Monday, 18 August 2014

Kilcrea Abbey & Castle

Kilcrea Abbey

The Bell tower

The Scriptorium, apparently manuscripts written here are preserved in Rennes, France

Kilcrea castle, a tower house with bawn wall and a guard tower

The top of the walls

Looking down at the guard house and the abbey beyond

The view from the top looking west

Today I visited Kilcrea abbey, been hoping to get there for years, and visiting the site, it did not disappoint at all, probably one of the best intact and most impressive medieval sites I have visited. And so untouristy, barely any people there, allowed you to have alot of time alone to soak it in and just listen to the silence and ambience. Well worth a visit.

More photos here:

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Kilcrea Abbey

I stopped in a place I have planned to see for years today, Kilcrea Abbey, just off on the main road between Cork and Macroom. What an amazing site, probably the most intact 15th-16h century Abbey I have seen and the castle beside was incredible as well, one of the best medieval sites I have visited. Here is a sketch of the central bell tower I did while a the abbey

Thursday, 14 August 2014

'Stories of Irelands Past' Seminar Art Display

On Thursday the 28th of August, at the yearly NRA(National Road Authority) Seminar, I will be showcasing the work I have done for them and be there to discuss my artwork and answer any questions attendees may have about my process and archaeological illustration, from 4 pm to 5 pm. The Seminar will take place in the City Wall Space, Wood Quay Venue, at the Dublin Civic Offices.

The Seminar is the 20th of Anniversary of the founding of the NRA and so suitably it will reflect on various aspects of Archaeology in Ireland and the discoveries in recent years through the NRA's road building schemes and the resulting archaeological boom around it. The day features a series of promising talks delivered by some of the leading academics in their various fields. Im certainly looking forward to attending and Im blown away by their list of speakers, many of whom I have read their brilliant books and articles when creating illustrations.

Hopefully I will get a chance to see some of ye there too. For more on the Seminar and the timetable for the event take a look at this link:

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sketches from Sketch House

Ballycarbery castle

Part of Ballinskelligs Abbey

Unfinished sketch of the view from Geokaun mountain on Valentia Island

Recently I went with the sketch adventure group, Sceitse, to sketch explore the ring of Kerry and stay in a house across from Valentia Island for 3 days of non stop sketching, above is a selection of my favourites. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Gouache Figure

Recently I have picked up Gouache and mixing that with a small bit of watercolour. I started using the medium with figural painting, the above is one of the many greyscale figures I did with it. I have to say the minute I used the medium I loved it, it feels like a mix between watercolour and oils. As its way more forgiving than watercolour, and allows alot more control, especially the ability to work with the light shapes and highlights. Also loving the mixture of hard shapes or soft blending you can get with it, looking forward to playing with it more!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Sceitse- Battery Recharging

This week, over in the Islander Art Blog( we have been making posts about where they find inspiration and go to recharge their batteries, so I have just copied and pasted there here to my blog as well.

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 sketch mountain walk

Hungry Hill sketch 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,North Cork
Monkeys Bridge stone pair,  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:

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Sketches from Youghal

Sketch from Youghals Beach

Sketch of Canon in Youghal

Some of the sketches I did while at the Youghal sketch event in mid July. It was with the group I help organise, Sceitse, and as always with Sceitse, the trip was alot of fun, a good mix of sketching, socialising and enjoying the sites Ireland has to offer. More about that trip on the Sceitse blog:

Friday, 11 July 2014

Forest Study

Been studying forests for the last good while now, whenever I get the chance I try to leave the city and go wondering in one. I have visited loads in the Cork region in the last year or so, been wondering in them, soaking them in, and also, of course, sketching them. This is a larger art study of a forest I have completed. I have been trying out new techniques and ideas with ink recently, and seeing what fits and what doesnt with my inking style. Also Im experimenting to see if I can get the complexity of the a forest and some of the feel of them, their intricate detail and richness.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

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. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Rostellan Sketches

Rostellan Portal Tomb
Siddons Tower
Yesterday, myself and a few artist friends of mine, went for a sketch walk around Rostellan woods in East Cork. We stopped at Rostellan portal tomb, Irelands only tidal tomb, where in high tide its submerged in water and also stopped for a bit at an 18th century folly, siddons tower, built on the edge of the same woods. Was beautiful weather, great company and a great things to sketch

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

My shop

In case any of ye are not aware of it, I have a shop on storenvy:

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Taxidermy Sketches Take 2

Sketch done today while at the Irish adventure sketch group Sceitse, today for a 2nd time we went into Cork University to sketch their taxidermy subjects

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

An Illustrated Life- Book Recommendation

An Illustrated Life- Danny Gregory

This week over in the Islanders blog, we are having a themed week and this weeks theme is recommending a book. So Im going to post the same here on my own blog for yer enjoyment! First off I would like to apologise on the quality of the photos here, as I just have my camera in my phone at the moment.

The book I'm going to recommend, as its good for both professional and amateur, is 'An Illustrated Life'. The book is essentially a collection of sketchbooks, and shows how different artists, designers, comic artists and illustrators etc use their sketchbooks to illustrate their lives or part of it, whether internal or external. While most are professionals, there is one or two here that would be more hobbyist or sometimes are other kinds of art professionals, like architects whom use the sketchbook for fun more than a professional pursuit.

I have found the book a revelation, just to see the variety of ways people use their sketchbooks and their Raison d'être for doing so, some reasons obvious others not so much examples: wild ideas, a form of therapy, connecting to the world, recording their lives, withdrawing from reality, their creative outlet funtime.

Some mention that they make their own sketcbooks with bookbinding, others the different kinds of sketchbooks they use (some wild sketchbooks I had never heard of before, like Japanese scroll notebooks: as well as discussing tools of sketching etc. Some are open with their sketchbooks and let all comers by see them, while others hide in their cars during sketching.

The artists are from a variety of backgrounds, but mostly westerners so Europeans and North Americans. It has some heavy weights like R. Crumb and James Jean as well as alot of others less well known but etching a living in the art field. The production quality of the book is great, nice graphic design and I like the long page format it has, like a large landscape watercolour sketchbook.

I mostly use my sketchbooks to experiment in art, ideas I would never try out in a final piece or to study the world when Im out and about or to tell the story of my sketch journeys but because of this my sketchbooks are often disjointed and all over the place. Looking at these guys makes me want to make sketchbooks with one singular purpose like these guys do, something to be read front to back.

I pick up the book occasionally, just to keep me inspired with new ideas as I sketch alot myself. Im only half way through but it has already been influential in how I use my sketchbook these days and has kept my sketchbooking evolving so its definitely been a great book to read, highly recommended!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sceitse in Imagine FX!!!!

Editors Letter
Double Page Spread

High Rez pages, right click and open in a new tab to see 

Sceitse, a group I have been organising for the last 2 years and a bit has just been featured in a double page spread article in Imagine FX magazine!!!! The magazine is a global art and illustration magazine. You can right click on the image and click "Open in a new tab" to see it in high rez.

Its been one of my greatest achievements keeping this thing going, has been continuously rewarding and surprising what we have seen and what we have accomplished and I have made some great friends because of it and spent many an hour laughing or being inspired. Here's to hoping the group keeps going for another 2 years!

If your interersted, Sceitse welcomes sketchers of all levels and can be found here on FB:

If you would like to see the article in the flesh, you can buy the magazine you can find it easons or online here:

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Young Archaeologists Kit

I did the illustrations for this kit, when I heard about it first I thought it was a great idea, and now even more so, and so please support it by buying one!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Black Night Launch

Islander Art and Drink and Draw Cork have teamed up to launch the Islanders 2nd anthology book; BLACK NIGHT on Saturday 4 pm, May 17th, at, Franciscan Well on the North Mall in Cork City.

The art book contains illustrative artwork and stories from a large portion of Islander Art collective members including myself, JG O'Donoghue, as well as Eleanor Reilly, Kevin Gough, Mike Nolan, Marian Noone, Alan Corbett, Wayne O'Connor, Sara Otterstatter and Raul Fernandez.

Drink and Draw which usually is on biweekly alternatively on Tues & Thurs in the Franciscan well, will be having a one off special Saturday session at the book launch. So bring the art supply of your choice and get drawing, painting, doodling, crafting, whatever you have in mind!. Everybody is welcome, no matter the level!

If you ever missed Drink and Draw on a weekday, this is your chance to visit as the Islanders combine with the drink & drawers to make a DRINK and DRAW ISLAND for one day only!

The FB Event is here:

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Islanders on Irish Radio International

The Islanders will be featured in the Cork matters show which is broadcast this Thursday, the 8th of May, on the Irish Radio International station at 9:30 pm. I will be discussing the Islanders and our upcoming illustrated magazine which we will be launching the Saturday 17th of May at 4 pm in the Franciscan well. The FB event with more details is here: The art book contains illustrative artwork and stories from a large portion of Islander Art collective members including JG O'Donoghue, Eleanor Reilly, Kevin Gough, Mike Nolan, Marian Noone, Alan Corbett, Wayne O'Connor, Sara Otterstatter and Raul Fernandez. There will also be a Drink & Draw at the launch and while Drink & Draw usually is on biweekly alternatively on Tues & Thurs in the Franciscan well, we will be having a one off special Saturday session at the book launch. So bring the art supply of your choice and get drawing, painting, doodling, crafting, whatever you have in mind!. Everybody is welcome, no matter the level!

Cork matters can be found on facebook here: