"Towards Kenbane"

"Towards Kenbane"
Spectacular Irish coastline on a stormy day

Saturday, 18 July 2015

2015 Summer Exhibition with the Ulster Society of Women Artists USWA

This is well worth a visit so, come along and join us if you can... 

Exhibition Opening Saturday July 25th, 2pm to 4pm
runs all week from Monday July 27th through to Saturday August 1st

Friday, 3 July 2015

Summer Arrives!

I have been terrible as far as posting is concerned - there are always so many other things needing done and, when you have Fibromyalgia, COPD and Osteoarthritis, time management is a major issue..... sorry all!

We have all been moaning about the cold, wet and stormy weather over Spring, yet, now that we are in the middle of a summer mini-heatwave, everyone groans about "how hot and humid it is"!  I guess we are not accustomed to higher temperatures over here and, who knows, this may be all the summer we get this year.  At least the sun is shining!

People here in Northern Ireland are really obsessed with all things weather-related.  It's quite amusing - everyone watches the forecast [knowing that it's probably wrong] but it gives us all something to talk about.

Bruno loves to come with me in the car and, like all clever dogs, constantly monitors for the tell tale sounds and movements that signal a potential trip [funny how they always seem to know when you're headed to the 'v-e-t' isn't it].  
Anyhow, last Monday, he was at the door before me.  It was a warm sunny  day but I figured he would be okay, parked in the shade with all the car windows open [and I always have doggie-water on board].  He dutifully kept the driver's seat 'safe' for me and patiently waited outside the shop.  
Even though I was literally five minutes, his tongue was nearly two feet long by the time I got back.  With his tail whirling round [in typical Labrador fashion], he greedily slurped up the water I offered and gave me his "ok let's go home now" look.

It got me thinking about heat exhaustion and just how little we realise how easily it can affect not only ourselves, but our pets too.  It doesn't have to be a sweltering hot day to be overcome - most of us do not drink nearly enough water at the best of times and, certainly not enough on warmer days too.  Just two days ago, while I was in the supermarket, I walked around the fruit and veg aisle to see a lady 'out cold' on the floor!  The ambulance arrived quickly and the store staff had already brought out a chair and a bottle of water.  The poor lady was suffering from heat exhaustion and had overheated to the point she fainted.... so, what treatment did the paramedics offer?  Simple..... more water!  

Mugsie [left] sneaks a lie in
On a different subject, we have a visitor to the garden every day - a lovely little feral black cat.  I love all animals, so, imagine the horror when we saw said cat make off with a baby rabbit in it's mouth!  On the opposite side of 'nature versus pampered'.... the photo on the left was taken by my hubby - it shows our [late] puss 'Mugsie' snuggled up behind me in bed [UNDER the duvet!!].... no foraging for food for him.  Such are the laws of nature.

It's more widely known now that I also paint under the name 'Michelle Carlin'. It is this work [all to commission] which keeps me so busy and out of mischief ... to the point that I haven't had a chance to get busy with the watercolour paints for quite a while!  With two exhibitions looming on the horizon, I really MUST allocate the time to sit down and start - there are a few spectacular photo reference images I took around our coastline that I am itching to work on and, will share with you on here...... in the meantime, here are a couple of Michelle Carlin paintings [acrylic on canvas and canvas board].....

Sunny Day on the Beach by Michelle Carlin

Red Balloon by Michelle Carlin

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Mika, Bruno & "The Auld Lammas Fair"

"Mika" in her favourite Winter position

on the sofa in front of the fire!

"Bruno" looking serious 

[for a change]

I thought it was high time to introduce our two furry friends - Mika, an 8 year old German Shepherd and, Bruno, our 2 year old 'singing' [totally nutty] Chocolate Labrador. 

I have been really quite busy over the winter and, health hasn't been great.  However, I did manage to finally finish "THE AULD LAMMAS FAIR", an oil on canvas 24" x 36".
It is a private commission and, I'm told, will be hanging in 'pride of place' in it's new home.  
This is an important painting, not only because a few of the key characters portrayed, have since passed away.  Moreover, the famous 'Market Day' depicted [always the second day of the Fair], as well as some of the old buildings, are no longer in existence.
Thanks to the McAuley family for permitting me to share this image ...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013



Even though I haven't shared anything from this painting so far, I decided to post this image to show the pastel SEASCAPE which was completed yesterday:

Using mainly 'Unison' Soft Pastels and a reference photo [taken from my 'seascape library' - hundreds of digital pics taken around the local coastal area], this painting was done on an 8" x 24" canvas board.  

To prepare the board, three layers of white Acrylic Gesso were roughly scrubbed in [NOT sanding between] leaving each to dry completely. You do not have to use white - many people prefer to work on a coloured ground.

The first step is to layer in the darks:  
I chose a selection of three shades [tones] of blue, from dark grey/blue through to a light Cobalt, and the same with the greens.  

Tip:  Leave the lightest areas blank.

Select ALL the colours you intend to use and lay them out separately - this means you will not confuse them from the rest and it makes the painting process much easier.
It is important to select darks and lights of the same colour as opposed to 'lightening' a darker colour with white [which will only make your colours 'opaque' instead of keeping them 'pure/transparent'].  
There are SO MANY colours and shades/tones available in pastel - it's best to build up your collection slowly, as they are needed, otherwise you could spend a fortune!
I have been 'collecting' for years - this photo shows some of my soft pastels and how I lay them out for ease of visual selection:-

Right, getting back to the tutorial...  this type of scene turns out best if you work up the painting as a whole [rather than finish each section in isolation].  I 'blend' with my little fingers, using a REALLY soft touch [remember to clean off your finger as you go]. 

The lights in this painting are various shades of green, blue, violet, yellow, cream and finally, white.  
Once the light colours have been laid down, I 'blend' them into the dark areas [cleaning my finger on kitchen roll in between each touch] using a light touch.  

To achieve the effect of light shining through the top of the curling wave, I first used a light yellowish-green [along a 'mossy' tone] then working in the darker blue and green mix at the base of the wave, working from the bottom up.  Blend the light into the dark then overlay a pale yellow, working from the top down, blending this as well. 

I tend to work 'instinctively' rather than following any kind of formula - if you learn to look at your chosen image and 'see' the colours [without too much analysis], you will ultimately also paint 'instinctively'.
As you lay in lights and darks, adjust the work as you go... this might be simply shifting a line ever so slightly or making the foam 'holes' smaller/larger.  With each adjustment, look carefully at the painting as a whole to ensure your changes 'fit' the overall realism and don't look out of place or unbalanced.

The last marks are made with the lightest colours - these are the 'icing on the cake' and are, as such, NOT blended in.  This way they add the sparkle!

The following images are close-up's from the painting which hopefully, will help show the process a bit clearer:

I hope you have enjoyed this short tutorial?

Since I have quite a number of commissions to work through, it will be a little while till I can post another tutorial.  
Hope you will join me again and, in the meantime, HAPPY PAINTING!!!

BALLINTOY SEASCAPE - Finished Watercolour

So, here is the finished painting: 

I've added several more glazes overall, softened even more sky and wave edges and, finally, darkened the foreground even more to add further depth.

The finishing touches were to highlight the 'focal point' on the rocks with a soft wash of W&N "Burnt Sienna".

Here is another image, a close up, indicating some of the brush work:

Hope you have enjoyed following along with the painting process!
Happy painting!

"Sea Pinks" Final Phase

Well, I finally finished the watercolour painting of the "Sea Pinks" and.... I must have added at least 8 glazes to get the depth I felt it needed. There was considerable waiting and "watching paint dry" [which I'm not really good at] and, 

I have to admit, these are horrible photographs which makes it looks quite 'dull', but here it is...

As you will notice, I have 'cropped' the painting - it was just too 'heavy' on one side with all the flower detail and 'empty' on the other.  

I took all the paintings this morning to have them framed and will reserve 'final judgement' on this one until then as I'm not particularly happy with it.

Saturday, 14 September 2013



 I have not had much chance to work on this watercolour, although a further glaze of warm and cool greys has been added.  
This starts to indicate rock texture on the right hand side.  The initial shadows, cast by the Sea Pinks, have also been washed in.

The 'masking' is still in place and will not be removed until further darks and rock texture have been glazed on [if the 'masking' was removed at this stage, further glazing would be extremely difficult and fussy].

I am planning to work on this painting tomorrow and will post further images to show it's progress...