Monthly Archives: March 2014

Durrow Drawing

DurrowCarpetI’ve started copying out some of the designs from the library book by Harbison that I mentioned in an earlier post.  The one in the photo is a “carpet” page from the Book of Durrow (click on it if you want to see more detail).  The main reason for copying the picture by hand, rather than photocopying it, is to get to grips with what’s really going on in the design.  This makes it easier when I come to make my own designs.


Kick It!!

I don’t have the cash to help this project off the ground so I’m sharing instead. If you haven’t come across Busymockingbird’s blog yet you are in for an absolute treat. Enjoy!

busy mockingbird


If you haven’t heard, I’m running a kickstarter campaign in the hopes of printing a book of the collaborative doodles I do with our 4-year old daughter.  (And if you have, I’m sorry…but I’m really trying to do everything I can to make this happen!)  We’ve had SO much support, and so many great shares and contributions–and we’re already over HALFWAY there!

It is a lot of money for a goal, but for a 96-page, hardcover, FULL color book full of doodle pages and quirky illustrations, as well as the cost of shipping everything to everyone, I have hope that we can do it.

If you’re new to kickstarter, there are a couple of things you should know:  1: You don’t get charged until (and unless) the kickstarter project makes its goal by the deadline (in our case, April 17th).  And thusly, 2: If we don’t make our goal by…

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Dolphin Haiku

To all the haiku aficionados reading this post, I apologise profusely.  It’s my first haiku so I hope you will forgive me.  I haven’t followed all the rules, and it’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer.  (Click to enlarge, if you dare.)


I wrote this because I can’t get the Taiji Cove massacres out of my head.  Dolphins are complicated creatures.  They have much in common with humans, including a darker side.  However, their childlike curiosity and joyful play makes man’s cruel treachery at places like Taiji Cove seem positively evil.  It makes me ashamed to be human.

Purple Procrastination Pony

Procrastination? There were plenty of other things I could (should?) have been doing but I chose to spend hours drawing instead.  It would have been pleasant to have had a good picture at the end of it but it wasn’t to be.

A few years ago I bought a set of pens because they looked pretty and came in a puzzle box.  I’m not usually a sucker for packaging but they hit me with a triple whammy; art products, clever box, pretty colours.  When I got them home I drew little colour swatches on a piece of paper then left it on a windowsill.  Imagine my disappointment when, after only a few days of weak November sunshine, the swatches had faded – I wasn’t going to be able to use the pens for anything that was going to be displayed.  So they sat in the drawer until I used them for doodling recently.

I’d been enjoying doodling with pen because if I make a mistake it’s permanent. This may not sound like a plus to you but it teaches control freaks like me to be a bit more relaxed about things. That also applies to planning. Normally I spend as much time (maybe more) planning and preparing my art pieces as I do actually executing them. With doodling I just draw the next thing that pops into my head. There is very little planning involved. It’s quite liberating. However, I have to admit that this last mistake made me a little sad.

So, on to the pony.  Everything was going okay until I decided to use watercolour over the pens.  The fine black pen stayed put but the black pen from the pretty, puzzle box bled.  😦  Also, the purple paint went patchy because I wasn’t being careful enough.  If you’re having trouble understanding my predicament, here are photos of the ruined picture.

bleeding purplepony

So what did I learn? Don’t buy pens because of pretty packaging, and test new combinations of media before potentially spoiling hours of work. Sometimes it’s okay to be cautious and nerdy.  There were also lessons about pride, possessiveness and perfectionism.

P.S. Did you notice the proliferation of p-words in this post? 😀

Coping with Creativity

I just watched this fabulous TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, and had to share it with my creative blogger friends.

Irish Round Towers

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to do a post that was somewhat related to him.  I feel a sort of affinity for Saint Patrick.  Like me, he was born and raised in Wales but captured by Irishmen and dragged over to Ireland where his spirituality blossomed.  I’m exaggerating somewhat, for effect, but you get the idea I hope.croptower

Since I moved to Ireland in 2000, I have wondered about the round towers that one sees dotted about the landscape.  Above is a photo of one at Turlough that I took last year. I was driving past it regularly back then, and one night there was a full moon which I wanted to capture.  I’m not a particularly good photographer but I think it looks kind of atmospheric.   It is claimed that Turlough Abbey was founded by St. Patrick in 441 A.D.

Up until I read about round towers in “The Golden Age of Irish Art” by Peter Harbison a few days ago, I thought they were for protecting people and valuables from raids by Vikings and other marauders.  However, according to Harbison, the towers actually provided very little protection from that kind of attack.  The floors and stairs of the towers were wooden, so a single, well-aimed fire arrow through a window could destroy the whole contents in a fiery inferno.  The doors are raised several metres off the ground but I think this was probably to prevent opportunist burglary and access by animals.  Here is a summary of what Harbison says about round towers.

About 65 round towers survive in various states of preservation on Ireland’s ancient monastic sites.  Considerable discussion has arisen on the purpose and date of these towers, and most would agree that they had multiple functions.  The first reference we have found in Irish historical sources is to a tower at Slane, Co. Meath, which was burned by the Vikings in 950 A.D.  The towers are visible from a distance and probably served as a beacon to weary pilgrims.  The old Irish word for the towers was cloicthech, literally a bell-house.  It is possible that the towers were used to store bells that pilgrims carried, and later on to store larger bells which may have been rung in the towers, but the evidence is scant.  Other valuables were probably also stored in the towers.

Here are some photos of another local tower, this one ruined.  If you click on one of the photos it will take you into a slideshow.

Here is one final picture of Turlough tower that I took last year from the grounds of the National Museum of Country Life.


Second Doodle Finished

Second Doodle Finished

I turned it around because I thought it looked a bit like a landscape.

Doodling Addiction

First of all, I’d just like to thank everyone who commented on my last post.  I had a lot of feedback and lots to think about.  Having thought about the whole subject of blogger interaction, I’d just like to say that I don’t mind if you don’t read my posts.  I don’t mind if you don’t like them, I don’t mind if you don’t hit the “Like” button and I don’t mind if you don’t comment.  I want you to be comfortable little blogger bunnies (sorry, I guess I got up too early this morning).  However, if you ever feel like leaving a comment I would be delighted to hear from you.  Thank you for sticking with me this far.  Now onto the topic of this post.

I’m on another binge.  I’ve been seeing quite a few of the newfangled Zentangles on the Internet lately.  It seems that doodling is becoming quite popular.  Nobody warned me that it was addictive.  I didn’t do much research, went off half-cocked and got myself hooked on the first try.  I thought I would use a bit of colour; partly because I’m contrary, and partly because I had some coloured pens that have been sitting in the drawer for years, itching to be used.


Now that I’ve got that colour out of my system, the next one is going to be black and white.  Here’s the work in progress.Doodle2WIP

Without the colour, this process seemed very familiar and I realised that I’d done this kind of thing before.  I’ve always liked to play around with shapes and textures.  Below is a picture of my old guitar that I vandalised in 1989.  I glued on bits of magazine images with interesting patterns and textures.


It seems to me that the “zen” in “Zentangles” is not coincidental.  I haven’t read their blurb but I can guess that they’re referring to the meditative aspect of doodling.  I’ve found that meditative awareness takes two main forms: spacious awareness and concentrated awareness.  Doodling fits into the latter category.  You’re not idly daydreaming, you’re focusing very closely on the task in hand, to the exclusion of everything else.  Sorry kids.  😉


I was kneeling quietly in my room when a stranger came in and greeted me.  I was surprised, and a little frightened because of his awesome appearance.  He told me that I had been chosen for an important task.  As he spoke about it, I worried about the consequences but I knew that I would not refuse.  I became filled with a sense of peace, light and love.

There is a chance that my husband and community will misunderstand but I am no longer afraid.  I will suffer every condemnation, every stone thrown, with courage and patience.  For the sake of my son and father I will endure.

The project I’m currently working on is a depiction of the Annunciation.  I’m not a Catholic so I tried to put myself in Mary’s position (see above) in order to better understand the scene.  In Mary’s time, an unmarried woman who became pregnant could be punished by stoning, or so I’ve been led to believe.  It is still a punishable occurrence in certain cultures today.

Here are some more of my research and preparatory sketches.  In the first one I have made notes on colour, and tried out poses for Mary and the Angel Gabriel.sketch1

In this next one I used Manga Studio to produce a print-out of mannequins to get the proportions of my figures correct.mangapose

There are still things I don’t like about the poses.  This next photo is of a tracing I made over the previous picture.  I wanted to try out a few things.  I think Mary looks a little too scared, don’t you?!tracing

And finally, here is a copy I made of some interlace from a photo in a book.  (As always, you can click on the photos to see them in more detail.)


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