Friday, February 22, 2013

Here's a birthday card I drew for my daughter, who turned 13 last week...the entire family is nuts about The Great British Bake-Off.

Hip Hip, Hooray!! A Publishing Deal AT LAST!
An illustrated journal of finding my artistic mojo in Mauritius

Here's the sample that got me the gig...I hope you enjoy it.

The other day it was wonderfully sunny and gorgeous out and I was itching to go up the road and draw. "But the kids will be home any minute," said my husband, "and they'll pester me for food, and I need to get back to work." "Don't worry," I said. "Send them up to me with their sketch kits. They'll be thrilled, trust me." Off I went and was drawing away happily when I looked down the road into the sun and saw all three of them trudging up the road with their sketch kits slung over their shoulders. My neighbour Siobhán was out walking her dog and we were chatting as the kids approached. "Isn't that a sight, Siobhán," I said. "Look at my little ones with their sketch kits! I'm so proud!" "Ah sure they're gorgeous, Ró...and don't we live in paradise?" said Siobhán, and off she went. The kids settled down. Within five seconds my eldest was chasing my middle child with the legs of her stool: she had chosen a daffodil to draw and he wanted to draw the same one, in spite of the fact that there were lots of daffodils around. The one she had chosen was the most open. He knows that she is incredibly territorial and he shouldn't have been surprised when she lost the plot and tried to whack him the legs of her stool. A juggernaut could have come roaring up the road and they would have been oblivious, so intent were they on carrying on their row. "She poked me with her paintbrush!" my boy wailed. "I'm going home!" Off he stomped back towards the house, and so the happy Little House on the Prairie vibe lay in tatters on the scrubby early spring grass. The youngest, however, can always be relied on to do something cute, and she nipped into the adjacent field for a little stroll. On her return, she thrust something into my face. "Stop distracting me!" I said. "But I've made this for you!" she said. "A daisy chain!" "Yeah, that's great, but I can't see and you're distracting me," I said.
I had to cut the sketch short as I had to catch the post but I mean to go back and finish the wall in front of the house.
I sent my mother the drawing later on and told her about the fighting. "How on earth did you continue drawing with all that going on?"
The house was built in 1789 and I believe the first guy wasn't too bad - invited villagers to family christenings, that kind of thing. But the rest weren't so good, seemingly. Anyway the whole thing came to an end in the early 1920's when it was burned out. The last occupants never married and died in poverty, or so I've heard. Newspapers for bedding. Rain pouring in the roof, dissolving the tablets in the hand of one elderly lady  before the eyes of the person who told me. The public health nurse who attended me on my eldest child also nursed one of the old ladies. "She lived to be 104," she told me.
There is a basement under the house. It's blocked off now by an enormous boulder but when I first lived here I often went down for an eerie visit. There are arched windows all around and each one casts a pale green light on the inside. There are many rooms down there, some of which have beer cans in them. You'd be a pretty remiss teenager if you hadn't done a bit of bush drinking down there. I think of the servants who spent all their time there: giving birth down there gives me the shivers. My husband's friend Eamonn had been drinking in the vicinity one time and I guess he and a mate decided to go and mess around the ruin. In the dark, Eamonn fell down the stairwell - the stairs have long since rotten away - and broke his leg.
Sometimes there is Irish Republican graffiti sprayed on the house walls.
If you walk to the back of the house and look out the windows you can see oyster beds in the estuary. They were owned by the occupants of the house. On the grounds of the house are a chapel, many stables, a personal pier and various walled gardens.
In a way, I'm glad the whole place is fenced off...those days of unequality are over now, around here at any rate, and the ruined house is dangerous.

Amaryllis and Other Plants
with Dog Footstool and Daughter Playing Violin
This painting is the view opposite the one with the mirror in it. I did it partly because I thought it would be cute to do the view opposite and partly because I badly wanted to draw the amaryllis that was just too gorgeous. It was a big bonus that my daughter was "persuaded" by my husband to do a little violin practice. They were engrossed in the "persuasion techniques" (much cajoling etc.)  and didn't notice my putting her in, or she would have been annoyed...Luckily she became quite immersed in the music (we knew she would if she gave it a chance) and she was pretty serene after a while.