Painting and Sketching in Gleann Cholm Cille

I've been making pictures on the west coast and in particular in Gleann Cholm Cille (Glen for short) for years now.   I've pulled together my experience from previous classes and sketching tours to structure a week that should be fun, informative, and productive.  So on this page I have some notes on what we'll be getting up to and some tasters on the kind of pictures I like to make.  Also jump to the end of this page for a few notes on things you might like to bring to get the most from the week from your preferred medium(s).

If you wish to book for my session which is in July then link to the Oideas Gael Website.  Your reservation is with Oideas Gael!

Bench at the Main Beach, 2015, Pencil on Paper, 21 x 29cm.

Completed outdoors with an A4 sketchbook and 2B and 4B pencils. Gleann Cholm Cille.

1.  Anyone can make pictures!  I'm very much of the opinion that anyone can learn to make pictures.  All you need is the desire to learn.  So over the week we'll have a little bit of time in the classroom each day to go over some basics, maybe an hour in total on any day.  This will help to equip us for the rest of our time making pictures, preferably outside.

Merlin River, 2015, Acrylic on Canvas, 30 x 40cm.

Gleann Cholm Cille.

2.  Gotta get out there.  Gleann Cholm Cille is a beautiful valley.  It's a treasure trove for the artist.  Seascapes, cliffs, archaeology, animals, streets, traditional houses, flowers, river, the list goes on.  So one of the key aspects of the week is to make sure we get outside and work outside as much as possible.  No point in travelling this far to sit in a studio with such a range of subject matter out there!

Farranmacbride court tomb, Gleann Cholm Cille.

A glen with 5,000 years in stone.

Farranmacbride, 2018, Pencil on Paper, 21 x 29cm.

Farranmacbride#9, 2021, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 70cm.

3.  We're in the Gaeltacht.  So while being able to speak the language isn't necessary for the class lets use what we can and get what practice we can.

4.  If you want to paint with brushes then that's fine. If you want to draw with a pencil that's fine too.  You can use nearly anything to make pictures so if you want to have a go at something new then go for it.   If you want to paint with a palette knife, builders trowels ......your credit card, then just go for it.  There's acrylic, watercolour, conte, pencil, pen, charcoal.  The list goes on.  Experimentation and doing your own thing is fine.

Abandoned House, 2013, Acrylic on Canvas, 41 x 51cm.

Gleann Cholm Cille.

5.  There are some things that all of the visual arts have in common:  positioning, mixing colours, getting distance into pictures, composition.  While we are out and about and in our short sessions indoors we can discuss these in a way that you can apply to any medium you use.

Dún Alt #3, 2022, Oil on Canvas, 51 x 77cm.

Stone fort, Gleann Cholm Cille.

6. It's Ireland!   Best thing is we are in July so good chance of good weather so make sure you have suncream and a hat.  Sometimes it can rain! so we'll keep a couple of indoor venues up our sleeves.  Bring the right clothing to cater.

Dún Alt #3, 2022, Oil on Canvas, 51 x 77cm.

Stone fort, Gleann Cholm Cille.

6. It's Ireland!   Best thing is we are in July so good chance of good weather so make sure you have suncream and a hat.  Sometimes it can rain! so we'll keep a couple of indoor venues up our sleeves.  Bring the right clothing to cater.

Rectory Wall, 2010, Pencil on Paper, 29 x 21cm.

A bit of wall with the rectory in the backgound.  2b 4b Pencil on paper. Outdoors. Gleann Cholm Cille.

7. We have an indoor space to use so that's there if anyone feels the need to stay inside and work on something specific.

Everyone Left but the Child, 2009, Conté Crayon on Card, 41 x 61cm.

Window at the old school house, Gleann Cholm Cille.

8.  Fun.  We have to enjoy the week.  Lets do art.  Look at what everyone else is doing.  Share our problems and tips. And enjoy the evening in the pub.  But not too late!

Some things to bring:


Well that depends on your medium but really I'd like everyone to have a sketchpad and some pencils/pens as a minimum.  You need to be able to make some notes.  The A3 hardback ones are best for quick sketches, Easons sometimes do a pack of two for about £13.00/ 20 Euro.  Critical thing here is that you aren't precious about the paper for notes and warm up sketches.

Depending on your preferred medium you may want:

Oils: Paints, Brushes, pallette knife (if you want), canvas/canvas boards. Some rags or kitchen roll to help with wiping and cleaning brushes. Optional extras are: If you wish to paint with oils indoors you should bring some 'Sansodor' as a substitute for white spirit/turps. Liquin medium this will help with drying of the paint.

Acrylic: Paints, Brushes, an acrylic paper pad or some canvases/boards. Optional extras are: A stay wet palette (you can make one from an old Ferrero Roche plastic box, just bring the box an I'll show you), a little water diffuser, water jars and some water and some rags/kitchen roll. Painting knife if you want. 

Watercolour: Paints, Brushes, Some white mixing space eg small saucer, Water container and a couple of small plastic cups (one for clean water and one to clean brushes), Watercolour paper - preferably the pre stretched paper in a gummed block.

Ink: Little bottle of chinese ink. Cost from around £3.00.  Drawing tools - sticks or bamboo pen.  Brush for washes.  Thick paper/watercolour paper.  Some pots for washes, sea shells work well.  Water bottle.

Conté: Conte crayons, paper with some tooth. Optional: spray fixative.

Charcoal: I'll bring some!

Pencil: 2b, 4b, 6b. A hard backed sketch pad (A4 size if you're not sure) and a shrpener. Optional: and a bulldog clip (to clamp your sketchbook open and closed) and a Staedler white rubber.

Graphics Pen: Range of Widths eg 0.1, 0.3, 0.5.  You can buy these in a pack (I use Mitsubishi uni pin).  Smooth paper sketchpad.  The smooth paper is good as it will allow the pens to glide over the page.


Whatever you need for being outdoors but a small folding stool is good or you can take a plastic chair from Oideas Gael.  You need a plastic bag or backpack for your stuff.  Optional: A 'backpack stool' is good as it holds your stuff and folds out to sit on (great as hand luggage at airports as you can sit in the queue, look up 'fishing stool' online for options, zip pockets are best if you can get them otherwise you loose stuff).  An easel is good for painting work but some of these are available at Oideas Gael but bring your own if you have one.

The weather:

A sturdy pair of shoes for walking. Clothing layers, a hat to keep the sun off, suncream and sunglasses for looking at your (briefly) white canvas/paper in the sun. And just in case it rains: umbrella (there are some we can borrow at Oideas Gael) and a rain jacket.

Other Stuff:

Camera or tablet: Good if you want to take some snaps to work on later or at home.

Old clothes! We gotta splash that paint about!

Drinking water.

Snacks/ lunch depending on location.