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?


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.





Alginate fun on a Tuesday in Harold’s Cross

We had such a blast at Art Academy on Tuesday excavating the plaster hand casts from their alginate housing. Having created the casts in last weeks class everyone was ready for the big reveal. So cautiously the seaweed based gel like mould was cut away from the plaster. It’s inevitable a finger will be lost at some point but luckily it’s easily fixed. Any bumps are sanded and fine dental tools are used to mend any imperfections or remove alginate from small grooves. Have a look at some pics from the evening posted below.

I have also included pictures of a personal cast I took of my parents at the weekend. They submerged a hand each together in a bucket to cast both of their hands in one art piece.

Next week we will begin the exciting cast drawing process under controlled lighting. We will keep you posted on the progress. Check back for updates. Anyone wishing to join the class can get in touch for details.



My mam and daddy’s couples cast.

Upcoming Oil Painting Workshop in Dublin City Centre with Artist Will Nathans

On the 15th of April next, artist William Nathans is opening up his art studio above Kennedys art supply shop  to host a life painting oil workshop. I have twice attended previous workshops and found them wonderful.

A small group of artists gather in William’s art studio on Harcourt Street. There is a live model, posed on a stage of drapery and considered, controlled lighting. You arrive with your canvas primed with a medium grey ground. Chose a view point that suits you and prop your canvas on an easel.

Will gives a demonstration on marking out your painting, using the brush and paint as drawing tools. Each artist makes a start. This is a one day workshop, so it is quite a fast pace to work at and you can’t expect any great polish on your piece, just the“Premier-Coup” approach so to speak.

There is a break for lunch,  you clean your pallet before and return to begin anew. Will gives another demonstration at this point and lots of pointers throughout the day. It is helpful and interesting to see the other artists approach to the same subject matter and an enjoyable day of painting.

Kennedy’s offer a discount on materials purchased on the day of the workshop. You need to bring your own paints and materials, outside of the easel and they will email you a list ahead of the event.

Saturday 15th April: Will Nathans – Painting the Nude Figure from Life

5 Reasons to love City Life Drawing at the Sol Gallery

Over the years one of my favourite things to do of a Thursday evening in Dublin city centre is attending the life drawing group at the Sol Gallery. Run by Keith Dollin this is a self directed art class. Meaning there is no tuition, simply a model, a venue and an eclectic group of artists drawing and painting together. It is held in the beautiful, white, high ceilinged exhibition room on the first floor of the gallery, at No. 8, Dawson Street. 

Now this art group is run in various guises on several week day evenings but the Thursday evening is my personal favourite for 5 reasons:

  1. It is an untaught class. I understand this does not suit everybody. I mean, I myself teach art for a living. But for me 2 hours of  uninterrupted drawing in the silent company of fellow artists is sheer bliss.
  2. The Thursday night is a long pose drawing session. I prefer to draw slowly and carefully. Ideally a 4 day pose but this will do. After 10 quick 1 minute warm up sketches, the model settles in for a longer 20 minute pose. If it’s your first time going a quick tip is take your time. The model assumes the same pose for 3 x sittings. I did not realise this on my first attendance.
  3. The venue: is so handy, located in the city centre, it’s not freezing (as some drawing studios can be), and there is always art on the walls. 7 o’clock is such a handy time. You don’t arrive rushed and starved after work.
  4. The Thursday group is not crowded. The other life drawing classes with perhaps quicker poses or taught classes are so popular but the Thursday group is often quieter. Arrive early to get a good seat. (Maybe I shouldn’t share this post and potentially populate my favourite life drawing class)
  5. It’s social and inspirational. Everyone shares and views each others work at the end of the drawing session. It’s inspiring to see the different styles and how each artist captures the portrait. The model poses in the middle so she or he is captured from different angles. After the drawing there is an option to join the group for a drink in The Duke.

For more info check out City Life Drawing on Meetup.