Wednesday 27 May 2015

More Shinrinyoku!

We are getting lots of gorgeous days, plenty of time for shinrinyoku (Japanese for "a walk in the woods for relaxation"). A few weeks ago we had passed a road sign for Knocksink Woods and had never been there, so Saturday we decided to explore - it was less than 10 mins by car from our house! The woods were fabulous, with all kinds of gnarly trees and exposed roots continuous up the side of the mountain.

 The Glencullen River passes through these woods, and there are lots of little waterfalls, and what I would describe as a creek. Of course I brought my sketchbook and trusty watercolour pencils. I found a rock to sit on beneath a bridge and opened my sketchbook...

We crossed the bridge to walk back on the other side of the river and were stunned that areas of wild garlic were as far as the eye could see, providing ground cover in the woods.

Of course I had to pick some and made two more batches of pesto (using walnuts this time) dividing in meal-size portions for the recently defrosted freezer. Yum!

Wednesday 20 May 2015


I make New Year resolutions each year, which I know that with some work, are possible to do and therefore I don't feel weighed down by failure when the impossible becomes obvious!

The past few years I have included in my list of resolutions to work more on my writing, which has been set aside (unfairly?) in favour of my preference for painting. The art magazine, CIRCA, to which I contributed art reviews for a number of years seems to have folded, so my writing has generally taken the form of FaceBook and blog posts, which I have tried to do regularly.

My other writing outlet has been poetry. My first published poem was "Portrait" in the New Irish Writing section of The Sunday Tribune (now defunct) in the spring of 1989. Following this a number of my poems were published in literary journals and magazines in Ireland and Canada, then I abruptly stopped writing and submitting poems in the mid-1990s.

Poetry has begun to re-emerge in my notebooks in the past few years and I have gotten the gumption to submit a few poems to literary publications in Ireland. So it was with great pleasure that I received a positive reply from Cyphers, a Dublin journal, that two of my Haiku poems would be appearing in the spring issue. An even greater pleasure was to receive my contributor's copy in the post recently.

Wednesday 13 May 2015


I have been enjoying sketching again lately and using the opportunity of receiving flowers to have a subject which I have always loved, tulips. I thought I would post a few of these sketches. The sketch below is done using a 3B or 4B pencil.

I am also having fun with watercolour pencils. A friend recently mentioned "water pen" to me, something I have not yet come across -- must investigate!

Tulips are sometimes exhibitionists!

Another soft pencil sketch.

As I am reusing some old sketchbooks with blank pages, I am also coming across older sketches. This is an avocado pencil sketch from 2001.

This sketch is from the last Umha Aois; Experimental Bronze Casting symposium I attended (Ventry, Co. Kerry, Aug-Sept 2001). It is a drawing of my husband's pit furnace and handmade bellows.

Of course sketches may contain kernels for new paintings. My recent trip to Rome obviously inspired this as a counterpoint to my recent painting "Fractured City".

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Walks and Sketching

 I am getting back into the habit of taking a sketchbook with me everywhere I go. I used to do this when I was younger, having sketchbooks of a ridiculous number of sizes and for every possible occasion! A few months ago when I was specifically looking for early "cityscape" sketches for the painting I was working on, I came across quite a few sketchbooks that were half empty. I decided it was an awful waste of paper if I just left them, so decided I would simply turn the sketchbooks upside down and start from the now "first" page -- and make sure I put in current dates so that any new sketches would not be confused in my artistic timeline!

As I have mentioned before, I went on a little jaunt to the Waterford area after Easter. On the way there I stopped in Carlow to visit the art centre there and have lunch. Prior to that, however, I was on a mission to find the Browne's Hill Dolmen which I had looked for unsuccessfully about 20 years ago. Now it is well signposted, no trouble at all finding. I took my sketchbook with me to see what I think is the most amazing and best example of a dolmen that I have seen.

As the weather has become less and less wintry, I have had the inclination to go on more regular walks and enjoy "shinrinyoku". This is a Japanese word I learned last year which literally means "forest bathing" but translates as "a walk in the woods for enjoyment". Though not the woods, the avenue leading to Powerscourt Estate, a big house and gardens not far from us, is very scenic and lined with stately trees. We went on a family sketching day there in April.

For some actual shinrinyoku, there are the easily accessible, and very close to us, woods on the side of Bray Head. This is an April 19th sketch of a very knotty and ivy covered tree that I liked. I enjoy doing sketches using watercolour pencils, bringing along a small plastic container of water with me, just dipping the pencils in water as I wish.

On the bank holiday Monday just past, the bluebells were out in full force in these woods.

Again, a sketch using watercolour pencils on a very pleasant day.