Winter Class Inspiration is All Over Us


Artist and art teacher, Bernadette O'Sullivan -  her 'Art from Scratch' classes are coming back for the winter. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Artist and art teacher, Bernadette O’Sullivan – her ‘Art from Scratch’ classes are coming back for the winter. ©Photograph: John Reidy

By: Bernadette O’Sullivan.

 Now that my winter course of classes are underway I turn my attention more than ever to ‘the sky’.  In itself an ever-changing painting, to which we constantly look up towards, guessing its mood and intention.  

 How deeply we fall in love with its fleeting offerings of beauty and how fast we then curse it for its threatening dark gloom. 

I love painting skies and the sea below it.  I think if I had to choose one subject to paint for the rest of my days it would be just that alone.

I simply do not remember a day that I have not in some way studied the sky and its way of ‘being a sky’ even for a few seconds.  

This is one of the first pieces of advice I give to my students.  Take time to look, really look, for the shortest time.  Each time you’ll look, you’ll inevitably learn.  Better still, take photos and build up a nice stock of reference photos for your own painting projects.

As a starting point, remember a sky’s underlying canvas is ‘beautiful blue’.  

We had skies aplenty of such, during the stunning Summer that just went by but if we take a short flight even on the gloomiest darkest day of the year, we rise above the clouds to that same blue.  

Imagine the simplest of blue skies to paint or draw.  Starting at the top with a medium blue that lightens as you make your way down two thirds of your canvas, down to the horizon where it meets the deep blue of the ocean.  

That to me is enough of a beauty to frame and hang on a wall, with maybe the suggestion of a few faraway gulls to complete it. 

I was born and raised right next to the ocean and as a young child I used to sit at the gable window upstairs, facing out towards The Skellig Rocks.  

To me it was a never-ending expanse of beauty and mystery, at times magnetic and enthralling but at other times those huge dark daunting clouds rolling in behind Skellig Michael terrified me.   

A perfect combination of fear and awe to inspire infinitely.

Bernadette can be contacted on 087 28 04574 or by email:  or through her website:

I was asked recently to re-run Bernadette’s recent piece on the ‘Railings of St. Stephen’s Green’ in Dublin. I don’t have to do that in this forum but just provide a link: