Friday, September 28, 2007

more photos from cornwall

images copyright Vivien Blackburn

More images from Cornwall :) I love the shine of the water on the wet sand and the abstract patterns made by the wind and water.

sparkling rivulets of water draining back to sea as the tide ebbs.

and ridges down the banks of a a pool that's been drying up, leaving successive lines around the edge caused by the wind blowing the surface of the water.

mussels and seaweed left by the tide

and the sheen of smooth wet sand near the sea's edge

I'm off to get 100 of these printed this afternoon. I'm going to get them done 7x5 I think.

Lyndsay has talked evocatively about her special place to be in response to my question - where is yours? (thanks Lyndsay) anyone else like to share theirs?


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kurt Jackson the Cornish Crows

While I was in Cornwall I checked on what was on at the Lemon Street Gallery in Truro as they show some fantastic contemporary work by great artists - and :D there was a Kurt Jackson show on, The Cornish Crows or in the old Cornish language An Byrny Kernow - Kernow is the Cornish word for Corwall. a link to the gallery website - it's worth bookmarking and visiting in person if you can.

The lively confusion of wheeling birds in the sketch above catches them fantastically - far better than a 'botanical illustration' type of bird painting every could.

There were several of these odd shaped pieces and they worked really well, floated within a frame.

there's a lively conversation going on in this one :) ..... it looks like an indignant wife asking what her husband has been up to with the bird on the left!

He catches light on water so well and the moody atmospher of low light or bad weather.

The trees near the coast develop this wonderful lean away from the prevailing winds and this dusk image is just gorgeous I think.

like musical notes :) I love the simplicity of it


This last one is an ancient carn - particularly to the south of the county there are lots of ancient stones and carns.

For me he catches the soul and spirit of a place in a way that photographs or photorealist work don't do. His work is on my shopping list for when I win the lottery - for which I very rarely buy a ticket!

Take a look at the Lemon Street Gallery website and see more if you like them - and there is a book you can look through and buy that goes with the show - guess who bought it!

Monday, September 24, 2007

some sunsets in cornwall

images copyright VivienBlackburn

these are a few of the sunsets seen from the windows of 'our' flat - the cloud formations were often fabulous. This one is low tide with the light reflecting off the pools and shallow water at the edge of the surf.

This was a clear and cloudless sunset, turning the sky apricot and the colour reflecting on the sea. (high tide)

The strange rectangle in this one is from the mirror on the wall behind, reflecting the light onto the glass.

Between the photos and my sketches I'm hoping to paint a few sunsets :) - the problem with photos is that they can't cope with the tonal range that he human eye can - metering to get the sunset colour means losing detail in the cliffs, rocks and foreground - there wasn't much as the light was going but there was more than this. Putting colours down in a sketch in this light was interesting - the colours were far too lurid when looked at in the morning! they'll need toning down quite a bit.

I'll be putting more photos of Cornwall on my photography website bit by bit -


Sunday, September 23, 2007

quick sketches of cornwall

all images copyright Vivien Blackburn

The view of the sunset over the sea from our windows was spectacular :) These are some quick sketches done from the window and the one above is trying to catch the pattern of the clouds and waves - they changed so fast and the light was going, so I didn't attempt to use colour. They are all in my moleskine sketchbook - which was only added to my art bag(s) as an afterthought because I'd planned to work larger. I made notes to myself of the colours so that if it develops into a painting I'll remember them.

This one is the view from the windows looking more to the left, where the steep road hairpins round to a narrow little old bridge over the stream - the stream that comes down the valley (the Vale of Lanherne or Mawgan) past the farmhouse a couple of miles uphill, that we lived in for a year when we first moved to Cornwall. We rented half of the house and the farmer lived in the other half. It was a lovely tall Georgian farmhouse, the farm was only small but he kept dairy cows, pigs and chickens and there was haymaking in late summer, an idyllic place to live.

This was a day that started off with rain (it was lovely later) and the tide was high. There was a rainbow as the rain approached and at one point I could see it in front of the cliff as well as in the sky - I've never noticed that before, seeing the rainbow over the land and so near - you may have been more observant! (charcoal pencil)

This one is much the same view but showing the edge of 'our' garden and some people on the beach for scale - they should have been slightly smaller but the pencil wouldn't cooperate!

I think between sketches I did, the watching I did and the zillions of photos in all sorts of light, I ought to have enough information to get some large/largeish paintings done :)

please keep telling me about your special places :) ..... mmmm geographical ones! that statement could be better phrased!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cornwall, beautiful beautiful Cornwall :)

It's a horribly long journey but oh it was worth it! I'm back from a week in Cornwall, staying in a flat in a house right on the edge of the beach that was near where I lived as a child. It was gorgeous - this is the view from our living room room there :) and the marram grass you can see is the end of the garden and there's a path straight down to the beach from there.

To the left is a forest of tamarisk bushes and to the right it was marram grass. The rabbits who live there came out in the mornings and evenings and kept the lawn short! Evening primroses grew amongst the marram grass and tiny tiny mauve flowers were everywhere in the short turf.

The weather was pretty kind to us - the few times it rained were when it really didn't matter and the clouds made the skies beautiful.

The surf was wild at times with huge waves crashing over the rocks and the surfers were out in the safe centre of the beach. The main surfing beach is a few miles away at Fistral Bay but Mawgan Porth is prettier!

it was so good to be there to see the tide at all times of day and watch the sun set over the sea - which was spectacular :) - I haven't uploaded those photos yet.

Each way down to Mawgan Porth is a steep steep hill with a hairpin bend - fun! Cornish roads are also mostly very very narrow, between old stone banks covered in flowers - which leaves you very little room when you meet a wide vehicle and nowhere to go!

When I was young I lived about 2-3 miles away from here for quite a few years - first at St Mawgan village and then St Eval. I loved it and hated leaving - it always feels like going home to go back.

I didn't want to come home :( this is my 'special' place - where's yours?


Friday, September 14, 2007

and yet more sketches of paintbrushes

copyright Vivien Blackburn

and yet more paintbrushes! a demo using, in order, pastel pencils willow charcoal and coloured pencils for a class. They are a great subject as they include all those different textures - the bristles, the wood and splatters of paint and the shiny ferrule.

.... and now I'm going to be off line for a week so there's going to be a lot of catching up for me to do when I get back :) Katherine tells me my icon for feedburner doesn't include the email option - so I'll sort that one out when I get back for those of you who would like to change over and avoid the ads.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

email feeds

Just a quick note to those of you who subscribe via feedblitz

- I'm told that as from 14th they are going to include advertisements

- so those of you who don't like that (I don't!) you could change your subscription over to Feedburner.

There's a link in the right hand column.

Bloglines is good as an alternative as you get to see all the blogs listed together that you've subscribed to. Again there is a link in the right hand column.

Dashing out now ...............................

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pen and wash drawings, still life

Pen and wash drawing copyright VivienBlackburn

Still life is a subject I don't really do any more in the traditional sense - I'll sometimes do studies of something that interests me or just for practice but don't do 'finished' works any more. Landscape always was my first interest.

This set up was in a class about 12 years ago and was full of lovely textures and shapes - the hairiness of the coil of rope, drapes of the material, the dark wood of the chair and the white flowers against a dark background, smooth jug, spiky teasel and delicate honesty were interesting to work with and work out a way of expressing each.

It was done with a Rotring art pen and sepia ink with plain water to create the washes - the ink is water soluble.

I came across this photo of it while I was looking for something else.

My Rotring pen tends to languish largely unused as well - I often find pen too scratchy for me and like the painterliness and soft edges of charcoal or pencil better for the way I work. Just occasionally I get it out again for an airing :)

I like the way that, when thinned with water for a wash (you can't see in the photo :( ), the ink separates into a slightly greeny pale brown and a slightly pinky pale brown, adding interest to the drawing.

Rotring make a range of pens, this is the one that I used. It has an F nib and takes cartridges of water soluble ink: and a link to the Art Pens on Dick Blick.

What medium to you choose for still lifes?


Sunday, September 09, 2007

sketching people

copyright Vivien Blackburn
pencil in moleskine sketchbook

Ok I did overemphasise the eyes a little - but only a little. This is my eldest daughter and her eyes are her best feature :). I also overemphasised her nose - ooops! - she has a much daintier nose!

That's one of the nice things about sketches - these little idiosyncracies sneak in, slight caricatures, overemphasis or distortion - it's what so often makes a drawing more interesting, to me anyway, than a photograph.

It's been a very hectic weekend with a family get together with Sam as the star so no time for anything else and no painting.

Katherine found a fun quiz on blogthings to discover what colour crayon you are :) I'm a blue one - which is great as I love blues. Our bedroom is blue, the living room is creams with vivid turquoise curtains and cushions and I am inclined to hang my bluest paintings in there - oh dear paintings to match the sofa! and the bathroom contains lots of blues as well. And a lot of my clothes are blue. This is what it said

***You Are a Blue Crayon***
Your world is colored in calm, understated, deep colors.You are a loyal person, and the truest friend anyone could hope to find.On the inside, you tend to be emotional and even a bit moody.However, you know that people depend on you. So you put on a strong front.
Your color wheel opposite is orange. Orange people may be opinionated, but you feel they lack the depth to truly understand what they're saying.

So ..........................What Color Crayon Are You? take the test and see

Friday, September 07, 2007

Quick sketch of baby Sam being held

Sam being held by my Dad copyright Vivien Blackburn

A quick sketch of Sam snoozing, held by his great grandfather :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

sketch of baby Sam

Practising :)

4B pencil in moleskine sketchbook - one fault I find with the moleskine is that when you erase with a battery operater eraser, little bits tend to stick to the paper all over the place - I don't know if you find that? I use an eraser as a drawing tool quite a bit to take our lights and reduce contrast etc, particularly when drawing hair or fur.

My daughter says she's put this on her Facebook page :)

Hopefully the first of many :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

cats in art and a monotype of a cat

monotype: copyright Vivien Blackburn

This is a monotype I did some time ago - made by doing a random roll up of the printing plate with the honey/burnt sienna coloured printing ink. I then made cut out stencils from newspaper and overprinted with the black ink. With monotypes there can only be one, it isn't possible to recreate the print again. For this type of printing you don't need a printing press, you can just place the paper over the printing plate and rub the back with a baren or your palm to pick up the ink from the plate. He looks a bit cross at being disturbed.

I've been looking at cats in art from the earliest times and found some beautiful examples :)

In ancient Egypt they were of course revered but in medieval times their fortunes changed and they were seen as associated with magic, witches, licentiousness and wrongdoing. Hundreds of thousans were exterminated - leading to a rise in the rodent population and probably aiding the rise and spread of the plague - the black death. You can read more about their history here

this is from the Egyptian Book of the Dead

Monet, Sleeping Cat

I think Monet must have liked cats :) this one looks very comfortable on his bed and he's caught the nose tucked in, i'm-here-for-a-serious-sleep-do-not-disturb posture perfectly.

Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Simplified for a poster this ad still catches the fluidity and expectant attitude of the cats beautifully.

It's one of the things I love about cats - their fluidity, the way their shape changes with their position and their body language. Dogs are much more solid and their body shape doesn't change as much.

Sadanobu Hasenawa 1970

An all black cat isn't the easiest of subjects. This image is so simple and so economically done and catches a moment in time superbly as does the image below,

Will Barnet

Felix Vallotton - woodcut

Both of the above show a clear oriental influence in their elegant simplicity, balance and fluidity.

Toko. Japanese silk painting

A gorgeous soft gentle image.

Hu Chan, a contemporary Chinese painter

- a mix of the simplicity and fluidity of traditional work with a touch of Western influence.

One of my favourite artists is Gwen John and her sensitive cat paintings are a delight. They have the soft colours and tones typical of her work and she catches the character and attitude of her subjects - the fat little puddle of fur in the middle is just gorgeous :)

Gwen John

Franz Marc

Again, simplification but this time a Fauve image, colourful and bold.

And below a series of Japanese prints which so influenced the Impressionists

Japanese watercolour 1850

Kuniyoshi Kitagawa - woodcut


a beautiful simple sketch of a rather grumpy looking cat :)


and then , a rather strange cat by Picasso - I'm not a great fan of Picasso but thought I'd include it as another way of looking.

I was going to include a painting of 2 cats on a Paris rooftop, one black, one white but can't remember for sure who painted it - was it Chagall?

Do you have some interesting links to works to add? do you like these works?

If you prefer dogs then this has been a long and boring post! >:>D

sketch - toasting in the sun :) copyright Vivien Blackburn