My name is Bernadette Dolan. I live just outside a busy little village called Dunboyne, Co. Meath, Ireland. I am married to and Artist and we have 4 beautiful children. I would like to thank Charlie for allowing me the opportunity to be featured in a guest artist post.
The Beginning Of My Art Journey
Having worked in a major bank and then as cabin crew with our national airline AerLingus, I took a career break to take on the job of raising our family. When my youngest son started school suddenly I found I had more free time, not much, but just enough to start exploring possibilities. I decided to up-skill, studying social media and online marketing and started promoting my husband’s work locally.
After successfully completing my qualifications, I still felt I could do more than just promote art. I wanted to be creative in my own right. I always enjoyed art as far back as I can remember. In high school, I was advised to go to Art College. However, I took the more practical and safe option, but never felt it fulfilling. I still longed to be creative.
Artist equipment and supplies surrounded me. Now, years later, I began to practice sketching and drawing again, quickly moving to aquarelle pencil and watercolor.
In March last year, Ireland was hit by Storm Emma. The storm brought the heaviest snowfall in Ireland for 30 years. Blizzards and 8ft snowdrifts closed in around us, trapping us in our rural home. The country was put on status Red alert. Trapped, with time a plenty, Storm Emma “Beast from the East” was my inspiration. I started to tackle watercolor paintings of winter scenes. I used photo reference at first and combined these with life observation. One painting in particular was my father’s garden filled with apple and plum trees covered in a blanket of whiteness.
It captured the quality of the frozen, silent landscape. When I shared this painting on an artist group someone loved it so much she asked me was it for sale. I was thrilled, not because of the sale of the painting but more because of her appreciation of my work. I started to believe in my work.
Studying the white contrasting landscape around me, I learned values, darks & lights, colors both warm & cool. It was challenging but enjoyable! Painting of white objects on white paper without using white pigment proved fascinating that there was no need to use white paint to achieve an accurate likeness.
By the time Storm Emma had passed I decided it was time to leave the snow behind and move on to new subjects. I progressed to various random watercolors inspired by tutorials or examples online.
My inspiration for paintings and sketches are related to seasons of the year, nature, flowers, animals, birds, landscapes, and buildings from the countryside around our home. Since I began to paint, I see life through color and form. I am always thinking, “I’d love to paint that, how shall I paint that”. My preferred technique is wet on wet. It allows me a loose style in my paintings. I enjoy the way the colors spread into one another producing soft edges and blending. Sometimes I mix both wet on wet and wet on dry depending on my subject, creating sharp edges where needed.
My instagram and facebook page record my progress, good and bad, as I try to hone my skills. It allows me the opportunity to display my work to a broader audience. I might consider creating my own blog of my journey someday. However, I feel my artwork tells a lot without need for words.
I have joined various artist groups and find them very encouraging and inspirational. The support and kind feedback is fantastic. I really appreciate the constructive criticism people give. You learn so much from another persons perspective. I love studying the work of other artists too as they experiment and learn.
It wasn’t until June that I came across Charlie’s watercolor painting and sketching prompts. I thought, what a great idea! It really encourages me to paint daily. Every day since, I follow the prompt of the day. It allows me to continue to develop my own style and use my own form of expression. This routine quickly evolved into a visual holiday journal of watercolours detailing my experiences in Tenerife.
As a busy mum, finding time to paint can be a challenge with all of life’s commitments. Watercolours, with their short set up time and fast loose style suit me ideally. It makes all the difference when I find I am time poor.
Paper: Daler Rowney 300 g/M2 Cold Pressed NOT 140 lb Aquafine paper and sometimes Reeves. I find this paper works great for my loose style paintings.
Since I began my art journey, I take great delight in pottering around Art and Hobby Shops. If I return with a few new tubes of watercolours, I am delighted with myself and my purchases.
It took me many years to find something I adore doing and, now that I have found that passion, I wish to develop it further. When you find your passion in life, there are not enough hours in a day.
I hope you enjoy following my journey to see where it takes me.
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I will leave you with a quote by T. Roosevelt:
“Believe you can & you’re halfway there”