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Art Tools of Roisin Cure

For this installment of Art Tools and Gears, we have guest artist Róisín Curé from Ireland with us.

Originally from Co. Wicklow and currently based in Galway, Ireland, Róisín has been pursuing her passion in urban sketching full-time, ever since she discovered it in 2012.

We have invited Róisín today to share with us her artworks, tools/art-materials, as well as her experiences in drawing and painting.

Qn: Can you share with us more about what you do and how you discovered your passion & flair in art? (How did you learn and improve on your artistic skills?)

I draw nearly every day, wherever I am. I've been described as a “sketching machine” but I have a personality type that goes over the top about whatever I do. I'm just grateful that my particular addiction is as harmless and as wholesome as making art. Of course, I would go a lot further – it's been my salvation, and has turned my artistic life from one of frustration and repeated disappointments into one of fulfillment and simple happiness.

I've drawn since I was about three, and I sold my first four works at just 14. I won awards and competitions but was persuaded to do a science degree. However, I never stopped drawing throughout my degrees, and threw in the world of geology in favour of art – I did everything from children's books to landscape commissions, running my own illustration business for a number of years. Then in 2012 I discovered urban sketching while on sabbatical in Mauritius and from the very first sketch I knew I'd found my passion.

I was passionate about Tintin from a very young age, and longed to draw with the skill of Hergé. I tried for years but that beauty eluded me. I read so many biographies of Hergé, hoping to discover the secret. It wasn't to be found. I finally learned the secret on my own; nothing more earth-shattering nor mysterious than what we all know – draw from life, all the time - practice, practice, practice, - and suddenly one day you wake up with a line that's all your own.

Qn: What are your art-tools & materials you use to draw and paint?

My materials don't vary much. I use a fountain pen for my ink line, usually with grey ink. I also love my Kuretake brush pen, with black ink. My ink is always waterproof so that I can paint on top. I like Platinum Carbon pens and Noodlers.

I use Schmincke watercolour and sable travel brushes but right now I'm using a cheap synthetic travel brush (size 8) and I'm loving it, for its nice point.

The paper I use is by AMI, a German manufacturer. I like the texture and while I try others I always go back to that one. I use A6, A5 and A4. I wish the same paper came in A3 but it doesn't.

My accessories include a masking fluid pen, a tube of white gouache, a rubber and a craft knife and of course little bottles of water scattered all over the inside of my bag.

Qn: I see from your website that you have uploaded some art-demos on youtube, can you introduce us to what is covered in each of these demonstrations?

Those movies were made a while ago and there's a difference in how I work now but the basic way is still the same. I used to start with a rough shape in pencil in order to place my subject in the right spot on the page. I still do sometimes, but if there's no pressure to get something “right” - if it's just for my own pleasure that I'm sketching – then I launch straight in with ink. More exciting that way.

I wouldn't say the movies are demos: they are just nice films of me working. My husband made them and he has a very strong vision, to create something atmospheric and evocative, but if left to me it would be different – I would talk lots about what I'm doing and just film the drawing action. I aim to do just that very soon.

Qn: I understand that you teach art through outdoor sketching courses throughout Ireland for both adults & children - Can you share with us what can one expect to learn from each of your courses?

I started with high ambitions of getting the whole world urban sketching but I have found that people's needs are a lot more basic. Therefore, in my classes, students can expect to learn everything from the very basics (good observation, how to mix colour) to the joys of getting out drawing on the street, and all that entails.

When out with students, it's all very straightforward: they want to learn how to paint clouds, how to get their values right, using scale well, how to paint reflections, shadows, light...basically I am a troubleshooter and I'm there to fix their problem areas. I don't teach a style – that can only come from them.

Qn: What do you think are some common issues that artists face when painting/drawing? (How would you suggest resolving these issues?)

It sounds obvious but it's so important to remember that your drawing is YOUR playground and you're free to do what you will. Try not to be influenced by others too much.

But the biggest issue of all is remembering to remain honest. Honest in all kinds of ways.

Honest in looking: the answers are not in your head, but in front of you.

Honest to yourself: never try to fake a style, but just do what's there.

Honest in measuring: don't try to match up lines just because you've put them in. Draw them again if they're not meeting where you think they should have.

Honest to your subject: don't copy from photos - leave them for family snaps. They have no place in art. Yes, you are still copying, but from life – it makes all the difference in the world.

I despise dishonesty in any area of life, including in art. While I am all in favour of people copying just for pleasure, I feel strongly that they should copy either other paintings / illustrations or draw from life, even if it's as simple a subject as a pair of shoes or something in the kitchen.

Qn: If you could go on a sketching trip abroad, where is that one place you wish to visit most? (And why?)

That's a tough one. Venice, for the stripes and the reflections. Paris for the cute shops. India or Morocco for the shapes and colours. But just one place? I know – the Greek islands, because I just love strong blue shadows, all shades of blue, brilliant whites...then I could eat Greek food and lounge about on the beach and swim when it all got too hot.

Qn: Do you have any tips to share with our readers on urban sketching?

Never leave the house without your sketching kit.

Keep your palette limited to just blues and browns/pinks for skin tones. That way you cut out the variable which is colour – one less thing to worry about.

Draw what inspires you, not what you THINK is important (like an iconic building etc.)

Leave out stuff if it's boring to draw.

Always include birds, people, dogs – you want life in your sketch.

Buy my book on urban sketching!

Qn: Have you read any art-book/s or art-related instructional mediums?

Here are my favourites:

Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory and Urban Watercolour Sketching by Felix Scheinberger

Qn: Lastly, which other artist/s do you have in mind for us to include in our upcoming interview series?

Felix Scheinberger, for sure!

We thank Roisin Cure for sharing with us her paintings/sketches, art-tools and experiences in this insightful interview.

For more about Roisin and her artworks, you may visit her website or her face-book page and twitter-page.

Check out other artist interviewees at