Art at the Park (Co Clare)
Want to learn how to draw? Paint watercolours? If so, think seriously about taking a weekend course at a very special art school in County Clare, run by Julie Douglas and her husband Mark.
Why is it so special? Because Julie is a wonderful teacher. At least that's what her pupils say, including a very non-artistic journalist who signed up to see what all the fuss was about. Students fondly describe Julie as the "ultimate motivator", a quality which is reflected in the whole structure of the school, from the intimate size of the classes, to the tasks she sets, and the perceptive, positive encouragement she gives to each student, old or young.
In addition to weekend courses, Julie runs part-time termly classes, as well as private tuition, all in a variety of disciplines, including drawing, watercolours, pastels, colouring pencils and charcoal, to name but a few of the media used.
The school caters for everyone, from absolute beginners and adult improvers, to groups of secondary-school students preparing a portfolio for art college.
A teacher for over 15 years, Julie emphasises that no one feels intimidated in her class. Instead, she says: "you'll be amazed at how good your work is by the end of the day."
All Ages of Art Students
Drawing: The Secret of Success
All the classes are drawing-based because, as Julie says: "the ability to look, observe, understand and reproduce what you see is the first and most important step towards producing a good picture. Painting without learning to draw is like trying to run before you can walk." As a result, she takes a traditional approach, teaching you how to observe, and how to think for yourself. It involves gentle, persistent instruction and encouragement, no gimmicks, no 'quick fixes' - the real thing. It's a modern version of the approach taken by the great Old Masters like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, who spent years learning how to draw before they ever took up a paint brush. That's why Julie says, "it is worth putting your paints away for a little while and getting down to basics. This applies to both the complete beginner and the more experienced painter."
Art Courses to Choose From
There are three standard types of course to choose from. Each class is very small, generally between 7-10 students.
For details of painters in oils,
watercolours and acrylics, see:
Irish Painting: History, Styles.
For a review of sculptors and
3-D arts, see: Irish Sculpture.
For a review of portraiture,
see Irish Portrait Artists.
For a summary of landscapes,
see: Irish Landscape Artists.
For a survey of 20th century
genre painting, see:
Irish Genre Painters.
For a review of traditional
methods and styles, see:
Plein-Air Painting in Ireland.
Oil Painters of Ireland.
One of the most interesting courses on offer is Julie's Portfolio Course for students intending to go to art college. Designed to bridge the gap between school and college, this is a fully supervised, intense course which aims to improve the students' attitude, understanding and work ethic for ever, and improve their drawing beyond recognition. As well as receiving individual instruction and personal encouragement, each student has an individual tutorial towards the end of the course, to assess progress achieved and to ensure they know exactly where they are going next.
The agenda of the Portfolio Course has been designed in collaboration with the National College of Art & Design (NCAD), Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) to remove student uncertainty about what is required in their portfolio.
Art Classes for Children
As well as teaching adults, Art in the Park also offers classes for kids (6-14 years). Each class includes a drawing session of some kind with Julie, involving pencils, charcoal, pastel, or watercolours etc. Pupils draw from a still-life subject, or a portrait or a landscape. Afterwards they do some 3-D work involving areas such as paper-making, book-binding, mask-making, or clay modelling.
Painting Holidays on the Continent
Based on her experience of teaching art in Italy, Julie offers several options for painting holidays in Europe, in a variety of beautiful settings. (See her website for more details).
Art at the Park also offer a wealth of other courses with selected visiting tutors including papier-maché workshops, basket weaving, photography, oil painting and more.
Julie Douglas B.A. (Hons.)
Born in Co. Down, Julie studied fine drawing and painting at Liverpool and Norwich Schools of Art. Afterwards, she built a successful career in London as an illustrator with top advertising agencies and design groups, working with major companies like. Barclays Bank, Tesco, Pilkington Glass, Paul MacCartney's World Tour programme, and Britannia Insurance. In addition, she illustrated books for several major book publishers like Penguin, MacMillan, Mitchell Beazley. The winner of the Association of Illustrators Award on two occasions, her creative work on an American Express brochure gained a New York Advertising award. She shows her work in galleries in London, Dublin and Galway.
Julie's main love is figure painting/drawing, and she receives regular portrait commissions. The main reason she began teaching was because so many people approached her for advice.
To contact Julie Douglas, or to read more information about her wonderful school, please use the following details:
Art at The Park
(Note: Killanena is 45 minutes from Shannon Airport and is close to Galway, Ennis and Limerick.)
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF IRISH ART