New Year, Exciting Plans Ahead.

Happy new year from Art Academy. It’s a fresh new year and time to start making exciting plans. The nicest gift I received this Christmas was this diary from The National Gallery of Ireland. It is a weekly diary and has a different pieces of art from the collection to inspire on each page.

I had wrote a post on my top fav gift idea’s from the gallery shop. I had planned to pick one up in January and Breda Flaherty beat me to it. A beautiful gift to receive and it makes me feel excited for the year ahead. You can get yours at their store in the gallery on Merrion Square.  May your 2018 be wonderful.

This is my 3rd NGI diary and I am set to continue.


Top 10 Christmas Gift Idea’s at the National Gallery of Ireland

It can be quite a challenge to think of a unique and special gift for all of our loved ones at Christmas. To avoid the dull jumpers, socks and bath sets – destined for re-gifting – it would be worth popping into The National Gallerys gift shop. It is full of gifting gems.

You can pick up some absolute treasures for all ages and that suit every pocket. Avert the queues at over crowded shopping centres. Escape to the National Gallery and enjoy a heavenly walk through the exhibitions, a lunch in the cafe and check off your entire Christmas list at the shop, in one genius stroke.

It was difficult to whittle it down but here are my top 10 picks:

1. Tatty Divine Make-Up Bag. I’m loving the quirky bejewelled braces.

2. This handsome wallet  €31.95*

3. House of Disaster 1916 satchel  €67.95*



4. The official National Gallery of Ireland Diary. There is an art piece from the NGI collection depicted for every week of the year. €19.95*


5. If you gotta gift sock, at least make them Van Gogh. €5.50*

6. Christmas Sprout novelty snow globe €17.50*

7. Usborne That’s Not my Snowman €17.95*


8. A Year In Art: A Painting a Day €21.25*

9. The Art of Chivalry, Music on the theme of love CD.  €10.95*

10. Artist Adelle Hickey’s “Art of Connecting” range of beautiful journals and Notebooks. €20- €30*

*at time of publication: 08th December 2017



Netflix for Art Lovers

Dark evenings and constant talk of “it’s expected to snow” call for staying in by the crackling fire, comfort food and Netflix. If you love art and simultaneously are suffering Game of Thrones withdrawl, Medici, Masters of Florence on Netflix is just for you.

Medici: Masters of Florence tells the story of the rise to power of the Medici dynasty. The drama unfolds against the beautiful back drop of Renaissance Italy, in all of it’s architectural and artistic glory.

If you are missing “Robb Stark” Richard Madden plays the lead character Cosimo De Medici. John Bradley West of “Sam Tarley” fame plays a Medici cousin. Another GoT favourite Dustin Hoffman plays “Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici”

IMDB rates the series 8/10. Season 1 was released on the 9th of December 2016 with Season 2 promised “by the end of the year” (2017?) Check it out on Netflix here


      Image Refs: Stills from the Netflix original series Medici Masters of Florence.



Drawing the The Late Late Toyshow Hot Chocolate Mug

I know I’m an adult but I love, love, love the Late Late Toyshow hosted by Ryan Tubridy. So for the night that’s in it, I made a quick sketch of the Toyshow mug. They are on sale in Penneys, along with a full range of Toyshow merchandise. Raising funds for Temples Street Children’s Hospital and Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. Drinking hot chocolate from a cute, owl mug watching the Toyshow is the nicest charity endeavour ever.

I used coloured pencils from Faber Castell and the Uniball gel pen in white. Oh also a Derwent charcoal pencil, which is fast becoming a favourite of mine. To create your own drawing check out the step by step process pics below:

If Art is Not the Champion of Your School, Is Your School a Champion?

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” – Leonardo Da VINCI

Art is not celebrated in Irish schools. Merely tolerated, viewed by the uninformed as a low level hobby. The art room often confined to some dusty corner of the school is only seen as useful when perhaps there a background that needs painting for a school play. Recent results from the Central Statistics Office however show, that this strategy is a grave mistake.

The survey concludes that; “On analysing the results, we found that students who studied Art along with Science or Maths performed better in the tests than those who did not study Art.” No news here, it has been obvious for over  500 years. Leonardo Da Vinci, the obvious poster child. You can check out the survey in the link below.  Such facts beg the question if art is not the champion of your school, is your school a champion?


Large Selection of Large Format Art Books at the Central Library

The best way to view a work of art is, beyond doubt, to go and see it in person. A reproduction will never do it justice, especially in small format. Most libraries dotted around the country will have an art section with maybe a bookcase of art related books. If you would like to augment your gallery visits, of which Ireland has many world class, the Dublin City Council, Central Library in the Illac centre on Henry Street has an wonderful selection of large format art books. This is a section separate from the usual art bookshelf. It is located by the business centre. There are 2 alcoves full of large books on all of your favourite artists. Worth spending a coffee break browsing through.

Leonardo Da Vinci published by Taschen is a personal favourite.


Life Death and War by Käthe Kollwitz is showing at The National Gallery

I went to visit the National Gallery twice last week. I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the closing week of the wonderful Vermeer exhibition. The second visit was to see an exhibition showing in the Print Gallery*.

I am currently attending Block-T workshops under artist Nicolas Robinson and visited “Life Death and War” by Käthe Kollwitz on his recommendation.

Käthe Kollwitz was an important German artists born in 1867. This exhibition consists of 38 of her prints and drawings. I was particularly drawn to her portraiture draughtmanship. As well as portraits we see her dramatic, theatrical, graphic style prints.

The work is quite dark in subject matter. It may be best to attend in your best form. After she married in 1891, Käthe moved to a poor district in North Berlin. Her work shows empathy towards the working classes and the horrors of death and loss due to war.

Her own son Peter was killed in the opening weeks of World War I. Her series of monochrome woodcut prints convey her trauma from this event aswel as the universal suffering caused by war. Again, this is not a light subject but the work is stunning.

The artist tackles some difficult themes, starving children, a mothers loss of a child to war, helpless peasants using farm tools as weapons in Bauernkreig. Suffering is highlighted and the horrors of war and bereavement are the focal point.

The exhibition runs until the 10th of December and admission is free.

*The print Gallery is located where here the Margaret Clarke exhibition was shown. At the exit point of Vermeer, there is a children’s drawing area and a stair case. The Print gallery, for those unfamiliar, is directly up those stairs.

The Artists’ Cookbook launches this Friday and you are invited.

This painting “Sweet Ramiro Pepper” 40 x 30 cm by yours truly will feature in the upcoming The Artists’ Cookbook. This coffee table must-have, features a compilation of specially commissioned food related art works and a favourite recipe by each artist. I promise none of the recipes involve oil paint or turps.

The book will launch this Friday the 18th of August 7-9.30 pm. And you are invited. The event is taking place at Airbnb’s Headquarters at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin City. Sign in is at 7pm. The book will raise funds for the charity Syrias Vibes.

“It’s free in and each attendee gets a free copy of the cookbook (worth €25). There will also be complimentary canapes from the Airbnb chefs, free wine and beers courtesy of Rascals Brewing Company.

We will also have a bumper raffle with original artworks from the cookbook (Pato Cassinoni, Cathy Callan, Rikki Van Den Berg), some art prints from Danleo, Senir X and Gintare Venckute), a $250 Airbnb voucher, vouchers for top Dublin restaurants (Coppinger Row, Dublin Pizza Co, Charlotte Quay, Dockyard No. 8, The Fumbally, Chez Max, Diep etc) as well as sweet Syrias Vibes merch.

Raising funds for the doctors and ambulances at Raqqa, Syria and for the Psychology Programme in the Bajed Kandala camp on the Iraqi borde.” – Andy Sweeney, Project Director

There is even an after party in Charlottes Quay afterward. Facebook event link here. See you there


My page from the book. Pick up a copy to check out all of the art and recipes.

A wonderful week at Art Academy July Summer Camp 2017

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark Michelangelo

I had the pleasure of teaching art to some remarkable young people last week ( 17 – 21 July 2017 ), from as young as the age of 5 up to 13 years of age. They all had one thing in common; a love of art and a dedication to challenging themselves to greater heights.

Art Academy training teaches traditional art skills. It avoids the gluing dried pasta onto card or make prints of your hands and calling the prints spiders, genre of art education.  You wouldn’t find any glitter glue or poster paints at the Academy. Art Academy seeks to raise the standard of art and art training here in Ireland. Classical art skills are the fundamental building blocks of any artistic journey.

Last weeks young artists preformed very well. They are a credit to themselves and their families. The future of art in Ireland is safely in their hands. Just because you are small it does not mean that you are not capable of great things.

Michelangelo, arguably the greatest artist and sculptor that ever lived, was 4 years old when he carved his first piece of stone. Bit of a health and safety issue with giving 4 year olds chisels and hammers ( my insurance company if you are reading this, calm down, I sent zero children into a quarry )  but you can take my point.

There is no instant gratification with realist art. We are all used to instant results so this can be a challenge. I can order the art materials for the entire week of the camp with one click of the mouse and they will promptly arrive at my door. With art, it takes more time and focus to accomplish your goals than many other things. It is a mindful practice. When, eventually, you complete a challenge, there is a high sense of achievement as you are confident in yourself, that you have earned your result.

I will attach some pictures and give a quick overview of our lovely art week. And sincerely congratulate the artists again on a job well done. There will be further art camps announced. I like to keep the Academy camps small in numbers so watch this space if you are interested booking.

First we had a look at some colour theory. How do we mix colours? What makes a colour dark or light? What makes it primary or secondary? What is brown?

We took a look at some of Harry Clarke’s work and his wonderful use of colour. The artists made some Harry Clarke inspired stained glass of their own.

The Harry Clarke style pieces left drying.

The artists worked on their monochrome tonal scales

The artist were introduced to the artist Caravaggio and his use of light and shade.

Our theory and demo area

Caravaggio used light and shade (tone) to render form and make his 2D paintings look 3 dimensional.

A painting of the sphere  above therefore differs from a painting of a flat circle below.

Students created tonal studies of the effect light has on form.

Combining colour theory with tonal studies the art students worked on identifying the main light and shade areas of a still life, using the restricted palette.

The fallout every evening 😉

Finally the students completed the fundamental art elements revision exercise.

Rathmines Library outfitted Art Academy with a mini art library for the week. We are very grateful for these great references. There was an art library and “free drawing area” available for when artists need to take mini breaks.

I am sorry I didn’t take more pictures of the work. Well done to all the artists to took part. A fantastic week.

Some client feedback 🙂 x

The art studio/gallery space for the week