Monday, January 31, 2011

The other side

Haven’t got round to posting for the last few days, and haven’t done a whole lot of painting either, time just seems to be slipping away. Will have to get a move on as an exhibition coming up at the end of April.


Thought I’d show a different side to my art today, every now and then I turn away from the representational and just throw paint.I love to see what happens when I just let the paint run and I love using primary colours, the more vivid the better. Never quite sure how to put a title on them though.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Every now and then I am forced by ever decreasing space in my studio, to have a bit of a tidy, it’s amazing what turns up. Long discarded sketches and paintings ,that at the time I thought were rubbish, or unfinished or just not good enough, suddenly in a new dawn seem not so bad. That however could all change tomorrow.

Black Winged Stilt

I was in Dubai a few years ago and remember sitting for ages at the side of a small pool in the Emirates Golf Club trying to do justice to these amazing birds, Black Winged Stilts, A very common bird in the Emirates , they are extremely rare in Ireland, so I was somewhat mesmerised by them. After many failed attempts, this sketch was finished, and obviously when I got home discarded, as I only refound it yesterday, a bit worse for wear.


This was another sketch I did at the time, Greater Flamingos, at a place called Khor Dubai, right in the city of Dubai, an amazing wetland area, which unfortunately was close to the Sheiks palace for his horses , so the police kept moving me on, thinking my telescope was a camera. I intended turning this into a semi abstract painting but it never got done. Maybe now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Work in progress

Got the yen to try coloured pencils again, so spent a bit of time looking for subject matter, eventually came on some pics I took of the rulers of our household…..our two cats.


This is the one we call Tabby, I know …she’s not a Tabby. Don’t ask!


Have a long way to go yet, but I think it’s going the right way, she’s looking a bit cross in the painting, so will have to find a way of softening the look. Will post again when a bit further on.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Art weekend


Its a lovely sunny, though freezing cold, day in Ballycotton today,and it reminded me of a morning a couple of years ago, in Waterville, Co Kerry. Spent the week-end with the art group I belong to , the plan was to sketch and paint and maybe drink a few glasses of wine.Needless to say we drank numerous glasses of wine and did a few sketches and paintings….par for the course….a great weekend.

Here’s a couple of sketches I did before the wine took over.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Still Cold

Hi all, had a busy few days so haven’t found the time to post anything.My art classes are back in full swing, running 5 of them a week, which is great and have an exhibition coming up soon, at the end of April, so really got to get some work done.


Here’s one I started a few weeks ago, but as usual the fire went out and I’m left struggling what to do with it. I have already painted out the evergreens at the back of the shed, although in life they are there , they seem to not fit the picture.I have replaced them with leafless ,winter, trees.


This is the photo I took , so as you can see I have a ways to go.My painting is altogether too warm. I made the opening in the half door larger because I may put a horse looking out and while Doing this post have decided I might put a couple walking down the lane. Watch this space!

On a different note, I was honoured and delighted to receive an invite from Cathy Johnson, to contribute to the blog Sketching in Nature .This is a wonderful blog with amazing artists .I posted my first contribution last night, so if you have a chance take a peek.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Coloured Pencil

bullfinch-1 (2)


Tried my hand at coloured pencil for a while a couple of years ago, have to say that I really like them, although I have a lot to learn about them. The biggest problem I have with them is my own patience as it takes ages to build up the colour and after a short while I start thinking “if I used paint it would be done by now”. Anyway ,thought I’d put a couple on line just to see what people think, and maybe I’ll find the patience to try them again



Monday, January 17, 2011

A Charm of Goldfinch


A Charm of Goldfinch: Acrylic on canvas 24”x30”

I have loads of these beauties on my feeders at the moment , but I actually sketched these, a couple of years ago, feeding on thistle outside my studio, and turned it into a painting. I have never been that satisfied with the background, and given that it has been in a couple of exhibitions and not sold, I think I will attack it again. Any suggestions would be gratefully received. I think the background is to close to the value of the birds and flowers in the foreground, maybe I should do away with the foliage and just set them against the blue sky! What do you think?

I think its good sometimes to put paintings away and come back to them fresh, its amazing how different they can look, and quite often your opinion changes, sometimes for the better , sometimes for the worse.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Gannet 1


I thought today I would show some sketches of another type of fisherman- Northern Gannet.

I did these sketches a few years ago on the Saltee Islands off the Wexford coast. A brilliant place to practice sketching birds as during the breeding season there are thousands of Gannet, Guillemot,Razorbill, Puffin, all very approachable if you are patient and can stand the smell.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Catching the Tide


“Catching the tide” Pen and watercolour.

Its impossible to live so close to the sea in a fishing village without painting the sea and the boats that rely on it . A couple of years ago I did a series of some of the local boats and thought it might make an interesting post

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“Tying up” Pen and Watercolour

Most of the boats fishing from the village are small day boats that leave early morning and return at night, only rarely staying out overnight.

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“Waiting for the Tide” Pen and watercolour

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“Trev’s big catch” Pen and watercolour

This last painting is of my son-in-law and his boat, and I gave him the original which was then entitled “Trevs other big catch” referring to the fact that my daughter was his first big catch. I hope he saw the humour.

Friday, January 14, 2011

EDM Callenge 304



I tried to think of something less obvious to sketch for this challenge but the brain wasn’t being very ambitious, so I settled for tying shoelaces and tying a belt. I tried to sketch fairly fast so that the sketches remained fairly loose. I find using just pencil very difficult as far as getting the values correct, but this is great practice and does stand to one when using colour.


I am a member of a local art group and we meet fairly regularly with the aim of painting or sketching, this normally degenerates quickly into a wine tasting event , but above is a quick watercolour sketch from last autumn when we resisted the alcohol and actually worked outside.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Its raining again

Who sang that song, Supertramp wasn’t it? I think they must have been living in Ireland at the time. What would we moan about if we didn’t have weather. Anyway have been sitting at the window again watching the birds on the feeders


There seems to be an heirarchy amongst the house sparrows , they line up on neighbouring branches and take their turn at the feeders. Among the males this seems to depend on seniority, depending on the size of the black bib under the chin, this fellow is a real junior.


The blackbirds however have a free for all and constantly push each other off the apples.

I find birds very hard to capture from life, they are constantly moving so when I manage to get a half decent sketch I then work it up from photos that I have taken of the same bird, I know several bird artists that seem to have photographic memory and are able to get the image down immediately , but I am not one of them.

There seems to be so much activity on EDM at the moment, that it is very hard to keep up with all the images being posted. I have received so much support in the short time I have been posting that I feel it encumbent on me to support others in the same way , so I am trying to look at as many peoples work as possible and commenting when I can.


Here’s a couple of pics of my incredibly tidy studio, with some of my students at work.


This is a very obvious way of pushing the fact that I hold several classes a week , if any body is interested.

My contacts are in my profile.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The last paddle


The sun is shining today and we are having a heatwave… 10c! This reminded me that Ireland is not always cold and wet, so I decided to post something that reminded me of summer.

I have several photos of my grandson, niece and a friend of theirs, playing on the beach and used them as a reference for this sketch, think it might actually make a painting.

Having a clear out of my studio and found 14 unfinished paintings, so one of my New Year resolutions is to try and finish them. Amongst the debris found this one which is finished.


Not the best photo , but it gives you the idea. I painted this last year on an old piece of board, which I first painted with black gesso and then used oils on top.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The other side

“Along the rocks” Acrylic on canvas.

Copy (2) of PICT0002-2 (2)

Thanks again for all the comments gang, one of which mentioned the view, well this is the view from the other side and it looks fairly serene in this painting I did a few years ago, however this morning it’s cold and the wind is blowing, but at least there’s no frost.

I was very impressed by the painting of the market yesterday by Natasha , I have tried oil pastels several times but have always had a disaster. I like markets, in fact I run a business with my son in law, selling fresh fish on Farmers markets, and before Christmas I had a commission to paint a market stall.

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The last was taken in different light unfortunately, but at least you get the idea.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My first edm challenge-Paint a tree or trees.


Tree sketch

Edm challenge no 15

Thought I,d show something other than birds on this post, but you cant have trees without birds so I tried to suggest some flying among the tress but it wasn,t very successful.

This is the view from my office/junk room, I have feeders in the trees and when I am working at my computer I love to keep an eye on the birds on and around the feeders.

I sketched this yesterday using a present I got from my kids at Christmas, Promarker pens and a Pilot drawing pen. I really enjoyed using them they are very direct, although  I could do with some other colours.The biggest problem with the markers is that they seep through the paper so you need a card or something underneath ,or you cant use the next pages. Think I will try them on mountboard.

I did this same sketch in 2009 using pen and watercolour, its interesting to compare them.

Tree 2

I have had so many comments on my postings in the last few days and still am not sure where to post back so I will just say a big thank you to all of you who have taken an interest and you can be sure I am taking an interest in your work. I have never been on such an interactive site before.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

For Sandy in Michigan

Blue Winged


In one of her comments Sandy ask to see some sketches of “our” birds, well this one is certainly a bird of America but is a HUGE rarity in Ireland, in fact this is the only one there has been seen here or in fact in Europe. It got caught up in a big storm and was blown across the atlantic  and landed in Ireland instead of South America. Needless to say this bird attracted huge crowds over the few days that it stayed .

Baltimore Oriole


Another first for Ireland, this Baltimore Oriole got lost and arrived , believe it or not in Baltimore in County Cork, Ireland. It stayed a couple of days and then dissappeared.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sunnier Times



This morning the wind is north easterly and blowing hard, its raining with the threat of snow and I really hate the cold.

Last night I was looking through some of my sketch books  and came across one that I used when I was birding in India, it seems like 100 years ago, and I wished I was back there in the sun…..maybe one day I will get there again, it was a wonderful place. I remember at the time that I was so into birding that myself and the other 9 birders with me were so totally focused on seeing as many new birds as possible that we tended to overlook the culture and people around us, a mistake I vowed not to make again when I travelled abroad.

The first thing I noticed when I looked at these pages was how fat I had made the little fella on bottom right, a “Small Sunbird”, I have really made him look overfed.

Over the last couple of days I have become more involved with “EverydayMatters” a Yahoo group of which I have been a member for some time , but have not until now got too involved with. The amount of talent in this group is outstanding and I would say to any artists out there who are not following this group “You don’t know what you are missing”.



One more page from India. I must get down to finishing some of the sketches of my local birds that are coming to my feeders,.