Sunday, December 25, 2016

A still life drawing

Still life study of chili peppers and tomatoes in an orange bowl. As I was making this I was thinking of paintings by my colleague Shiela Richardson, who also exhibits in the Draíocht Gallery in Adare, I like her work very much. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Solstice shots 2016

What I like about this time of the year: the notion that the light is coming back, and a sense of new hope and new possibilities. That's all. I'll spare you my whole Bah Humbug rant. 

Enjoy your few days with friends and family, wherever you are. 


Friday, December 2, 2016

Passing of Leonard Cohen

A wonderful singer, songwriter, poet ... very sad news. It was only hours later that I realised he died almost on my own father's anniversary.

Just going to potter around with my paints now, got YouTube on to watch old videos. This morning I got some amazing shots of the dawn today, and got the urge to work one of them up into a painting, and only later remembered about my Dad.

Eighteen years.

Although I can see him still,
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped ‘twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;

The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since,
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, ‘Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.

- The Fisherman, W.B. Yeats

Dawn, 2016 by Orla Clancy 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Still life with onions and sweet potato

I recently brought some still life pieces to the Draíocht Gallery in Adare, and a fairly well-known artist told me that he thought they were very 'organic'.

I've learned that my best work is in fact 'organic', in the sense that it's from real life in some way.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Day 12: Road Trip

Well, I took a few days off, and got paid work done, it was necessary.

Day 12 was a road trip to Glendalough in County Wicklow, Ireland, and it was just wonderful. We arrived there at a quarter to eight in the morning (having driven 2 and a half hours from Limerick!!) and it was empty. And so pretty, with all the autumn colours of the forest. Much of the valley is part of Wicklow National Park, and judging by the numbers of visitors that started to appear later in the morning, a very well-loved local amenity as well as popular tourist attraction. I saw a squirrel quite early in the morning, climbing up the hill into hiding among the trees, and was told that higher in the forest and away from the lakes there are deer, and quite a lot of them.

Did a lot of walking and was good and tired last night, slept very very well. I hope to do one road trip like this a month from now on, weather permitting of course.

Glendalough, the Lower Lake

Glendalough, the Upper Lake

Glendalough, the Round Tower in the trees

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sixty-six days: 9 and 10, 11

These are Wednesday and Thursday of last week, respectively, and Monday of this week.

Blogs written, some photos taken, a few processed, and the last of the watercolours painted on Wednesday, then it was off to pilates.

Thursday I wanted to clean out the garden shed where I also work on oil paintings (the other half hates the smell of turpentine in the house; me, I'd wear it as perfume, but we all compromise and he buys me Chanel in the duty-free) and as it hadn't been cleared out in a couple of years it was a MESS, and I only got a section of it cleaned, but I did scrub off the flowerpots and threw away several broken ones. Will need to get back in there again during the week. The spiders in there are pretty big. Am not fond of spiders.

My art work on Thursday evening was processing photos, I got several done. And I've just realised that I've a few more to take, of the watercolours I did last week. Then this week, due to suddenly being very popular for the day job of freelance translating, I had to devote less time than I would have liked to actually making work. But I did get to do a couple of things on Monday: finish some watercolour nudes and go through a box of paper and discover MORE things to paint and use, see my Instagram page. (This should take you straight to the photo I took of the clutter that had been removed from the box to the table. Good times.)

I also found some illustrations I had started for a stream-of-consciousness bit of writing I started as an exercise, but which I had to put away when I found that I was thinking about it too much and actually planning what I would write next. That wasn't the object of the exercise at all. I'll have to get back to it.

Here are some nude studies, also from some Limerick Printmakers Life-drawing Sessions, very quickly drawn. Fun to do. I particularly like the one from the rear.

So it looks like I will be working this weekend again. and now that I'm more or less caught up, I'll get to go and make more art too. Yay.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sixty-Six Days: Days 5, 6, 7 & 8

The Saturday was a day of tidying and relaxation, pretty much. Took it nice and handy, watched several films.

Sunday, we cleaned. And took it pretty easy again.

Monday I had a dental appointment and met with some friends, so only spent about half an hour on the watercolours. I also spent a good two hours going over photos of various Gay Pride festivals in Limerick over the past few years ... did I just reveal too much? Well, it has been 9 years since I donated two drawings for the Gay Pride Art Auction, so 2017 will make it 10 years. Am thinking of a new body of work ....

And Tuesday, finally sorted some very important administration (tax stuff) which needed to be finished and did a little bit more watercolour painting and a little bit more looking at photos, as well as wondering where my new sketchbooks are.

So as I've nothing really to post up here from all that, here is a nice photo instead.

White strand near Miltown Malbay, County Clare.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sixty-Six Days: Day Two, Tues 11 October

I seem to have hit a wall with the literary landscapes thingie, mainly because it looks like I will have to replace our printer. Annoying. I also need to learn a few more Photoshop skills for it. I was doodling some ideas because I want to add figures in there somehow, and it occurred to me that animals might be a good choice, for all kinds of reasons. Hm. I have some drawings and images of people that I thought I might like to use, but none of them are speaking to me. So I put those aside again. Can do nothing until I have the tech aspect of that sorted anyway.

So I ended up doing a quick coloured charcoal drawing of some clutter on the table in front of me, and again was reminded of what you can do with a limited palette. Sometimes impose that discipline in colour is refreshing, especially when done on coloured paper.

What kept going through my mind is a new painting project, and a name for it came to me. This morning I found myself looking for one of my sketchbooks so I could get started on some composites to make paintings. Group portraits, double portraits, two-faced [sic] portraits, scenes from the streets. I even came up with a list of people I'd like to portray. And do I ever have access to visual material ....

Sixty-Six Days: Days 3 and 4

This was a Wednesday and because I was going off to Pilates in the evening and had a pretty busy morning and early afternoon, I didn't get to do much artwork. So let's skip to Thursday, when I went and found some watercolour drawings I hadn't painted yet, and Friday, when I did a bit more of them.

I found five little sketches of people in Galway that I had made in 2013, when we went up to the city for a day out at the Arts Festival. Great, you might say, but unfortunately they are on 3 pieces of watercolour paper. So I have two double-sided drawings. But because they are on good paper, and the same size, I'm thinking that I will be able to frame them in such a way that they are double-sided pieces. Of course I have to finish painting the reverse sides now too. Watercolour paint needs to dry!

I also found some lovely pencil sketches from a life-drawing session in Limerick Printmakers a few years ago, when they were down on Sarsfield Street, and I have started painting some of them up too. I must get back into that, it was fun.

Bathroom mirrors can be so handy. 

Photo of three on the beach, Ballyheigue

2015 was the year that Ireland had a glorious summer, but everywhere else didn't. This photo was taken in April, and there were already some hardy souls out playing in the water - the cold North Atlantic - and enjoying the sun. We didn't realise it at the time, but the tide was starting to come back in and later on we would get caught at the far end of the beach, and our options were to risk breaking our ankles on the stones or climb over the dunes and find a way back to the village that way. We took the second option.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sixty-six days: Day 1: the first Monday

The objective is to create a good habit, and according to research, it takes 66 days to cement a good habit into your life.

I might not do the entire 66 days one after the other, but what harm. I have other commitments too.

On Day 1 of 66, I finally finished a seascape in acrylic on paper to my satisfaction, and worked on another larger painting. The seascape was one of those that I'd put aside, in part due to other commitments not directly related to making art, but also because I couldn't see where the problem was and I have found that in such cases, it's good to put it away for a bit and when you see it with fresh eyes, it's much clearer what's not working.

What I did? Instead of beating myself up over not painting really early in the morning, I decided to take up the brush in the evening. I find I want and often need to do other things early in the day anyway, like meet deadlines for text work, sort out administration, run errands, do housework, gardening. And now that it's getting darker earlier, painting in the evening makes more sense when you need the daylight time to be outside.

I'm mulling over starting a new body of work, in addition to the literary landscapes thing.

Ballyheigue, seaweed and surf, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Instagram, and a photo from 2014

A few weeks ago I started an Instagram account, and while it's fun, it's nowhere near as good as taking a photo with a proper camera, that you can edit.

My other half DigitalDolf thinks I should start taking photos as RAW files instead of JPG files because RAW files hold more visual information which makes for better images in the long run. He has a point, as anyone who has viewed his WordPress account will agree.

But in order to use Instagram, you need to be online all the time to shoot, edit and upload. It's great in many ways, but sometimes you might accidentally shoot and upload something first and regret it later .... while instant and online and globally shareable have their merits, there are times when it's wise to sit and wait.

And I haven't uploaded all the photos on my phone to Instagram, I will be keeping a few to use to make paintings. Am redisovering landscape ... and ways of using technology to make images.

Now all I need to do is find out how to replace the particular print head on my printer. Sigh.

Feel free to follow me on instagram.

The Skelligs in the Distance from Valentia Island, 2014

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Guy in Orange and Blue

Guy in Orange and Blue, 2014

I forgot about this one, I did it in late 2014 on a tiny little canvas for a group exhibition in Moneygall, along with a few others. It was cute.

The drawing it was from was included in a composite painting entitled Carrier Of This Reality which I made not long after I finished art college. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Biro drawing at An Seabhac, the wine bar in Rathkeale

An Seabhac - 26 October 2001

Another one found when I was having a declutter. Gosh, I have so much work that I've forgotten about ... but as this is in one of my hardback sketchbooks, it won't be sold on. 

A biro is a cheap ball-point pen, I'm not sure if the word is used widely outside of Ireland.

'An Seabhac' is the Irish for 'The Hawk', and was apparently the code name for local commander of the old IRA in the early part of the 20th century, not to be confused with the thugs, drug-dealers, bank robbers, pimps and child traffickers who call themselves the IRA today. 

It was also the name of this legendary tiny wine bar in the town of Rathkeale, County Limerick, where we spent many, many Friday nights enjoying the music and the lovely food. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bohemia Bagel

Bohemia Bagel I, II and III

I thought I had these scheduled to be published on my blog as of last week, but no matter, these things happen. 

Bohemia Bagel was this franchise in Prague that did simple light lunchy or breastfasty or snacky things, as well as interesting teas, coffees and hot chocolates. There happened to be a fairly large one near where we were staying the second time we were in Prague, and we ended up going there for breakfast and other meals more than once. It was a good place for sketching too. Part of my Prague Punctum series. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Man Standing

I think this was a sketch I did in Lisbon, Portugal, and the man was mesmerised by a group of Cape Verde musicians playing and singing outside of Café Brasiliera. And they were wonderful musicians, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and enjoy a few coffees. And get some sketching in. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

White Strand sprats

Kind of had to up the resolution in this one so that the sprats could be seen! I took this photo May 2016 during our mini road trip to White Strand near Spanish Point in County Clare, on what was probably the first day that really felt sort of summerish - for Ireland, all things being relative.

What is it about light on water that always affects you? Is is the movement of the light on the water, or how the colours are affected? Or does it have to do with us being mostly water, or perhaps with the notion that water can represent the subconscious? Or all of the above?

No matter. It was beautiful and restful and chilled on the warm rocks there. I think it will form some kind of annual pilgrimage, harking back to when we'd go to Spanish Point for a week in the summer for the Willie Clancy Summer School. 

Back in Petrin Park I, II & III, in Prague

This couple were sitting several metres away from me, and kept moving around on the grass and talking. It was a lovely warm and sunny afternoon, as I recall. Spending the afternoon in the park with your honey was the best thing, especially in a city as lovely as Prague. 

I found the pencil drawings again after many years during one of my Great Declutter Sessions, and decided to paint them up a little - I wanted to suggest a 'hook' in each image, something like what the late Susan Sontag wrote about photographs, that each photo has something that draws a viewer in, which she called a 'punctum'. So I ended up called these my Prague Punctum Pictures.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Still life study: Pears and clover flowers in oil pastel

I'd completely forgotten about this drawing until I was tidying things up to photograph them, I did it last summer.

It's always good to have fruit in the house, it's something to draw AND it's healthy - score! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cow's parsley on Valentia Island

Simply sharing this photo from the day trip a few weeks ago to Valentia Island. It's fertile but fairly exposed in places, so not a lot of trees grow away from the eastern end of the island, but it is lovely. And there's the light. Valentia is one of the few places in the Western World that ISN'T affected by light pollution, you get a very clear view of the night sky - if it isn't raining, of course. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Palermo Sea Front with 5 figures

I really liked Palermo. Particularly the boardwalk/park set-up near the harbour with the huge ceramic things that were more like beds than benches, and were half the city would come for the running in the early evening. Lots of people stretching, sitting, relaxing, moving. Many with their dogs and kids as well. 

What is it about some places that they take such a hold on your imagination? Many Italians from the north of the country told me that I shouldn't bother with Sicily, or anyplace south of Rome, but honestly, of the mainland cities I liked Naples the best, and if I were to return to Italy any time soon, I'd go to Sicily again. I've said it in previous blogs that Palermo has a particular energy, like it was built over a strongly beating black heart that vibrates up through the buildings. It has so many different architectural styles, you go around a corner and there's a fabulous Baroque church front, or a Norman castle, or you're into a souk-like warren of streets. 

I did like other parts of Sicily that we visited, there were some lovely places along the south coast that I'd like to visit again, and a few places that we missed, like Marsala, and Siracusa. And I wouldn't mind seeing more of the islands as well. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ballyheigue and Banna, Lough Akeragh outlet

The day I took the photo that I used for this painting, we got caught by the incoming tide and had to climb over the dunes and go through a housing estate to get to the road so that we could return to the town of Ballyheigue where our car was parked with our ankles intact. The alternative was to risk injury on rounded rocks and stones for nearly two miles, as the beach itself was under water. So no.

It's a beautiful beach, there were swimmers at the Ballyheigue end and some fishermen near this end of it, and I saw some windsurfers out at as well. Will check the tides before going next time. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Return to Valentia

We went back to Valentia Island in Kerry for photographs, we were hoping to be able to get clear shots again from Geokaun Mountain, the highest point on Valentia, but alas. We were there during the incredible summer in 2014, when the weather was simply glorious, and the views were stunning, but sadly on the Saturday of our return visit in 2016 it was very misty, and even though Geokaun cleared, we wouldn't have been able to see much of the surrounding landscape, so we found the Skellig Viewing Point and went up there instead. It wasn't a total dead loss - Knight's Town, the main town on Valentia, has a really interesting bookshop that's part of a pub, and while the town itself is heaving with young families enjoying watersports in August, there are interesting placenames and you can't help wondering how they got there. Plus we got talking with a nice man from Alberta, Canada named Ken, and a lovely couple from Murcia in Spain, all avid Star Wars fans hoping to get out to see Sceilg Mhíchíl.

I will repeat it ad nauseum: The Skelligs Islands are a wild bird sanctuary. Be happy to sail AROUND them. (Whether or not the film crews actually got the permission through the correct channels to actually go on the island has never been made clear. Stories abound, let's just put it that way.)

Anyway, here are some shots.

You'd kind of wonder what was going through the minds of the monks who lived there long ago, out there at the edge of the world, as it was then. They were completely at the mercy of the elements, and the sea out there is treacherous, and I would imagine that the mainland was invisible for much of the time as well. And there were no rescue services, no helicopters, no radios .... Just birds, rocks and ocean. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Three squashes on purple paper

So last weekend I was in Draíocht in Adare, which is not too far from where I live, and I showed a few of these pastel still life drawings to the Bould Agnes, and Agnes suggested I go and frame a couple of them up and bring them in, because You Never Know ....

It will be next week, no sooner.

Alternatively, I could try selling them unframed through my Saatchi page.

Decisions, decisions. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ballyhoura Forest Park, chalk pastel drawing

Well, more the view FROM the forest across the valley really, but you get the idea. I enjoyed making this, got a big sheet of orange paper and my pastels and the photograph, and got stuck in. All fixed and put away safely until I have the occasion to dig it out.

Every day I am going over photos and today I have worked on some I took while my Dutch nieces were visiting (technically just one's a niece and the other's her bestie, but I've known them both since they were little, so both are members of the extended family by default). I do have some nice ones with landscape shots that I've shared on my page already, but Dolf has this Photoshop trick for bringing out landscape shots that he showed me and I want him to show me again, so I'll save the rest till later. It has a way of bringing out the luminosity of the skies and the light that I love ....

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Photographic prints

Over the years I've taken lots of photos, and some of them I really like in their own right. This is why I decided to do a little photoshopping on some of them to improve them, and post them on Saatchi Online, to be available as prints. Follow the link to see the picture. :-)

I also like this one as a photograph, it reminds me of paintings by my cousin Blawnin Clancy, who is fantastic at capturing light on water and the subtle life under the surface in oil colours.

Am hoping to go off to Valentia Island in Kerry soon and get some shots and also hopefully some drawing and painting done there too. Fingers crossed we get some decent weather! 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Instagram and a watercolour drawing

I have recently started to enjoy Instagram. I only have one gripe about it: you can't upload images from a PC or laptop, only from a phone or tablet. So I can't tidy photographs of artwork before posting them on Instagram.

But I get around this by doing things like this: I take a photograph of my computer screen and what's on it, and post that up on Instagram, showing the link to the blog or website as well. I'll post a link to that later.

I also posted a photo I took (and doctored slightly) onto the Saatchi website, and prints will be available.

And finally, a drawing from a few years back, done on location in Limerick city centre, during one of the Big Screen afternoons on O'Connell Street, when there was a big All-Ireland GAA event going on and the Limerick team were playing. Great vibe on the streets. Painted up with watercolour paints because .... I suppose because I could. :-) 

And the link I mentioned earlier? Right here. Scroll down till you find the one that says Saatchi Art.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Biro sketch of a Finnish girl

Well, I think she was from Finland, I was talking to another person in the group and he said they were from there, so .... this sketch is from 2002, I think.

She was wearing a long leather coat and had that long sweeping dark hair. And I think she was a little bored, and younger than the rest of the group she was with, hanging out at the pub by St John's Castle in Limerick city. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Crossed arms in Abbeyfeale, 2002

I think this was when the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (national festival of Irish traditional music) was in Abbeyfeale, which is not far from where I live. And I did enjoy sketching people, but it's hard to get into it again .... I'd like to get them sitting outside, cross-legged, or lying, or doing something other than sitting or standing. I've got some good ones of people reading, or texting, or watching something very fixedly. However, there are situations when drawing like this would be inappropriate, I did consider bringing my sketchpad into a church and doing people in there, but somehow that doesn't sit well with me, especially if it's a funeral. Actually, a funeral would be .... WAY out of line. So no.

But that the time I was doing loads of these sketches, I was using a bound sketch pad and not watercolour paper, as I have been using more recently, so I can't really go working on the original sketches anymore. But I can copy them, and transfer them. Hm. And I do have LOTS of these. With lots of pencil activity going on there - I was working FAST. I would have completed a sketch like this in about 7 minutes. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Landscape painting - Looking East from Bonane Heritage Park

It took me a while to finish this, I kept finding things I didn't like about it, and finally it's done. We came across this place when on a road trip, and I took some photos and sketches, and eventually made this painting using acrylic paint on paper. I also reviewed the location on TripAdvisor, follow the link, and used the painting as my photo, very sneaky of me!

We just had visitors from the Netherlands and I didn't take as many photos as I could have - I tend to watch out for them more when they're here - but I did get a few real beauties of some of my relatives, but as they are young children I won't be posting them on here, but passing the shots on to their parents who will use them as they see fit. They are sensible parents.

One question, though - why do I have all these Russians viewers all of a sudden? I'm delighted, by the way - *waving to Russian followers* - but would love to know how that happened, and what I can do to make it happen again. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

On Dad's shoulders

A superfast sketch, so fast that the poor man's head looks almost detached from the body, but that's the way with pencil and paper. Looking through old photos, I found one of my Dad carrying one of us like this too, it was nice. Watercolour paint added later.

I think I did this one in Sicily. I forgot to note down where I was at the time. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

A nude from Limerick Printmakers life-drawing sessions

I am seriously going to have to start photographing the vast collection of nude drawings I have, easily a hundred of them from the time I lived in Groningen to when I was back in Ireland. Most of them are not framed. 

Friday, June 10, 2016


I have kept my page going, lately with a lot of photographs. is the one for photographers, after all.

Today I uploaded two photos:

As I write, I am eyeing a pile of drawings and watercolour pieces that I need to go through to see if I have actually photographed them, many of them I haven't. I have so many of the bloody things now! If I were to exhibit all of them at once, I'd fill a huge space. HUGE. The next blog will probably be about them. 

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Street Festival painting all framed up

A very simple white frame can be lovely, and I think it looks nice and fresh.

I suppose one of the reasons I still hark back to that particular street festival is because it seems now, in retrospect, to be a night out of time. Normal life was suspended and there was music and dancing and hanging with your mates. There was a palpable sense of enjoyment. I am not sure if I was aware WHY I painted the blue house so crooked, but I think now that that was the reason for it. 'Normal' was just a word, that night was all about the music, the dancing, the banter - the craic.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Acrylic landscape: Ballynoe Hedgerow

I brought this little one down to Draiocht in Adare along with a couple of others and Agnes was there and said she'd like to hang it, so that's where it is. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tina and the Rainbow

Spotted the rainbow first, then noticed the cat. 

Hello, there is something  buzzy and fast and delicious in the grass right there ....


And I am going to catch it .....


Yippie-kai-ay, you buzzy morsel!

*Burp!* Please excuse me.

I am a sated panther now.