Plein Air Drawing classes

Posted in biography, work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2016 by Brendan Dean

Plein Air drawing classes are in order this summer as so far we are having the most glorious weather, so whats to do but get out there and draw everything.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           645

The course will run from June 4th until the end of July as an ititial introduction to ongoing courses/classes in multimedia disiplines i will run in the area……

June 4th will be an introductory session meeting at the  Solas gallery, Ballinamore main St, at 11am…..

I expect the sessions to run from 11am – 1pm, including traveling to any chosen site. some sessions will go over time depending on travel time, location or how involved students are with the subject….i am flexible on this….

Over the course participants will sketch both landscape and townscape ( 4 weeks of each) in various drawing media, there will initially be some media available for use, but participants will generally be encouraged to bring their own materials and will be expected to explore a range of drawing media, including lead, charcoal, ink, oil, chalk pastel and watercolour.

Students will also be encouraged to work between sessions to get the best out of this course, as practice brings confidence and makes you better at being yourself!

We will be Drawing outside weather permitting or on rainy days  (God forbid!) we can be in the gallery either working from photographs or drawing studies from the previous week/s. as in working up larger or more finished pieces from previous sketches.

The course costs either 12 euro per session or 80 euro if paid in full upfront.

Here are some pictures I took this morning at 10 am from our first location approx 6 miles from Ballinamore…..This site offers a variety of landscape subjects including water, woods, great light and shade, good views of the iron mountain, and excellent close up subjects as well as panoramic views…….so bring a stool, blanket, sunhat, sketchpad and whatever your chosen drawing materials are and come have some fun!   see you at 11 am in the Solas Gallery Ballinamore…:)





Winter’s peak

Posted in biography, Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2015 by Brendan Dean

Wow can you believe it, tomorrow is winter solstice.

The shortest day of the year is here already, from tomorrow the days will begin to get longer, 2 min each day that is 15 min per week and just over one hour per month.

Weather wise here in Ireland this winter so far has been very mild except for a couple of nights back in November where there was a light frost and one day in early December where it snowed overnight, it has been almost like an other season, like we missed out and jumped to early spring.

Daffodils are starting to appear already and some buds on trees are thinking it time to burst…no doubt there will be a shock later on as we will most probably get our worst weather in January as per usual.

living in County Leitrim we are used to plenty of rain and along with the effects of global warming I suppose, heavy rain storms has been more frequent the past few years.

This year consequently brought us as part of this mild winter quite a few very heavy rain storms. One in particular was named Desmond, (the current naming of storms is obviously a recent phenomenon) The fourth Atlantic storm we have had this winter, Desmond brought more rain than we usually see in probably an entire winter…and for Ireland and indeed County Leitrim that’s a hell of a lot of water, which is really saying something as here we most definitely have more lakes than sheep!

On one day which appeared to be the eye of the Storm where an eerily calm atmosphere shrouded Ballinamore town, I took myself round the area surveying the expected devastation. Naturally i expected to see lots of leaves and small debris, what I didn’t expect was to see more water than I ever thought was possible in both the Fohera river and the canal.

The Fohera river which was normally a very sedate meandering through the town center was unbelievably full, a veritable raging torrent! an impossibly high mass of liquid energy which immediately invoked fear in the observer as it visually threatened to burst forth over the walls which encased it and wash us all away. Amazed by this sight I was further astounded by the entire amenity area on the canal at “the basin” which was under water, the seating poking out of the thundering mass of swirling water as it forced its way out of every available outlet and stampeded downstream.

Further upstream at the lock gates the water had risen at least 6 feet and was gushing over the tops of the gates and the concrete and metal bridge was barely above water, as I gingerly made my way across it in awe I thought what was normally a relatively fast flowing but steady body of water flowing over the perhaps 100 foot wide weir had turned into a boiling mass of agitated liquid crashing and leaping in violent angry attempt to get over the weir as fast as was physically possible.

There were floods all over and some including Carrick Town and leitrim village were swamped as the lakes and rivers burst their banks and blocked entire routes through those towns and villages. thankfully the County Council was armed and ready and quickly saved entire building and many homes from flooding with sandbagging and pumping so life could continue relatively unimpeded.

With all this rain came very mild weather as yesterday for example was 10 degrees Celsius, and some of the shrubs in my garden have decided its just not cold enough to drop any of their leaves at all. there are also several tomato seedlings which came up in a pot where i usually put overripe tomatoes to overwinter so i will automatically have seedlings in spring in the unheated porch. They are looking very sturdy! hopefully they will survive till spring…

So apart from all of that talk about weather the sun is shining today, Its Sunday, my favourite day! as the street outside is relatively quiet and my Christmas decorations are going up

…well the thing is a few years back I gave away my Christmas tree as i didn’t really want to do that tree thing nice though it is. I thought I could do something more creatively alternative, so this year I have opted for decorating my mobiles of which there are many in this house, and as they are all hanging from the ceiling I don’t have to move furniture…

So far I’ve done one as I’ve been sitting here writing and naturally i had to photograph it with my new phone and then i had to play with all the photo options tra la la ….so here we are!

Have a rocking day everyone, sing dance and drum up the continuation of that Holiday cheer! 🙂

camera phone


Train the Trainer Presentation No 1…

Posted in biography, Inspiration, work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2015 by Brendan Dean

So today was the day for the presentation no 1. on the ‘Train the Trainer’ course I’m currently on


It went very well as Orla Leydon            ( )     our tutor from Office training solutions in Leitrim Village said, the amount of preparatory work was obvious in my presentation as i completely captured the audience group….

Naturally I am delighted and  am currently working on my second presentation…….

The first presentation focused on The health benefits of  2 Dimensional  Visual Art classes, IE; painting and Drawing.

I made this distinction because of course Visual Arts also include 3 Dimensional Arts like Sculpture & Instillation.

Further more There is Film, Theater, Music & Dance which are also Visual Arts though more commonly known or categorized as The Performing Arts.

Even when we focus only on painting and drawing it is a large subject with many sub categories, so as the presentation was only 15 minutes which included a Audience participated brainstorm with questions and answers in conclusion, It had to be succinct.

So… essentially it went as such…….

Presentation Art

The Health Benefits of Visual Arts classes

Given that we know,  in general our educational system favours left logic, analytical brain development over right creative, intuitive brain development, therefore leading to underdeveloped right brain functions which impedes our overall brain function as left and right hemispheres do not work independently but together.



For example our ability to problem solve in a creative way is diminished.




Aims and objectives are not listed here but i just love this slide!

 Art classes  are a Calming, fun, social activity which reduce stress and help to lower blood pressure, increase patience and self esteem.




Picture 2

The most natural activity for every child is to use this visual art of expression to explore, analyse and reflect on our lives and environment, therefore making sense of our place in the world.

In this way Art is like a visual diary and can be used as a self reflective tool for integration and balance.




ART  is visual communication which has been used as such since the dawn of human civilization long before the written word was invented and indeed perhaps even before the spoken word was also





                Emotionally stimulating, Art is always Therapeutic.

Keita Takahashi




It accesses the subconscious bringing it into conscious awareness and therefore integrating a feeling or sense of wholeness


Art allows us to express emotions without having to talk about our feelings.




The following are just 3 of numerous  interesting  articles in relation to Art & Healing…

The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature  from the US national library of medicine.


The mental health benefits of Art making are for everyone,



PBS Parent/Education

The importance of Art in Child development


Thank you!

 If you are interested in taking part in Art classes or having a presentation on the subject in your area, Contact me by going to the contact me page on the top right of this blog or click on the Facebook link below the page listings…

I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂

Presentation Art






Winter has officially arrived!

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2015 by Brendan Dean

Yes indeed winter has officially arrived in County Leitrim, though it is a lovely sunny morning here in Ballinamore, last night was decidedly cold and i can see by my thermometers that the temperature is hovering around 5 degrees Celsius and patches of ice were seen on my roof terrace yesterday morning…



Even though we have gotten away with relatively mild weather until now as it is the middle of November after all….It still feels like somewhat of a shock when that biting cold comes round…Brrrr!



Ha Ha its not this bad, though my house is a fairly cool house…old, rambling and takes a lot of heating….so its closed doors and living in a few rooms for me until February at least…..Cozy!

Apart from that my Train the Trainer course of which i just finished the second day of mostly theory on wed, is really great and I’m very excited about that.

The possibilities are many in its usage and its great to be involved in academic pursuits again…i had forgotten how much i enjoy writing, research and speech making…So onward’s and indeed upwards with that….

Currently researching and putting together material for 2 x 15 min presentations in early December  the titles of which will center round ‘ The overall health benefits  in making visual Art’…

Both of these presentations will be videotaped and marked 40% of the end overall result…. Another 40% will be for a 3000 word piece on my personal project overview of projected training and development in relation to both presentations…..or not..

Its still a bit fuzzy in places, but i have no doubts it will all come together…after all i managed 5 years of college and a 10,000 word thesis with extensive references and bibliography so this wont be that difficult….The subject matter is far less complicated and all the necessary material is mostly in one folder….Hmmm famous last words!!!!…..unlike writing my thesis where at times i remember jumping up and down screaming in frustration because my brain was just not getting it!   mostly due to the complicated language used in art theory……I would start reading one of perhaps 30 or so books which i had to get through and was stuck on the first paragraph not having a notion what it was saying at all!  Lol…   The funny thing was what was happening was that my brain was creating new neural pathways to cope with this language and the more i just stuck with it and continued reading as best i could…the easier it became….

Anyhow its all good!  so must get off the computer now and launch myself outdoors to get some rays before they disappear….

Adios!  and have a fantastic day y’all!!

Friday musings on Chilli peppers

Posted in Gardening, Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2015 by Brendan Dean

Friday Musings on a beautiful sunny morning after a very stormy night when The first ever named storm beat our western shores yesterday and last night and landed across the UK next door.

Dramatic though it may have appeared, I think we are pretty much used to wind and rain in winter…After all we are the last European frontier on the western Atlantic coast

Sitting here this morning chopping up seaweed that i gathered on a really lovely warm sunny day with my friend Julie on Streda beach above Sligo town last week…Good job really! as today it will all be either gone or flung in the sand dunes i would imagine!!

Its mostly dried now so can be shredded bagged and stored for winter use in soups and veggie stews as its high in vitamin B12 and other goodies including trace elements and iodine which helps regulate thyroid function… An interesting note, when put into the soup/stew as dried seaweed  it releases its salt into the liquid around itself.  Soak it before use and it will hold onto most of its salt when cooked….

So in between that i was making stew and tiding up and writing blogs & all sorts and in the midst of all this activity i decided i had better de-pepper my chili plants which were taking up room in the studio window as they were brought indoors to ripen a month ago…

Chili plants tend to lag behind growth wise unless you can supply vast amounts of sun generated heat & Light, which we tend not to get here in Ireland until late in the growing season if at all so my plants were kept indoors in the hopes that it would ripen the fruits up before winter.

Some did and others remained small before they went into winter hibernation brought about by the decrease in sunlight intensity more so than heat.

Consequently i thought today…OK time to pluck any remaining fruit and compost the plants…..

As i was taking the fruit off i was thinking…Hmm …they look like such nice healthy plants and had quite woody stems wouldn’t it be great if i could overwinter them to get a head start next year, as most of this year was used getting the plants to germinate and grow to a size before they began to flower.

I was thinking this was doubtless fairly easy in a climate where the winter temperatures don’t go to freezing, but decided to google it anyway…  I do love Google!!

Lo and behold! lots of people overwinter chili plants in the northern hemisphere quite successfully!

So far as i can see initially it pretty much trial and error information out there….in other words have a go and see what happens as chili plants are actually perennial as are Tomatoes and indeed potatoes so all can be overwintered…

Chili’s tend to have tougher leaves and drier stems though so they are probably easier than the other relatives unless you can guarantee dry frost free temperatures, obviously keeping them as dry as possible raises their chances of survival..though they will need some water as they are not succulents or cacti that store water…keep it to a minimum  especially in frosty weather.

A blanket of soft cloth or newspaper can insulate and keep the air dry during frosty nights also.  Keep an eye on them during winter and move them to a safer place if necessary, but do avoid bring them into warm rooms as the shock will surely kill them.

Most of the you tube videos and such posted by English or American chili enthusiasts advocate keeping them in greenhouses.

I don’t have a greenhouse as such, and find that most Irish greenhouses will be damp in winter anyway unless they are very large so i will keep some of them in my garden porch/conservatory which is cold though attached to the house so shouldn’t freeze which is the fatal danger for these plants and the others ill keep in  cool rooms in the house where there is little winter heat and we will see how they fair….

i’m very pleased about this now as next year i should get a good early crop from my ‘Big Jim’ chili plants which are a medium hot large chili….Fingers crossed!!    I will keep y’all informed of their progress

Big Jim Chili plant Nov 13th 2015


Chili plants nov 13th 2015

‘Big Jim’ Chili plants waiting in the hallway to be moved to their winter positions….

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2015 by Brendan Dean

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Winter is here! I think

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by Brendan Dean

Winter is here I think?  Today is November 4th, the sun is shining and really its a beautiful day…….The trees are still holding onto their leaves here and there and looking pretty spectacular……I love this time of year and winter of course as the landscape becomes much more varied in its palette of colours besides the density of green in summer which though wonderful, can visually be a bit monochrome.

we have had no frost at all yet…well except for one or two night a month ago when there was an early morning frosty haze on the landscape in pockets here and there….since then its been pretty much sunny days and quite mild weather….global warming i guess!!


I didn’t take this photo and i can”t remember who did…so i hope they won’t mind me sharing it here as i love the composition and think it would make a really lovely painting!  it reminds me a lot of various woods round these parts & has a magical quality about it….

Interestingly today and tomorrow and saturday are all fruit days biodynamically and also in Northern planting time so good days to be out picking berries and making wine or jam etc, or just gadding about in the sunshine making vitamin D…he he !

So short post i think as its already 3.15 and i want to get out and get some rays myself  so till next time ……..Have a great day!

Bog Road on The Leitrim Roscommon Border...Nov 2015

Bog Road on The Leitrim Roscommon Border…Nov 2015