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.

New Delhi watercolor

India – New Delhi street scene

I was fortunate enough to travel to India with work, and got to see some of this wonderful country. One of the biggest shocks to the system for someone who lives a number of miles away from the nearest village or town was how crowded and bustling India is, or at least the city of New Delhi is anyhow. There are people everywhere, there are shops in doorways, cafes in basements serving out through windows just above ground level. Every inch is made use of, and everything is in perpetual motion. It is amazing to see.

The next most striking feature of India is the colours. While there is dusty browns from the dry clay, and the stone that is so different to that of Ireland, everyone is wearing bright colours, and colours have such meaning to Indians that the choices are far different to those of Ireland and western countries that I would be more used to.

This sketch is of a street in New Delhi that has a series of different churches temples and mosques, all side by side, representing the diversity of India.

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,  but 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!

Shrimp by Andy Madigan

Something fishy

I am doing a lot of sea-related drawings at the moment. My daughter loves fish, and the aquarium in Galway is her favorite pace right now, so I may end up doing some sea related murals on her bedroom furniture. First off I need a load of source material to work from.

And for that reason, I give you – the shrimp!

 

 

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

Lizard

Lizard

I started this drawing of a lizard perched on some rock as a line drawing in pencil, very quickly executed. I picked out some shapes in the same way I’d draw folds in material, but here I was trying to capture the areas of light and dark – or to be more precise the borders between them. This first stage is shown below. I didn’t spend more than a minute or at most two on that.

Lizard - drawn by Andy Madigan

I then dipped a wet brush into some black watercolour, or paynes grey perhaps – I don’t recall, and blocked in the darkest areas. I know the usual watercolour thing is to build up to dark but this was a quick sketch so I did it my own way (as I usually do in life!).

Lizard

 

Next I used the blues and greens in my pocket watercolour palette and along with the grey/black I was using above I made up some shades for doing drops of shade to build up a sort of reptile skin texture. It is only a sketch, so there was no need to do all the skin, just enough to see how this method worked out. That was the purpose after all – see how this and that work out.

 

Lizard

 

For the last step I picked up my most common sketching tool – a pen – and defined some scales, as well as the fins al0ng its spine (probably wrong word, but I don’t know the right one and am not going to look it up right now).

Lizard

Cherub

Cherub

Cherub

 

I was making a series of drawings to explore the styles of the old masters, in this case one of Reuben’s cherubs. He was a wonderful painter. I used to find him really boring and overly soppy in his subject matter but when I started to explore the marks he made, the shadows, and the constant turning of his subjects in complex compositions I started to really respect his works as masterpieces. I am sure he would be very relieved to know that.

Greenfield

Greenfield

Greenfield pier

 

This is a sketch of Greenfield harbour at the end of the road I live on between Headford and Lough Corrib. I drew it in two parts and sadly didn’t have the same perspective/scale from both spots. Pity – it could have worked out well. I will do some more drawings down there in the Spring. I love the spot, but always get my head wrecked by a dog down there. I’d cycle around there all the time otherwise.

Bob & Carolines veranda

Bob & Caroline’s veranda

Bob & Carolines veranda

Philadelphia is a lovely city. It has so many different colours of tree, plant and flower that it is a real feast of colour in the Spring. I did this sketch at my mother in law’s home there last May. It was so bright and hot it was ideal for watercolours – fast drying and vibrant colours.

I’d love to build a veranda on my house. Maybe I will someday. Somewhere to sit back, relax after a long day, and watch the world go by. Then again, I do live in North Galway, so unless I ws to wear oilskins I wouldn’t be sitting out for long most of the year.

Lenanne crossroads

Lenanne crossroads

Lenanne crossroads

My wife brought me away to Lenanne for a few days a little before our first child was born. Little did we know it would be the last peace and quiet we’d see for quite a while! This was drawn at the crossroads with the road for Maum.

I really enjoyed Lenanne as a get away from things, even though we live in the same county it really felt isolated – if I remember right we didn’t even have mobile phone signal. The people were friendly, and there is a great boat ride you can do out through Killary Harbour.

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.

Icelandic sheep

Icelandic sheep

Icelandic sheep

This is about as random as they get. I wanted to try out some new pens the other night – Faber Caster PITT artist pens in sepia – and so needed something to draw. I pulled up a random photo form my honeymoon, which turned out to be an Icelandic sheep.  I’m not very impressed with the pens, but will give them a few more goes before I give up on them. They are far firmer than the package gives the impression of. I had expected something halfway between a brush and a pen.

The reason for the washes is that I wanted to see if the ink was water soluble. Another impression I picked up from the packaging.

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

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.

Across the road - drawing by Andy Madigan

Across the road - drawing by Andy Madigan

 

This is the view across the road from my house, out my bedroom window. Actually, the sheep isn’t there all the time, but the rest is pretty much always there. The land is quite hilly so there are lots of these slopes, with lovely Galway stone walls – no mortar so like here, they are often knocked down in places by livestock looking for a scratch.

I like this drawing as it isn’t finished, but there is a nice balance between the bits I shaded and those I had only rough marking out done for. To me it is instantly recognisable as the hill over the road, and without looking at the landscape I could easily draw in everything that has not been drawn already.

 

I guess I should get out more!