Category Archives: Northern Ireland
It was great to spend a week visiting friends and family in Northern Ireland and revisiting many great locations there, luckily I was able to fit in a few watercolour sketches along the way!
Readers of this blog will be familiar with how much we enjoy the North Antrim Coast and the spectacular scenery there.
Even the drive from Larne to Portrush is spectacular with the Causeway Coastal Route hugging the coast for so many wonderful miles.
We based ourselves this time in a great house rental in Whiteabbey (Abbeyselfcatering.co.uk) which I would strongly recommend as it’s location, near to Belfast and Carrickfergus is a great touring base for all of Northern ireland.
Whlist in Northern Ireland there wasn’t a lot of time for painting but I did manage a few “en plain air” sketches which are in this blog and were painted during out visits to the areas.
Firstly, The Giants Causeway, sitting on those famous hexagonal stones, and dodging the showers gave me time for couple of quick sketches .
And also the next bay with the amazing rock formations –
It is a busy place and pre-booking is well advised as coach loads of visitors, some from cruise ships, go there to marvel at this natural phenomenon.
Just a few miles further down the road is the famous Carrick -a-Rede rope bridge which is some 98 feet above the rocks below.
Here are two sketches one on cartridge paper which will give you some idea of the Bridge.
In the great seaside town of Ballycastle is one of the finest beaches you will see with the backdrop of the cliff known as Fair Head. This has been one of my favourite subjects over many years and here is a recent quick watercolour and a studio watercolour painted before this visit.
Of course for me a trip to Northern ireland would not be complete without a glimpse of the Mourne Mountains 30 miles south of Belfast. No time for a sketch so here are two studio watercolours of these beautiful mountains above Newcastle and Murlough Bay.
And lastly a semi abstract watercolour of the same scene painted a couple of weeks ago.
This was a short but lovely visit to Northern Ireland with is wonderful scenery, people, food and drink. ( Yes, I did manage a quick stop at the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery in Bushmills to collect some supplies!)
I hope that you will enjoy these sketches and watercolours.
If you would like to see more please download my free Guide Book to Ulster which you will find in the Header to this Blog, or search of for the book on the Apple iBookstore.,where it is also free.
Some of these and many more of my watercolours are for sale on http://www.Artfinder.com/brianswatercolours
i have just finished this large watercolour of Fair Head which I am including in this post for you to see.Based on photos and sketches done last week whilst there.
It is painted in mixed media on prepared canvas and is 60 by 30 cms
Currently for sale on Artfinder
I hope it makes a nice Header for this post
We have just returned from a great few days on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland.
We were lucky to have very nice weather and enjoyed our stay at the Ballygally Castle Hotel which makes a good base for visits to the spectacular Antrim Coast.
We had not been to the area for 3 years and as we originally came from Northern Ireland many years ago it is always great to return and enjoy the scenery, food and meeting friends and family.
It is also great to be travelling and sketching again!
Armed with only my sketchbook, a Micron 0.2 mm waterproof pent , a few brushes and some paints I managed over the short time to visit and paint a few watercolours which I can now, hopefully turn into some larger watercolours.
My equipment for those interested.
We also visited a couple o places we had not been to before, and enjoyed some new viewing areas that have been constructed along the Coast Road near Carrick-a-Rede and Ballycastle.
So here are the sketches. They were all done very quickly in the notebook ( Volume 11!) which is just 200gsm paper so not quite so easy to lay washes down on.
This first sketch is of Ballygally Bay, with the Hotel on the far right. The headland looks like a human head profile.
The view in the other direction at Ballygally Bay shows the coast further on too and was from our hotel room window.
Every mile of the Coast road as it hugs the sea is spectacular and on the odd occasion it deviates inland the scenes are great too.
Here is the road leading to Waterfoot Bay and Glenariffe, one of the beautiful Antrim Glens.
From just beyond Glenariffe the view back towards Glenariffe Mountain or Lurig as it is often called is quite amazing. Lurig, with a plateau at its peak is so distinctive. This classical U shaped valley is one of the finest anywhere.
Further along the coast is Kinbane castle which today is not accessible but from a previous photo I have painted this sketch to include it. The view from there of Fair Head is spectacular and also from the new viewing point which overlooks at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. All along the coast Scotland can be clearly seen, as it is only 15 miles away at the closest point.
This last sketch of this visit is of Fair Head again but this time from the small road that goes to “Marconi’s Cottage” near to Fair Head and just beyond Ballycastle Golf Course (well worth playing!). The cottage is now a contemporary house but has reputed associations with G Marconi when he was experimenting with radio signals from Northern Ireland to Scotland in the late 19th Century.
Lastly here is a recent larger painting of Whitepark Bay and Rathlin island and one of Fair Head from Ballycastle Beach. Both are 14 inches by 10 in size.
It was so nice to be back of this wonderful part of the UK with arguably one of the finest coastal drives in the world!
PS visit my shop on Artfinder for more Antrim Coast watercolours for sale.
Last week I posted about the beautiful Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.
It started me thinking that a series of the same panorama for each season might be fun to paint and then I wondered, how about just doing one watercolour with all four seasons in the one painting!
Crazy or Exciting?
Well I decided to have a go today and here is the result, hot as they say , off the press!
It starts from left to right with summer first so that I could include some yachts sailing below a cobalt blue sky. Then comes Autumn with a softer ultramarine and cerulean blue cloudy sky before winter with dark skies and rain and snow landing on the Mourne’s highest peak, Slieve Donard and below it a colder sea foaming up on to the beautiful sandy beach. Lastly we are back to spring with big clouds in a cobalt sky.
I know it’s a bit weird but it was a lot of fine to try to paint and maybe you will like it.
I would love to get your comments.
I have popped it on to Artfinder in case someone really likes it!
I am now thinking of other scenes that might work with this idea so who knows you may see some more.
With our second jab due quite soon and half of the UK now vaccinated seeing friends and family and even some travel is becoming a reality, thank goodness.
It is a fantastic UK vaccine achievement which we all are very proud of and congratulate those who have made it happen – well done!
Stay well and safe
Many many years ago when I lived in Northern Ireland a visit to County Down and the Mourne Mountains was always a treat, whether it was to go to the beautiful beaches, or to play golf at Royal County Down Golf Course or to wander down the Ards Peninsula and see Strangford Lough, no matter where the scenery was alway superb.
The gentle rolling hills, known as Drumlins are a characteristic of the soft and gentle countryside but with the promise in the distance of the Mourne Mountains rising above the busting seaside town of Newcastle.
If you have followed this blog you will have seen my watercolours that try to capture the amazing beauty of the wilder Antrim Coast but County Down is a greener, if that is possible, part of Northern Ireland
I have painted this area quite a lot over the years and so here are some of these watercolours that try to capture the Mourne Mountains.
From as far away as Belfast the mountains are visible even though they are over 30 miles away.
As you approach Dundrum the mountains become even clearer and view from near to Dundrum shows the broad extent of the landscape.
As you approach the mountains a visit to Murlough bay will give you fine views of the coast and the mountains
This famous nature reserve is a really great place to visit.
Here are a couple of watercolours painted from photos taken at that beach
I am indebted to Gerry Judge for allowing me to use two of his fine photos as the basis for the next two watercolours
Firstly the same general scene as above but now at sunset
And secondly an old derelict cottage in the heart of the Mountains
This next watercolour, painted many years ago, is the scene from near Hilltown and was used as a background by a well know Belfast Chef, Alex Greene, in the series on TV “The Great British Menu”. It was exciting to see my watercolour being used by him.
At the foot of the Mourne Mountains lies the town of Newcastle , a busting seaside resort and where the Simna river reaches the sea. Nearby is Tollymore Forest park a marvellous place to visit and to enjoy the woods and forest of the mountain. A walk there will take you to Foley’s Bridge , one of the many Game of Thrones ;coalitions in Northern Ireland.
Lastly here is another watercolour of the Mourne Mountains views painted quite a while ago.
I hope you have enjoyed this quick trip to the Mourners Mountains. If you have never been then do go there to enjoy the great hospitality and scenery of this ;lovely part of the UK.
Stay well and safe
I am always on the lookout for interesting scenes to paint as watercolours and although most of my watercolours use photos that I have taken , occasionally I see a photo that I would like to have a go at painting too.
This has happened twice this week and with time available due to the lock down I was lucky enough to get the permission’s of the two photographers to paint these watercolours. I am indebted for their permissions.
The first one is of a small town in Cornwall, called St Clements, which is near Falmouth.
I saw the image on a blog that I always enjoy reading called Cornishbirdblog.
Even if you don’t live in Cornwall, and I don’t, I would recommend it as it is always interesting to read.
So here is my version of a photo of St Clements and I do hope to visit there one day.
The second one is of a place I do know well, The Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland.
I have painted quite a few watercolours of the area before but an evening photo taken by Gerry Judge really caught my eye and so here is my watercolour interpretation of it.
You can see Gerry’s excellent photos at Gerry Judge Photography and I am very grateful for his permission to use the photo as a basic reference for this watercolour
And lastly a watercolour from one of my own photographs, this time of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland where we enjoyed a short break a couple of years ago. I have tried again to capture that early evening scene of calm waters and an interesting sky.
With several more weeks of this current Lockdown still to go I hope to paint quite a few more watercolours
I hope you will enjoy these two anyway.
Stay well and safe
PS If you have a photo of a favourite place that you would like a watercolour of, please email me at
and send me the photo for an immediate quotation. Turnaround times are very quick, prices include shipping, and many people have been pleased with their new watercolour.
Alas as the COVID infection rate has risen in the UK we are, in England, back in a four week lockdown.
At least the sun is shining and so going out for a walk is pleasant, although alas we can’t play any golf.
so this week I have been busy painting a few new watercolours
During October I was lucky enough to have some paintings in Galleries in Tonbridge, the Artspring Galley, and in the Creek Creative Gallery in Faversham. They both were featuring artwork created during Lockdown and being involved was very interesting. My thanks to them for letting me be a part of their exhibitions.
I had lots to chose from to supply to them as I had painted over 60 watercolours during that first Lockdown.
So here are this weeks paintings some of which will be going to a Gallery hopefully in December.
Firstly a watercolour of White Rocks Bay near Portrush in Northern Ireland, on the beautiful Antrim Coast.
I had previously painted this bay as part of a painting and post of the Royal Portrush Golf Course but this watercolour is from just a bit further along the coast at the Bay.
These next three paintings may go to a Gallery in time for Christmas and are quite small compared to my usual watercolours.
They are all A4 size in their white mounts which I have included here.
They were fine and relaxing to paint and so I think I will do a lot more this size.
Ihope you like them
So as Lockdown has started again I guess I will be back painting some more watercolours and sending out a new Post
Take care, stay safe and chill out!
All the Best
With a walk or sitting in the garden as the only outdoor options possible in these unprecedented times I am pleased to tell you that it has been is a really beautiful weekend here in the South Of England. Warm and sunny , a perfect April day.
Having done the walk, time to enjoy the garden and an opportunity to paint a small watercolour of one corner of it.
Our small Magnolia is flowering nicely this year, it must have liked the wet winter and the warm weather now,as we are too!
i also managed to paint another pen and was sketch of Portrush in Northern Ireland this weekend too. We had visited port rush last year, and it has, over the years, become a very nice, if a it busy, seaside resort with fine beaches and many new restaurants. And of course it is on the fabulous North Antrim Coast which has featured in many posts on this blog before.
This watercolour is of the Inner harbour where many small boats moor and where the quaysides are lined with restaurants. A nice place to stop at after driving all the way up the Causeway Coastal Route.
Stay well and be safe
We have just been over to Northern Ireland for two Celebrations.
The first a couple of days at the Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh to celebrate a couple of notable Birthdays and then to Carrickfergus for a great family Wedding
Both events were really good and the weather was very kind to us too, with sun and warmth as we travelled about.
Just time for a few watercolours and a couple painted before we went as gifts for the Bride and Groom.
Lough Erne is a huge Lough with countless islands and lovely views. We were able to take a boat trip on the Lough and visit Devenish Island with is now ruined and very old Church and Monastery.
At the southerly end of Lower Lough Erne lies the very old and historic town of Enniskillen.
The “Watergate” there is a focal point of the town and this watercolour was painted from photos taken from our boat trip on the Lough.
Around the shores of Lough Erne there are many sights to see and this cottage scene is typical of the scenery.
The Wedding was held in the lovely statley home called Magheramorne House, quite close to Larne and not far from Carrickfergus.
This sketch of Magheramorne House will remind the Bride and Groom of there Wedding day there as they start their new life together in Carrickfergus.
Everybody wishes them All the Best for the Future.
So a very enjoyable week on this beautiful part of the UK, and many more photos to paint in the future
Readers of this post will have seen images of my watercolours of the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland before.
Shane Lowry the brilliant Irish Golfer has just won The Open Golf on the Dunluce Links of Royal Portrush Golf Course on that beautiful coast.
Congatulations to Shane and all his team!
The Open was last held there in 1951 and for it to be there once again is a great achievement of many people over many years.
I could not help wanting to post some watercolours of the coast of Antrim and to start with a new painting of the 5th Green on the Dunluce links which is right next to the shore. This hole is next to White Rocks bay and is often called that. It is challenging like the whole course and this weekend I am sure we will all see much excitement on the course from all the world class golfers assembled there.
But Portrush is only a part of the wonderful coast line that starts in Carrickfergus and stretches all the way to Donegal. Here are selection from the many watercolours that I have painted over the past years. The whole coast is such a delight to visit due to it’s proximity to the sea, the wonder of the Antrim Glens and amazing places like the Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and its many excellent golf courses.
And when you have seen all the sights you can happily retreat to the Bushmills Inn for great food and drink and good company.
Enjoy watching The Open, I will!
This summer we will be back in Northern Ireland for a short holiday and a family wedding. We are very much looking forward to it.
It will be great to be back to a place where so much of my early life was spent and where such great memories abound of people and places.
We will spend some time on the wonderful Antrim Coast and it’s splendid scenery.
Recently I painted yet another watercolour of the scene from Ballycastle Strand across to Fair Head and so that triggered me into doing this post which unashamedly uses watercolours painted over the years of this stunning and very scenic part of the world.
If you haven’t downloaded my free guide with watercolours for Ulster then please do so either using the link above or via the iBook store.
This is a much shorter version of some of the paintings from that book.
The Antrim Coast road starts in Belfast but very soon you arrive in Carrickfergus with its great Norman Castle.
After passing through Larne the road takes you to Ballygally where the road is right next to the sea and Scotland seems so nearby across the water.
A little bit inland from the coast the remarkable trees near Armoy are a good diversion and if you are a Game of Thrones fan they feature in that programme as The King’s Highway.
On the way visit Ballintoy, and Murlough Bay, also used in that series.
Further along the coast is the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and of course the famous Giants Causway with its incredible hexagonal basalt columns.
There is so much more to see on this great Coast so do take the time to visit there.
We will enjoy our next visit and if you can plan a visit to this delightful part of the world which you will enjoy.