Showing posts from 2008

New Year Resolutions, Happy New Year ... and a Green Man

The Green Man, black and white photograph: Vivien Blackburn

This is a photo I took in local woodland - a perfect naturally occurring 'Green Man' of the woods in the bark of a tree, with hooded eyes, a hooked nose, eyebrow ridges/horns, high cheekbones ......

I know roughly whereabouts I took it but sadly the light has never been right to find him again, though I've looked.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with New Year and Resolutions .........

.......... but it's that time of year - what are my goals going to be? what do I want to achieve?

Because of some very serious family health problems this year I didn't do as much painting as I would have liked . It was a pretty horrible and very sad year so here's hoping next year is better.

to do list:
Revamp website: I plan to revamp my website - which a friend truthfully described this week as a being rather like a scrapbook! True, because it isn't well organised and is a mix of available and sold work and work that I…

changing light

I'm taking a Christmas break but having shown you the photographs of this beach in Cornwall in changing light, I thought I would show you just some of the sketches and paintings of the beach in different weather and at different times of day.

for a longer write up please visit our group website watermarks :>) where I'll go into more detail about limited palettes, working plein air, size and medium, light, time and tide ......

I hope everyone had a great Christmas

I got some lovely new art supplies to play with :>)

that list of things to do

Katherine sent me this list of 'things to do' and it's popping up on everyone's blog at the moment! so here's my take on it - some of the list seem weird choices to me!

1. Started your own blog - yes
2. Slept under the stars - no, I like comfort!
3. Played in a band - no, sadly no musical talent :>(
4. Visited Hawaii - not on my list of things I want to do
5. Watched a meteor shower yes
6. Given more than you can afford to charity - yes
7. Been to Disneyland - NO!!!! and no wish to!
8. Climbed a mountain - yes - Cader Idris
- and does going up Snowdon on the little train count? no? well it was brilliant anyway!

9. Held a praying mantis - no
10. Sang a solo NO
11. Bungee jumped NO WAY!!!!
12. Visited Paris - yes and had a brilliant time - saw the Marmottan museum, the d'Orsay, the Jeu de Paume, the Orangerie, the Rodin Museum, the Pompidou Centre and more :>)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea Yes :>)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch yes
15. Adopted a …

Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone :>)

A combination of the flakes I made at the snowflake cutting website and slide :>)

my card

Paula Pertile put this tarot card link on her blog

You are The Star
Hope, expectation, Bright promises.
The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised
The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

it sounds good after the lousy year I've just had :>)

What are you?


posts might be a bit erratic until after Christmas - and then I have to get some serious painting done - my new years resolution!

so in the meantime, another snowflake. :>) Sherrie you have a lot to answer for! this is addictive

Russian dolls update

Today I varnished the Russian Dolls - you can see them here

As they were done experimentally in felt pen line with Polychromos coloured pencils to add the colour, I was a bit worried in case the varnish smudged them. It didn't at all :>) They were absolutely fine.

They need another coat and then they can be wrapped.

What have you made for friends and family for Christmas?

Mawgan Porth: Changes, Time, Tide, Weather and LIGHT

What interests me in my work is the changing light - in England it changes constantly with passing clouds, changes in the weather and season and time - from minute to minute to the light can vary enormously.Above is a look at a Cornish beach - Mawgan Porth - near to my childhood home and still very special to me. When I win the lottery there is a house with the view shown in several of these photos that I want to move into! These are just a few photographs but they - I hope - give you an idea of why this is one of my favourite places :>)


Sherrie at Brush and Baren gave a link for this fun site to cut your own snowflake - this is my effort :>) Have a go here(- warning it's a bit addictive!) I've never managed one so neat and perfect with real paper and scissors!

North Norfolk photographs

Lindsay did such a great slide show on our new Watermarks blog that I thought I'd show one of one of the areas that I paint. This is the nearest coastline to me at 100 miles.

You can see an aerial view of part of the north coast of Norfolk on Paintmap, showing where some of my work was done.

Watermarks launches today

Sennen Cove, digital image, Vivien Blackburn

Our new group blog Watermarks launches today! You are cordially invited to come and take a look. Members are a really talented, interesting and varied group from around the world.

Watermarks is about seascapes, rivers, canals, lakes, streams, ponds, fountains and more, and the different mark making we all use to describe what interests us in our subject matter, light, the people there, a sense of place, abstracting from the subject - all of us with different intentions, media and visual language.

We plan to show work, talk about work in progress, artists that interest us, materials - anything and everything to do with our work about water.

So come and visit Gesa, Laura, Lindsay, Jeanette, Katherine, Ronell, Sarah, Tina, and I and welcome :>)

coming soon ..........

An old painting I'm afraid, of the curious striped cliffs at Hunstanton, as I'm up to my eyes in Christmas cards and stuff rather than fine art but it's relevant ....... .... as I'm getting ready for an exciting group project which will launch this Monday, 1st December - so watch this space :>) More information and links to follow - but there is a clever hint here: from a fellow conspirator :>)

childrens books

Way back I started thinking about doing a book for Sam but family health issues ate up my time and it got put on a back burner. Are these images easily enought read by a small child do you think? I quite like the freshness of the original scribbly sketched ideas and played with adding colour on the computer in glazes. all images copyright Vivien Blackburn

what do you think?

Painting Russian Dolls 3

Hand Painted Russian Dolls: Sam. Vivien Blackburn
Ok, that's one Christmas present nearly done :>) I've finished making the Russian Doll of Sam so the family is complete.
Hand Painted Russian Dolls: The Family. Vivien Blackburn

I decided to skip the next size down as it was too big in proportion. The next one down from that looked just right.

Hand Painted Russian Dolls: Sam. Vivien Blackburn

Other than these I'm totally unprepared for Christmas and have barely given it a thought! Someone wrote that they had put their tree up already - eeek! - I never put mine up until a week before Christmas. When the kids were young it was 2 weeks before. Do you put your Christmas tree up early or late? .

Painting Russian Dolls 2

Some of my family as Russian Dolls, Vivien Blackburn
Not 'Fine' art but fun! here is the progress with painting the Russian Dolls - I've now nearly finished the one of my daughter.

I am going to need to add a little white in the eyes and on the cat on this so will use acrylic.

I let the lines get a bit too heavy on the hair :>( - to leave or to paint in white acrylic to regain the light and then recolour? not sure yet as I think that might jar and not fit in.

Back to 'real' painting soon!


Painting Russian Dolls 2

I've made a start on these as planned. They are based loosely on the card I made when my daughter had her first baby last year - I did a cartoon of the small family as Russian dolls and it suddenly occurred to me last week that it would be fun to paint some 3D ones for Christmas. I found some blank, unpainted wooden dolls on ebay and they arrived a couple of days ago from Russia.

Painting Russian Dolls - one down and 3 to go :>) and before it was coloured Thank you Sarah for the great tips on how you would tackle these :>) - I liked the idea of a felt pen, something I rarely use as it's too graphic for most of my work, but for these, perfect. I decided not to prime them to start with as I really wanted the wood to come through in places - I like wood :>) I sketched it out roughly in pale coloured pencil - it was to hand! and rather liked the way it worked on the wood. It can also be erased. Then I outlined freely in the felt pen and filled some of the hair in. At t…

Painting Russian Dolls

I had a great idea for a Christmas present for my daughter - she doesn't read this so I can tell you!When she had Sam last year I made a card based on her, her husband, new baby and cat as Russian Dolls.Sketch planning a card for my daughter and new baby, Vivien BlackburnI've decided to paint some Russian dolls based on this for Christmas this year and the blank, unpainted dolls arrived this morning :>)I don't normally work in 3D so this will be a very different challengIt will be a couple of days before I can start on them. I hope it works! Should I use acrylic paint on the bare wood? prime or varnish it first? what do you think? has anyone done this?.

The sketchbook exchange - my book is Home!

A slide show of all the gorgeous work in my book :>) - hovering the mouse over an image will show the name of the artistMy book is home :>) and the sketchbook exchange is almost over :>( , I'm putting the finishing touches to Ronell's book and will post it on Monday I hope. Sorry I was a bit slow with this one Ronell. Look at all these fabulous images and imaginative ideas.The challenge that I set for my book was landscape/your surroundings, in any scale - huge vista or tiny detail - and to draw/paint a feather. I enclosed a pigeon feather and my book came back with several lovely feathers including one irridescent capercaillie feather from a military hat in Italy :>) So that's some feather sketches coming up soon!I love the different twists and original ideas that people gave the themes - the bustling French market full of character being drawn by those feather quills (Ronell), the tumbling Italian towns, glowing fruit and irridescent feather (Robyn), the very…

exhibition next week

I've got an exhibition next week with some friends at a local gallery. These are a few of the paintings I have going into it.

Life is a bit hectic with the exhibition, inspections at 2 of the colleges I teach at and family health problems continue :>(

This is also a try out of the slide show Casey Toussaint told me about, that she used to show her book in the FPP exchange so effectively - I''ll use it to show you my book if this works OK. Here is a link to see Casey's gorgeous book - not to mention a great blog :>) so do take a look.

Feather in coloured pencil

Feather in Coloured Pencil. Vivien Blackburn approx 5 ins square
A friend gave me some beautiful feathers and I couldn't resist drawing one. This is in coloured pencil, a mix of Lyra and Polychromos.

If you like it enough :>) I've just added it to my Etsy shop - as I enjoy drawing feathers I thought I'd do a series for the shop.

A good idea do you think?
Sennen Cove , detail, Vivien Blackburn I think this would work as a large canvas - what do you think?

I haven't had time to do much painting for the last few days due to an awfully heavy workload and an exciting new project I'm involved in.

I had an idea and a name for a group project and talked to Katherine Tyrrell and Lindsay Olson - the idea is now escalating due to the technical knowledge of Katherine and is really getting exciting - a lot of very talented people are going to be involved. Watch this space!

a bit of digital manipulation

digital collage - Vivien Blackburn

This is a very simple digital collage, combining some of the rocks from the long panoramic view of Sennen Cove with the marbling *analogue* collage shown earlier, made using my marbling experiments.

I used the clone tool and multiple layers to add to blank areas and change things a little. Then the burn and dodge tools to lighten and darken areas for emphasis and the eraser to delete unwanted areas and redefine rock shapes with new edges.

Finally I flattened the layers.

I could possibly develop this into an abstract in the future, on a large canvas. moving it on not simply copying it, so when my printer recovers from its nervous breakdown I'll print it off and put it in my sketchbook for future reference.

I thought the patterns went quite well together. What do you think?

panoramic view of Sennen Cove in mixed media - to crop or not to crop?

Sennen Cove, Rainy Day, mixed media painting, 19.5 x 7.5 inches, Vivien Blackburn

For some reason I don't enjoy working on panoramas in this format - turn it to vertical and I love working on a long thin canvas or paper - horizontal? - no :>(

So I may well crop it to something like this and maybe get a further small painting cut out from the right hand side. What do you think? to crop or not to crop, that is the question.

possible crop?

detail of foreground rocks

detail of the sea

The photograph of the whole piece loses detail and texture so these are close ups of sections of the painting. It's a gloomy rainy day now and it was photographed with flash - never a very good idea, natural light is so much better.

other potential crops?

so ........ to crop or not to crop?