Sunday, October 28, 2007

more cards for the art and craft fair

I made a few more cards this afternoon - it's a grey rainy day and I think it crept into the colour choices and weather I was showing in them! I do like moody light at the coast though :)

these are some of the ones I did yesterday.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Art and Craft Fair

Night beach, collage
all images copyright Vivien Blackburn

I'm showing paintings at an Art and Crafts fair in a few weeks and I thought I'd do some cards - most people can't afford the paintings but they can buy cards if they like.

I'll do some with prints of my paintings but I thought it would be interesting to do some small abstract collages with fabric, hand made papers, gold tissue and painted papers.

Then I scanned them and played a bit more :>) so some will be printed in their new coats.

This is a variation in Photoshop on the collage above.

This one looks better IRL because some of the fabrics have a metallic sheen, it didn't scan very well - none of the collages did :>(

These were done from memories of the beach in recent paintings.

This is collaged from fragments of an overworked painting - at least it was useful for something!

and below is a variation on it in Photoshop.

and another collage with fragments of the same painting.

For the collaged cards I cut the card to the size that would fit envelopes I had and then designed the printed ones to fit as well. I've got a guillotine/trimmer (one of those where you slide the blade - not the lethal large bladed Madame la Guillotine ones!) to cut the card neatly - I'd never cut it cleanly enough with a knife.

The painted papers were left over from my degree when we had to paint large quantities for a collage project. Painting your own papers makes collage much more interesting than cutting colours from magazines and it's light fast. The different qualities of torn and cut edges are interesting - I exploited the white of the torn edges for the surf.

Some of the white is Tippex pen.

it was fun to work small for a change and to play with abstract shapes. I rarely do collage but I think I must do some more :>)


Art and Craft Fair

Art and Craft Fair

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a slide show of the digital images with some new ones

If anyone is interested - I'll be uploading these to imagekind over the next few days

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Digital sketchbook; images of flowers manipulated in Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro

digital images and photograph copyright Vivien Blackburn

I should be getting on with the paintings of C0rnwall in progress and maybe be working on the waterways project - but I'm always juggling lots at once and I wanted to carry on with these digital images I've been working on.

They've been in and out of Corel Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop and I couldn't tell you exactly what I've done to them! They started life as photos, close ups of flowers - the rest is layers, filters, cropping, adjusting colour and contrast and levels and ..................

......... etc etc etc!

I'll upload some of these to my Imagekind account I think and will also give some thought to developing paintings from them. Some would work fantastically well in watercolour - if I'm good enough, not sure if I am though. They would involve careful layering and patience and that isn't something I'm strong on. I'll also try some in mixed media on canvas.

I think they'd work really well in those digital photo frames as a changing slide show :)

I'm really quite pleased with them - I like the subtlety of some and the fine leaf veins and then the vivid surreal colours of others :)

What do you think? do you enjoy playing with digital imagery?

These have been manipulated from photos but other work is done in the same way from sketches and fragments of sketches, I find it a really useful way of working through ideas.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

thinking around the subject: small watercolour sketches and digital images for the Cornwall paintings

watercolour sketch

I'm thinking around the canvasses I want to do and how I want to develop them. These first 2 are quick watercolour studies followed by a couple of digital simplifications - I'd like to do some more abstract variations on this view and these are a start on sorting out essential elements.

watercolour sketch

digital manipulation

digital manipulation

This last one does really catch the essence of the light without any detail - I rather like it and though it's simplified there are some nice bleeds of colour going on.

what do you think?


Thursday, October 18, 2007

and another drawing of that gourd - in coloured pencil this time - and I've been tagged and have tagged my choices

I did another drawing of that gourd to show the class different materials with the same subject.

This one was done with that Lyra 'skin tones' set that I really like, plus a deep blue one to enhance the cool darkest darks. I really do like those Lyra coloured pencils.

And this ugly little gourd is fun to draw :)

and I've been tagged! by Karen Hall who does some beautiful work - take a look.

I now have to give 7 facts about me ....

1 I'm a new grandmother :)
2 Though I love the sea i live about as far away as you can get from it in England now :(
3 I have 2 lovely daughters
4 and one Irish husband
5 I have my imaginary list of what I'll buy/do 'when I win the lottery' - but very rarely buy a ticket
6 I've been lucky enough to live in some very beautiful places including Gibraltar (it was lovely then), Malta, Scotland and Cornwall.
7 I'm really tired and I've run out of ideas!

and blogs I'll tag:

Katherine who writes about a wide range of subjects in depth - a very good read and now a friend.

Sarah at - A talented artist - who also runs painting holidays and I really enjoy her blog and her work.

Lyndsay - who decided to join me on my waterways project and is doing a very interesting series in the US. (mine is on the back burner at the moment but not abandoned, it was always going to be a very long term project)

Anita - beautiful sensitive drawings with a real mood and atmosphere, also great portraits.

Sue an interesting blog by someone who, like me, did her art degree as a mature student

Diane a talented printmaker and a really nice person, generous with information and advice.

Julie I followed Julie's mile a day sketch blog and her current project is to do a sketch of a family member each day - and they are lively and good!

I hope you enjoy them all :)


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

sketching: a dried gourd

I've been working exhaustingly long hours lately, covering for colleagues on holiday and taking on more classes that I should - so not much time for painting :( . I'm working on the Cornish paintings as much as I can.

This sketch was done whilst covering a colleagues class yesterday - the class all had work to get on with and didn't need much input from me so I fished this brittle, dried gourd, with a hole in, out of the art cupboard and sat sketching it with a 4B pencil.

The warty strange surface wasn't the easiest but it was fascinating to draw - maybe not a beautiful thing but it was good practice at observation :)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

photography: autumn macros

I was hoping to go out today and take some photos out in the countryside while the autumn colours are there and the fields are a patchwork of stubble, ploughed and pasture. The light wasn't good enough so I settled for having another play with my macro lenses. These are close ups from my garden. I like that little curl at the end of the leaf :)

The roses are still flowering - in a mild winter they carry on virtually all winter - and we've had a few mild winters in recent years. I hope the coming winter is the same, with the lousy summer could it mean a hard winter?

The lens as I said before, looks like a filter and simply screws on to the front of the camera - you don't need an SLR. Best of all they are pretty cheap!

Beech Leaves - these dry up but stay on until spring. The leaves come out later than most of teh other shrubs/trees in my little garden and I always worry that the frosts have killed it as it sits there covered in last years brown leaves.

I thought the squirrels had eaten all the flowers and we wouldn't have any crab apples but we do seem to have some :) .

I'm only managing to grab short spaces of time to work on the canvasses so there are no new paintings to show yet. The big canvasses take longer and need time to evolve.

Is anyone else taking any autumn photos?

link to the type of lenses I'm talking about

link to previous macro post


Friday, October 12, 2007

photographs of waves and surf and rocks at Mawgan Porth

Eureka! the slide show worked. It must have been blogger playing up because Gesa said she had problems too recently - and today it worked straight away :)

If you subscribe by email you'll just see the photobucket icon and a friendly little icon saying 'get your own' !!! if you bring up the blog you'll see the slideshow there :)

I think the slide show helps add a little sense of movement to what were crashing, powerful waves.

I took the photos to help me remember the patterns of the waves as they curled and broke and crashed against each other and the rocks - watching huge swells coming in and trying to time the click of the shutter to get the spray as the wave hit the cliffs or the curling foam coming from left and right to meet in the middle and the glassy underside of the wave before it crashed down.

I'd love to get down to photograph the winter storms when the surf is awesome and terrifying.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, Watercolour and Mixed Media

Mawgan Porth, Cornwall copyright Vivien Blackburn
watercolour, charcoal pencil, coloured pencil, oil pastel

This is a lovely beach on the north coast of Cornwall, just a couple of miles from where I lived as a child. The light on the wet sand and pools is beautiful and constantly changing. A small stream comes down the steep valley and joins the sea here, skirting the edge of this cliff. Steep - very steep - narrow roads lead up each side with hairpin bends making driving interesting when you meet a bus or lorry :)

This is the morning light - the cliffs opposite were lit with a honey/amber glow in the mornings. In the afternoons they were shadowed and darker, almost silhouettes where the rocks are dark. The cliffs reflect in the pools.

Down near the low water line there's a pattern of pools very close to each other and quite deep - up to 2 feet deep - carved out by the crashing waves. I remember these well from childhood - when paddling you could suddenly find the water that had been up to your waist was suddenly nearly up to your neck!

I like rocks :) I much prefer these wild beaches with their dramatic cliffs and rocks and pounding surf to the quieter beaches with sand dunes.

I still can't persuade the slide show of waves to behave so I'll post those another day.

Has anyone else been painting at the coast?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

surf, waves, rocks, photography and painting

While I was in Cornwall I took zillions of photos, including sequences of the movement of the waves and the waves crashing on the rocks to help me understand the confusion. I also did very quick rough sketches

I did a slide show of waves in Photobucket - but photobucket and blogger don't seem to be talking to each other at the moment :( and now the edit screen is going crazy and not giving me the options I need - I'll try again later.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

macro flowers

images copyright Vivien Blackburn

I've been playing with my new 10x macro lens in the garden - autumn and there aren't so many flowers but I'd like to use it on some autumn leaves next.

I like osteospermums, they are so generous with their flowers and carry on flowering for such a long time. I've got 2 or 3 slightly different ones - the only problem is the way they close once the sun goes behind the clouds. They really don't like shade at all.

This geranium plant is huge and has survived at least 4 winters, left outside in its pot - an old Victorian Chimney Pot. I hope it survives again as it flowers and flowers - right through the winters it kept flowering on, the flowers were small but continuous. It isn't meant to survive the winters! I suppose I should really take some cuttings in case the horrible summer we've had turns into an even worse winter.

The lens is a cheap screw on filter-sized magnifying lens. I bought a set that range from 1x to 10x.

I love the way that macro lenses throw the background out of focus and concentrate attention on the main subject.

I am painting but not getting enough time and nothing is at a stage to share just now.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

subjects to blog about and inspirational teachers

Barney Davey on his blog gives a long list of things to blog about and I thought it was a pretty good list and worth quoting here:

52 blog topics for artists - Courtesy of Art Print Issues

1. Why I support xyz charity
2. The most inspiring art teacher I have known ..... good one
3. How I came to know being a professional artist was my career path ... talked about this a bit
4. Why I love working with xyz medium ... done that :>)
5. What you can learn from the traveling exhibit at the abc museum ... done that :>)
6. Four galleries I would love to carry my work and why
7. Five contemporary artists whose works inspire and inform me done that
8. Clues to the subtle messages in my work
9. My color palette is (nature/technology/environment) driven and why
10. Ten things they don't teach you in art school
11. How being in the business of art affects my art
12. When I paint, I like to listen to Guns n' Roses/London Philharmonic/Enya/Toby Keith
13. How the other arts influence my work, e.g., how I attempt to interpret the fluidity of a ballerina in my brush stokes
14. Here are blogs by other artists whose work I like, or whose blogs I like done that
15. Art retreats; although you may not get rich and famous, you can still travel and stay at wonderful places. Here are my favorites or fantasies sort of done that
16. How other jobs I've had have added perspective to my art
17. Spirituality is personal, but growth in it has made me a better artist
18. Nine things I want to paint before I stop
19. Why painting en plen air is exhilirating done that
20. Art by other artists I bought in unusual places
21. Visually inspiring day trips around where I live
22. Museums I've visited in other cities and around home done that
23. Art books on my bookshelf done that
24. If I could only recommend one book, art or otherwise, for someone, it would be...
25. How living the creative life has uplifted my spirits and made me a better person
26. Advice for young artists have I done that?
27. Why I love my local galleries and/or the local art scene done that
28. How blogging has stretched me as an artist
29. You can find my art online at these sites, here's why I chose to use them
30. Art magazines I like to read
31. The greatest influence on my life was...
32. Why and how parents should encourage artistic development in their children
33. Some funny experiences either colleagues or I've had at art shows
34. I still can't believe people have asked me these things
35. The five best quotes on art I've ever read
36. How the courage and creativity of some disabled artists have inspired me
37. Here are blogs I enjoy that are not about art
38. Seven ways technology has changed how I make and sell art (Some examples are: Photoshop/digital camera/digital painting/digital printing/Painter/online art sites)
39. I'm grateful because this person came in my life, or because this happened to me
40. Eight reasons I get out of bed to paint everyday are (Suggestions: Let's be honest, I need the money. I'm OCD and can't help it. It's the best job a person could have. A day without painting is like a day without sunshine. I can't stand the thought of going back to the 7-11)
41. And you heard writer's block was difficult
42. How overcoming creative obstacles has made me a better artist
43. So I went to a tradeshow/convention/workshop and the best/funniest/saddest thing happened
44. It's really hard to part with my originals; here's why
45. Five reasons you will like the giclee prints I offer
46. Flowers in my garden make me smile and make me paint done that
47. If I wasn't an artist, I'd be a...'
48. Why faces are so difficult to paint, and hands are tough too
49. The most inspiring movie I've ever seen is...
50. How the arts organizations in my area are helping children/charities/??
51. Why you should always use a docent when you go to a museum. Here are some special things I learned at...
52. How reading the Paintings Prints and Stuff blog has made me smarter, better looking, more creative and much richer >:>D

Peter Clayton recently commissioned to do a series of paintings for a new Cunard liner

Ruth Sumner finalist in the John Moores prize (a very prestigious competition)

So I thought I'd talk about teachers who were really supportive when I started painting again and encouraged me to go back and finish my Fine Art Degree (I'd done the Foundation Year when I left school but didn't carry on - I married and had a family instead).

I started wanting to paint again when my young daughters and I were walking on Dartmoor on a family holiday - we were walking by this beautiful stream tumbling down a steep wooded hillside over rocks - a series of waterfalls and pools with overhanging trees. It was beautiful but I knew that no matter how good my photographs were, they wouldn't say what I wanted about the place. It was just so lovely and the wild yet peaceful atmosphere could be expressed in paint but not so well on film.

I bought some watercolours and had a go - no plein air at that stage. I wasn't brave enough! - or good enough after those years of getting rusty.

When we got home I signed on for a class - which proved to be excrutiatingly boring! I was horrified at how rusty I was. The tuition was good in its way in fairness but not exciting or fun and no passion behind any ideas.

Later I signed on for a class with Pete Clayton - who was great. He taught in a workshop style, letting us choose our own subject matter, suggesting, critiquing, showing us how to improve. The class dynamics were friendly and supportive and he would critique with a really good insight (as did the other tutors mentioned below). He suggested I finish the degree.

I was also doing a very good class with Jenny Welsford - who also quite independently encouraged me to go back to uni .... and eventually I did :>) but Jenny suggested first doing a term with Ruth Sumner who was teaching a class on abstraction, which was brilliant, gave me an insight and understanding that I'd lacked and helped enormously with the challenges thrown at me when I started the degree :>).

None of these teachers wanted us to 'paint like them' - they were developing individuality, self critique and insight, trying to make us really think about our work.

I have a real horror of 'how to' books and teachers - teaching is about the student being capable of original thought based on knowledge gained and copying anothers style doesn't do that. (How To = this is how you paint a tree - as though there is 'a' way for all lights, weathers, seasons ...... !!!)

They were all so positive and enouraging - even when a crit was quite severe it was ok because it was so constructive.

At Uni I was taught by Ruth again - who was now teaching there - and Alan Welsford, husband of Jenny. They were both key tutors in me developing and gaining my degree, supportive through painters-block and a horrible patch - stuffed with new ideas and information but nothing happening right on canvas , pushing me to do better and better and push myself.

Other tutors were good but these 2 were the key ones who helped.

Our drawing tutor in the first year was Andy Hoogenboom - now in the US - a sculptor who did wonderful drawings and was an original member of the Rolling Stones according to popular legend. His drawings of musicians were superb. He was great but took off to the US with an ex student after my first year :>D .

My work isn't like any of these tutors but they all had a profound influence on my development and understanding.

By the final year our crits were in groups of 4 and very intense.

Ruth would choose 4 very very different people and make each one talk about someone elses work - like she made me talk once about someone who was working with green spots on red and red spots on green - HELP!!!!! what to say????? but we'd learnt to get there early and tell each other about our work and the thoughts behind it so we'd be ready! It made you really consider art that you'd otherwise dismiss as not-for-me-thanks. You still may not like it but you'd understand it better and maybe respect it for what it was with that extra insight.

Alan used to refuse to allow the artist being critted to speak 'You are dead' he'd say ' your work is hanging in a gallery and this is how people will respond when you aren't there to explain it' - another useful insight - they 'd come up with some interesting things that you hadn't thought about but were there and some weirdly wrong off the wall stuff sometimes!

One of the nicest things said to me about my work and that meant a lot was Jenny at our degree show coming up to me and saying she'd wondered if she'd still recognise my work and had as it 'still had that lovely fluid line' - wow!!!! I was on cloud 9! I'd retained 'me' whilst learning and really improving and on top of that I won a prize :>D I was walking on air for days!

Good teachers are so important - who was/were/are yours?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

sketching in oil paints - Cornwall

copyright Vivien Blackburn

Across the beach, Mawgan Porth 14 inches square, oil on canvas paper

A sketch in oil paint done from our window in Cornwall, looking across the beach as the tide was coming in.

Done using Griffin Alkyd oil paints - I really like these for plein air sketching as they dry faster. It was done in a Cryla sketch pad - Cryla pads have a canvas like texture and are designed for acrylics but are just as good for oil paints.

At the moment I'm working long hours so painting time is really limited :( I need some of Maggie Stiefvaters organisational and time management skills. I'm sadly lacking in both :(