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.

Rubens cherub

Cherub

One of my many indulgences is to pick up a huge number of fine art books, and as I live in Galway the best place to do this is at the wonderful Charlie Byrne’s bookshop on Middle Street, Galway. Recently I have renewed my interest in the preraphaelite art movement and also in Peter Paul Rubens through some old art history books I picked up. Rubens painted a lot of fantastic, energetic, colourful and utterly dramatic paintings, and also painted in those an awfully large number of cherubs. I have never looked into the reason for this, but assume it was the times he lived in and the artistic fashion of the time. What always interests me is the strange adult meets child appearance of cherubs. They are babies, but they are more similar to adults if you ignore the pink skin and baby-sized bodies. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that is so strange, so have decided to paint some and see if it brings any clarity to my understanding. I will let you know if it does.

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!

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

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.

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.