Acrylic vs oil paints (why I prefer 1 over the other)

Acrylic vs oil paints (why I prefer 1 over the other)

Acrylics vs oil and why I prefer one over the other

“Ask the artist” time – a chance to get your questions answered


One of the big questions I hear is “Why don’t you paint with oil paints?” I know those comments are usually well meant. Coming from my friends, supporters and also my clients. In a way, you would assume that is the next logical step too. Oil paintings are generally twice as expensive (at the very least) as a comparable acrylic painting. And everyone seems to hold oil paints in high regards. Of course, there are the oil paintings of the old masters. Like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Da Vinci, paintings everyone knows and admires.


Acrylics – no patience needed

But I am not drawn to oils for so many reasons and I love acrylic paints for the very same. Did you know that Oil paints don’t dry? Instead, they harden due to oxidation, usually in about two weeks. And they are ready for varnishing in roughly six months. However, sometimes it takes years for an oil painting to fully harden! I am a patient person for all the right reasons. But how could I let my clients wait for 6 or more months AFTER I completed their commission? I wouldn’t want to wait this long and I wouldn’t expect my clients to wait this long! Acrylic paintings are easily varnished after 24 hours and are ready to ship the day after that. Much better I would think.


 Oil paints and pets

The long drying time has another knock on effect I couldn’t live with. I love having my dogs with me in my studio. They are my friends and companions. And they clear up any biscuit crumbs that may fall to the ground during my coffee breaks lol. I can only imagine the nightmare it would be to try and keep any loose pet hair of the always wet oil paints on my palette or the painting itself. Torture! Acrylics are dry within minutes, sometimes seconds after applying them to the board. If my dogs feel the need to jump up in a flurry of legs, sending a whirl of pet hair in the air because the doorbell rang, it’s not a big deal at all.


 And of course, there is the cleanup process. Brushes used in oil paintings need cleaning with solvents. While acrylic paint brushes get cleaned with water. So, considering I got pets in my studio, do I prefer a container with water or a container with solvents around? It’s a no-brainer to go with water. 


Why I love acrylic paints

 But I guess the main reason why I paint my pet portraits in acrylics is that I love using acrylic paints! I love the versatility of it. Thin washes looking like watercolors. Opaque layers with not a single brushstroke in sight. Or even thick layers looking like oil paint. You can even add extra textures to the paint. Glass beads create effects such as air bubbles in water. Sand texture gel gives the feel of sand and iridescent medium to give a pearlescent effect and many more. I personally prefer the flat smooth layers without brushstrokes or textures. But should I want them, I know I can add them at any time.


I love the speedy drying time too. I can paint over any parts of the painting in minutes without a trace. Or if I change my mind or a client changes their wish, changes are made easily and quickly. I love the endless colour mixing possibilities too. From vibrant to mute, every colour under the rainbow. Shipping a finished acrylic painting is never an issue either. But it can be with oils due to drying time or pastels with its fragility.  Verdict : What can I say, I love my acrylic paints and their endless possibilities. Every time I set up my palette with fresh piles of paints, it’s like opening a box of chocolates. Endless possibilities in every painting and always something new to learn and discover. What’s not to love about acrylics.




My favorite commission piece (and why its hard to choose just 1)

My favorite commission piece (and why its hard to choose just 1)

“Ask the artist” time – a chance to get your questions answered

A lot of the time I hear the question if I have a favorite piece of art. Or a favorite commission piece.

Now to tell you the truth, this is hard to answer.

My artworks are like children to me. Ok, maybe not QUITE like children. (You wouldn’t sell your kids lol) But nearly. I always feel a personal connection with the animals in my pieces. You learn so much about them when you paint or draw them. So while I can honestly say I love each and every one of my works, I do have some that would feature on my favorite commission list for one reason or the other.

One of my favorite commission pieces

As commissions go, I loved painting the portrait of Sadler’s Wells. Such an icon in the thoroughbred world! But not just that. He was a true character and most definitely knew his worth. I remember virtually holding my breath every time I got to meet him. I was in total awe of him. And yes, I guess I loved him for his magnificence.

When I was asked if I could paint him for my client, I was glad that I had my own photos of him. Non quite matched the impact he I had on me in real life, but I knew this wouldn’t matter. Because I had known him.So many of my memories of him got trapped in the layers of paint. It was a labor of love. Was I glad when I was finished? No. Because it meant handing it over, letting him go. But I knew the painting would go to someone who knew and loved the horse. A man who had looked after him for a long time. And I knew his portrait would be the pride of place still.






Pet portrait artist in County Cork

Pet portrait artist in County Cork

A pet portrait artist in County Cork

Pet owners tend to like keeping things local. A beautiful forest walk, minutes away from your front door. A great pet shop within a short journey by car. And of course, a vet that can be with you in a heartbeat if you really need one in an emergency.
I get it. I am the very same with my 4 legged gang. Less time spent traveling means more time for the important things in my life. Or to put it differently, the shorter the car journey for my dogs the better as they are not great travellers! And over time I have realized something else. Getting that all-important painting or drawing of a pet is no different. Having their very own pet portrait artist in County Cork is a fact my local clients love very much.

How I can help

They love being able to meet me. And I feel incredibly privileged to be there when they see their painting for the very first time. But that’s not all. Being local means I can come and photograph the pet should you need help with that. Or if you got proper photos instead of digital files, we can pick through them together. We can sort out the most suitable ones so you don’t need to send all of them by post. I love helping where I can. But the best days are the ones when I have the pleasure to meet the model for the painting or drawing. I mean, how fabulous is that!
My art studio is in my home, in a fab countryside setting near the east Cork town of Fermoy. I am a 25-minute drive from Cork city and only minutes from Fermoy.
While my art lives in homes all over the world, I know that my local clients appreciate the fact that I am right here with them.
By the way, if you are in the area, samples of my work can be seen in my local vets, DUNTAHEEN VET CLINIC FERMOY
pet portrait artist in county cork
One of my local “models”. Isn’t Toby just fabulous! I met him and took the photos for the painting.
pet portrait artist in county cork
And 2 more puppies I had the pleasure to meet. Once again, I assisted with the reference photo.
Attitude, a brown pelican

Attitude, a brown pelican

“Wildlife profile” – blog post

The bird

I stumbled across the reference for this painting on a website for artists.  Photographers share their photos so that artists can use them as references for creating art. What a great find that was! Copyright infringement is a really big deal and you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the law. A lot of people aren’t aware of it, now that “sharing” on social media is gone so normal. But let’s discuss this some other time. It is a big subject and probably deserves its own post.

Back to our wildlife profile. I found the reference photo and I just knew I had to paint it. This fab brown Pelican in its breeding colors, looking all snobby and arrogant. I love it when you can see (or imagine) the character of an animal in a photo. And this one was one of them. I had never painted a bird before but I had some time in between commissions and decided to go for it. Picking a rather large board size, to give this boy the imposing feel I had gotten from the photo, and off I went.

The painting

It was a challenging painting. There are lots of textures in the huge beak and the feathers are very different to my usually furry characters. But mainly, I didn’t want to lose the impression of the bird. Those icy eyes and proud stance. I am laughing now, but I so badly wanted to give him a pair of scholars glasses, so he could look down over them lol

I think my favorite part of the painting was the creation of the clouds in the background and the beak and eyes. The yellow/orange feathers of the head were challenging. But I really want to paint more feathers sometime soon. I am a huge fan of birds of prey and I got a couple reference images lines up, only waiting for me to paint them. I also loved learning more about Pelicans. I had ever only seen the huge white ones here in Fota Wildlife Park. So the brown pelican and its breeding colors was a little discovery for me.

I hope you enjoyed looking at this bird of the sea (and its impressive opinion) and maybe you learned something new here too.


Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

An Irish seascape

I still remember my very first visit to the Cliffs. No-one ever forgets their first visit, but every time you leave you will be looking forward to your return. No visit is ever the same as another. The weather plays a big part in this. But also the time of day, time of year or the simple fact of how prepared you are on the day.

I love being at the cliffs and I was delighted to receive a commission to paint them. The request was for a sunny day on the Cliffs of Moher. Now that was a challenge. Most of the time the weather on the Irish west coast will be at least a little wild anyway. But I have visited so many times, I built myself a little reference library of photos I could rely on.

Irish seascape paintings are not something I paint every day. So I wanted to bring myself into a really good mind for it, making it as authentic as I could.

A little help

When I paint a pet, I always ask for some stories about the pet. Something to bring the character alive in a pet portrait. So for this seascape painting, I wanted something to bring me that feeling of being there. When you are inside the visitor center, nestled right into the cliff top, you will hear the sounds of pipe music. It is so fitting for the place, taking you back in time and leaving you with an even deeper experience. So on one of my visits, I tracked down the exact CD of this music. It is Davy Spillane’s Pipedreams. The song MIDNIGHT WALKER is the song that I connect the most with it. You can have a listen to it by clicking the link to the song on YOUTUBE 

So while I painted this famous Irish seascape, I listened to my CD. It was as if I could still hear the seabirds screaming in the background and the wind catching my breath. I will share some words from the website of the Cliffs of Moher with you and a link to the site too. If you are ever in the area, treat yourself to a visit. You will not regret it.


Step on to the edge of the world and into an awe-inspiring view that dreams are made of – at the Cliffs of Moher you will encounter nature in its wildest, purest form – see the rugged cliffs facing the mighty ocean, taste the salt air, hear the birds cry, feel the ancient rocks beneath your feet, smell the wind. Decide today to grant your highest wish to visit Ireland’s most spectacular natural wonder at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way – the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.