Weekly Sketch – Alhambra Garden View – 23/04/2017

At last a watercolour I feel okay with showing! I really like using watercolour, I often use it to colour drawings; but I’ve been trying to just use it on its own which I find a bit more difficult. Anyway I’m pleased with this A3 painting of steps from one green courtyard  leading down to another interior garden in the Alhambra Palace.

(© Catherine Cronin)


Weekly Sketch – Long-eared Owl – 14/01/2017

I’m still drawing owls, I’m working towards a full set of English owls. This week it is the turn of the Long-eared Owl; in these drawings and paintings I am still paying attention to pattern, colour and simple forms. I’m using black marker pens for the line and pattern, then splashing on watercolour afterwards. I found drawing the essential forms of this owl’s facial features more difficult to capture than my previous owls.

Some facts about Long-eared Owls are:

1) It’s ‘ear tufts’ are nothing to do with the owls ears, and in fact are feathery tufts that the owl raises when it is alarmed.

2) This owl is nocturnal and secretive; and therefore only usually spotted when migrating or travelling back and forth to a communal roost in winter. Communal roosting is an unusual characteristic of this species of owl.

3) These owls roost in dense vegetation and forage in open grasslands or shrublands; also open coniferous or deciduous woodlands.

4) The loud hoot of the male Long-eared Owl can sometimes be heard up to 1 kilometer away.

5) Typical lifespan is 4 years.


(© Catherine Cronin)


Weekly Sketch – Tawny Owl – 07/01/2017

Over Christmas I drew some owls in my sketchbook; I thought I’d revisit my Tawny Owl sketches, working on them further paying attention to pattern, colour and simplifying form. I’m using black marker pens for the line and pattern, then blocking in watercolour after. These initial works are trying to get a grip on the form and posture of the bird.

Some facts about Tawny Owls are:

1) Resident of the UK and they prefer woodland, shelter-belts and gardens. Their short wings give them great manoeuvrability to hunt in woodland.

2) They live up to 4 years; they pair up in their first year with a mate and usually stay together for life. Tawny owls prefer to nest in a tree-hole but have been found to use magpie nests, squirrel drey, holes in buildings, and nest boxes. A pair will typically produce 2 to 3 eggs in a clutch.

3) It is thought the contact calls between females (ke-wick) and the answering male (‘hoo-hoo-oo’) is the source of the idea that a tawny owl’s call is ‘twit twoo’. And this misrepresentation may be derived from Shakespeare trying to make the overlapping calls fit into a verse in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

4) They are a nocturnal bird, active at night and roosting in the day. Old names for this owl are:  hill hooter, screech owl, wood owl, beech owl and ivy owl. Some of these names are a reminder of the owl’s daytime roosts.

5) The pioneer bird photographer Eric Hosking lost an eye to a tawny owl while trying to photograph it. His biography was aptly titled An eye for a bird.


(© Catherine Cronin)


Weekly Sketch – Barn Owl – 01/01/2017

Happy New Year to you all!

I am starting the new year with lower back pain, which means I can’t do any printing as it hurts too much. I have been drawing and painting Barn Owls over Christmas. Such a beautiful bird. Initial sketches transform into patterned forms.

(© Catherine Cronin)


Weekly Sketch – Fern & Matisse – 27/07/2016

I wanted to paint a lovely Japanese fern that I recently purchased; and it was serendipitous that I happened to place it in front of a Matisse foliage print. I rather like the way they echo each others shape; and the colours work together harmoniously.

FernandMatissePaintingCCroninWEB FernandMatissePaintingCUCCroninWEB

(© Catherine Cronin)


Exhibition Visit to Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse

Firstly to say a funny name for this exhibition, I think it gives one the impression that there will be a fair few pictures from Monet and Matisse featured in the exhibition. Lots of paintings by Monet but only two (if I remember correctly) by Matisse. Anyway I still recommend this exhibition, not just for the two aforementioned big names, but for the other artists featured of which a few I had never heard of , and for me personally had executed some of the best paintings in the show.

First up Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931), a Catalan modernist painter. In one of the rooms his painting ‘Jardines de Aranjuez’ dominates the room with it’s fiery golden glow of receding trees,a backdrop to a single white foliaged tree standing dead centre in a grassy circle surrounded by flower beds. No internet search reproduces this image true to the intense colour as seen in the gallery. The orange glow seemed to illuminate beyond the painting itself.

Another Rusiñol painting that caught my eye is the one below ‘The Green Wall’, again the colour in the below image does not reflect the vibrancy of the original. The perspective in this image is so skillfully executed: the path is just pulling the viewer to step into this picture and explore; the path leading us downwards but the vertically rising walls enticing us up.


You can view numerous works by Rusiñol here www.allpaintings.org/v/Art+Nouveau/Santiago+Rusinol+Prats/?g2_page=1


Another Spanish artist that I was impressed by was Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923), his paintings are very lively, playing with colour contrasts, light and shade, form and movement. I can’t find any images online for my favourite pictures from the exhibition. During my research I did discover that his home and garden in Madrid is now a museum to his works, and there is a fantastic virtual tour through the property:



Another artist I hadn’t come across before is Henri Le Sidaner (1862-1939) a French artist, who when asked what school (of art) he belonged to, said: ‘None. But if you absolutely insist on categorising me, I am an intimist.’ The paintings below ‘Steps, Gerberoy’ and ‘Le Pavillion’ in reality have a much more opalescent painted effect, which creates a dreamy atmosphere, as if between two breaths something magical might happen. Again the colours in these images do not justice to the real paintings.

Steps, Gerberoy by Henri Le Sidanier

TheAthenaeumLePavillion_Henri Le Sidanier


Okay I will finish up with two big name artists, and two paintings I hadn’t seen before, Edvard Munch ‘Apple Tree in the Garden’ and Raoul Dufy ‘The Little Palm Tree’. Wonderful colours and brushwork, oh to be able to walk into any of these paintings would be a joy.




Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse is on at The Royal Academy of Arts until the 20th April 2016. www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/painting-modern-garden-monet-matisse