Wednesday, May 30, 2007
She must have been locked in somewhere as she's very very thin - I may get her checked over by the vet tomorrow unless she looks fine. I'm not sure if her side hurts her - it could be just hunger pains. She's eaten a lot of cat biscuits and I've microwaved her some chicken breast.
I haven't been posting this week as we've had a terrible week - Rosie, who I raised from a 2 week old orphan kitten, needing 3 hourly feeds 24/7 and therefore my 'baby' is missing.
She's the original scaredy cat who runs in if the wind ruffles her fur, in the day she never went beyond our garden and at night not much further.
She slipped out on Friday night and wouldn't come back in. My husband got up twice in the night to look for her - no sign, which is unheard of, she's usually scrabbling at the door frantic to get back in by then.
Wednesday. Still no sign. We've put posters up everywhere, informed animal rescue centres, asked everyone to check sheds and garages and put up posters. My husband must have walked hundreds of miles searching.
Someone told us of a dog nearby who killed a cat the previous Wednesday - so you can imagine the horrible pictures in our minds and the upset. The phrase 'worried sick' describes how I feel - nauseous with worry.
The hope that she'd simply got shut in somewhere and would reappear has faded and I know she must be dead .... but I don't KNOW .... so cling to that faint hope and worry myself sick, well we both do.
Lots of people have phoned or contacted us - even the local policeman, but it was never her.
So, no painting - I just haven't the heart at the moment.
Even my daughter, on being told last night, insisted on booking Thursday and Friday off work and coming over tonight to stay and help search - they are out now and I'm printing some more posters and fliers and manning the phone.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
So, I worked from an overblown rose that I could reach. I don't know what kind it is, they are pretty but not a beautiful shape.
overblown rose in coloured pencil copyright Vivien Blackburn
It was difficult to scan - I find coloured pencil on certain papers with the paper shining through are very very difficult to scan. It glows more than this but I'm not very happy with it.
I played with the sketch in photoshop and like the simplified version much better and I've been able to make the colours glow a bit more like the original. I may work from this in oils on canvas or in pastel.
overblown rose, digitally altered, copyright Vivien Blackburn
I find the computer really useful to sort out ideas for paintings - an easy way to adjust colour, try out crops and think things through before starting another work.
you can see more flowers here http://www.vivienblackburn.com/flowers.html
I haven't forgotten the canal series - or the large tree/rocks/snow - or the seascapes - I just get sidetracked easily :)
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I became fascinated (I know I'm a sad person!) with the potholes and cracks and marks on the pavements, with summer dust and dried pine needles accumulating and did some sketches.
I'd got some hand made paper that I'd made on a one-day papermaking class. It was interesting paper for collage but some was a bit too thick to do much else with. The paper had interesting additions - I'd put pine needles, petals, threads, all sorts into it. It was perfect for the subject.
They are made of layers of my hand made paper, acrylic paints, powdered earth pigments and whatever made the right kind of mark :)
They are only tiny - 5inches square-ish. One day I may do some larger canvasses based on them - but at the moment I'm juggling enough projects!
I really enjoyed working with a limited colour scheme, thinking of the urban environment and the original source and then using the velvety texture of the powdered pigment dropped onto pva glue, the rough papers layers and collaged and the painting and drawing elements and trying to pull it all together into an urban piece.
Sometimes it's nice to work small :)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Katherine asked me to show how I frame work, so .... here goes :)
This is how I framed the big mixed media and pastel abstracted flower.
The frame is over 3ft square and the mount was either 4 or 5 inches wide - I think it might have been 5 with 5.5 inches at the bottom. It could even have had a wider mount (mat) - but the framing costs got a bit much! My framer taught me when I was starting out that it pays to have an extra half inch at the bottom to stop the 'falling out of the frame' look that you can get if the mount is equal all the way round.
I don't use coloured mounts, just antique white - a soft creamy colour. I usually frame in limed ash - again a pale neutral colour that lets the painting be the key element. By using one type of wood they all look right together in a show. The widths of the frame may vary but the 'look' is the same.
I never frame work on canvas. I use gallery wrap canvas and paint the edges - usually in a colour that works with the painting and occasionally taking the painting around the sides.
This is a shot of part of a solo show I had - you can see that the frames work well together and there's a unity. Compare it with the jumble of frames from different artists at the LSA show, which really doesn't work too well!
On the far wall they are all in limed ash frames, some wide, some narrow - they look a bit washed out in this photo but in real life the frames work honestly! nearest to the camera you can see some small canvasses - I painted the edges in deep blue to echo the main colour of the painting.
The framed works were done plein air, the canvasses are studio paintings from memory.
In my experience, bad framing can ruin a good painting and good framing can make a reasonably good painting look great.
I painted on board (in oils) sometimes, in the first year when I was at uni, but don't nowadays because I find them so difficult to frame in a way I like. I don't like the board simply put in a frame as it feels cramped and claustrophobic to me (I know you probably think I'm weird but I really really don't like it!) - they look better floated but then it gets complicated. It's so much easier to work on canvas and forget the framing altogether!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
These are the pictures from the Society exhibition - it's quite a big show at the Art Gallery and Museum in town. Members can put in 3 paintings. Mine are the the one above, which is tiny - about 5 inches square. I framed it in a white Ikea box frame with a white mount - it went really well with the blues. Azurete (should have an accent on the last e) is French for the blues.
and again, I'm on the wall with the bright colours! the seascape in the middle is mine. It's about 4ft tall, oil on gallery wrap canvas - my husband and father made me the stretchers for the long canvasses and I put the canvas on.
I thought I had until the weekend to get my work ready for the next show - The Pastel Society ...... no, I'd forgotten a deadline.
I had been thinking of trying one of the artichoke flower abstracts in watercolour and pastel for the show tomorrow but it won't be in time now :( she needed the titles yesterday! I'm putting in the coloured pencil flowers I did some time ago - they are allowed.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Inspire me Thursday's topic this week is dreams - I rarely remember my dreams except sometimes if I lie dozing half asleep and half awake in the morning I remember funny little fragments of dreams.
This was the last one - I dreamed I'd washed my hair, then before I blow dried it I did some painting. Then, getting ready for bed realised it was still damp .... couldn't be bothered to dry it more and went to bed with it damp! (my dreams are always pointless and weird!)
so the last bit is added ... what it would look like in the morning.
The story reads around in a spiral from the centre - washing hair, painting, realising it's damp, sleeping, getting up looking like a scarecrow (what's new?)
It's just a sketch but could be done properly as a large charcoal drawing.
(and there's an interview there with me this week :) - thank you Melanie )
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I had time to paint today :) and got on with this canvas (40ins square) that has been reproaching me every time I passed it for weeks!
It's nearly resolved now. I need to soften the wisps of cloud at the top, maybe thicken the tree branch on the right to add a little weight there and whiten some of the spaces between the branches. It looks a bit tighter than it is so I've included some details so you can see the brush/knife work, which is actually loose. Those of you who subscribe may need to click in to the site to see the slide show as it doesn't work in email subscriptions or feeds.
I did some more work on 3 long thin seascapes as well but there is still more to do on them.
Now I'm going to curl up with a book and be lazy :)
Friday, May 18, 2007
They had these amazing cardoons and artichokes in flower - if only I had a big sunny garden I'd grow them, they were absolutely huge - way bigger than fist sized and this beautiful stunning sky blue. The dried seedheads are gorgeous as well.
The complementary glow of the terractottas and blues with the subtle beiges and browns will be fun to work with.
I don't know when I'll get around to doing them because I must finish the seascapes first but the ideas are there for when I can get round to them :)
Now off to work :(
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The Private View was great (thanks Katherine :) ), buzzy and fun. The gallery owners were lovely keeping everyone supplied with wine and looking after us - I could have done with a chair though, I was exhausted by the end!
Sales were thin but as this is a new venture in a new place I wasn't hoping for too much.
Today I'm really really tired so this is going to be a short post and then I am going to paint :) - it's a horrible grey rainy day so it'll be studio painting. I have 8 long thin seascapes to get done so will probably work on those and on finishing the big snow/trees/rocks canvas, which hasn't been touched in ages.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Whew! I thought I'd never stop labelling and pricing and packing. Of course it decided to rain steadily as we loaded and unloaded.
We delivered the paintings today for our group show :) - now Simon and Roger the gallery owners are busy hanging it. So all is quiet until the private view tomorrow night. It's a new project for them as they are framers(and have alos built up a business selling giclee prints nationally) and have mainly sold prints before. They have just moved into nice bigger new premises. We are the guinea pigs (they know all of us - they are the best framers and so pretty much all the local artists go to them) and of course it will take customers a while to realise that they now sell originals - so I'm not hoping for too much.
This is one of the paintings I've put in. It was done plein air on a glorious day, the first warm day of Spring - the wind was cold but we were sitting in the lee of the dunes, sheltered and just soaking up the warmth there.
I've put in a real mixture! some woods and trees, some seascapes, some flower close ups and abstracted flowers and the Harlequin abstracts - I didn't think there would be room for them all but there was :) - and then the work in the browser unframed as well.
Just the sorting out and the typing up of lists of work with details of size, price, title, media etc, artists statements and the packing up, delivering and unpacking takes up so much time and having left it to the wire to get it done myself I was a bit fed up when one scatty friend arrived with unpriced work - wanting advice on titles, price, should she put this one in ? ..... etc etc etc .................. I'd had ENOUGH of doing that - I'm afraid to say that I didn't help but scarpered!
Some of the links to blogs from the ones tagged have been really good and my list is growing! so thank you to all of you who carried it on :)
Friday, May 11, 2007
So ..... I have to pass on 7 interesting links and include 7 little known facts? ok here goes :)
interesting blogs that hopefully haven't yet been tagged
http://aquamarelle.blogspot.com/ Patrice Large - I know I wrote an article on him, but I'm hoping he will come up with 7 really interesting and totally new links for us
http://bgmartjournal.blogspot.com/ Bridgette Guerzon Mills - I love her abstracted encaustic pieces, I've never worked with encaustic and would love to try it.
http://idlethoughtsofanidlewoman.blogspot.com/ A great blog by an Australian artist with a lovely sense of humour
http://valeriebutters.blogspot.com/ Huge vibrant, bristling with life, canvasses of flowers, a French Canadian, very talented young artist.
http://pressing-issues.blogspot.com/ Ellen, an American (sorry I put Australian Ellen! )printmaker, again with a lovely sense of humour and interesting work.
http://sarahwimperis.blogspot.com/ muddy red shoes, one of the blogs of Sarah Wimperis, great work, generous descriptions of work in progress and again, a nice sense of humour.
http://derekjonesart.blogspot.com/ beautiful fluid, sensual life drawings and printmaking from the drawings.
I would have included http://am-art.blogspot.com/ anita, but she's having terrible trouble accessing her blog in recent times - she's living in the east and the censors don't allow it. Her graphite drawings are beautifully observed and go way beyond simple photorealism.
Lesser known facts?
1 All being well I'm going to be a grandmother for the first time in September (fingers tightly crossed and prayers said everyone please, as there have been some heartbreaking events along this path) - now what do I want to be called? I don't like Gran, Granny, Grandma, our family never went in for those - my grandmother, much loved, was my Nana, as my mum is to my children. They sorted out the 2 Nana's by diffentiating them as Muriel-Nana and Mary-Nana if they were both there together :). I think maybe I'll just be Nan?
2 the 'big secret' Katherine mentioned I can't talk or hint about - 'cos I signed the Official Secrets Act - no seriously! When I retire I'll tell all!
3 My education as a child was nicely scrambled by moves from Gibraltar to Cornwall, to Suffolk then Norfolk, then Findhorn in Scotland to Naxxar in Malta .... and back to England to Art College in Winchester. Schools ranged from tiny village ones to comprehensives and a very small old worlde Grammar School, founded in the 1300s in Thetford, complete with Latin, which I was dreadful at, though I've come to appreciate the usefulness of what little stuck! and of course university as a mature student to finish the degree in Fine Art.
4 My portfolio career includes working in schools, running a playgroup, being a medical secretary and teaching at a variety of places. My typing is probably 50wpm and can't compete with Maggie's awe inspiring 70!
5 I may look very English - fair haired, fair skinned, but I have a very motley, mongrel set of ancestors! I recently found out lots of details (I didn't do the research I'm afraid) about a fascinating ancestor who was a slave of a past prime minister, who lived locally, freed in the 1700s ( well before the abolition of slavery in 1807) and became a Freeman - to be a Freeman was really really something and the leap from a freed man to a Freeman was HUGE. I feel incredibly proud of him :) Other ancestors are Scots, Irish, French and we think way back maybe German
6 My family are Freemen - a really important thing in Norman times and later, as serfs weren't allowed to move towns or set up businesses and were virtual slaves, owned by the titled landowner. Freemen were just that - Free, they ran their own businesses, travelled where they wanted and ran their own affairs, belonging to the relevant trade Guilds.
7 I can still count in Maltese (and I'm afraid, swear -isn't that always one of the first things a teenager learns?) - I'm full of useless talents
I hope you enjoy some of these links - I'm now off to inform them 'you've been tagged' - so thanks again Katherine for including me in this great 'game'.
Trees are one of the recurring themes in my work, as part of a wider landscape and studies of individual trees.
The sketches on the left were done in a local country park. The trees were absolutely covered in eyes and the more I looked the more there were. I'm not certain but looking at them I think it's where the deer or rabbits had nibbled a branch and they are the scar that was left. I wasn't interested in background or context, I was just fascinated by these recurring eyes and it's simply a sketch investigating them.
This was done with Caran d'Ache neocolour II, watersoluble waxy crayons in an A4 sketchbook.
The piece below was done some time later, playing with monoprinting on hand made paper, looking at this and other sketches of bark - I decided too many distinct eyes was offputting in a 'final' piece as it had quite an uncomfortable feeling :) so this was from imagination, based on a number of sources. It's about 8 inches tall. There are more of these on my website http://www.vivienblackburn.com and in my sketchbook site http://sitekreator.com/viviensketches
The straight slimness of birches and the beautiful texture, colour and pattern in their bark interested me, so different from other trees with more gnarled branches. Some had beautiful apricot coloured areas and I played on this idea with some watercolour studies, with a few touches of coloured pencil.
Edges, as I've said before, interest me - the edges of woods as they thin out into fields and below is a watercolour study of mixed local woodland, again the pattern of the bark and the different shapes of trees interested me. There are a few touches of pastel in this as well. It's about 10 inches square on cartridge paper.
and again I played with monoprinting, this is the 'ghost print', a second print taken with only a little colour left on the plate, I then worked on it with coloured pencils. Different media bring out different possibilities and different 'language' to use. I love printmaking and the moment when you peel the print off the printing plate to see what you've got - it's like watercolour with it's own unpredictable idiosyncracies popping up and lovely 'accidents'.
These and lots of other sketches led into some final paintings that moved on and abstracted from them.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I know some artists who don't use sketchbooks or make sketches - but most do. For me they are a really important facet of my work. Lots of the sketches will never be developed but serve to help me learn about a subject and get to know it well.
Sometimes they'll come in useful years later as this one - it was done 10 years or so ago, when I did a small body of work on this industrial area of the canal, it interested me and I always felt I may do more one day - and now this area is part of my waterways project. This is somewhere I intend to sketch again at some point. It's just a few hundred yards from where I sketched the factories and weir recently.
The building is an odd quirky shape, built to fit between the 2 diverging pathways. It wasn't totally finished - the white area on the left is the canal, I concentrated on the buildings and bridge and never finished the water surface.
The shelves of sketchbooks are a really useful resource for now and the future but also served as practice - hand-eye coordination, observation, how to get a 3D object down quickly in 2D, abstracting marks, playing with mixed media - all of which feeds into finished works in some way or another at some time.
There's no pressure in a sketchbook, there's a sort of permission to go out on a limb and be free, experiment, because it doesn't matter if it doesn't work .... and therefore it frequently does! ... it's only paper, just a sketch and so it encourages freedom of marks, media, ideas.
I jot down ideas and thoughts on ways to go with work, places to visit, artists I've seen, stick stuff in - anything that's useful.
I prefer hard back books and like the Daler Rowney black ones. I usually use A4 or bigger, A3 are really nice to use. I also like square books and have 9inch and 11 inch squares.
I use anything in them - including watercolour or oils. Oils work really well on paper and don't stick to the opposite page even if they are shut when wet - it makes the wet oils easy to carry as well, the wet paint is safely shut in the book, not getting all over your clothes as you carry the stuff back to the car (working plein air). I haven't yet tried oils in a moleskine, they are probably too small to work well. I wonder how they work though????
I find the best thing to stop pages flipping over in the wind is a big elastic band - the kind that postmen use to bundle letters with.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
In all I now have 35 feeds set up with bloglines so I can keep up with reading you all.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Katherine http://makingamark.blogspot.com/ mentioned in her response to the previous thread that we remember the uncomfortable plein air paintings/sketches - and it's very true.
Burned into my memory is the day Sue and I went to the coast - the wind was icy, we were frozen (we always spend a looooong day painting on the beaches) and we hadn't done any work we were really happy with - we'd normally have several. We'd tried 2 different beaches. No shelter at all to be had as the wind was straight off the sea.
At one point Sue realised she'd left her handbag in the public toilets 5 minutes walk away - half an hour earlier. She ran back and it was still there :)
When it came to packing up time my mobile phone was missing - it was switched off so it wasn't as simple as ringing it to find out where it was :(. It couldn't be found so we returned to the other beach and searched the dunes - you just try to remember just which precise dip you'd sheltered in on a long stretch of identical dips! By now it was dark and the torch ran out. We are at a bird reserve in the middle of nowhere except for the wardens house a mile along.
Sue realises her handbag is now missing .... again. At some point whilst scrambling about she's put it down. I need 'smilies' of rolling eyes or crying at this point.
So ... we trekked to the wardens house, keeping to the beach where the tide is now coming in - and the last half mile or so is fenced so we are in and out of icy water in the dark. Then up through the dunes to the house - falling down sudden dips that we couldn't see ... I had visions of broken ankles to complete a wonderful day :(
The warden was an angel who came with a couple of big torches and helped search for Sue's bag - which was eventually found. I didn't care at ALL about my phone by now as it's very very late and we've got 100 miles to get home and work the next day. I just wanted to get home and into a warm bed.
We take it in turns to drive and it was my turn, so I dropped Sue off at her house and asked her to just check her bags again - and THERE IS MY PHONE she'd scooped it up by mistake with her stuff!
The picture above is the only one I got out of a long cold day -6am leaving and 1am home, 200 mile round trip, lots of angst and hypothermia! It's 6 inches square.
But ... we went again a couple of days later! a bit like getting back on a bike after you fall off I think - it had to be done! (and both did some things we were really happy with luckily, nicer weather - great day :)) Mobile phone was switched ON.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Ros and I went sketching by the packhorse bridge this afternoon, both of us wrapped up well but oh it was Cold. I got absolutely chilled to the bone and after a couple of hourse we gave up and went off for a hot chocolate and a warm by the fire in a lovely little tea shop. We both got 2 sketches done first though so our haloes shone :)
The first one above was in charcoal, I sat uncomfortably balanced on a thick tree branch above some mud and water trying not to drop the sketchbook in it ..... or me.
The second was of the old iron railway bridge across the canal - the river that flows under the packhorse bridge joins it on the left. The old railway track is now a footpath that goes for several miles across the city. Mechanical pencil.
There were still walkers out despite the cold.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I've not been writing here this week as I've been rushed off my feet with a new term starting with endless paperwork, computer hiccups and glitches and an exhibition to get ready for next week.
I designed us a lovely contemporary poster in Publisher and now the computer with that on won't talk to the printer - this elderly computer doesn't have publisher and copying and pasting resulted in lots of zzz's and asterisks and gobbledygook :( so the poster is very boring and ordinary - and wasted lots of hours of painting time attempting to sort it out :(
We all paint very differently - Sue M's work is very abstract and often based on her visits to Florida. Sue G paints solely at the coast. Mary does fascinating work from old photographs, doing a lot of research into the backgrounds of the people she paints - maids, children in a spartan Victorian 'blind school' - she had a studio for a time in the building that had been the school - her work always has an interesting story behind it. Ros has a background in lingerie design and her recent work has featured knitting, both in actuality and painted - beautiful pieces. Maggie does lovely moody landscapes and has a particular love of dusk. Glen's work is about places that have a deep meaning to her, known over a long period of time, particularly the Charnwood Forest and Guernsey. Judith Eason is doing a series on the woodlands of Kent, her home.
I'll be showing a mix of seascapes and the flowers - the canal/river/waterways stuff is for a later time. I may also show the Harlequin abstracts.
The show goes up next Sunday and our private view is on the Monday.