted, they'd be Happy. And my less-than-gracious reply is often, Do I look happy???? (well, usually, I DO!) But the point is that one is rarely Happy with the painting in progress - its more the striving, the mixing, the layering, the not-quite-there-yet, as well as optimism that all will turn out well.. I think its important to remember that often I stop a painting when I really can't do any more - as opposed to stopping when its Finished. Or when I'm Happy with it.. (Sheesh!) Besides, I think if we were Happy with everything, we'd be less likely to start the next one. Its always the next one that keeps you interested. Its the PROCESS of the painting, the hours of being engrossed in, and absorbed by what you are doing that count, not the End. The End is just when its over. No one paints a painting for the end. They paint for the Now, of Doing it. Just like a surfer rides the wave for the thrill of doing it, not for getting dry afterwards.

So with a portrait commission, the Now is harder, for the task is to capture something of the sitter, including what that person believes is the essence of themselves. A tall order. And such an honour to be asked to do it. Rory and Aidan were lovely to paint, and were the perfect commission, for the parents simply trusted me to do whatever I thought was right. That trust is every artists dream. I am painting them again, and am really looking forward to it! Thanks!

Up coming courses - Big Drawing Weekend, Belfast,
Portrait Workshop, Dublin
Oils workshop
I am taking bookings for my Autumn term of weekly classes too.
For info call (from UK) 07730 560517  or (from Ireland) 087 1330040
or email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Portfolio Course and Art in Heaven.

Instead of having my office in the woods, this week my office is by the banks of Lough Derg. How delicious. My day starts with a walk with the dogs and the air is so calm and fresh it's impossible not to feel more alive by simply being outside. A very special place.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my portfolio students are scribbling away, with new-found determination and a patience they didn't know they had. I love the sound of pastels, pasteling... its a bit like the sound of Jack Russells, russelling. In fact, the only other sounds are of cows, and the cockerel. We're a little way out of the town, but it feels like heaven. Art, in Heaven. The venue is a lightfilled, well equipped cottage in Ardcloony, Killaloe, surrounded by trees, cows, two Jack Russells and wandering chickens. The room is filled with visual nuggets in the form of beautiful bowls, hand made ceramics and - well, CALM.

Ceramic fruits.

We were treated by a visit from Andrew, a past student who is about to start his first year at Camberwell School of Art. It was a privilege to watch him explain his work with the students, to see his enthusiasm and energy for the subject and help them appreciate some of the journey involved in producing a great portfolio. 

Next up - Big Drawing Weekend, Belfast. 
For information on all courses email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk 
Phone - from the UK, call 07730 560 517 , from Ireland call 087 1330040

The cottage, in Killaloe, County Clare, is available to rent. It is delightful, cozy and fresh. Perfect to paint, make ceramics or just Be. Get in touch for details. 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Drawing - Plums in my sketch book, pen.

Plums on the branch, 8in x 5in. Julie Douglas.

Its been another bumper year for fruit and my plum trees were bent from the weight. So instead of removing just the plums, I took a few over-laden branches off so that the tree wouldn't collapse.  The upside being a lovely subject for a quick draw. (quick? This took about 3 hours. But I was stringing it out..) There is something wonderful about planting something, watching it grow then picking some of it to paint it. A real joy. As so often happens, I had a lesson prepared for my class but at the last minute, swapped it for this seasonal offering. Too voluptuous to resist. The students, wisely, used colour, making mine feel very black. But there's no going back now, the plums are in the pan, becoming jammmm.

Next up - watercolour workshop Dublin, Portfolio Course and Monthly Monday.  For info email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk
or call from UK - 07730 560 517 or from Ireland 087 1330040

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Drawing, concentration, compliments and working outside.

Summer is full of Festivals in Ireland and while the emphasis of many of them is music, there are plenty that include other arts and fun for all. For the past few years my ceramicist friend Kieran Whitelaw and I have occupied the Arty Corner of a lovely weekend of laid-back activities in  Scariff, East Clare. With a gazebo pretending to keep the rain off we were surrounded by a swarm of happy children, making clay figures with him and drawing portraits with me. Full-on, funny, delicious.

One of the lovely things about working in a busy environment like this, where there is LOTS going on to attract attention (from the men on ridiculously high stilts, knocking on upstairs windows to give the occupants a fright, to sky diving, to live music, magicians, fire-eaters, boat trips busy busy busy) is how engrossed the children become when engaging with clay or pencils. They simply shut out everything else, focus on their hands and settle in to their own world. We can learn much, from children. The capacity to close off outside distraction,  the stepping out of time, even for only a few minutes to focus, is the secret to letting go of stress. Trust me -  a child showed me. Some children at this festival sat for 30 minutes, totally engrossed in their drawing, blissfully unaware of the noise and bustle while their parents shuffled their feet, anxious to move on... And when they finally finished, watching them come back to the Now was like seeing them come up from the basement in a Lift, slowly slowly reintroducing the sensory elements around them, through sound, then sight, like they're waking from a dream. How marvelous - they had a stress-free magical private dream, right there. 

But here's what I noticed, regarding Praise. The thing the smaller children loved the best, was having their faces painted at the table next door, then being admired themselves, for the piece of art that they had become. It didn't matter if they were a pirate or a fairy princess, the look on their faces when I praised their drawings, and told them that THEY looked great was worth a million dollars. Whereas, they'd all looked fabulous already. We adults need to try harder to make the children feel Great. For they are.

Very thirsty work!
The clay figures are being exhibited in a gallery in Limerick later this year. 

Next Up - Water Colour workshop, Dublin
Intensive Portfolio Course and Monthly Monday. 
Email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk for info.