I was telling my girl Liv about my book sales.
“Is it a bestseller?” she asked. She knows it is, but she also knows I like to say it over and over again. She’s kind.
“Why yes,” I said in an animated, interview voice. “”Now that you happen to ask, it is.”
The little terrier, whom she was cuddling on the sofa, jumped out of her arms and ran towards me. He sat on the carpet, fixing me with an intense gaze.
“You’ve hyped him up,” said Olivia. “He wants to know more.”
So I started telling Reuben my story.
“It starts not in Galway, but in Paris,” I said. Reuben looked at me quizzically. “I was sitting on the thin beige carpet of my apartment one hot July afternoon…” A small wag of the tail.
“He’s interested,” said Olivia.
“My life was going nowhere,” I said. “My friends were going back to college in the autumn, but I wasn’t going anywhere.” Wag, wag, wag.
“He definitely likes this story,” said Olivia. Reuben was looking at me intently. I knew that look…he ran off to get his teddy. That’s what it had been about all along: he didn’t care about my story at all.
I’m making the most of the summer. So is my girl Liv. She and I are on our own this week, as her brother is spending a few days in Cork with a pal. So Liv and I are both sketching every day, in between the showers. She is a great model, and not alone will she sit for me without complaint, but she will also make Reuben sit for me too. She has a natural authority that others can only dream about, and the dog will roll over, find his toy when she hides it, nose his ball closer to her when she tells him, spin around…and he will pose for me if she tells him to. I don’t need long as he’s just a heap of fluff with pointy ears, a nose and two eyes, and occasionally a tongue. Liv had been chucking bits of crust from her sandwich for Reuben (who normally doesn’t eat anything but person-food, in particular chicken or beef, because I have him spoiled rotten), and he was enjoying catching them mid-air. He’s not too good at things like that so he was feeling pretty pleased with himself: and so, all Liv had to do was hold the crust up and he was happy to wait for it to be tossed. I think you can tell from his face that he is waiting to catch the bread mid-air again.
I haven’t mown the lawn for an eternity (the lawnmower has a flat that no one can fix but the lawnmower guy, and he is off on hols). So my take on it is that it’s for the bees. I like nothing better than the sound of lazy bumbling around flowers so it’s worked out quite well, actually.
After I finished the sketch it started raining again – hard – and didn’t stop until the next day. But hey! I had my fun and that’s all that matters, as the legendary Father Fintan Stack would say.
Later that evening I joined my friend Mavis for a spot of urban sketching. It was still pouring down so we met in Green’s of Kinvara. It was most convivial and we had a lovely evening, with lots of drawing. But I should not have chosen the man on the left as my subject, as he could NOT keep his head still. Wobble here, wobble there, up, down, it was like he was checking to see if he could still move his head in every axis. Pity because he had a good strong profile. His lady wife was much calmer, and played cards with their two dear little blond boys. I complained to Mavis.
“They’re visitors,” she said. “The man is on high alert. You need to get the locals.”
Sure enough, the locals were settled and still. Give or take a laugh and a sup of a pint, they were much easier to draw (see the ladies in the background). I learned my lesson.
Yesterday my friend Lorraine called around. I am teaching her a bit of sewing and she is making a really nice skirt from some gorgeous fabric. It’s a deep sky blue with navy octopuses and striped white angel fish on it. She’s going to be great at it. She brought me some lovely gifts: banana bread, Gubbeen cheese from Sheridan’s, some smoked trout and a heap of veg from her garden. She brought cucumber, basil and beetroots, and the latter looked so beautiful that I hauled them out to the patio and sketched them.
I used dark green ink for the leaves and red for the beetroots, then I splashed them all over with wtaercolour. I liked the fresh, loose result.
Liv sketched Reuben, who sat obediently for her. This time she held a tiny bit of stick up for him, a stick that was for some reason just right. You might notice that the stick is a stub by now: that’s because she had to throw it for him periodically to keep him motivated, and each time it had been chomped down a bit more.
Liv and I will go sketching somewhere again today. If it stays dry…
And while I have you – still a few places left in my “indoor” urban sketching workshop this coming October 24th-26th in Galway. Get in touch for details!