Friday 21 February 2014

Long time, no see.
Have been otherwise engaged for the past while and I let this blog slip. Maybe it's time to re-boot. Here's some life drawing exercises I've been doing over these past few weeks. I'll post some more as I photograph them.


Friday 1 June 2012

Lunchtime in Bollards, Kilkenny

Grand Canal dock, Dublin

Here are some sketches I did around Dublin's Grand Canal dock during the breaks at the Offset creative festival. It's a lovely part of town re-developed around one of the large canal docks that opens out into the river Liffey.

Monday 23 April 2012

T stands for Trouble

I've been intending to illustrate a comic for some time. I guess I've always used the excuse that I couldn't find a writer that produced work I found engaging. Having attended the Anglouleme comics festival this winter and met up with some independent artists and publishers, I've decided that I just have to knuckle down and write and illustrate something myself.
Two chapters into a story set in Berlin in the fifties, I was getting impatient to start, so instead I decided to illustrate a song I wrote some time ago. It's a noir tale about a guy who picks the wrong girl to chat up, called "T stands for Trouble".

First time out, I'm probably approaching the thing all wrong, but it's coming together bit by bit.

Here's a couple of the first page layouts. Type is just loosely dumped in for the moment. The story ends with a busker on a San Francisco pier, ultimately it seems it should start with him too, so the middle one seems to work best.
I'll post more as it develops.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Feet of Clay

Today is my wife's birthday and in place of the usual perfume/ costume jewellery/ two week shopping trip to New York, she asked me to do something cartoony about the kids. I'd been meaning to get around to dabbling with clay, so this was the perfect opportunity. I put together the basic frames with pipe cleaners wrapped in masking tape and worked from a quick pencil sketch of the three vagabonds.
My eldest daughter likes the idea of being a skateboarder a lot - quite a bit more than the actuality of getting out on the thing and putting in some time to master it. Her sister likewise likes the idea of playing her pink guitar more than the tiresome chore of actually practising on it. Their little brother, however spends all his time working on his mastery of rail crashes and is bound to make his parents proud in his future career as a stunt train driver. The dog?. Well the dog thinks he's just perfect as he is.

I started with a quick pencil sketch and started getting the general shape of the figures together with pipe cleaners.
These I wrapped in masking tape to give something for the clay to get a grip on.
The heads were made using polystyrene or aeroboard spheres about the size of table tennis balls. These I scored with a breadknife, again to give some purchase for the clay. The clay I used was DAS air drying clay - inexpensive, fairly quick drying and crucially I don't have an oven in my studio.
The pink figures you see below are where I brushed PVA over the figures to seal them. I added a little pink so I could see what I had already covered. I finished them by painting the figures in acrylic. Guitar and skateboard were just cut from cardboard and capaboard and scraped over with wet clay.

Finally, I made the display case from some old Ikea drawers - they have grooves routed out for the hardboard base -perfect for slipping the glass and backing board into.

Thursday 1 March 2012

The Art of Urban Sketching

Hot off the Press.

"The art of Urban Sketching" is a new book put together by Urban Sketchers founder Gabi Campanario and published through Quarry Books.

It's a sizeable volume with more than 300 pages and over 500 sketches from over 50 cities around the globe. There's a nice 2 page spread on my drawings around Dublin and a couple of other sketches of mine scattered around in the book

What's great about this book is how different artists interpret their cities, and the range of sketching styles on display

The Art of Urban Sketching is available worldwide through local bookstores and Amazon.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

The two Roys

From time to time I contribute to Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration blog.
This week I look at the the box-art of Airfix and Matchbox model planes and vehicles, comparing two of the most dramatic illustrators the industry produced- The two Roys - Cross and Huxley.
For anyone growing up in Britain or Ireland in the 70's and 80's who had half an interest in building model airplanes, the artwork of the two Roys will be immediatly familiar.
Pop over to Today's Inspiration and have a look. For anyone interested in mid-century (20th) illustration the site is a must-see. Everything from Al Dorne to Bernie Fuchs, Charlie Allen to
Walter Wyles, it's an incredible resource of illustration from post-war to the present.

Monday 6 February 2012


Spent last weekend in Angoulême, France at the the bandes dessinees or comics festival. 250,000 people descend on a town of just over 40,000. It's quite a sight. There was an incredible variety of comics on display, virtually all European and excluding the small American stand, thankfully not a superhero in sight. Some of the artwork and creativity at the event is just mindblowing and in french comics there's always a good representation of thoughtful storytelling alongside the fantastic and the humerous.
The main exhibition was of Art Spiegelman and his work - Maus of course, but also some of his less well known comics. There was also a major exhibition in the permanant museum of bandes dessinees - of work that inspired and influenced him.
I spent most of the weekend checking out stalls and catching up with friends so had few opportunities to sit down and do lengthy sketches. Below are a few that I managed to fit into the pauses between browsing and carousing.

View across the ramparts at Angoulême - click to enlarge

At Rosaline's house with Ale, Dag and Artur at breakfast

Downtown Angoulême with the tower of the Hotel de Ville in the background.

Thursday 22 December 2011

A Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you all

Monday 19 December 2011

Carnet de Voyage- Clermont Ferrand

On left, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption and on right a night-time get-together in one of the city's many squares.

Just getting around to posting some sketches from The Carnet-De-Voyage in Clermont Ferrand over the weekend 18th - 21st November. What a fantastic event. There were some incredible illustrated journals from trips all over the world and many beautifully produced publications. The event was pretty intense and we didn't have a chance to get to see much of the town by daylight - I think I have more sketches of the Gare de Lyon, my departure point in Paris, than I have of Clermont Ferrand- but despite that we had a great time and it was a pleasure to meet up with some of my fellow USKer's - Nina Johansson, Ea Ejersbo, Lapin, Miguel Herranz and Gerard Michel.
Despite not getting out much, there was plenty of opportunity to sketch visitors as they browsed through the variety of stalls and sketches on display

Above in monochrome, clockwise from top left: Miguel, Nina Ea and Lapin
The Gare de Lyon - departure point for the train to Clermont Ferrand. The lower sketch is of the famous "le Train Bleu" restaurant.

Friday 19 August 2011

Just a pigment of my imagination

When you're using cheap materials, you're always wondering "what's the catch?".
With these acrylics from the euro store, it's that the don't completely dry lightfast and so the layers drag into each other as you wash one colour over another - oh! and the fact that the colour selection is the pigment equivalent of chocolate "flavoured" candy bars.
Anyhow. I got my €2 euro's worth. The kids will find some use for them.

Around the back of the Cathedral, Kilkenny

The view from my window

Thursday 11 August 2011

Wet Twilight Sketching

Sometimes it's nice to get back to basics, put away all the groovy drawing materials and just sketch with what you've got.
This drawing was completed with a €2 set of acrylics from the euro discount store (including shaggy excuse for a brush), some ice pop sticks and pieces of cardboard torn from a coffee carton. The only sop to proper drawing equipment was a black felt tip pen I had on me.
It ain't sophisticated, but somehow it's exactly what sketching is supposed to be - fast, impressionistic and less than perfect.

Monday 1 August 2011


Some more sketches from in and around Dublin.
Any other night in pubs around the city, traditional Irish music resounds in casual gatherings of musicians both proficient and inept. That's the beauty of it. As Forest Gump said 'You never know what you're going to get"

Down at the Financial district another musician tries his luck

The Luas tram trundles from Hueston station over Sarsfield bridge towards the ciy centre.

Friday 22 July 2011


Below are a bunch of sketches from an overcast July Dublin.
The first is an early morning sketch at the Smithfield vegetable and flower markets.
The second, shoppers doing what they do best- keeping the market for non-essentials afloat
Last is a view of Rathmines church and cricket ground.

Wednesday 4 May 2011


Some sketches from a recent visit to friends in Sitges, near Barcelona and the airport on the return flight. Departure delayed for 2 hrs due to someone in the cabin dropping a torch into the plane's wheel housing. Whaddya kno?! You see something new every day

Promenade and sandcastles


View of the hills

Bored in the departure lounge

Tuesday 18 January 2011


Two recent sketches of Dublin.

This is the impressive new Grand Canal Theatre designed by Daniel Libeskind and sketched on a blustery sunny afternoon when the place was almost deserted. It's a wonderful space with the water of the docks off to right, an eclectic mix of building styles and no sense of that identikit dockland's vernacular you seem to find in areas like this the world over.

After a rain shower and the watery sun washes over some interesting apartments beside the distillery buildings in the Smithfield part of town.