Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cork Horror Comic cover in pencil

This is the pencil work for the Cork Horror Comic. The comic is an anthology created by the Cork Comic Creators group for this years Dragon of Shandon Festival. 5 local writers and 5 local artists are involved in the anthology and are currently working together to create 4 page horror comic stories. The Cork Horror Comic will be launched at the Dragon of Shandon Festival this coming October. The cover depicts a dragon reeking havoc on Cork City Hall.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Watercolour or Watercolor - The battle continues

Hello all,

I haven't posted in bloody ages, which I feel bad about... honest.

I have been happy doing some watercolour and gouache paintings lately, so here are some for your eyeball pleasure.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Four Islands

I did this during the current exhibition in the Grainstore, Ballymaloe.  The idea here is to depict the Lighthouse Island next to Ballycotton in a new way.  By putting four different views of it together on the one piece, the viewer is encouraged to see the island as a dynamic object, constantly changing appearance based on weather, time of day and season.  I breezed through it, doing it in 6 days.  Tricky areas were getting the islands to look more or less the same as each other, there are differences between them, but I hope they're slight.  I started top left, then right, then bottom left, and finished today with the bright green corn in bottom right.  Top left took time as it was first and I always start off slowly.  People, especially kids, were intrigued when they saw it as a WIP.  I like painting during exhibitions as I hope it demystifies the whole art making process and provides a focal point of interest for people too.  Exhibition runs until Sunday, 17th August.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sceitse- Battery Recharging

This week, some of the Islanders have been doing posts about where they find inspiration and go to recharge their batteries. For those that know me, it will be obvious where I go to recharge my batteries. Its to the sketch group 'Sceitse' that I help organise. This is the place I go for inspiration, to really open my eyes to the world,  take a break from work and to keep my art not just work but as a bit of a hobby too. Broadly Sceitse is a sketch adventure group, and it is really broken into two types of trips A:) Adventuring- where we head off to the mountains on foot or jump into cars and go sketch exploring.

Gougane Barra mountain walk
Hungry Hill mountain walk
B:) Activities- where we try out various activities and see if we can combine them with sketching. As we say in Sceitse "if you can sketch while doing it, we will". This has lead us to combine sketching with all sorts of things, like sketch cycling, sketch caving, sketch sailing etc.

Sketch sailing in Lough Allua
Sketch caving in the Ailwee caves 
For  me, as an archaeological illustrator, the highlight is of course the archaeology. Its often an adventure and a half trying to find them (sometimes not finding them), trodding unexplored paths, clambering over fences, struggling through forests, discovering the hidden gems in the countryside. Its the anti-tourist ireland, going where most people will not go bar archaeologists. Some sites you visit end up being disappointing, as there isnt much left or its damaged but the walk there and the view from the site, often make it worthwhile as you get really SEE the place, which you wouldn't have stopped at otherwise. Other times the sites are full of mood and mystery, like megaliths caked in mist or wondering a forest and finding a castle hidden within with vines growing up the side, inspiring stuff!

Castle lyons and Monkeys Bridge stone pair, both in North Cork

But one of the most important parts of the group, is the social aspect. We spend alot of time chatting, talking art, philosophising, making jokes and laughing. That last, laughing, is the sound you would most often hear coming from the group. Its such great fun and I have made some good friends because of it.

When I think of all the great mountains with spectacular vistas I have walked, the ways I have explored what is around me and all the amazing sites I have seen, I feel very lucky. Its been an unbelievable time and the group is only getting bigger and better, so Im just happy to be part of it.

With that, ill leave ye with another really important aspect of the group and that is sketching, here are two of my favourite sketches out of the many, many we have done while out on the various adventures:

Inchinlinane Gallán or Standing Stone
Rostellan the Tidal Portal Tomb
More can be found about Sceitse over in the blog: and the facebook page:

Friday, August 1, 2014

CUADRILLA TUTORIAL; Raul Recharging batteries


finally I´ve got time enough to post something XD.

Well the illustration I´m posting is quite specific, I spend a lot of time drawing for work, that makes me need a strong "valve" to scape from it. Mainly there are two options, the first one is judo & self defence (about 6 hours per week) and the second one is the "cuadrilla". 

And what  a "cuadrilla" is?. Shortly said a "Cuadrilla" is the basque stereotipical group of friends. They have been investigated as sociological phenomena in the Basque country (quite weird, I don´t think they are exclusive from Basque Country). If I make a naif description about what a cuadrilla is, I would talk about a group composed by a couple of single-sex old friends. They are created during the childhood and the group prevail isolated till maturity. Cuadrillas are supposed to be the main reason for the Basque Country to be the place with less sex in the state (this is real a data XD), if you want to flirt with somebody you must go out from your territory and enter the territory of the person you want to flirt with, everyone around will be analicing that anti protocol situation.  The most tipical activities in a cuadrilla are eat, drink and sing. 

Well, all the cuadrillas are not the same and fortunately nowadays they are not those so close groups (most of them), in my cuadrilla for example, it is true that many people are old friends (some of  us we´ve been together since 3 ), and we love make huge weekend meals, but unlike traditional cuadrillas, girls are welcome and they compose the half of the group (clever guys XD).

Monday, July 28, 2014

4th exhibition and where i go to fill creative batteries

Just to give ye a heads up; my fourth solo fine art exhibition started today and will run until Sunday 17th August.  It's on in the Grainstore, Ballymaloe.
                   Regarding the theme,  I consider myself very lucky where I live, I've only to go on a short walk and there's enough there to get inspiration.  Like the following piece, 'Dazzling Sun, Shadowy Hawthorn'

That's just outside the front entrance to my house. 
                    So nature is the main recharger for my batteries, growing up in a rural area, from a farming background (father was a tillage and sheep farmer) and then working in rural areas in archaeology, all formed a base for my art.  Also living next to the sea, I'm lucky because it is a massive resource, constantly changing, there's always something new. 
                  Spontaneity is important, so I particularly love those moments when I'm doing something else, see something that could be good for a subject for a piece, and then follow through.  Like this, Frosty Dead Plants:

I was walking in Fota that day, and wasn't looking out for something, just walking and came across an amazing scene of last year's plants coated in frost.  One of my favourites.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Front Gate St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

This is more pencil work from early on in the Ghost of Shandon sequel, Vampire King. It depicts the front entrance to St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. I tried to skew the entrance slightly to reflect the tone of the storyline.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rainwater on a Lupin Leaf

One January evening, a year and a half ago, my sister Claire, who loves gardening, drew my attention to one of the potted lupin plants.  She's been responsible for a good few of my painting ideas. Rainwater had gathered from a shower on the central part of the leaf.  The water looked similar to a diamond.  The edges of the leaves meeting towards the centre of the leaf reflected the light wonderfully.  Doing this was fairly straightforward, the central water area was the tricky bit, I had to paint squiggly shapes that didn't look like anything half way through, but made sense when the painting was finished.  Nice to have this one done so soon to the next exhibition!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Charcoal study of a Rembrandt

 Here's a quick charcoal study of Rembrandt's "Old man in a fur hat".
 Charcoal is something I don't use a lot, however I do tend to purchase
it when I am refilling the pencil box. Subsequently I have
 discovered that I have quite a stock of it in the studio... 
..time to get more use out of this medium then.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

This is pencil work for a double page illustration that features very early on in the Ghost of Shandon sequel, Vampire King. The illustration depicts Ronan in a 19th Century St. Fin Barre's Cathedral that is nearly finished construction.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Red Damselfly

These spectacular insects come around during May and June.  The bright red on this was a good contrast with the green leaves around it.  The wings were a bit painstaking to do; lots of tricky angles.

Sketch Island

The cross slab in the monastic settlement
The early medieval church built with dry stone building technique, amazingly no mortar was used in building it
Sketching in twilight while on the island, the view of the monastic settlement from our camp fire

Night sketching-  The sky was very clear that night, like a daytime sky with a very dark ground plane of night

One of the beehive huts on the island of Illauntannig, there was another 2 there also

Inside one of the beehives in the early medieval monastic settlement on the island of Illauntannig

Sketches from my trip with the group Sceitse, fellow Islanders Eva & Kevin were there also, along with 10 other friends. We visited a deserted uninhabited island off the coast of the Dingle peninsula in Kerry, near castlegregory, called Illauntannig. Where13 intrepid sketchers invaded the island for 4 days of uninterrupted camping, sketching and just general fun.

We hung out watching civilisation and life far off in the distance across the bay while we had the time of our lives in an amazing island which constantly changed depending on the time of day, weather, light and which part of it you were on. Also the island had a 1400-1500 early medieval monastic settlement on it, which I set up for alot of the weekend in, as you can see by the sketches above of it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eastern Sky At Sunset From The Strand Field Cliff

The location for this view is just over 100m South from my house near Garryvoe Beach, at the edge of a field.  The view is looking east towards Knockadoon.  The occasion was one of those rare events where the Eastern sky reflected the setting sun opposite it in glorious colours.   I used a fair few colours I don't normally use, the blues in particular were quite complicated mixes of Ultramarine Blue, Process Cyan and Fluorescent Blue.  The central peach coloured band was a mix of Naples Yellow, Vermillion Red with a pinch of Burnt Sienna to darken it slightly.  The lone figure on the strand on the left is one of those rare occasions where I put a human figure in a landscape.  I thought it'd be a good measure of scale against the vast sky and sea.  Stubbles from a recently cut crop of barley are in the field on the left.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sketches from June

Rostellan Folly 

Rostellan Portal Tomb

Belvelly Castle
Some of the sketches I did in June while visiting places in Cork harbour with Sceitse. The first 2 are from a tiny whiny Sceitse to Rostellan woods and its environs and then the last is from a mini Sceitse to Fota Island, we finished up visiting the nearby Belvelly castle as shown. I seem to be going mad sketching out and about these days! Ill have to cut back in the coming months id say! Though I dont think that will be possible as in a week and a bit we are going to be renting an island off the Dingle peninsula for a few days!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Back Cover Cork City Library

This is the back cover of a booklet I was commissioned to illustrate for the children's book department of the Cork City Library (minus the text box.) The illustration is based on the Glass Elevator from Roald Dahl story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 12 page booklet is aimed to encourage children to read over the Summer months. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was chosen as the theme because its the 50th anniversary of the publication of Roald Dahl's book. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

View of Storm Darwin Over Ballycotton Bay From Garryvoe

This painting depicts a specific weather event; Storm Darwin, which struck Ireland on 12th February this year.  During the afternoon, the winds whipped up the worst gusts in many years.  Went down to the tide, not to paint it (not that crazy!), but to take a few reference shots.    The sea spray and waves were amazing, the islands are barely sticking up above them.  To make the spray stand out, I darkened the sky, making it look more threatening.  The weak watery sun is shining on the waves from the right hand side.  I used purplish-grey hues on the sea throughout.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Recently, for a laugh, I did this short comic strip.  A little collaboration with a friend Andrew Judge  based on some ideas I've been kicking around. This is very much a trial run, there's lots that could still be fixed/tweaked in terms of the drawings etc I basically haven't drawn a comic since some efforts in my teens and this was a kick start personal project..

Each page was sketched in Painter (i love its pencil tools) very roughly and then inked over in Photoshop. I had a rough layout idea for each page scribbled on a sketchpad but re sized and moved things around in the software once i started.  The Script was a panel by panel break down but with Andrew's okay, i altered the layout, condensed or got rid of some panels in places to suit and aimed at 3-4 pages maximum.
The characters were never really designed, i just drew them as i needed when i got to the particular panel(except the girl, Andrew provided me with a reference pic for her). In retrospect, I've done a bunch more designs and explored versions of these guys and other characters and also tinkered with some alternate styles to the art. The inking is a bit rough and ready but to be honest i didn't want to linger too long on it as i had other things i needed to work on and this was just a side project.  Andrew has had some further ideas on character backgrounds (they now even have names :) and stuff based off of this short, so the hope is to expand on this once off and flesh out both the story, characters and setting.

The Lettering was done by Andrew and really gives it a nice and professional sheen in my opinion. He likewise was using this as an opportunity to explore lettering and collaborate and i think hes done a great job. In terms of Storytelling visually, I'm happy enough with it though there was room to be a bit more dynamic maybe and the leap from the Big brawl image on Page 3 to the Denouement on Page 4 might be a bit abrupt? Page 3 and 4 are probably my favorites in term of layout etc. Backgrounds were kept minimal. I was basically wary that i'd stop drawing this, push it aside and not return to it for weeks/months etc so I didnt want to linger too long doing detailed backdrops etc and it also probably is the excuse for some drawing fixes being overlooked! But hey, it was fun!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014



This time I´m writing about one of the last caricatures I´ve done. People in facebook who have followed my new illustration account, have been able to follow a little poll about which famous characters would they like to see cartooniced.

translation: You decide, who would you like me to portray?,
actors, artists, famous people, athletes, politicians, celebrities...
coment, share and I will portray the most voted one 

more than 50 people voted, I did not expect so many people participating on this so I can consider a success as a strategy to promote myself (so I will do another one in a future).

The point is that most of the participants were spanish (or basque depending their self determination XD) and the character who got the most votes was a spaniard as well, who is very famous in this country but maybe not as famous out there... so I found a great chance to show to the islanders something about my country that probably you will not find in books or turistic guides about spain...


Jordi Hurtado is the TV presenter of a Show called "Saber y Ganar" (Know & Win, in English), this show is famous for his large amount of programs, actually it has reached the 4.000 chapters and has spent continuously since 1997. Another aspect of this quiz is that the questions are extremely difficult and the awards are much more austere comparing to another TV shows from spain, whose audience strategies are more innovative but not as effective as Jordi´s TV show. We could talk about a TV living fossil that the time cannot change.

Because all of this, Jordi has become a popular icon in spain that has given rise to many urban legends and loads of memes around his inmortality, in fact this man does not seem to age over the years...

The original one: a vampire? a cyborg? rasputin?... who knows.... 
So that´s all, hope you have met this post interesting, most of times this kind of local jokes and humour are the most dificult aspects to show to outherns.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Library Booklet Cover

This the is finished, coloured cover of the Cork City Library booklet I was commissioned to illustrate. The booklet is to encourage children to read over the Summer and it also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Three of my books

So, after a long hiatus, I make a reappearence for the extended theme week about some of my art books. I have a gigantic collection of books. So I had to think, which one to choose? I picked out two beautiful books about two of my interests and one educational art book.

The first book is "A Gap in Nature" about extinct animals from the more recent past. The paintings are super acurate and drop dead gorgeous! And to top it all: The original paintings are freaking lifesize! I have an own art project about the extinct animals in mind and this book is really helpful in providing informations  about the animals. The author and the illustrator had the amazing opportunity to study the specimens in the museum's archives to provide as acurate as acurate can be paintings.

The second book is about an another interest of mine: Wonderchambers and nature's oddities. Wonderchambers or Wunderkammern or in this case in German "Kuriositätenkabinette" are the ancestors of modern natural historic museum's collections. Back in the 1500s due to the raising interest in the wonders of nature and technical toys, kings and nobility began to collect all sorts of exotic animals, nature's oddities and artwork or apparatons. I found this book years ago in an antiquary and fell in love with the beautiful photos and the descriptions. It gives a freat overview of the history of the Wonderchambers from the Renaissance until present time.

An example spread of the book. :)

The third book is the book Color and Light by James Gurney. This is a very helpful guide for studying light and how colour compisition works. I need to study it further to get a better grip in more realistic looking light and shadow effects. What I loved are the practical tips llike how to build a gamut mask and using photo-Effects for a traditional painting to give it more depth and a more realistic touch. I want to buy next "Imaginative Realism".

Here are the sources from were I got the images:

A Gap in Nature:

Das Kuriositätenkabinett (about Wonderchambers)

Color and Light

Monday, June 2, 2014

Themed Week: Books of Inspiration

Greetings, I'm one of the newbies to this site, Ann Harrison. 
When the suggestion that we post about books that have influenced us was raised My first thought was, that's a great idea! And then thought, but I can't choose just one... So....this is a short list of the books which I feel have made the most impact on my artistic style and practice. 

As you can see from the photo I have a lot of Movie art books :) while these are all excellent and full of inspiring work I'm going to draw attention to some of my more thought provoking books. 

The Stanfield Lectures vol 1&2
These were published not that long ago, and in reality I'd say it's very difficult to read from cover to cover. It's more of a read a few entry's at a time and then spend a few days thinking about it as you draw. The two volumes made a massive difference to me and I felt really improved the way I constructed characters and drawings alike. Well worth the time :)

Comix buro, assorted artists sketchbooks, found these in the Dublin Forbidden planet, normally printed in French :) each one is full to bursting with beautiful inspiring sketches and paintings by various comic artists.

Scott McClouds Understanding comics, trilogy. (The third one is missing from the photo as it's on loan to a friend at the moment.) these are inspiring reads, whether you agree with his view point or not.

"Force" Character design from Life drawing by Mathew Mattesi. Another one that really helped in my use of the life drawing I'd been doing. 

The Animators Survival kit by Richard Williams.
My degree was in Animation and Illustration and this is the book I wish he published a few years earlier! It came out as we completed the degree and it is just full of wonderful and clearly written examples of why it works and how to animate well. 

I could probably ramble for a good while longer but I'm distracted enough by looking over my books, I'm going to go read some of them now :)