Leo on slide

Laughter playing on a slide

I love drawing. Always have. I studied fine art printmaking primarily because it really makes use of draughtsmanship and so gave me a way to spend lots of time drawing. I tend to draw in a single colour, which is grand but the pictures lack colour and this makes for a rather morbit picture on a wall. The viewer shouldn’t just have the pleasure of coming close and enjoying the detail – they should be wowed with the brightness, the range of hues, the vibrancy of colour. Not a gift that my black and white pen (usually a 0.05 or 0.01 mm fine-liner) drawings can offer.

At the same time as drawing, I like to paint and try to push myself to paint more as my drawing skills are fine but my painting skills need some work. What I have noticed is that when I paint I sometimes do the painting as though I was drawing. I did that here. A few people who have seen this painting in my sketchpad have referred to it as a drawing. It isn’t. It does have a light pencil line drawing to get the positioning right – you can see that in the sides and background – but this is actually all painted with black and white watercolour (Payne’s gray actually, if I remember right).

The subject of this unfinished sketch is my youngest son, sliding down a slide and trying to capture the absolute joy he was getting from the experience. Initially I was just going to work out how best to frame the image – go close or draw the field of view out further to capture the slide in more detail, but as often happens with a quick sketch I got absorbed into the face and shading.

Boy in blue shoes

Blue shoe boy

I often like to work with a restricted palette, and in this watercolour sketch, I was going for browns. I felt the picture was going great through a few stages in it, but then it was just getting boring – the browns of the sofa Leo was sitting on were too distracting from the detail I managed to get into his face. The range of tones wasn’t consistently varied in different areas. In short, it wasn’t working for me.

Rather than abandon it completely – I still had the legs and feet to complete – I decided to emphasize the blue of the new shoes he had on, which were the reason for the happy smiles (not entirely – he is always smiling!). The picture is grand for a sketchpad, and I did learn from it – I would have been far better off with the earlier stages and not having painted the seat itself. What I am quite satisfied with through this sketch is the knowing look I manage to capture in his face.

Little girl holding balloon drawing

Young girl with a balloon

 

 

This sketch is of my daughter, with a different angle to usual – I naturally am mostly drawing faces but with this she had her back turned and was lit from the opposite side – I was facing the light. I drew the balloon in negative space as it was a more dramatic aspect, and allowed for the lightness of the balloon to be conveyed also.

It is a sketch that was meant to be a few second rough to paint from later, but as happens to me so often I ended up spending longer and longer building it up. I do still hope to paint it at some point. Time will tell if I ever get around to that. For now at least I have this sketch to remember the moment.

 

Ernesta with Nurse

After Beaux

While browsing my favourite bookshop (Charlie Byrnes in Galway city – http://charliebyrne.com/) I came across a lovely little book of paintings of children titled “Children of the Gilded Era: Portraits by Sargent, Renoir, Cassatt and their Contemporaries”. I have long admired Sargents’ pencil drawings, so that was enough to draw me in. The rest of it is a feast for the eyes, and great for someone like me who has a lot of child portraiture in my near future. The sketch above is based on a painting by Cecilia Beaux of her niece titled ‘Ernesta with Nurse’ which was exhibited in 1894 at the Society of American Artists.

Below is the sketch at an earlier stage, defini9ng the core areas in pencil. As the site is about bearing all I will always show these stages where I have then recorded.

Ernesta with Nurse

Rebecca making faces

Rebecca making faces

Rebecca making faces

 

This is my adorable daughter Rebecca, making faces as I foolishly asked her to give me a big smile! She is such great fun to be around, I spend so much of our time together in fits of laughter. Parenting can be tiring, but it is definitely the most rewarding thing you can do in life.

I didn’t finish it but as you’ll notice as you go through the site, I really like partly completed drawings. There is something about an unfinished drawing that is like watching a mix between a blueprint design and a finished product. You can see how it is being built, at the same time as seeing how it will end up.

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

Rebecca in a wolly hat

Rebecca in a wolly hat

Rebecca in a wolly hat

 

I tend to paint in acrylic, but wanted to try out watercolours last year. They are so much easier to travel with that I thought the change would be worth the effort. This is one of my early attempts.

It will take me a while to get good with them, but it is an enjoyable experience learning so far. An interesting difference in technique to what I am used to, and also some interesting effects that would not be easy to reproduce with acrylic or oils.

Love + Trust

Love + Trust

 

I did this silkscreen print back in 1997, and found a few from the edition a year or so back while clearing out an old portfolio case. It was actually the top of a larger drawing that I used in a different print. I like it. It sums up a phase in my life for me.

 

Julie-Anne

Julie-Anne

Julie-Anne

I was trying to simplify my wife’s facial structure here, to get the very essence of it, with as little line as possible. The idea was I could then concentrate on those lines in a loose, few brush-strokes, black ink painting. Think of Chinese/Japanese calligraphy brush-strokes – that sort of idea.  I never got the second step done but do still like this working drawing.

Rebecca in Philly

Rebecca in Philly

Rebecca in Philly

 

Sometimes it’s not about the detail, it’s about the simplicity.

In this sketch I only took about 10 seconds, my daughter wouldn’t stay still for much longer. I still captured the essence of her, so am very happy with the outcome. She was visiting her Grandparents in Philadelphia and was only about one year old so was non stop on the go, and constantly looking around at the exciting new surroundings and people.

 

 

Newborn Rebecca

Newborn Rebecca

Newborn Rebecca

 

This bic pen drawing is of my daughter Rebecca, shortly after she was born. It seems like only yesterday I was staying up very late to feed her – and drawing her, but a few years have passed and now I am up feeding her little brother and posting this drawing. I will have to do a drawing of him to match.

I couldn’t have known it when I was drawing her so young, but some of the subtle distinctive features I didn’t even notice while drawing have become the defining features of her face as she has grown.

Jewels and me on Killiney Hill - drawn by Andy Madigan

On Killiney Hill

Jewels and me on Killiney Hill - drawn by Andy Madigan

 

This is the base or first marks of a picture based on a phone photo of my (now) wife and myself, taken shortly after we first met. It is an example of a random picture that can mean so much to someone. For me it brings a smile to my face and warm memories every time I see it. To most people it is a random irrelevant photo.

 

 

Rebecca newborn - drawn by her father, Andy Madigan

Newborn Rebecca

Rebecca newborn - drawn by her father, Andy Madigan

 

This is a very scribbles filled drawing. I drew it of my daughter Rebecca, very soon after she was born. She would not sit still so I was trying to get the general idea down in scribbles. Every few seconds she turned, looked somewhere else…if made for an interesting effect. Not a god likeness I am sure, but still enjoyable to do.

 

Rebecca asleep - drawing by Andy Madigan - drawn by Andy Madigan

Dave with Eoin

Rebecca asleep - drawing by Andy Madigan - drawn by Andy Madigan

 

I love this unfinished drawing of my brother Dave with his eldest son Eoin on his shoulders. Eoin is driving a toy car across Dave’s head, and you can see the normal tired endurance of a father in Dave’s face. You can’t pose situations like this, they just come along and ‘bam!’ are just right.

Eoin Madigan - drawn by Andy Madigan

Eoin in Dave’s arms

Eoin Madigan - drawn by Andy Madigan

This quick sketch is of my nephew. He was visiting with his parents and sister, and was being held in his father Dave’s arms. I had little experience of drawing children at the time (I have two of my own since then), so it was a bit of a challenge not to draw him like an old man. With children it is always a case of less is more when drawing. The more detail you add, the older they appear.