It’s been a long time since I rock ‘n’ scrolled……..

Hello there,

Well I hope Led Zeppelin don’t mind me mincing their words, but yes its been a long time since I blogged. I remember saying in a previous blog post sometime last year that I was going to run the Dublin City Marathon and yes my dream has almost become a reality. Cycling will always be my no. 1 sport but a few Kilkenny Park runs to shed an extra few pounds and a few duathlons later to stay in touch with the bike I’m well and truly hooked on the running. But, as a newbie runner (whats the Fred equivalent in running?) I’ve succumbed to a few injuries in 2 short years, dodgy knees (I blame age and genes), shin splints (too much too soon and bad bio-mechanics and those extra pesky lbs). So, with a course of prescribed anti-inflammatories and almost 4 weeks of complete rest duly (impatiently) taken plus the introduction of core exercises like planking, press-ups and all sorts of mad yoga workouts later I’m back in the mix. Being a women of competitive nature I am looking to hit a time of 3 hrs 30 mins (I know, a bit ambitious) on this my maiden voyage of 26.2 miles around my hometown. Sure, isn’t Dublin so much flatter than South County Carlow and this is of course is my mantra. I’m using an 8 min mile training programme and the first 2 of the 3 pages have been vandalised front and back with my scribbles of paces and times and calculations of expectations.  When, I finally reach the last page I will feel relieved as it contains the last fortnight of training. During my peak week of training I hit almost 70km and my longest individual run was 34k along the fabulous Barrow line and my sore legs greatly benefited from a quick dip in the cold Barrow river to soothe out those lactic acid filled muscles.

Quick dip in the Barrow
Soothing the legs in the cool river Barrow after 34k run on the towpath (Placebo effect? Maybe!)

Taper (reduction in mileage) is on now and so I am feeling the excitement and anticipation build inside me. Family & friends’ eyes glaze over in unison when I mention with childlike enthusiasm the dreaded “M” word…….These are the moments when I’m glad to a member of Gowran Athletic Club, where the “M” word is greeted with equal enthusiasm and always a coach on hand with great advice to dispense. The marathon word is now well and truly part of my family’s vocabulary,  where it is not unusual to hear my kids utter “how many “Ks” have you to run on Sunday Mam?” or the Hubby’s duty becomes water & fuel gel supplier on the long runs, where his concerned words of “are you feeling ok?” as I slog on by, is met by a dagger look which says “what do you bleeping think?!” but is vocalised between gasps for air as “Yeah, (pant and throw another one in to earn extra empathy) I’m grand!”.  So, while the marathon word has been bandied about the house my 10-year-old daughter Abbie got busy creating a wonderful poster to display from somewhere on the route during the DCM. I hope “Rocket Rachel” doesn’t let her down!

“ROCKET RACHEL” Thanks Abbie, I’ll take that as a compliment;)

With the intensity of training my creativity has taken a different slant and I was delighted to use fantastic photos taken by a friend of mine, fellow cyclist Ken from the Maye cycling dynasty and Rapparee Bike frame builders extraordinaire. Ken is not only a great cyclist but has become an accomplished diver and his photos are taken from a vantage point that only a man with waterproof camera adorned in a wet suit and snorkel could achieve. So, while driving into Kilkenny via the beautiful village of Gowran this afternoon I passed the lovely Glasrai and Goodies shop and what did I spot parked outside only a vintage (I remember that bike when it was new!) Rapparee road bike painted in the distinctive green, red and white colours of Clonard Road Club. Ah, yes the very man I wanted to credit for the use of his wonderful photos had to be inside there, drinking perhaps a cafe con leche or just a cuppa tay. What a small world we live in! So I had great satisfaction creating some new work from Ken’s wonderful images. They are painted in acrylic on canvas and both depict scenes from the rugged County Wexford coastline featuring the famous almost 800 year old Hook Head Lighthouse, which holds the title of the oldest operational lighthouse in the world! The first painting “Reflections of Hook” as seen below portrays the imposing black and white structure

By Rachel O'Hara
“Reflections of Hook” (Acrylic on canvas-size 45.5 x 15.5cm)

with its mirrored image broken in the seaweed strewn shallow rock pools, by contrast my second painting “Rising tide at Hook” depicts the might of the sea, with the ebb and flow & the swell of the water. The whitewash of the Lighthouse is transformed into gold from the setting evening Sun.

Rising tide at Hook Head, Acrylic on canvas 40 x 30cm
“Rising tide at Hook Head” (Acrylic on canvas-size 40 x 30cm)

I’m fascinated at how one subject like Hook Lighthouse can be depicted in such different ways not just by a different artist but by the natural light and time of day and year.  Can you feel the heat of a Summer’s day or the cold of the damp Autumnal wind by studying an image such as these? Or do you just like the colours or the composition, answers wouldn’t fit on a small postcard because no two people can get exactly the same out of one painting. As they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

If you are interested in enquiring about prices of purchasing any of my paintings or indeed commissioning me to paint a favourite scene for you please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m a trader with the Borris Food and Craft Market in the Town hall, Borris, Co. Carlow every Friday from 9.30am -1.30pm and my work can also be found on my drawntosport facebook page, also www.rachelohara.ie My phone my number is +353 (0) 87 6397210 and email address is rachohara@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back soon!

Rachel

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In the bustling village of Borris, County Carlow….

Hello Peeps! Well I’ve been off the radar for a few weeks now. Every year I say that “This time I’ll be organised for Christmas”. Well, this year for a change I wasn’t too bad. Paintings take time to produce and although the paintings and drawings with a sporting theme are my favourite, landscapes are popular this time of year. So, sometimes the action scenes need to take a back seat while the mountains and rivers take precedence.

Being a trader in the Borris Food and Craft Market every Friday morning is an enjoyable experience. Things never get too mundane for every once in a while we up sticks and go “On tour”. This time we travel just a few hundred metres down the road and are set up inside the majestic Main gates of the beautiful Borris House.

Little Cottage Christmas Market
Little Cottage Christmas Market

This is called “Little Cottage Christmas Market” and we are just opposite the renowned Stephouse Hotel. What a fabulous setting. We are displaying our goods and wares under canvas this time. Frozen toes we may have but the lure of Julie Murphy’s home made mince pies, Melanie’s, Elinor’s and Trish’s sweet and savouries coupled with a generous cup of Kamil’s mulled wine would melt any Snowman, sorry Olaf! Despite the plummeting temperatures as the day wears on, the atmosphere is warmed by Christmas lights and candles.

The Christmas lights and candles create a festive atmosphere
The Christmas lights and candles create a festive atmosphere

Not only are my lovely (I know self-praise is no praise) paintings on sale here, but an array of lovely homemade gifts.

A selection of my paintings for sale at little Cottage Christmas Market
A selection of my paintings for sale at little Cottage Christmas Market

We have Handpainted silk scarves, Handcrafted silver jewellery, Handknitted & crocheted hats and gloves, Homemade Soaps & greeting cards and much more. So, just when you think you can’t take anymore from this busy little village, The Carlow Farmers Hunt will host their Point to Point races in grounds of Borris House from 11.30am tomorrow morning (Sunday 14th December). So, when wondering what to do with your winnings from the races tomorrow, take a wander down to the Main Gates of Borris House & feast your eyes on potential Christmas presents for all your family and friends.

hmmmm tasty treats for all to eat!
hmmmm tasty treats for all to eat!
Hey who switched off the Sun?
Hey who switched off the Sun?

Thanks for reading folks and I hope we see you tomorrow!

Rachel

Drawn back to drawing

I’ve been quite busy with landscape painting and craved a different subject to reinvigorate my creative juices. I have to admit I reached a minor crisis point in my new blogging career, I got a touch of that ailment writers’ block. So, when I started a completely new drawing, the grey cells re-ignited and the floodgates opened.

Yes, you see I’ve come to realise that drawing is the key word for me, its what I really get lost in. It takes me back to rainy days as a child kneeling on a chair, while propped at the dining room table, markers and paper strewn all over the place. It went totally against the grain if a sibling or pal didn’t put the lids back on or scribbled a bit too hard splaying the nib and turning it into a miniature broomstick. Dried out and only fit for the bin. I did manage to rescue a few by soaking the nib in a bowl of vinegar to my Mam’s dismay. I had heard somewhere that by doing this, it apparently restored a bit of moisture and life back in the marker. I suppose the only downside was tang of the vinegar circulating the dining room minus the steaming hot bag of chips from Marcari’s Chipper.

The life cycle of a child's marker
No markers were harmed during the creation of this drawing

When I think of those rainy days as a child, I get the lovely sense of being enveloped in security and happiness. Pottering away with pencils, markers and paper, I couldn’t have been happier. My Mam often tells me about my little drawings I did as a child, they were always a full of detail. A picture of a bedroom would have the slippers stashed under the bed, the light switch on the wall, the teddy bear on the pillow. Drawing is not so much a skill of the hand but the eye. Its how you see things. When you think of those amazing foot and mouth artists, how they produce master pieces without the use of a left or right hand. It lies in the skill of “seeing”. A book I would recommend for anyone interested in drawing or painting is called “Drawing on the right side of the brain” by Betty Edwards. It enhances an artists creative skills and more importantly teaches the person “to see” using both sides of the brain. When people say “sure I can’t even draw a straight line”, there is no truth in this for everyone has the ability to draw but some need to learn the skill of seeing and observing.

I want to thank Brian O’Farrell of Carlow Farmers’ Hunt for his kind permission to recreate his stunning photograph for my latest drawing. What captured my attention was the elongated shadows of the morning sun, running parallel with the country lane.

Carlow Farmers Hunt rides through Scort Lane.
Carlow Farmers Hunt rides through Scort Lane, Borris by Rachel O’Hara

The hounds, as a group may look like clones of each other, but on closer inspection that couldn’t be further from the truth. They not only have different markings but they have different facial or should I say snout expressions! I started this large picture measuring 30cm x 40cm on good quality drawing paper. I sketched it up using a 3H pencil and then began my favourite bit the “colouring in”. Using my Faber-Castell Polychromo coloured pencils, they are a pleasure to behold! Sometimes drawing large areas with the coloured pencils can be daunting but patience is the key to building a good picture. Sometimes, you need to walk away and when you come back you may see it differently, with fresher eyes. It takes many hours and resurrected CDs to complete a drawing like this but I never feel the time go by such is my enjoyment. I hope you like the finished piece. Thanks for reading, Rachel.

I display my work in Borris Food and Craft Market every Friday morning 9.30 to 1.30pm in Borris Town Hall and if you would like to view my work my facebook page and Etsy shop are  also called Drawn to sport. Indeed if you would like to contact me about a piece or commission by phone my number is +353 (0) 87 6397210.

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

Sometimes you just need a little bit of divine inspiration…

I was racking my brain all week, wondering what am I going to write about this Thursday, which is my official blogging day. Luckily, I stumbled across a title from a blog called “Running: An aid to the creative process?” by Running blogger David Hindley. So, after reading his interesting post I put my runners on and set off this morning in the drizzling rain for a long, slow run. Snail city eat your heart out. While I plodded along for 12k, the right hemisphere of my brain fought with the left. The latter winning as my mind conducted an arithmetic class. To start I wondered how many strides was I was turning over? 180 per minute being the ideal number apparently. I’ve come the conclusion that when I count, I tend to do it in an infantile fashion. As when I reach the next set of tens just like this sixty-six, sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-ninnnnnne..pregnant pause….seventy! in the meantime I’ve missed the last 2 or 3 strides! Then I have to start all over again! While glancing down at my Garmin, checking my pace, pulse and working out how fast I hope to run my first marathon (Dublin 2015, there I’ve said it) The grey matter becomes a bargaining space, by the end of my run, my imaginary marathon finish time is half an hour slower than I was predicting at the start of my run!

So, this evening as I finished off a landscape painting in my studio of the beautiful town of Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny, I still hadn’t decided what to write. I glanced over at a shelf and noticed a copy of a pen and ink drawing I had done many years ago. 20 to be exact. The picture was done from a photo of my late buddy Dave Garland who passed away nearly a year and a half ago. Anyone involved with Irish cycling in the 80s and 90s and later again would have heard of Dave. Another Northside Dubliner who resettled in rural Ireland. He was one of the stalwarts of Dublin Wheelers Cycling Club. Not only was Dave a talented rider, he was also a brilliant masseur who support many Irish International cycling teams on races abroad. When it came to work he was a gifted stone mason and gardener. But,  most importantly at home he was a loving husband to Louise and fun-loving, caring Daddy to Maud and Ella. He was taken from us way too soon and will remain in all our hearts forever.

Dave Garland
Dave Garland racing in the 80s for the Dublin Wheelers CC

So, I do feel I got a bit of divine inspiration this evening from Dave. This drawing was done in graphic pen and ink. Using fine lines, cross hatching and other methods to build up the picture. Black and white can be very effective in conveying an atmosphere and perhaps it adds a vintage feeling to the image. It is one way of drawing that I really love. It can be a rather slow process but there is often a very rewarding result at the end. Dave is wearing a “hairnet” which was the old name for the helmets of the time, made from strips of leather.

1960s-Brancale-helmet
1960s racing helmet

Underneath the hairnet he wears in a backwards fashion a cotton cycling cap or casquette as the French call it. The gear shifting levers which are visible on the downtube of the frame where to be later replaced by the more anatomically efficient STI (Shimano Total Integration) levers which would be combined with the braking system.

sti levers
STI Levers

Woolly jerseys, shorts and gloves that he wears have been replaced by lightweight fabrics that are now made with modern technologies that are more efficient and comfortable. Toe straps were replaced with clipless pedals and steel frames with alloys, titanium and carbon. It is incredible to look back and see that despite how dated the gear and bikes are, in current times the look is classy and would be considered trendy and “retro” now.

So thanks Dave, I dedicate this short blog post to you, also my late Fiancee John Sweeney and good friend Stephen Byrne. Three late great Dublin Wheelers. Gone but always loved and never forgotten. Rachel

Making a mole hill out of a mountain on The Blackstairs…

I remember many moons ago coming down to Carlow to do a women’s cycling training camp with the dedicated and hilarious to boot manager Mick Lawless.  We had great craic and we learned an awful lot on those weekends. We stayed outside Carlow town in a fabulous guesthouse where we ate like royalty. We were then set off on training spins that covered 4 counties Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford and Kildare on each outing. So, which place sticks out in my mind the most?   Borris, of course, where I now live.  Why? Because Borris lies in the foothills of the very beautiful Blackstairs mountains and also being a rookie/fred (see Stickybottle.com for reference!) at that time, I was unprepared for the first major climb of the day and keeled over forgetting to change down gears in time as that first section of the road was so damn steep. Those roads are now my nemesis, its a love/hate relationship without a Nidge in sight….

Anyway the An Post Rás (Ireland’s premier cycling stage race) has graced these roads many times and this year the infamous Corrabutt Gap featured in one of the hardest stages towards the end of a week of tough racing. I ventured up to catch the action and was hopeful of getting a few shots of those guys suffering on my now local climbs.  I encountered two of my buddies Pat and Therese who work as the ‘Blackboard’ on the race. Not only are they very experienced cyclists they are  part of the motorbike crew who work on the Rás and many other races. Their main purpose is to give time gaps to different groups of riders. This is chalked onto the blackboard and held by the pillion passenger so riders can see where they are in the race. They have to constantly whiz up and down the bunch, passing big groups of riders, a perilous job that is not for the faint hearted.

And here they are below in action…Ehhh not really…No my son Evan created their Lego alter egos after our trip to the Corrabutt Gap.

Therese & Pat immortalised in Lego
Therese & Pat immortalised in Lego

And here they really are looking very happy with themselves having climbed the almost 11% gradient Corrabutt Gap…Oh wait they have an engine…..

Pat and Therese the Blackboard King and Queen of the Rás
Pat and Therese the Blackboard King and Queen of the Rás

Anyway artistic inspiration always flows for me at cycling races, I use my camera as a tool for the first step in creating a new painting or drawing…I picked one of my images from that epic day which shows a loan rider edging forward while leading the race on the road. His legs and lungs are probably screaming out in pain, with lactic acid flooding his muscles. But he doesn’t show it….I’m not sure if I can convey how severe that climb is, this old cycling adage might explain it…”Jaysus, You could hang wallpaper off that one!”, (The climb to the  mast on top of Mt. Leinster is 796m above sea level and is an even harder climb, Ill talk about that one again!) A lot of these guys are amateurs and some are pros, they make the climb look easy,  they turn the mountain into a mole hill….What you don’t see is the 1000s of training kilometers they have to endure on lonely cold and wet Winter roads, these being the rehearsal for the big production. I hope you enjoy this drawing and enjoy the climb without the pain…just like Pat and Therese;)Rás ascent up Corrabutt Gap

My work can be viewed in my newly opened Etsy shop called Drawn to Sport and my facebook page of the same name. If you are interested in getting a unique painting or drawing done of yourself or that special person, please feel free to contact me at phone number +353 (0) 87 6397210 or click here for  my email address…Thanks for reading my blog, Rachel

From City Slicker to Country Bumpkin……

When we moved lock stock and barrel down to Borris, Carlow from Dublin, It was everything I imagined and more…I remember we weren’t even a week in situ when I decided to take the bull by the horns so to speak and cycle down to the local Mother and Toddler group in the village….My then 2 year old daughter Abbie was fairly content to be safely strapped into her seat on the back of Mammy’s mountain bike watching the fields fly by (Ohhh yeah, I don’t hang around!).

Mtbing girlies
Myself and Abbie on our maiden voyage to the village!

So instead of the usual traffic lights and jams the only obstacles to get in our way was our lovely neighbour Michael on foot herding his sheep and “yos” up our hill. Well, what a pleasure for me to have to pull over for this “traffic”……I think I got more of a thrill to see the herds of cattle and flocks of sheep passing our window everyday than my kids….In no time they were immersed in the country life..It was almost old school for them. Maybe it’s the pure Dub in me not used to seeing all the live stock and tractors going by. So when I heard the local farmers talking about these “Yos” I’m thinking to myself is there a New York influence around here, are they closet rappers?….I thought the Carlow people greeted you with a “Well?!”…..It took me a while (I won’t say how to long;)) to realise they were talking about the “Ewes” as in female sheep for any other City slickers out there.

But what really topped my excitement was when I got to see The Carlow’s Farmers’ Hunt trot down our road in all its glory. The magical sound of clip clopping from the horses’ hooves resonated from a miles away. I thought us cyclists were the true toughies, but respect to the hunters, jumping over high dry stone walls, through streams and rivers, up hills and over ditches. You fall, you get up, dust yourself down and back on the horse (or bike)…..whatever floats your boat…..

So I was delighted when I was commissioned to do a painting to be presented to the retiring Huntsman from the Carlow Farmer’s Hunt. Obviously, I nearly always need quality images to work from and when I was given a fabulous photo to work with I was delighted. The original image was photographed by David Ryan not only a talented wedding photographer but a man who has a great eye for the sports photography too. His website is davidryanphotography.ie or @davidryanphoto to you tweeters out there, well worth having a browse methinks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The finished painting…..

I used acrylics for this painting and although some people find painting or drawing horses challenging I find it an enjoyable task. The horse is such an imposing animal. Its size and power can be quite intimidating to anyone on foot beside such an animal. But, beauty outweighs the beast. When I think of horses, I think of their speed and grace…in comparison the hounds seem giddy beside their master, waiting for their call. This photo made the perfect composition to paint the piece which was done on a canvas measuring approximately 75cm x 50cm in size.  I hope you enjoyed my latest blog post from a country bumpkin in the making! Rachel

So, if you have ever thought of getting that lovely image of yourself or that special someone transformed into an unique painting….please feel free to contact me…my email address is rachohara@gmail.com. I have also some paintings on my newly opened Etsy shop also called DrawntoSport and my facebook page is called,.. yes, you’ve guessed right Drawn to Sport. Finally my phone number is +353 (0) 87 6397210.

From Rás to Rainbow……..

The Rás Tailteann is annual International 8 day cycling stage race which normally takes place towards the end of May. It is Ireland’s premier cycling race which features amateur “county” riders alongside seasoned professionals.

I was asked by the organisers to paint a scene from the race featuring the race leader. This was presented to the then main sponsors FBD Insurance.

In a stage race such as this the leader wears a yellow jersey. The overall winner in a stage race might never even win an individual stage but their cumulative time will be the lowest out of all the competitors. The race leader and eventual overall winner of that year’s race was the young emerging talent, German rider Tony Martin. Martin did not have one stage win but still topped the podium by a small margin of 17 seconds from Ireland’s super strong rider Paudie O’Brien.

Tony Martin wears the leader's yellow jersey in the 2007 Rás
Tony Martin wears the leader’s yellow jersey in the 2007 Rás

It must be nice for some of the amateur riders who never made the professional ranks to look back on their careers and feel proud knowing they raced against such big names. The latter being the guys who made it onto the world tour, which is home to the elite riders. Our very own Stephen Roche won the Rás as a 19 year old. He then went on to have an illustrious career, winning the World Road Race Championship, the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia all in 1987. The prestigious Triple crown in cycling that only Eddie Merckx of Belgium can lay claim to.

A quick sketch to illustrate what a World Champion's cycling jersey is like
A coloured pencil sketch of World Champ’s Jersey by Rachel O’Hara

Any World cycling champion is entitled to wear the coveted “Rainbow Jersey”, from the date won till the following years ‘Worlds’. After that they are permitted to have the rainbow looped around each sleeve of their current cycling jersey for ever more.

Even in during a rain sodden  Spring, Summer (in Ireland!) Autumn or Winter the beautiful colours always shine through…..What a thrill to use so many tones from my busy palette. I don’t need to use much imagination when painting a cycling scene, jerseys shorts, helmets and bikes represent every colour under the sun. Even the cycling shoe which “came in every colour so long as its black” are now available in every shade from metallic to hi-viz, funky enough to wear clubbing? well maybe not that funky……The cleats make walking in cycling shoes a hazardous thing…The only time I reckon a guy will empathise with us women in our high heels!

Hmmm, think I'll stick to the flats for the bike
Hmmm, think I’ll stick to the flats for the bike

So to get back to my subject Tony Martin, his time trialling skills earned him the rainbow jersey 2011, 2012 and 2013 only to be beaten by Britain’s Bradley Wiggins for gold in this years race.  For me to paint this picture was a pleasure for many reasons, even without knowing what the future held for this young German athlete

Whilst that painting was completed a few years ago, I now find myself looking back and thinking wow Tony Martin is a World Champion…..yet another rider to go from “Rás to Rainbow”…..

You may be interested in a getting an image of yourself (or indeed of a loved one) in action on the bike (or in any sport!) turned into an original painting. If you would like to discuss this further with me, I can be contacted by email rachohara@gmail.com or through my Facebook page also called Drawn to Sport. My Etsy shop can be visited here. My phone number is +353 (0) 87 639 7210

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