Friday, 16 August 2013


One of the great joys of taking part in the Art in the Open festival in Wexford recently was meeting so many lovely people.  As well as spending time with good friends, I got to meet many great artists from around the world. I also got to see parts of Wexford that I had never been to before and it really is a beautiful part of the country.

One native of Wexford that made a big impression on me was an Irish Wolfhound called Breanach.  He is a gorgeous big gentle guy with a big personality. This is my impression of him.

This is soft pastels on velour paper. 9.5" X 11"


Friday, 4 January 2013

The All Blacks, they're not!

In 2011, the Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand.  A friend of mine, Ray, traveled with his wife to New Zealand, primarily to support the Irish team but also to take a holiday in a country that he had long had an interest in.

Now I’m not going to go into the highs and lows of the rugby campaign, exciting and all as it was and when Ray returned, we all had to relive it over again many times at the coffee table in work; no, what really caught my interest were the photographs he took while travelling through the country.  One photo in particular stood out.  It was a shot of two black swans.  A rare sight here in Ireland, they seemed strange and exotic.  Knowing I had a penchant for drawing fur and feathers, Ray asked me to draw or paint a picture of the swans and I was happy to oblige. 

I started to do some research into these beautiful creatures as I find it difficult to work from just one photo. The first thing I discovered is that they are not black, well not completely.  They have beautiful white flashes on their wings which are very striking when in flight – that’s definitely on my list for future paintings, but even their dark feathers are mainly a very dark brown with light edges which range from a grey to pink tint.  Of course, they also have that signature red beak.

What also surprised me was how much they differ from their white cousins in the arrangement of their tail feathers which form a series of ruffs moving towards the tail.  I had a lot of fun painting this and Ray says it’s now hanging in his hallway. 

If you’re in New Zealand, look out for some black swans but if you’re looking for the real All Blacks, you’ll need to see their formidable rugby team and hopefully, it won’t be the Irish team facing them while they perform their Haka.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What a performer!

I was really looking forward to seeing him.  I had planned to get there early and find a good place where I could spend some quiet time getting to know him.  I knew it was going to be a long shot but I was hopeful.  I also knew I wasn’t going to have him all to myself and I had heard that he could be a bit…well, awkward; like a lot of celebs, but I was hoping that I’d get lucky and that he would at least glance my way.

As I approached, my heart sank.  There was quite a crowd there already.  Undeterred, I got as close as I could.  I got my camera ready…and waited…and waited. 

Then quite suddenly and without any fuss; there he was and boy was it worth the wait!  This was no difficult or ungracious performer.  This guy was pure class; very aware of his public and ready to reward our patience.  He strode purposefully back and forth; working the crowd and he was very aware of the excitement he was creating. 

Then it happened.  He turned and sat quite close to where I was – glanced my way briefly and then turned away again.  That was fine; I had my shot.  I stayed as long as possible watching him and his beautiful, but much more shy, mate.  Of her we just got fleeting glimpses through the grass high up on the ridge.  There are rumours of a little one (or three) on the way.

Eventually, I tore myself away and headed for home to work on a painting based on my reference photo.  I think I got lucky with the painting too or maybe it’s because we came face-to-face and I was able to draw on my experience of him and not just the reference photo, but I think I managed to capture a little of his personality.  In any event, he has left an indelible mark on my heart!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

It's enough to make you weep...

...with pure joy. 

It was one of those mornings, you know the sort, you feel a little down and at this time of year, you're thinking about the coming winter. There is always the threat of Christmas too and the knowledge that I'll never quite be ready for it regardless of how early I start preparing. So I don't, start preparing that is, and that just leads to inevitable panic.  Because I know all this; I get even more anxious and a bit more down.  

Anyway, this morning I decided that there was nothing for it but to get out and make the best of what was quite a sunny morning, and besides I needed the exercise.  Luckily, I also decided to take my camera.  

I'm very lucky to live just a stone's throw from one of Dublin's loveliest urban parks. Corkagh Park is on the site of an old mill and has quite a history, but that's for another day. As I walked through the gate, my spirits started to lift. Autumn had definitely arrived and the trees were resplendent in orange and russet hues.

Now there are three lakes in the park but one is a particular favourite of mine and I think I have come to consider it's inhabitants to be my friends.  They are quite tame and will actually take food from your hand.  In fact, they are quite assertive and are not at all pleased if you have nothing for them - it can be quite intimidating if you're not used to them.

And this guy pretends he's not interested but keeps a look out:

I walked on as I wanted to get some more shots of the trees and there is a lovely old Scotts Pine up beside the Pet Farm.  Now the farm is a fun place with enclosures for sheep and goats, a family of pot bellied pigs and assorted ornamental geese and ducks. When it's quiet and the children are all at school, some of the animals are allowed out into the park to graze. I was just starting to focus up on the Scott's Pine when this little guy wandered up.  He was actually tethered but was on a very long rope. He is such a friendly little guy. A lovely gentleman who was passing offered to take my pic with the pony.

I chatted to the kind gentleman for a while and we both agreed that it was such a joy to be able to walk in such lovely surroundings and get close to both wild and domesticated animals so close to Dublin City. 

As I was heading away from the farm I spotted this old married couple sitting under a tree:

I eventually headed for home forgetting about my Scott's Pine - I'll go back soon for that. I just had to detour to sit beside the little river for a while. So peaceful and quiet; the only sound was the water rushing over the rocks.

As I walked on, I realised that I did not feel down any more, in fact my spirit was soaring. I headed for the gate content in the knowledge that things can't be too bad with all of this beauty so close to me that I just have to step out my front door and I'm here in five minutes. I turned for one last look and almost wept with sheer joy.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Bit of a Barney

It was a quiet day at the lake, not much happening. Some seagulls were cleaning up the last of the bread that children had brought on their way to school.  The Heron had arrived but hadn't taken up his usual statuesque stance staring into the water, waiting for an unsuspecting fish.  Instead, he stood gazing across the lake.  It was definitely an uneasy calm; you just knew, somehow, that something was going down.

Suddenly, over at the left bank, all hell broke loose.  There was lots of honking and white feathers flying.  The perpetrator made a run for it with his adversary in hot pursuit.  All the ducks and small waders scarpered; well you don't want to get in the way when the big guys are having a barney!

Well that's how I remember it!  As luck would have it, I had my camera with me and managed to capture the scene.  I couldn't wait to get home to paint it.  Here it is:

This painting was bought recently by a lovely lady called Sheila.  I'm delighted to know that it has gone to a good home!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

My Labours of Love

Since I took to drawing animals, I have had the opportunity to look at some really beautiful creatures and hopefully I'll get around to working on some drawings and paintings of them all. In the past year or so, however, I have had the pleasure of working on two real labours of love.

My daughter, Caoimhe, has the cutest Chihuahua called Brogai. Now I should explain that 'brogai' is the Irish word for shoes. So why did she name her dog 'shoes'? Because when he arrived he was small enough to sleep in her shoes, which he did for the first few weeks. He soon grew out of them. Actually, Brogai is a standard Chihuahua, not the handbag kind and is a lot bigger than maybe you'd expect a Chihuahua to be and he has a big personality with a lot of attitude.

Here is my drawing of Brogai in his combat jacket. I used coloured pencils on watercolour paper. This work is now hanging in Caoimhe's living room.

My other great labour of love was a drawing of my brother, Colum's dog, Stevie.  Stevie is a Flatcoated Retriever and typical of the breed, he is a wonderfully intelligent working dog. He is strong and brave when working but when he is off-duty, he is an absolute messer - great fun!

This drawing is graphite on smooth Bristol Board. It was a birthday gift to Colum and I think he likes it because he hung it on his sitting room wall.

I have added both of these drawings to my Animals page. Feel free to browse through the works and please let me know what you think.

Monday, 22 October 2012


Welcome to my blog!

I am a Dublin-based artist and I've been drawing and painting on and off for most of my life.  In recent years, I've been working mainly with dry media such as soft pastels, charcoal and graphite.

While mainly self-taught, I have also taken several workshops with well-known artists and I have been awarded a Diploma in Pet and Animal Portraiture from the London Art College. I also hold a diploma in Interior Design.

I have a great love of the outdoors and I like to paint en plein air whenever the weather permits, capturing the beauty of local wildlife and floral subjects.

Recently, I have begun to concentrate on my passion for animals, producing portraits of wildlife and domestic animals.

I accept commissions and I am happy to discuss your requirements.

I hope you enjoy the paintings and drawings here.