Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Corbally Neolithic Settlement

Recently I did a reconstruction of a 7 house neolithic settlement excavated at Corbally, Co. Kildare, Ireland. If all 7 houses were contemporary it may be one of the biggest neolithic settlements in Ireland and Britain.

Technique wise, in the last few months- to a year I have been experimenting with white ink pens overlaid on the blacks as well as greys the image. Also in the last year, I have been using digital to correct mistakes in the end but also I have started to experiment using digital to add to image. This is the first time I have used the ink tools in Corel Painter to add to the image, so some of the line work is actually done digitally. I might at some stage go completely digital, if I can retain most of my style in the transfer and perhaps improve it in the process. But at the moment Im still learning the ink tools in Corel Painter, which Im enjoying doing as they are great tools, but its still in its early stages.

It was a very interesting one to work on as I got help from Butser Ancient farm and the Ancient Technology Centre in England, both places have made their own Neolithic houses in the past, with ancient techniques. That lead to some interesting interpretations of the evidence, like the possibility that they used birch bark to cover their roofs. This was done by peeling the bark of birches in large sheets, flattening them to create a covering instead of thatch, as shown here. Its quite possible they did do this as pioneering farmers may not have had access to the amount of hay they would need to thatch, as they definitely wouldnt have had the farm land to do so at the start. The other option is reeds, but it apparently takes about 2 tonnes of reeds to thatch one house. The nearest water source, which may have had reeds, would have been the River Liffey, which was 2.5 km, away, thats a 5 km return walk, getting 2 tonnes of thatch for all 6 or 7 houses, that would have been quite an ordeal. On the other hand, birch would have grown all around them, so would have been much easier to source and use.

More info on the site can be found here:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Painting Sligo

Been a long time since I posted here, a busy Summer to say the least. Just a little update on a few of my murals from the past couple of months that I did in my home town of Sligo, all commissioned by Sligo Tidy Towns Committee.

'The Hart of Sligo' - Union St.

'He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead' - Adelaide St. Carpark

'Dracula' Bram Stoker mural, Stephen St. Carpark.

Thursday, August 28, 2014



here I go with a new post.

Yesterday a very important artist from spain died. His name was Peret, known as the father of "Rumba Catalana". Great musician, doing concerts till the end of his days (79) years. He not only has made history in the music (at least in spain),  he also has keep a fresh style along the next generations reaching mine.

I saw him in a concert about 3 years ago, we spent a great time. So here is my tribute of gratitude 

If you want to know more about him here it goes some info

and also one of his most popular themes. paradoxically the songs says in it´s chorus "No estaba muerto, estaba de parranda" which means "he was not dead, he was out partying"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sketches from August

Sketching at Youghal Beach in a mini Sceitse event

Gouache figure painting- been playing with Gouache recently, especially with figure work

Ballycarbery Castle-  one of the sites we sketched at in the Sketch house event on the Ring of Kerry with Sceitse

Kilcrea Abbey- By Lonesome I stopped at Kilcrea abbey on the road between Cork & Macroom for some sketching

Its been a while since I posted, so I thought I compile some of the sketches I have done over the last month and post them here for all to see, enjoy!

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!