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.


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.


Art Camp for grown-ups at Block T

As an artists and/or art teacher I believe that it absolutely imperative that we are  the perpetual learner. Here in Ireland there are little hidden pockets of artistic gold waiting to be absorbed. I  intend to seek these out, enjoy them for myself to build on my artistic knowledge but also share them with you.

One such gem can be found in Block T. Recently I have had the pleasure of completed the realism oil painting course there, under the expert tutelage of Florentine academy multi-award winning artist  Nicholas Benedict Robinson. I will share with you my journey on his course in the images below. It being by no means the poster model but it gives you some idea of how I progressed the painting. We worked from direct observation of the live model for 6 Wednesday evenings. Nicholas is an excellent teacher of this method.

The good news is there is another such upcoming workshop so don’t feel you have missed out. There is a full week coming up 31st July – 4th of August. Keep an eye on the Block T website and Nicholas’s website for further courses. You can check how I got on at the last workshop below:

The story behind the winking playing card on the canal

Photo credit Instagram: @bmv_20th_century_boy

Each Summer Dublin Canvas pours it’s kaleidoscope of colour across Dublin city.  Traffic light boxes are adorned with a rainbow of public artworks and our city becomes a wonderful outdoor art gallery curated by David Murtagh. An exciting group of exceptional artists are painting again this Summer and I am honoured to be counted among them.

Tomorrow morning you might spot Queen Ester winking at you, from her corner at Canal Road / Grove Road, near Rathmines bridge.  Ester was originally designed from my degree show, storytelling by choosing two elements from my childhood, namely Mass and memories of Daddy playing card games.

Ester is a biblical story from the Old Testament. At the time a graphic designer I chose to tell the story using the medium of re-appropriated playing cards. She is a queen with a kind heart, a dangerous secret and a precarious plan.

Photo credit Instagram: @cristinlarkin


In the story, Ester is a poor girl but chosen by the king of Persia for her beauty. The King passes a law to “exterminate” all of the Jews in his lands. Brave and kind Ester hatches a dangerous plan to save her people. She herself is secretly a Jew. Hoping the king will avoid the bad PR of having to kill his queen, she reveals that she is Jewish, forcing the hand of the king to revoke the cruel law. Her plan is as precarious as a house of cards.


She plays a dangerous game, gambling with her own life. On the canal Ester winks and shares her secret plot with passers-by. Secret codes and symbols are hidden in her image.


The painting process employed, is that similar to screen printing or reduction block or lino print. This design uses only 4 colours yellow, red, blue and black.* Each colour is applied separately and in order from light to dark. It was fun to work on, especially on a glorious day like today.

Yellow is primarily applied

Next some red

The blue is put down

And finally voilá, the darkest colour, black

I actually did the back and sides before the face:

You can look forward to more Dublin Canvas art popping up all over the city in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on the website and follow on Instagram for more pics of all the work.

Photo credit Twitter handle:

A little behind the scenes stencil cutout

*yes, I know, I cheated. I decided to pop on a bit of green paint marker on the stem of the flower at the 11th hour but hey.





Hatch and Sons has Just Opened a Second Eatery in the Dreamiest Location

Hatch and Harry make a dreamy brunch combination. The well-loved informal dining favourite Hatch and Sons opened a second venue last Friday at the Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Street, where once housed Itsa Bagel. I popped in today with a pal to enjoy a bite and some artistic inspiration.

Hatch and Sons are located in the bright and airy room downstairs and even have an outdoor seating area to enjoy on a sunny day. Just take a right as you come in the front door and go down the stair between the reception desk and the bookshop.

In contrast to the natural light of the café, the magical Harry Clarke room (to the left after the reception on entrance) is set in a darkened room. From this shaded space, bursting with jewelled coloured light, Harry Clarke’s Eve of Saint Agnes transports you into his dreamlike fairytale land.

Stained glass windows are often associated with church windows and religious iconography. However this particular stained glass window, is set out like a graphic novel, telling a love story based on the poem “The Eve of Saint. Agnes” by English Romantic poet John Keats.

The poem this window is based on is very long. In short it tells the love story of Madeline and Porphyro. January 20th was known as the Eve of St. Agnes. On this eve young girls would fast and go to bed early. The feast day of St Agnes was the next day January 21st. If you followed a bunch of rules, fasting, bed early etc you could hope to dream of your future husband on that night. This was before iPads, Facebook, Tinder and online dating sites, so extreme lengths were gone to.

Madeline, daughter of a Lord, lived in a great castle. She was hoping to dream of her husband this night. She had followed all of the rules and conditions. She was in love with a man called Porphyro however. But her father the great Lord Maurice had forbidden her to marry him. Just like in Romeo and Juliette the girls childhood nurse gives a helping hand and helps Porphyro enter the castle in secret.

Madeline is woken by Porphyro’s music and finds he is in her room. She isn’t sure at first if she is dreaming of her future husband as it is the Eve of St. Agnes or if he is really there. Porphyro assures Madeline this is not a dream.

Like the Ed Sheeran song “Nancy Mulligan” Madeline and Porphyro run away to be together despite the family differences.

This window is so detailed and gorgeous. It contains lines from the poem on each of the 14 panels. Purple, blue and red and strongly referenced in the poem and so Harry Clarke uses these colours quite a bit in the window. Pop in and see it for yourself, because like all beautiful things, it is best viewed in person.

Admission to the gallery is free and does not require booking. The Hugh Lane opens Tuesday to Thursday 9.45am– 6pm, Friday 9.45am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm and is closed on Mondays.

Detail from the window.

The super food salad was a very tasty and healthy dish. I’ll recommend it. Definitely a winner for me.

Lots of natural light at Hatch and Sons

The gorgeous turquoise and gold entrance door of the Hugh Lane. This photo isn’t doing the colours justice. This is my dream front door.



Incognito Exhibition, what you need to know.

For those unfamiliar, Incognito is an exciting exhibition in aid of the Jack and Jill Foundation. Artists from all over Ireland have donated postcard sized artwork to the exhibition (including yours truly).

They are all priced the same. For €50 any piece is yours. The fun part is, it is only after you purchase the art, that the identity of the artist is revealed. Fancy yourself as an art critic. There are so many styles so choose wisely and see if you have a good eye.

The incognito website is now open and so you can view all the artwork online at Call into the Solomon on Friday 21st April (10am-7pm) to see the exhibition. 

Check them out online where you can register your interest in a piece. Here are a few of my personal favs so far:

This dreamy textured painting above

I have a weakness for realist art, where the everyday is elevated to the divine, like the oil tube above