Draw-In | Colleen Barry Figure Drawing Atelier

Wow, what an action packed 7 days this has been. The Draw-In Symposium had been an amazing experience already, so to be followed on with Colleen Barry’s 5 day figure drawing workshop… it’s been brilliant. I’ve learned alot, We revisited key anatomical structure points, gesture, posing, anatomical structure… it’s been an intense 5 days. As it happens, for me at least it has gone by lightning fast. Listening to Colleen articulate what she knows about human anatomy, how the bones function, twist and turn, carry weight and how various muscle groups are attached and then relating all of this to the life and essence of our subject matter, is like being a kid in school again and listening to … hmm, I don’t know, ghosts stories at Hallowe’en perhaps!

Colleen Barry Workshop, Belfast

Colleen Barry’s Workshop, at the University of Ulster, Belfast

Our workshop was split into 5 days, this consisted of:

Day One being our Block In stage, employing straight lines and large shapes, looking for gesture and line of action. measuring, finding key anatomcial landamrks

Day Two: The Torso, a further investigation into the rib cage and pelvis relationship

Day Three: The Head, neck and Shoulder Girdle and to develop the correct orientation of the head, neck and shoulders.

Day Four: The Legs, feet and Gluteus. We took a closer look at the structure of the femur and tibia relationships. A breakdown of the three major muscle groups of the thigh (abductors, quadriceps and the hamstrings)

Day Five: Focus was on the Arms and hands. We took a closer look at the Humerus, Ulna and Radius and how they twist around one another. We searched for the Transverse high and low points. We focused in on the upper and lower arm muscle groups (Triceps, biceps Extensors, Flexors, Pronators and Supinators)

Various progress photographs.

The final piece, on Friday 5th Sept. I learned alot through working on a contrapposto pose. One thing I learned through this approach was how to better utilize and understand how form shadows and casting shadows were produced on the model. Colleen did a good job of explaining this, it’s been a fantastic experience.


Friday – Final


Gesture Drawing Exercises

Critical thinking and reflection:

It’s only been a day since we finished our workshop. I realize now that to move forwards and improve on my own anatomical processes, I will need longer sessions to study. I’m currently utilizing the figure drawing classes in the University of Ulster, but they cater mainly for animation students and as helpful as they are, it’s not enough to help me move forwards. The longest pose we might have during that class is 45min, and that isn’t enough to explore tonal value and the subtleties in anatomical form whilst keeping it loose, free and allowing the drawing to breath and maintain the energy of the model. There’s alot to think about.

In summary we had an intense but fantastic experience working through the week. I’m hoping I can do this again soon! Colleen is able to articulate her wealth of knowledge and experience beautifully and is very generous with her time when assistance was needed. Made a bunch of new friends, in all it was alot of fun!

In closing, it’s been a brilliant week and I hope to do this again soon! Here’s a picture of our awesome crew:


Behind: Ciara, Sarah, Alice, Phil the Skeleton, Robert Craig, Julie Douglas, Nisa, Fionnuala and Caroline. Front: Pat, Peter Cooper, Colleen Barry, Jacinta

Life Drawing Symposium

Draw-In | Symposium Weekend 30th-31st August

What a weekend! The Draw-In Symposium finally arrived and it was filled with fun, drama, stories, demos and tonnes of artwork and drawing to experience. In fact, the Draw-In event itself had already started a week previous with Matt Weigle’s brilliant painting workshop. Both Colleen Barry and Matt Weigle were flown over from New York especially to take part in and attend the Weekend long Draw-In Symposium event. Some of Matt’s workshop can be viewed here at Julie’s website

Left to right: Colleen Barry, Matt Weigle, Aidan McGrath, Paul FoxtonPeter Cooper, PJ Lynch, Shevaun Doherty and Julie Douglas (Founder of the Draw-In Symposium)


The Symposium kicked off with a fantastic talk by Colleen Barry.  Colleen is a phenomenal artist and painter and her growing wealth of experience and knowledge she openly shares with others.

I gave a 1 hour creature sculpting demo, I touched on building a wire armature, the drawing and design processes involved, laying out the main forms and masses of the character and posing the design in dynamic but subtle ways to help bring out the character of the creature. I’ll have an update on this creature sculpt very soon. I had approx 1 hour to flesh this fella out.




The guys in the audience are born sculptors in their own right! After we passed out some Super Sculpey to the audience they got stuck right in, here’s just a handful of what was made during my time on the stage.  I’m so impressed!

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In between workshops, I’d be doodling 3D creature concepts in the shadows… this was a 3D blockout of the main creature design I was working on during the Saturday. I had lots of invaluable input from some of the artists involved working through workshops of the day. Thanks to their insane enthusiasm and help, I was able to make design decisions much faster than normal to help me along the way.



Also giving demos at the Draw-In Symposium were:

Shevaun Doherty:

Shevaun is intelligent and fun, she is an artist that explores the botanical world, whether it be plants, trees.. even beetles and micro animal life, her painting work is amazing and her volume of work is growing.  The amount of attention to detail that Shevaun employs in her work while painting her subject is phenomenal.  In the world of botanical art, every little detail has to be observed fully and recorded. Through having fun conversations with her, I realized just how open and inquisitive she is, she’s always discovering as she goes and this shows in her forever growing volume of artwork. We got into a great chat at one point, about getting high on pufferfish! To see more of Shevaun Doherty’s botanical artwork visit: http://botanicalsketches.blogspot.co.uk/


PJ Lynch:

Finally got the opportunity to meet PJ Lynch at long last. A really good guy, fantastic artist and a professional through and through. He gave an hour long portrait demo whilst at the same time taking questions from the audience as he worked. I’m a huge fan of the artwork he produced for the book Ignis by Gina Wilson, and I had the honor of showing him the creature sculpt I’ve been working on based on one of his dragon designs. Ignis in this case. A great painter and artist, really happy I had this opportunity to meet him at long last.

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Paul Foxton:

Paul gave an awesome and thoughtful demo on how to improve your artwork through the practice of exercising various drawing techniques regularly. He talked about developing creative and artistic habits, things like sitting by a desk and drawing straight lines, or even simplier, getting into the ‘habit’ of opening a sketchbook every morning… so that you’re ready to doodle. Value is a key topic of conversation! A very interesting workshop, Paul was articulate in his delivery and made it enegaging and fun. To find out more go to: http://www.learning-to-see.co.uk/


A big shout out and thank you to Julie Douglas. As founder of the Draw-In event, she has steered this from day one and made it happen. It’s been an unmissable opportunity to be involved as an artist and get to meet everyone else who attended. It’s been a humbling and highly creative experience and I hope it happens again in the future. It’s been a blast.  Thanks Julie!

Creature Design Sculpture

Sculpting Gym – Demon Sculpt

Some updates on my (yet another) demon sculpt.

… “Nooooo, don’t make me go back in there… I’m melting … I’m melting!”


He’s started to evolve well and is veering away from the original drawing slightly. Not so sure it’s souls he’s looking to feed on anymore… it might be struggling artists, I’ll keep you posed on that.

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UPDATE:  20th August

I’ve made progress on this sculpt. I’ll be posting the results in a day or so, for now however he’s momentarily headless.




Creature Design

A butterfly named, Robin.

During my lunch break today, I was watching (researching) the late, and great, Robin Williams. I was watching ‘Robin Williams – Inside The Actors Studio’ via You Tube. I can’t recommend this video enough, if you have 90 mins to spare, and are interested in acting, drama, laughing… watch this.

When Robin touched on working on The Fisher King with Jeff bridges, he talked about one of the things he learned from Jeff, and that being… when things don’t quite go to plan during filming, it’s okay. Film is about about catching the moment, especially those moments, and when things don’t quite go to plan and something else happens that perhaps wasn’t rehearsed, that can add an additional dimension to the performance. During this scene though, a… what I thought was a moth, fluttered past my head and collided into the window in front of my desk. It was a butterfly, a lively one… a Peacock butterfly… I couldn’t help but think it possessed alittle of Robin’s spirit and energy when I watched it fluttering around trying to find somewhere to fly away to or nest. I took some photos of this fella, before I helped him back outside. An absolute surreal moment…


It was tricky, he wouldn’t stay still… but I got lucky with this snap.


Here, he’s trying to explore behind a picture I have on the window, he realizes very quickly this isn’t a good idea and backs up.


At this moment, he’s thinking… sh*t, I’ve landed on Mars….  how did that happen?!



LifeDrawing – 14th August 2014

We had a great night tonight. Clare suggested last week that we try something new and draw via an ipad. Now since i do not own an Ipad, I had only one option, my Dell Precision Laptop and Wacom. It was tricky, my laptop is the weight of several bricks, and setting up the computer along side the Wacom on my stand, was challenging. Getting a feel for this took time, I was late for class so I had no warm up… I was coming in cold, damn cold. My screen was fixed, so I couldn’t move it portrait position, although we did try that (thanks Bill!)  When I did turn the laptop around for better drawing ‘real estate’, it makes things more mind bending when using the Wacom in unison with the screen, (what goes up, really goes left)

Clare did great work tonight however and gave us some great poses to draw from, one or two of them were nice and difficult, just the way I like it! All of these poses were 20min each. I spent a good bit of time correcting for proportion etc when drawing on the laptop at first. Takes some getting used to. It was fun playing with different brush settings in realtime, as opposed to changing from charcoal, to ink in the real world. I was able to put my drawings through post and get a nice inked look though. They turned out quite well. If i were to do this again, I might think about a bigger screen somehow. The one thing I wasn’t happy about most, was not being able to vary the weight of my lines the way i wanted. I was working in a very small window and when zoomed in, it was too easy to lose track of everything else. I’m big and heavy on gesture and I like to work big… this was a real challenge!  (Geez, thanks Clare – great idea you had last week!!)







Life Drawing

Symposium Preparation – maquette sculpting rundown

Had a great time last night, setting up and doing a practice sculpting session for Julie Douglas’s Draw-In Symposium. I decided on a creature maquette design for this one as opposed to maybe a bust. System check called for, tools check, material check, crew check… everything was good. Need to keep an eye on the pot though, it likes to cook my clay into soup, in this case, Chavant soup. Yum. Big shout out to Lisa for donating her cooking pot to a good cause! It’s keeping my clay warm like no other. Judith did a great job on camera and Julie, thanks for the photos!

I made a relatively quick concept in Photoshop, for the night’s exercise.


Maquette creature design, a demon that’s in desperate need of soul feeding.

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After making the armature, I lay out the main forms with clay, starting with the bigger masses and working my way around the character. I’m forever adjusting the pose as I go…I’m still using my sketch as reference. In these shots I’m working on getting the hips better,watching the shift in weight and trying to get a counter balance between the shoulders and hips and get as much of a dynamic pose as i can, despite the fact I’m trying to keep it quite relaxed. Get in there!


I had a  short time to work on this fella, so he will be continued this week.

Creature Design Uncategorized

Sculpting Gym | Week Four

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Managed to get more sculpting time in tonight and further roughed out Frankenstein’s main forms. In hinds sight, it might have been better to sculpt direct from Boris himself, and add the ‘prosthetics’ afterwards!  He has proven tricky, the jaw is a real gotcha, but he’s slowly… coming out of the clay to say, …  “boo!”

It’s been fun. Working in Wed is great, allowing the clay to dry is okay, it can be softened again with water. Various paint brushes are handy to paint in water in some smaller areas, like wrinkle lines. Looking forwards to signing off on the main forms and start detailing alittle.


In the meantime, I need to keep him wet!

Creature Design Sculpture