I thought I might sketch lots in 2024. I hoped I would.
It’s 10th January today and my little sketchbook is filling up nicely.
First I painted my husband Marcel. That wasn’t the plan: I had the idea to use a few colours from the latest range by Roman Szmal to see how they’d perform, but Marcel sketch-bombed my composition when he needed to do some work on his laptop. Far from being annoyed, I was delighted, as I love sketching people, especially my nearest and dearest. I wanted to try using just a few colours. You can see how I got on, in stages, over on my YouTube channel, where I am quite active these days. My husband, alas, was disappointed with the rendition I made of him, but that’s the way it goes with sketching – sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t.
The important thing is that the very reduced palette was wonderful. All it contained was the Quinacridone Warm Scarlet, Natural Umber Reddish, Velvet Black and Azo Yellow, Benzimidazole Brown and Graphite. Some are semi-transparent, some are semi-opaque, one is opaque. Exciting! In fact, I liked the colours so much that I decided to send a pan of Velvet Black to my higher-tier members (the Deluxe tier) in the mail, old-school, just like when we used to get cool stuff with our monthly comic. Off to the postbox I went today, with a big sack of gift-containing envelopes, like a cross between Bob Ross and Santa Claus. Less paunchy than the latter, I hope, although I’m still avoiding the post-Christmas scales. The only thing that makes me a little anxious is that the €2.20 stamp that covers passage from Ireland to anywhere in the world is only good for envelopes with a thickness of up to 5mm, and my full pans of paint are 10mm thick. How filled with sorrow I shall be if the paints are sent back, or – worse – sit in a sorting office forever, weeping silent, velvety-black tears till the end of time.
Some of you may have seen my YouTube video about using a fude pen. It’s got “Part One” written in the title somewhere. “Part Two” has yet to be made. As I sketched the scene you see below, I was thinking I could draw the canvas on the wall of my dining room, and make it into a Part Two of a guide on using a fude pen. The image is a canvas I had made of a photo I took of the ACTUAL mosaic from Pompei itself, hanging on a wall in the Museum of Naples. Seeing that mosaic in the flesh was the high point of 2023 for me. I have loved that mosaic ever since I first laid eyes on it, aged about ten, in the Childcraft children’s encyclopedia. It’s hard to imagine the joy I felt as a 55-year-old when I saw it for real: I had a feeling we all knew as children, but rarely experience as adults. We’re too old, too world-weary, we’ve been too many times around the block. So, to be engulfed in this feeling of magic was a rare treat. The canvas I’d had made didn’t come out as I’d hoped – the colours are a little under-saturated – but I have tried again with a different company who’ve done a good job for me before, and I am hopeful. It arrives tomorrow.
A few days after I made the sketch of my dining room, I was in Galway City picking up a painting for a client. I had nothing pressing for the afternoon, so I indulged myself with a trip to McCambridge’s café to do another reduced-palette sketch. I had it all planned in my mind. Unfortunately, I messed up and took the wrong palette out with me, so i just stuck to the regular colours I had with me. It’s not my best-ever sketch, but I had a super time. Tranquil. Zen. Calm.
And a day or two later I found myself with my son Paddy, in a retail park on the outskirts of Galway. After a bit of shopping, he wanted to have a McDonald’s. Who was I to let him eat alone? I didn’t take much persuasion, and soon we were eating Steakhouse Stack (Limited Edition), coffee and an apple pie. All of which was simply delicious.
I sketched the exterior of the building. The sun moved slowly towards the horizon. I threw a small crust of bread out of the car for the seagulls, then saw a “Please Do Not Feed The Seagulls” sign on the railing outside McDonalds. I didn’t draw the signs. I very much enjoyed the beautiful triad of Aquarious Green, Burnt Sienna and Aquarius Yellow. Overall, I was amazed at how a generic, industrial-scale drive-thru could make such a fun sketch.
Mind you, my positivity wasn’t felt by all the people who saw the sketch on social media. About five or six people saw fit to remonstrate with me for giving McDonald’s space and, as they saw it, promotion. I didn’t mind much – but if you have an issue with McDonalds, write a formal letter of complaint!
Can’t wait for my next Steakhouse Stack and flat white coffee!
Finally…I’ve been having fun lately drawing cartoon animals cooking and baking. I never thought this was something anyone would want to learn to do, but the responses to these bits of nonsense when I did them during live streams on Instagram and YouTube were so enthusiastic that I thought I would offer classes in how to draw them as an extra class…and so it has begun. It’s a whole new journey for me: until now I have only taught on-location sketching, so I am excited to see what happens. The class takes place on Tuesdays from 7.00pm to 8.30pm GMT and it’s for my Deluxe-tier members, just like the pans of paint. So far, it’s proving pretty popular (understandable, at eight classes per month for just €24.95 – before all the free gifts!) so we’ll see if my members continue to love the new classes, and if I can sustain it! But I try to offer something for everyone. If drawing cute animals isn’t for you, I hold live classes every single Saturday, and they’re recorded for all members….in fact even if you just buy one, it’s recorded and sent to you. Your monthly membership will set you back €14.95, and a once-off class is €8 at the time of writing. Members of any tier are also offered a surprise class once in a while, and online “socials” when we can chat in a non-drawing setting, involving tea, coffee or wine, according to your preference and time zone!
I am very open about my pricing – I see so many ads for services where the price is only mentioned far down into your read. I prefer to do my sums upfront, then decide. Some people say to me “Róisín, people are trying to cut back on subscriptions, not take out more. How do you expect to compete with Netflix and AmazonPrime?” I answer that to the best of my knowledge, the people who run Netflix don’t know my name, my progress as a movie aficionado and where I live. Their algorithm might, but no actual people do. On the other hand, my subscription comes with a real, live community, people who know you and where you live (as I do), your drawing style and care about your progress. I get personal satusfaction from seeing your progress, and infecting you with my passion for sketching. It’s a big, happy, positive circle.
Sketching in 2024…it’s already making me breathe a happy sigh.