Plein air sketches from Ireland

Joel and I are back from a 3-week trip to Ireland. We rented a car and drove around the country as far north as Co. Sligo but didn’t have time to make it to Northern Ireland (there is a LOT to see in Ireland). It was fabulous! We saw and did so many things I can’t quite remember it all. When Joel and I roadtrip, we roadtrip hard. We had beautiful weather, a heat wave in fact, and only two days of rain…so it was perfect for sketching!

I feel like I need to say this somewhere and since I’m not active on social media, I’ll say it here: please don’t go on bus tours. Ireland’s tiny roads are literally clogged with massive tour buses who are dropping thousands people off at sites, turning them into circuses. Those sites are not meant to accommodate that many people at the same time. Go on a small tour with a van-full of people…not a giant tour bus. Or better yet, rent a car! You get a much more authentic experience than the pre-packaged tours. Driving on the other side of the road is not that hard, you get used to it.

And now on to the sketches:

The Superintendent’s Lodge in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Our first sketch of the trip.

The round tower at Glendalough Monastery in Co. Wicklow. There are hundreds of these thousand-year-old towers all around Ireland, many of them still standing like this one. You can’t go in because the door is 10 ft from the ground, so they would have needed a ladder to get in. Fun fact, I lost my nose ring in the long grass while sketching this (don’t ask).

Blarney Castle, Co. Cork. Jam-packed with American tourists, but worth seeing nonetheless. It’s a very picturesque ruin and the gardens are amazing.

Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Burren. I realized as I was sketching this that I’ve drawn it before…from a photo that my mother took on her trip to Ireland. Turns out it was the same dolmen. Hah.

The wreck of the Plassey on Innisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands. This massive ship was wrecked in the early 1960s and was washed ashore where it’s been deteriorating ever since. Joel and I sought it out because it was featured as an aerial view in the intro to Father Ted, one of my favourite tv shows.

We thought “we can’t leave Ireland without drawing one the famine cottages”. Most famine cottages are either in ruins or have been converted to animal enclosures; this one was being used as a shed. It was located on the road towards the Rosserk Priory in Co. Mayo.

I love this building so much. It used to be an Edwardian bathhouse that specialized in seaweed baths, but was abandoned 40 years ago because the tide was encroaching. I love that it was built to look like a sandcastle. Not to worry though, if you want a seaweed bath you can visit Enniskillen Bathhouse up the road in Enniscrone, another Edwardian-era bathhouse still in operation. Joel and I tried a seaweed and steam bath there and it is definitely an experience.

New Year, new illustrations

I had some time over the holidays to work on more illustrations, including a portrait of Florence Welch, the lead singer of Florence and the Machine. I’ve always thought her look was reminiscent of pre-Raphaelite paintings, so here is my homage. I also made an illustration that celebrates the history of printing (yes, my letterpress modelled for this one).

 

Travel Sketches from Holland

Joel and I have spent the last 3 weeks touring the Netherlands sketching, painting and sightseeing. There is a lot to see. The Dutch and Flemish Old Masters are probably some of my favourites in art history. We were fortunate to see famous paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and van Gogh, as well as lesser known painters (but equally amazing, in my opinion) Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel, Hans Holbein and originals by illustrators Rien Poortvliet (more on this in another post), Jan Voerman Jr. and Anton Pieck. Joel and I are saturated with art history and I can honestly report: it is a good thing.

The weather was fantastic for plein air sketching and so Joel and I did a fair bit of it on this trip. We even painted a straight-up landscape, which is something we normally don’t do. I was very distracted by ducks and geese while sketching on this trip. There are tons of them because of the canals everywhere and they would often come really close and quack at you!

Most of these sketches are available as prints in my shop.

 

 

 

Coronation Street Portraits

Full disclosure: these portraits were too much fun to draw. I’ve always loved how Coronation Street characters are interesting-looking. They’re not perfect and made-up like American soap opera stars. The more interesting the look, the more fun it is to draw.

I’ve drawn what essentially amounts to Corrie fan-art. I’ve been watching the show since 2002, when I started watching because I didn’t have cable and the CBC was the only available channel through my tiny TV’s antenna (other shows acquired during that period: Emmerdale, the Red Green Show, This Hour has 22 Minutes, etc). I’ve been hooked on Corrie ever since then.

I’ve chosen to draw not my favourite characters, but the characters that have been listed as the ones who have been in the most episodes. William Roache (as Ken Barlow) has been on the show since the very first episode…back in 1960. Yes! Coronation Street is the longest running TV show still airing. We also have Anne Kirkbride (as Ken’s wife Deirdre Barlow, RIP), Helen Worth as Gail Platt and Barbara Knox as Rita Tanner.

I can see myself adding more to this collection, but for now here are the four:

 

 

Plein air sketches – around Westport

This past summer was the hottest summer on record in Westport (and everywhere else by what I gather). As much as I love plein air drawing with Joel, we really are at the mercy of the weather. I’m very intolerant of heat, so as a result I only have two sketches to show from the summer, one of which was drawn in September.

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Seemingly abandoned storefront in Perth Road Village, ON.

athens_sketch_web

Stedmans was a longstanding general store in Athens, ON until fairly recently when it closed.