Pitch Perfect.

Here I go again Thursday blogging evening for me. OK, so I tell a white lie its Wednesday evening and I’m on the ball well I’ll be talking about a ball, a little white ball. You know that game that is described as a “good walk spoiled” yes, its Golf. My Dad has played golf for as long as I remember. You know as a cyclist on an icy or dark winter evening the turbo trainer is put to good use, a runner might trip the light fandango of the treadmill, well my Dad’s equivalent would be putting a golf ball across the carpet in the front room. Golf balls lined up, putt after putt into a drinking glass not the Waterford crystal tumblers you understand but maybe a plastic beaker. The latter being replaced by a little gadget that returned the ball when you hit the jackpot and when the batteries ran out the beaker resurfaced.

golf putting machine
Golf putting machine

Putters and drivers in houses brings to mind the saying “people in glass-houses shouldn’t throw stones” or “like a bull in a China shop” or even  “12 year old girls shouldn’t swing golf clubs near lovely light fittings in neighbours’ houses”, that one is self-explanatory unfortunately to my shame:(

Anyway, when it comes to sport my Dad is pretty competitive, I guess I inherited those genes! He’s a great golfer, often playing 4 rounds a week and more.  My Dad is clever, I’ve yet to beat him in Scrabble, he nails those Sudoku in no time. Yet, when it comes to taking the number 1 from the number 10 he has a mental block. What I’m saying is, his ambition to get his handicap down to single figures has eluded him. His head is his only handicap! Because, I know and he knows he can do this. So, if you’re reading this Philip, I hope I have spurred you on and not hindered your golfing ambitions. Just remember Dad 9 is the magic number and we all know you can do it.

When my Dad turned the big 7-0 (not too long ago…ahem) my Mam organised a party for him and invites had to be made. Suffice to say it didn’t take too long to decide on the theme. My brother Greg had previously taken a lovely action photo of Dad during one of their outings. In the photo he is about to chip a shot into the hole (of course;)). This was the perfect image for the drawing on the party Invites. I began the drawing with a 2H pencil and continued with coloured pencils, and graphic pens. The coloured pencil being a favourite of mine because as a medium it is so versatile and when you want to get that minute detail in, there is nothing like a freshly sharpened nib to complete the task. In the drawing, his stance is suspended in time. This makes me wonder what goes through a golfers’ head, as he swings the club, hoping to make sweet contact with the ball, propelling it the desired distance and direction. It is split second timing, potential energy converting to kinetic energy as the ball receives the full impact of the club head. Yet, a fraction out and the perfect physics lesson can be turned into a (choice) language lesson at times! So peeps, if you’re a golfer, before you make that swing don’t forget to keep the head down and hopefully the handicap will follow suit and go down too! Thanks for reading. Rachel

Pitching for par
Pitch perfect – Philip O’Hara in action on the golf course by his loving (kudos for me!) daughter Rachel

If you would like to contact me about a painting or drawing my email address is rachohara@gmail.com  You can view more work on my facebook page called Drawn to sport and my Etsy shop of the same name, finally my mobile number is +353 (0) 87 6397210

Downhill mountain biker in Australia starts bush fire…….

Ah no he didn’t, but you see now I have your attention…..if you read on I’ll explain why I wrote that. My painting below is a of a Downhill Mountain biker. The subject in question is an Irishman based in Western Australia, who is a fairly keen Downhill guy. To begin with I was given a series of photos to choose from and decided on one which shows him riding towards us, but on top of this he is suspended mid-air…(I’m getting sweaty palms thinking about this!). I was trying to translate the ‘daredevil’ element which is such a part of Downhill Mountain biking on to the canvas. My cycling background is in road racing, which is a completely different discipline to….let’s just call it ‘DH MTBing’. I don’t think I’d offend any DH biker calling them slightly nutty! When you’re on the road bike, grovelling up a hill, the descent is when you can get your breath back, ‘’stick it in the big ring’’ (cycling lingo for a higher gear) and push those pedals as hard as you can go. In the world of Downhill, that’s just it, the descent is their race. It’s not on a lovely tarmacked surface with properly cambered pathway (Ok, so it’s not always perfect like that for us roadies either!). They descend like maniacs through so many different terrains, stoney, dusty, muddy, grassy, gravelly. Twisting and turning, speeding, pedalling and hoping not to go off course, fall off or be unfortunate enough to hit one of imposing obstacles such as trees, boulders, branches and exposed roots. Their race is a form of time trial which can be all over in less than 5 minutes. In comparison to a cycling road race which can go on for well over 5 hours.

Flying through the flames
Flying through the flames

This is an acrylic painting on a 50cm x 70cm canvas.

So, with my limited knowledge of DH Mtbing I wanted to portray here what I understand this daring sport to be. I painted this piece using similar colours to the photo I was working from. I wanted the end product to be slightly surreal, almost animated. So, I painted the colours of his jersey and body in a realistic fashion until I loosened up my brush stroke to convey a flame like effect. I wanted to make it look like he was escaping a bush fire….but the question remains…did he start it? In the meantime happy cycling or whatever sport makes you smile! Rachel

If you have ever thought about getting one of your own photos turned into a painting, either in a similar style or indeed in a more realistic style. I would be delighted to work with you. I feel that my cycling background gives me an unique insight into the sport. My work can be also view on my facebook page called Drawn to Sport or my Etsy Shop

My email address is rachohara@gmail.com and phone number +353 (0) 876397210

The peloton races through the sunflowers

The peleton through the sunflowersCycling is my favourite sport, I love it. Though when I’m on my bike climbing and my legs are screaming for me to stop, my inner voice asks me why I do this? But on reaching the top of the climb or changing direction and getting out of that God foresaken headwind, I don’t want to stop…. I can breathe again and notice the hedgerows and the fields and the birds and the odd bit of roadkill (sorry!). You can be in a semi-meditative state on the bike. Its a great time to plan and sort out your thoughts and for me as an artist soak up inspiration from the landscape I ride through.

The Carlow side of the Blackstairs Mountains mountains, one of my favourite cycling haunts….

“The peloton races through the sunflowers” was a labour of love. For those of you not familiar with the word “peloton”, it is a French word used to define the bunch or pack of riders in a cycle race. By sitting closely together, the riders conserve a lot of energy and can shelter from the wind. The riders in this peleton are almost in a snake formation, bending with the curve of the road, just as the road rises, the leading rider begins the climb. I used acrylic on canvas, I played around with the colour layering and mixing and building until I reached what I wanted to achieve.  Again, for me cycling is one of those sports that eminates colour and beauty with speed and pain. So I like to transfer all these feelings onto the canvas…Cycling is a lovely way to see the country side and its all the more beautiful when you’re spinning along with a nice tail wind…..here’s an excerpt from an old Irish blessing, which I think is appropriate for any cyclist…”May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be  always at your back…..”