Thursday, 31 May 2012

Forked Up - drawings in pencil.

This week my students were mostly drawing cutlery, tied together with string... This is not for the faint hearted (neither student NOR tutor - I have to say that I often felt VERY unpopular...!!). But after much huffing and grumps, everyone did a fabulous job! This is extremely difficult. The first drawing is mine, in my Moleskine book - it's always good to try a bit of the subject during a class, to remember just how cruel I've been. I mean, so I can understand the difficulties that everyone will encounter. 

Above - by Ruth T, student (who discovered her ability to SIGH while doing this..)

Above - by Pat F, who has drawn the arrangement before, so we made it more challenging by putting the forks in a glass of water... 

Above - wonderful drawing by Jayne McC, who is showing off here by using two pencils at once...! 

Above, Geraldine B, student

Above - I am so pleased with this drawing by Hialry H, because half way through she was so disgusted with the 'impossible task' that she started again...and came up trumps. Fantastic! 

Difficlut as this is, it is so much more of a challenge for Distance Learning students, who don't have me there to make their tea and offer soohing noises. Below is a truly lovely set of work from Marianne L-S in England. It's so lovely receiving artwork for crit -  opening the envelope is like getting a present. The fact she did the cutlery on her own at home is a great testament to her dedication. Truly impressive. As she says herself, she is growing old disgracefully - I think we can see from this that age is suiting her! 

Above and below, charcoal, Marianne L-S, student. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Summer in the city.. Student colour pencil work

I have taught the most amazing students on my Distance Learning courses, from all over the world. I am wondering if it's about time I started visiting them at home... South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.. Here are some summery examples of two students work, showing the wonderful detail possible with coloured pencils..

'Beach Chairs', and 'Rook'  by T. Moss, Colour Pencil

'Freesias' and 'Bananas', By N. Hall, Colour pencil

You know when it's exam season, for the weather gets blisteringly hot.. So my trick is to get up early and paint before the sun reaches my studio turning it into a sauna, then go out and play on the swings and see-saws before the kiddies get there, then home - to sauna. Perfect really!

 Todays tip is that truly, the way to get your paintings done, is to attend to them FIRST, before all the other jobs that need doing. Then your fun feels REALLY fun!

I am painting onions at the moment and will post them here as soon as they are done.

Up coming - Portfolio Course Killaloe
Oil painting Workshop Belfast.

Email for info to

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Music to get you going, the sound of your day.

Music has the instant ability to change our mood, possibly more than any other one thing. I have a few  playlists for different moods - fast, slow, and music to paint to... I play this last one during my classes, and students often comment on it, asking what it is. I don't like working in silence, unless I'm typing, though once I'm involved in a painting, I don't hear the silence even if it's there.

Recently, during a one to one session, I noticed the student was working more quickly than the previous day. When the next song came on, I realized that I'd put on my Morning playlist by mistake, which was altogether more lively and bouncy, and not, I'd felt, condusive to concentrated work. However, because the student LIKED the particular songs, it actually made her work more quickly, rather like the fast music in supermarkets when they're about to close and want you to leave..! On the whole though, I stick to the more soothing tunes for my classes. 

So here, as requested, is a piece of my Morning Playlist, on shuffle. This is not to work to, but simply to wake me UP! This morning's spectacular combo was... 

1. Bee Gees - Islands in the stream (while basking in bed still feeling comfy)
2. Jools Holland - Double O Boogie (leaping out of bed)
3. Steve Forbert - Romeo's Tune 
4. Can't take my eyes off you (in the shower) (oops!) 
5. Stevie Wonder - Isn't she lovely (hair drying) 
6. Chris Mayfield - Move on Up 
7. Derek and the Dominos - Layla (by now, if you're not singing loudly, you know you're dead)
8. KC and The Sunshine Band - That's the way I like it. 
9. Madonna - Masterpiece (make up going on!)
10. Engelbert Humperdink (told you it was a mixture..!) Honky Tonk World -  making a cup of tea and shaking booty around the kitchen
11. Elton John - Believe (putting dog in car)
12 Elton John - Blessed
13 Karen Ramirez - Looking for Love (singing at traffic lights)
14. Bellamy Brothers - let your love flow 

And the hearts? 

 Well, they're everywhere. Sometimes a shadow, often a stone or a piece of coloured glass. Sometimes its the space between leaves. And even in my painting (there are two in the dapples, completely naturally) 

and recently, they've been in 3's. Amazing. I don't always pick them up - well, sometimes I can't! Since I wrote about hearts on my blog before, I have had a lot of letters from people - one student, Dee, said that every time she sees a heart, she thinks of me. Which is the lovliest thing. Every time I see one, I laugh! 

Up and coming - ILLUSTRATION workshop - a new and lovely course.
Portfolio Courses and painting workshops
Email -

Monday, 14 May 2012

BYOB art class...

Occasionally I hold BYOB art classes, which are a truly entertaining and enlightening experience, both for me as well as the participants! The atmosphere is light, and no one comes for The Drink, but for a one-off try-out of a bit of drawing and painting.
Everyone enjoys themselves, even the most nervous and reluctant attendants, and all are delighted with their new-found art genius. In fact, after one particularly jolly evening, I received a text from one lady while she was in her taxi going home. The text said simply, I love my mushroom. Well, AW! The ladies in the second photo were going on to a nightclub after the class, but by 9pm one said she was so exhausted after painting that she just wanted to go home and get into her pj's..!!

The last BYOB included a young woman who told me she's a scientist, and instantly bribed her way into my affection by presenting me with a Scientists White Coat when she arrived (I love a bribe, by the way), as I'd mentioned in an email that I was fed up getting oil paint on my clothes (mostly my elbows, when I lean in the palette, tsk..) So I'm delighted with it, even though it's ENORMOUS... So I've stuffed the pockets full, so I never misplace anything again.. Looking forward to getting it really slathered in paint... 

Up and coming - I have a portfolio course at the beginning of June and so far it's mostly boys who have booked. So if any girls out there need a portfolio, please get in touch!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Water colour workshop Belfast

One of the lovely things about teaching water colour, is seeing how quickly students understand how to use it and seeing their relief at how much they can control the medium. Here are some recent students hard at work. 

Above and below - here is June, who has only been to two sessions, and her family can't believe how good she is! 

And water soluble pencils... 

Next up - oils workshop, Portfolio Course. 
email for info