Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Busy :(

I'm busy with stuff I'd rather not be doing - like lesson planning etc! so only bits of painting going on :(


I found this online and thought it's great! just like my spoilt little madame when she's in 'I vant to be alone' mode :)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

it worked!!!!

Alfreda told me how to add a slide show :)

Thank you Alfreda :)

trying out a slide show :)

Sketchbooks and Personality

Do your sketchbooks (if you use them) reflect your personality?

Mine do.

They contain 'finished' looking work, quick scribbles, working out ideas, jotting down ideas, experiments, photos, digital printouts, found bits - anything and everything chaotically crammed together!

I do tend to keep books for certain projects but not always.


I have a couple of friends - one an architect who paints and the other with a background in business who is an accomplished painter - who have the neatest sketchbooks imagineable! Just fairly finished pieces and no chaos

Mine does reflect the way I think. I'm almost totally right brained and organisation is NOT my 'thing'. I think around a subject, going off at a tangent and coming back again.

These friends decide they are going to C and therefore steps A and B are necessary for them to get there - I simply don't function this way! sometimes I wish I could. I really have to make myself be organised when I have to be but I hate it.

so how about you?

(for my sketchbooks you can check out http://sitekreator.com/vivienb)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

back to painting :)















I've finally been managing to find some time to paint. I don't like artificial light so I really need to paint through the morning and into the early afternoon and then stop. When the weather is grim and grey I hate the light to work in. I do wish I had a south facing studio, I know north facing is traditional but I really don't like it.

I have been working on the 5 seascapes - tall and thin - 48in+ high and 12-14 in wide. Then I decided to work on some more trees.

This is the trees/landscape in progress. It has quite a way to go and this isn't a great photo as it was taken with flash and misses some details, like where I've scratched thin branches through to the underpainting of oranges and drab purples and it's a bit dark.

details:














It's done in oil on canvas over another painting (that I hated!) in oranges and greens and dull purples. I've used the colours to shine through the snow and come through in the bark of the trees. I also scratched through to the underlying colour for the thin twiggy branches of the trees, giving them a glow. This hasn't photographed very well unfortunately.












It now needs to dry so that I can continue. I'm keeping it to a fairly limited colour range but will add more blue/purples to the shadows in the snown and some hints of green into the bark of the trees, a suggestion of life, waiting for Spring.
The distant woods are only scrubbed in and need working on and the composition may be pushed and pulled a bit until I'm happy.

I think the canvas is 20x30 ins

I've got half a dozen 40in square canvasses looking at me reproachfully but I felt the need to get started before bringing them out.

I've just updated to the new blogger - no longer beta so I hope there are no glitches. So far so good and it certainly looks better and quicker to use.

Now I have to go and do some of the endless teaching paperwork :(

Monday, January 22, 2007

The London Art Fair Yesterday


Yesterday I went down to the London Art Fair in Islington. I've been going every year for quite a long time as it's a great chance to see lots of contemporary art in one place.

Over 100 leading UK galleries take part with stands showing their best artists. You can see the Scottish Galleries, Welsh, Cornish ......... from all over the country - all under one roof.

It's a chance to see work by favourite artists and discover new ones. Amongst those I'd come across and liked before was Paul Emsley -
http://www.paulemsley.co.uk/ - who does very large charcoal drawings that are superb, subtle pieces.

Another was Kurt Jackson with some wonderful seascapes on show with the Lemon Street Gallery in Truro and Messums from Cork Street in London. There is a link to his website in the list at the bottom of the screen on the right. Others I like such as Len Tabner, Peter Prendergast, Kyffin Williams, Barbara Rae and Lucian Freud were represented - all are worth googling for stunning work. John Brown
http://www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/pages/artistIntro.aspx?artistID=59 with glorious highly coloured paintings - a Scottish painter with the ongoing influence of the Scottish Colourists coming down to the present in his work. David Blackburn
http://www.hartgallery.co.uk/site/as/blackburn/work.htm with beautiful colourful but subtle abstracts in pastel and intriguing grids of paintings.

Then there were new discoveries:

Nael Hanna
http://www.manorhousegallery.co.uk/hanna.htm - beautiful roaring seas, wild weather, marks full of energy and passion.

Madeleine Strobel
http://www.galerie9.com/artists/cz_strobel_1.htm beautiful moody landscapes.

Sarah Gillespie
http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424821681/sarah-gillespie-midwinter-sun.html a lovely image

http://www.nateart.ch do look at this beautiful watercolour -sadly I can't remember the artists name - she gave me a photo with the web address but no name! I think she was from Belgium.

Margaret Cahill
http://www.commecaart.com/artists_m_cahill.html more great landscapes

James Naughton
http://www.fairfaxgallery.com/james_naughton.htm huge sweeping views, really catching the drama of vast landscapes

Mark Johnson
http://www.fairfaxgallery.com/mark_johnston__9th.htm more gorgeous work

Graham Dean
http://www.grahamdean.com/mambo/component/option,com_gallery2/Itemid,87/?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=252 amazing figure work - the large painting that was in the exhibition looked as though the body was translucent and filled with fire - very different.

There was conceptual art - some really interesting work, quirky work like that of Beryl Cook, traditional work, botanical illustration, huge abstracts - all life was there!

Some galleries had simply nothing that appealed but that left more time for looking at those that did :) I came home loaded with cards and catalogues.

There are books for sale - we went to look at them at the end and were all just too tired to concentrate! so no purchases there :)

I went down with a couple of friends and met up with Katherine Tyrrell for the day
http://makingamark.blogspot.com/ - she'd kindly brought 2 of her gorgeous sketch books with her - even more gorgeous in real life believe me! it was lovely to see the work for real. It was also the first time I'd seen a Moleskine sketchbook and I think I'm going to treat myself to one to se how I like it. I really liked the way it opens so flat. I had been going to take one - but I tend to use larger books and it would have been just too heavy to carry all day.

It was interesting to see the different angles we had on looking and choices of work, sometimes coinciding and sometimes very different. I know Katherine is going to write about the show and she'll focus on very different things.

Over coffee we talked about planning skills - KT excellent - VB zilch!!! classes and subjects, materials, websites and blogs, selling over the internet and as Alice said 'cabbages and kings' :)
I'd chatted to Katherine online for a long time and exchanged emails but hadn't met her until Sunday, we spoke on the phone on Saturday and it was as if I'd known her years! just how she is online :)

I'd stupidly stayed up late the night before revamping my website and felt like a walking zombie by the end of the day :( I slept like a log last night.

I hope readers will follow up the links I've given and check out the other artists on google - they are all people who I really admire, doing interesting creative work and are well worth looking at.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

updating websites and work in progress



I've been working on these seascapes - they aren't finished yet and it's a very bad photo I'm afraid but I'll post better images when they are finished.

I like these long thin images hung in groups of 3, 5 or 7 - looking across them adds the dimension of time - the weather changes, the tide comes in or goes out, night falls. It's a speeded up version of a year spent painting on the beaches.

They are about 48 ins tall but only 12/14ins wide on gallery wrap canvas - I make my own - well that's not quite true! My father and my husband make the stretchers to my specifications and I then stretch the canvas onto them.

Some of the underpainting is thin acrylics on raw canvas - that way I can get some watercolour-like marks. Then it's sealed and I continue with oil paint. These have been done with Griffin Alkyds for speed as they dry overnight.

I've also spent hours revamping and rewriting my site. Katherine gave me lots of good advice on what the search engines look for. From being top if I googled my name, the website slipped down over the last few months to page 6 of 10, because of all the links people have put on squidoo and stumble upon and similar sites - it's very flattering - but I want my own site to come out top on my own name! So here's hoping ....

So if you feel like taking a look it's on http://vivienblackburn.com

I've also created a page of interesting links to artists and photographers who interest me and friends. All worth looking at :)

Tomorrow London ....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The London Art Fair

The London Art Fair starts today. I've been going down to see it with friends for a good few years now and it's usually really interesting.

Top galleries from all over the UK have stands and it's a chance to see a very wide range of contemporary art - everything from conceptual to graphic to photorealist to abstract and everything in between. This is the Edgar Modern stand a couple of years ago from their site.

One artist I always look for is Barbara Rae - she's usually represented by a large glowing painting that sings out when you look down from the mezzanine floor above. She's a Scottish painter who is a real colourist, showing the ongoing influence of the Scottish Colourists in Scottish painting.


Barbara Rae:

I'm planning to go at the weekend with friends.
It's a great chance to see some of the best contemporary painting, from all over the country, in one place.

Islington (where the exhibition is) has a good gallery as well - The Hart Gallery. In recent years I've been lucky and they've had a show of David Blackburn's work (sadly no relation) - gorgeous glowing abstracts that need to be seen in reality to be fully appreciated.

There is also a rather nice art shop further up the road - which I may try to avoid as it is all too tempting.


and Kurt Jackson's work will be there with The Lemon Street Gallery and others:

Kurt Jackson







Then there's Gallipoli, a really nice little Turkish restaurant .....

top selling images

This was posted on another forum and I thought it was interesting.

According to Art Business Today, these are the Top 10 best-selling subjects for paintings in the UK:

1. Traditional landscapes.
2. Local views.
3. Modern or semi-abstract landscapes.
4. Abstracts.
5. Dogs.
6. Figure studies (excluding nudes).
7. Seascapes, harbour, and beach scenes.
8. Wildlife.
9. Impressionistic landscapes.
10. Nudes.

I've never 'painted to sell' but always painted for me, naturally working in series and then taking them to galleries. I'm often asked what the top selling subjects are and some of these surprised me - for instance dogs being so high on the list. And where are cats? :) - much more beautiful!

I'm feeling very cheerful - a repair to the car - which had got very noisy, particularly once you wanted to go over 50mph, proved to be a simple repair, no spare parts and time only . Steve, my travelling mechanic, who I trust totally, charged just £46 to fix it, fix the catch on the glove compartment and fill up the screenwash - I'd dreaded a big bill.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

using different media

Do you stick to just one medium? do you move from one to another depending on mood or the needs of a particular subject? do you mix media? do you enjoy trying out a new medium?

I realised recently how many people stick to just one medium and are worried about trying others.

I also realised that most of the artists that I admire use a wide variety of media and also mix their media and break 'rules'. I don't like rules! guidelines - ok, suggestions - ok, rules???? no.

I started out, like a lot of people, using watercolours and also gouache (with an early backbround in design) - they are relatively clean, odourless and don't involve masses of equipment - well until you become addicted to painting and then your equipment and tools seem to spread to fill every room in the house - my husband certainly thinks so.

I still enjoy my watercolours and tend to use them with other media - sometimes with touches of chalk pastel, sometimes oil pastel, ink, gouache - sometimes all of those in one piece. I am simply trying to get down the light, colour and feel of a scene and will choose whatever materials are going to get the marks I want.

This one is a watercolour, pencil, ink,oil pastel, chinagraph pencil, gouache, tippex pen and coloured pencil piece! It's a tiny sketch in a small sketchbook, just 6 inches square, a really useful size to keep in my bag when I'm on holiday.

I had my paintbox, brushes, a water bottle and pencil case containing pens, pencils, a few oil pastels, that chinagraph pencil, a tube of white gouache and a few coloured pencils and sketched while the family went shopping on a misty grey day.

In the studio there is more time for planning and it would be possible to do a 'pure' waterolour but all these additions are perfect when sketching plein air, enabling me to work faster, regain lost lights, knock areas back - the far off headland was too dark and I simply scumbled the white chinagraph pencil over it to make it disappear more into the haze (watercolour doesn't lift well from cartridge paper and the paper gets damaged). I'm really not interested in following rules and keeping a watercolour 'pure' - these other media make the kind of marks I want, that describe the textures, weather and colour of the day and for me I prefer to work this way. Turner often used a little gouache with his watercolours - it's great mixed with the watercolours to rescue lost lights.

Acrylics I always think of as my least favourite medium - but I use it regularly. I do the first marks in an oil painting in acrylic often or use it to paint the whole canvas a darker positive colour like red, which will then flicker through the final piece. Then I like to use it on unprimed canvas in a watercolour-like way before finishing in thicker paint. I use it as underpainting for chalk pastels and with collage - so maybe it's not so unfavourite after all :) . I also really like the pearlescent colours, especially the soft turquoisy blue.

Oil is definitely what I use the most. I like canvasses because of the impact of the final piece - no framing, no glass or reflection blocking you from connecting with the work. I use deep sided canvas so that no frame is needed - I feel it imprisons the work to frame it. I also detest shiny varnish for the same reason - it's a barrier, and that reflection - ugggh! I feel the same about old fashioned ornate gilt frames on modern work :( - I don't even like them on Impressionist works - they feel wrong somehow. With oil there is such a vocabulary of marks to be made, I can push and pull a painting until I'm happy .... ish! painting out large sections, simplifying where I've overcomplicated, changing colours and mood in response to the needs of the painting itself, rather than preconceptions and I can move on and away from the preliminary sketches.

Pastel is glorious to use - but oh the mess! colour over me, my surroundings and even worse trying to put the finished piece in a frame without getting specs of pastel on the glass or mount (mat). I love to work in pastel but this makes me use it less than I'd like. Sometimes I'll underpaint in acrylic or watercolour and other times work simply in pastel. Unison is my favourite brand - they are velvety and intense but don't break if you simply look at them like some. I also buy Inscribe - cheap and cheerful but still nice to use. I haven't liked Rembrandt at all when I tried them and find Conte too hard and scratchy. This painting of local woods is a compressed charcoal drawing with acrylic paint and pastel over.

Charcoal: I love the painterliness of charcoal, its ability to suggest tones from the lightest softest greys through to intense inky blacks. I love the ease with which you can marry line and tone, one blending and becoming lost in the other - I really need to use charcoal again - soon.

Pencil/graphite is something I use occasionally in sketch books or with watercolour but only on a smaller scale. I like my propelling pencil with a B or 2B lead, it doesn't smudge like softer pencils. If I want a sfumato, soft image then I'd rather work larger and use charcoal.

Coloured pencils are something I've used for a very long time in mixed media pieces, playing a supporting role, used to bring out elements. Recently I've used them more in their own right but only on a small scale. Once I work larger I want the liquidity and freedom of paint - or the versatility of charcoal. I was amazed at the intense glowing colours achievable and they are definitely something I'll come back to for intense studies.

the picture uploader isn't working so I'll add some more images later.

Then there's printmaking - collagraphs, etchings, monotypes, drypoint ......



Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I should be painting but I'm squirrel watching


A pair of cheeky squirrels have moved into the garden and are a delight to watch - I keep getting distracted by them!

Our garden birds like the cheap scones you get in the economy range in Sainsburys - I can't remember how my husband discovered this but he now buys them regularly for them - then our cat decided she loved a bit as well and then second cat acquired the taste - now we have squirrels who like them - it's a good job they are cheap!

I was watching this one eating and then he/she decided to get down to the ground down the 5ft 6in-ish pole to the bird table - he swung round so he was hanging by his back feet - hung there quite relaxed for a couple of minutes, meditating on whether he really wanted to get down, nose pointing down, just little back feet latched on supporting him - then suddenly had second thoughts and effortlessly swung up back onto the table and continued eating!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

new year resolutions

I don't really do resolutions - being of very weak willpower! but ..... I aim to do more printmaking this year, my favourite collagraphs, but also I want to have a go at woodblocks, encouraged by Diane Cutter - thanks Diane :) ( http://www.dianecutter.com ) I also want to take part in another international print exchange but using traditional techniques for this one - last time I did digital images. I received some gorgeous prints from all over the world and it was great fun as they dropped through the letterbox.

Then - I want to get work out to galleries who said 'yes' last year and who I didn't have time for.

I want to continue exploring the flowers 'up-close-and-personal' alongside working on plein air landscapes/seascapes/woods and trees and studio work on a large scale in the various series ..... and continue to experiment with media.

I want to do more large paintings and less small works as I find them less cramping, it's easier to get more freedom and drama into larger paintings and I find them much more interesting to do. So I've ordered some more large canvasses and have a stack of old ones from college that I can work over or re-cover with canvas. Oh dear - lots of expense with paint then ...

I'll continue getting to as many exhibitions as I can, old masters and contemporary, meet up with the groups I belong to for feedback and exchanges of ideas and interesting conversation and of course keep on teaching.

For an example of superbly thought out planning for new year projects, look at the blog of Katherine Tyrrell at http://makingamark.blogspot.com/ . I'm breathless!

It was through Katherine that I experimented with sketching in coloured pencils this year. For landscape they aren't for me I've discovered, but I loved them for flower studies and will continue to experiment with them. I shall also continue to use them in mixed media pieces - the only way I'd previously used them.

Another thing on the 'to do' list is to get my own domaine name and 'point' it at the site kreator site, something I keep promising myself I'll find time to do.

Another item on the list is to get more photography done this year.


mmmm I feel tired now