Playing ball in the cold

Playing ball in the cold

As you can see, this is just the start for this – a quick (or slow) sketch of my daughter holding a pink ball in our garden. It was a cold day, chilly and fresh, and she really wanted to play in the garden so we wrapped up and went out for some playtime. How blessed I am to have time to spend with my children and to have such wonderful children to spend time with. Paintings or sketches like this are to me like a diary of memories. I hope to do a larger scale version of this once I’ve a few more trial sketches done – it is too hard to get the detail I want on such a small scale (the pad is smaller than A4).

The challenge in this is to get the wall not to take over – being the darkest part it draws itself forward, where I want it to be very much in the background. I will finish this version, ┬ábut in the next sketch I think the right thing to do will be to use far more soft grey as it is here in the parts of the wall not fully painted. For the grass I thing the best thing will be areas of green without detail, and just in the foreground define the actual blades of grass. Here the definition I thought would work is really just creating a scene where there is too much going on and the figure is sort of lost in the mix, only drawn forward by the contrast in colours. Still, when I look at it myself I am back there hearing her call to me to catch the ball, so it works on that front anyhow!

Diamond hill, Connemara, Galway in watercol

Diamond Hill, Connemara

 

This landscape is for me a step outside my comfort zone. I tend to do landscapes in black and white using a pen – rarely in watercolour. One of my workmates Aoife was on this lovely hill and took some amazing photos I was surprised to hear were with a phone. I wanted to try painting them and to be honest I don’t do them any justice. But as you know for this site I post all the bad and the good, as it’s all about what we learn on the journey not just the end result.

I have to admit, I am not done justice myself in my photo of the sketch – this was taken with my own phone in artificial light. I’ll add a better quality photo to this post at some stage when I get some time in daylight. Ahead of┬ápainting it I was thinking greens and browns, with a little blue for the further back bits, but I was surprised as I get into it the whole range of colours in the Irish landscape. Everything from red to yellow to blue and pretty much everything in between. I’m blessed living is such a wonderfully vibrant country.

Boy playing on floor in watercolor

Boy playing with cars

 

In this watercolour sketch I was painting one of my sons while he played with some cars while laying on the floor of our home. He was happily engrossed in the play and I enjoyed the challenge of the rather awkward angle to paint at. I have not added the cars – they should be just below his hairline – roughly where his eyes are focused. I was using a mixture of green, orange and payne’s gray. I find this mix gives a nice pallette to work from, allowing for softness of edge through colour as well as how diluted the paint is.

As I often state here – I post my mistakes as often (or more often) as successes. This is actually badly painted – if you turn your head so that you are looking at his head the right way up you will see the positioning of the features are all wrong. Amazingly I never noticed while I was doing it. A lesson learnt there: turn your head when painting to see the ‘right way up’ as easy to notice mistakes that way which are not so easy to notice when at a strange angle.

 

Wathercolor sketch of boy playing

Feeding time

Feeding time

Feeding time

 

My wife and I had a new baby boy a few weeks ago. He is adorable. This is a quick sketch of Julie-Anne feeding him. A great one for sketching as she was not likely to move too much. I always find babies hard to draw but hope to practice a lot with little Alan and have a whole catalogue of drawings of him as he grows to give to him some day.

I’m also going to include here the first pencil sketch and the first wash. I want to show my process wherever possible (as in, wherever I remember to take a picture midway) so that people can either pick up ideas from me, or advise me of alternative methods.

First drawing - feeding time

 

After the quick drawing above to get the lay of the land as they say, I wanted to get some quick colour references down for myself, in case the bottle was finished and my sitter was gone. This also acted as my first wash so I wasn’t just splashing it on, I was considering where the marks would serve as underlay to final washes. That stage is shown below.

First wash - feeding time

Girl in lines

Girl in lines

Girl in lines

 

I did this drawing, or perhaps I should call it painting?, back in the early ’90s. Nothing too special but surprisingly I had a number of offers to purchase it. In retrospect I think I should have sold it, but when I like a drawing or painting I do I hate to sell or give them away, as I can’t look at them again. I think that concept of always being able to see my work, but still wanting to make a living out of art is a lot of why I studied printmaking in art college – I could make an edition of a print and sell them, but always keep at least one copy for myself.

 

 

Girl in lines

Hartel & Rising Sun - by Andy Madigan

Hartel & Rising Sun

Hartel & Rising Sun - by Andy Madigan

I did this drawing/watercolour back in May while staying with my in-laws in Philadelphia. They have a lovely porch I was sitting out on in the sun. and I drew this view of the junction down the road. The style of houses over in the US is so different to here in Ireland, and even the perimeter of peoples plots were defined differently. Add to that the different trees and colours and it’s a whole new world.

For me the biggest new past of the experience was how the light was great in the sun there, and the heat dried the watercolours so fast I could add new washes in minutes, or in some cases seconds. Really great for speed, but it took getting used to, to be working fast before a stroke dried and put a rim on a brushstroke.