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Stepping Out

Spring and early summer bring more opportunities for getting out and about.

The days are longer now and we are venturing out more.
Being around people, sitting on a favourite bench, watching the world go by. Do you have a pet keeping you company?

There’s a return of familiar wondrous sensations - the sound of birds and the buzzing of bees, the smell of the sea, a swallow flying by, the taste of an ice cream.
Close your eyes and feel the warm air on your skin, take a deep breath.

Looking into the distance, what can you see?
Trees on the horizon, a city skyline, sailing boats….

Our weather can be unpredictable with warm sun followed by soft rain, getting caught in a sudden shower, sheltering, the smell after rain.

“The dearest events are summer-rain”, Ralph Waldo Emmerson

“Ne'er cast a clout till May be out”


 All images: Gillian Cussen and Inge Van Doorslaer, 2021, except where stated.


Mark Hathaway, Untitled, 1982, oil on canvas, Crawford Art Gallery Collection.


Beatrice E. Gubbins, Line of Trees, watercolour on paper,
presented to the Crawford Art Gallery 1986.


Edith Somerville, Character Sketches, c.1890, pencil on paper,
Crawford Art Gallery Collection.


Norah Brigid Ni Chuill, Children Playing with Skipping Rope and Hoop,
Oil on Canvas. Crawford Art Gallery Collection.

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Suggested Activities

How about trying some drawing outside?

Find a comfortable place to sit, with space for your art materials, you will also need a small container for water.
Close your eyes and enjoy your surroundings.
What do you hear - birdsong, children playing, traffic?
What do you smell - freshly cut grass, flowers?
Do you see anything or anyone interesting - an unusual tree or animal, someone fishing?
“A swan goes by head low with many apologies,…..”
Patrick Kavanagh, Lines written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin.

Using the watercolour pencils, try a few quick sketches of anything around you that catches your eye. Then dip one of your brushes into the water and brush gently over your drawing and you’ll see the colour start to spread a bit.
Play around with the amount of water you use, you can also use the pencil again when the drawing is still wet, or when it has dried.
Try leaving another drawing out in the rain instead of using a brush.

Have a look at one of the more common flowers like a dandelion or a daisy. Try putting one or two flowers/leaves in your sketchbook, and press them.

Do any stories, sayings, poems or songs come to mind?
e.g. blowing the clock, making a daisy chain, buttercup under the chin?
We chose a poem which we felt really honoured the ever-present Dandelion.

Here’s something lively to listen to ‘The Nightingale’ by the Dubliners

Dear dandelion,

Dear dandelion,
You are often considered a weed,
Yet you are so joyously bright, like a small sun.
Your leaves feed and heal.
You are phenomenally strong,
Strong and persistent enough to break through concrete,
And, having so many seeds so easily distributed, irrepressible.

Dear dandelion,
I imagine a future where the principles by which the world operates are golden rules:
first do no harm, care for all life, seek joy.

Dear dandelion,
If our deepest compass points to that future,
It's the one we will bring into being.
We can be like you - joyful, bright, healing, persistent, stronger than concrete, irrepressible,
So very many of us.

Jojo Mehta,
dedicated to the memory of Polly Higgins 1968 - 2019.

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