Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sketchbook Journeys - Ireland: Days 3-4

I wanted to stop and visit every cute little town we drove through in Ireland. They all looked so inviting, with their colorful buildings, interesting shops, pretty houses, and window boxes filled with cascading flowers. We did make a stop in Ballycastle, where I sat in the warm sunshine on a stone wall, balancing my sketchbook on my lap and drawing while eating an ice cream cone. Ah, vacation!

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

(Click on any of the sketches to see a larger view.)

I got such a kick out of the terracotta chimney pots on the buildings in Ireland. They're something we rarely see here in the US, and they really add a lot of interest to the skyline of the Irish villages. Some of the old ones have beautiful designs molded into the terracotta. On the larger Victorian manor houses, they were treated as an integral part of the architecture, resembling huge chess pieces with spiked crowns and elaborate base mouldings. The ones in my sketch are much simpler, but they add a nice dash of red to all of the buildings.

Chimney pots in Ballycastle

I have an unfortunate tendency to make all of my buildings lean to the left in my sketches, as you can see here. I never had this problem before I got my most recent pair of glasses, so I like to blame it on them, instead of my own inability to draw a vertical line. I really should work on being more aware of what I'm doing while I'm doing it - I usually don't notice that everything's leaning until I sit back to survey the finished sketch. Then I mutter to myself, "Oh, shoot! I did it again!"

The Torr Head Road, near Ballyvoy in Northern Ireland, is considered one of the best scenic drives in the world. No sketch could do that gorgeous scenery justice, but at least I commemorated it in my travel sketchbook ...

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

I even managed to preserve some of the white paper to indicate a flock of sheep grazing near the ruins of an old abbey. It wasn't easy to do - they're really tiny!

Detail of Torr Head sketch

Painting the Giant's Causeway was challenging, trying to figure out how to indicate the rock formations without getting into too much detail. I like how the sketch turned out though.

Detail of Giant's Causeway sketch

When I have a page filled primarily with text in my sketchbook, I like to add some background color to give it a little pizazz. This one shows some of the hundreds of sheep we saw along the Torr Head Road, painted very simply. It looks okay, but I have to admit I'm a little hesitant to post it, because the writing chronicles one of the funniest moments of our trip, and it's embarrassing! If you must read it, just remember my intentions were good. Honestly, sometimes I'm such a doofus!

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

On our last day in Northern Ireland, we visited a couple of spots around Portrush, before heading for Dublin. My favorite was the Dark Hedges, an allée of huge old beech trees.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

It looked like something out of a fairy tale, so I painted the scene with a palette of soft, dreamy lavender and turquoise. Looking at this painting takes me back to the feeling of pure delight that I felt as I stood there sketching, with those long, sinuous beech branches arching overhead, like the ceiling of a leafy tunnel.

Detail of The Dark Hedges

The day turned blustery as we toured a nearby castle, and, before we hit the road for Dublin, we decided to have lunch at a quaint little tea room next door. As we waited for our lunch and warmed up next to the fire, I sketched the quirky interior of The Wee Cottage.

Detail of The Wee Cottage

As I sketched, my mom whispered to me that an elderly gentleman was watching my every move from the next table. He barely spoke to his wife, seated across from him; he had eyes only for my sketchbook. After finishing our tea and sandwiches, I got up to leave, and he initiated a conversation, asking me where we were from, what brought us to Ireland, where we were headed next, etc. He was so sweet and kind, a very proper Irish gentleman. Art opens up doors and makes friends out of strangers.

More sketches tomorrow ...

1 comment:

  1. What a treasure in these pages. I had so fun following along with your images and your reflections. It is fascinating. I liked how you captured the sheep on several pages (what restraint to leave some of the white paper!) and the rocks of the Giant's Causeway look great too. I look forward to seeing more of your special journal.


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