Showing posts from January, 2008

looking at non traditional composition and quiet vs busy areas in paintings

Paul Klee
I thought I'd look at non-traditional composition - where the rule of thirds isn't the key but the painting relies on different compositional methods. in response to an excellent series of posts on the various ways of looking at composition by Katherine (link at end). These alternative considerations or breaking of rules - but making it work - appeal to me more than too heavy a reliance on the rule of thirds.

The painting above, by Paul Klee is a 'field' painting' - the composition is overall, the eye travels around enjoying the glowing colour that he creates by juxtaposing complementary colours, subtle greyed greens enhancing the oranges/reds/pinks. Most of the image is composed of the various greens, greeny browns and khakis, with accents of the warm colours. When working this way it's important that the balance is unequal and that the accent colours are placed carefully to keep the eye moving in the way the artist wants. A couple of the brighter colo…

charcoal, sketch looking across the beach at sunset

Across the beach, sunset, 16 ins square, charcoal on watercolour paper. Vivien Blackburn

A quick sketch in charcoal with some conte pencil to push the darkest areas. I used watercolour paper which didn't grip the charcoal very well. The texture worked ok for the sand but was sometimes annnoying in other areas.

The sand has a little more tone than shows in the photograph - again the flash bounces off the white paper, lightening it >:>(


across the beach, last light, monochrome, Vivien Blackburn
I was having a play in PS with this painting and after cropping, simplifying, darkening and tweaking I took the colour out - I like this and plan to do some large charcoal drawings.

When I started that painting using charcoal I did intend to keep the colour quite minimal and to make the charcoal do most of the work - but got seduced by colour!
I'm off to find my charcoal.


horoscopes and write ups

Maggie has 2 interesting posts today - in one she kindly mentions me :>) and in the other she links to this horoscope site. I couldn't resist it - I had to look mine up and .... mmmmm ..... some of that is uncanny!

- link to Maggie's blog.

is your horoscope accurate?


mixed media seascapes on paper

Across the Beach,Early Evening. mixed media on paper. 16 in sq. Vivien Blackburn acrylic ink, acrylic paint and charcoal
A view across the beach in the early evening, warm tinted clouds, pools reflecting the light and the rocks - heavcn :>) if only I could win the lottery and live there.

The light was terrible here today, grey and dismal - and I need a decent light to finish those ongoing canvasses as I need to look at them from a distance as well as close up. I thought I'd work on paper and work close to the window. I finished (I think) the one above

The following one is at a mid-way stage.

work in progress, approximately 18 ins tall acrylic ink and acrylic paint
The last one may have some touches of pastel added.

acrylic ink, acrylic paint and charcoal. Vivien Blackburn

Prints at Costco

Autumn. Vivien Blackburn

I never really 'did' the reproduction print route but last year decided to set up an Imagekind account. I'd heard good reports of them.

My reasons were mainly to do with the fact that digital imagery interests me and I do very small editions of digital works - it blurred the distinction between 'original' prints done via computer, where the image existed only in digital form and the reproduction of paintings.

Well, Imagekind are linking with Costco and selecting some images to sell in Costco stores - and they selected this one of mine. I don't know if anything will come of it or how it will go. Profits are very small but potential sales bigger - I thought it was worth saying yes and trying it out - nothing ventured, nothing gained :) - what do you think?


update on seascapes, works almost finished

Sunset, incoming tide. Vivien Blackburn. mixed media on canvas
This one is virtually finished. Some of the colours aren't showing very well, like the greenier blue on the underside of the waves. It's now hanging above the sofa so that I can decide if I'm going to do anything further to it. That's its working title, which may stick. I'd said these smaller canvasses were 30 inch squares and I've realised they are probably 24 inch squares - maths never was my thing! I do know for sure the bigger ones are 40 inch squares :)

Through the Dunes Nightfall. Mixed media on 40 inch sq canvas. Vivien BlackburnThis is still wet and so the light is catching the wet paint a little but I'm not planning to do much more to this. (the curved shape on the lower left hand edge is something in front of the canvas and not part of the painting)The other 40 inch canvas is also virtually finished. The disastrous one of the last post has had the sky/clouds sanded d…

seascapes update, work in progress 16th January

seascapes, work in progress, mixed media on canvas 30 in square. Vivien Blackburn This is at a stage where it looks a bit rough and ready! and the colours aren't showing well. I'm not happy with it at the moment. It's coming on slowly though and when it's finished I'll photograph it outside in better light. Below is a detail:

detail of distant cliff, work in progress
I'm still working on the clouds in particular, to try to get that effect of the rays of light and the light peachy sky against the dark clouds. Again it needs to dry before I can glaze and scumble more colour.

work in progress, 30 inch square canvas. Vivien Blackburn This one has moved on just a little but I don't plan to do very much more. The colour is a bit too warm here, it's not quite so warm IRL, there are cools there as well.

work in progress 40 inch square canvas. Vivien BlackburnSorry it is on the slant but the paint was wet and caught the light otherwise. This is one that I started som…

update on seascapes, work in progress

work in progress, 40 inch square canvas, Tides Edge. Vivien Blackburn
The paintings are coming along but are too wet to photograph properly :(

This 40 inch canvas is almost done, I just want to bring more of the blue in the sky into the sea and foreground - just a little - and do some more spray on the waves.

The colours haven't come out very well - the underside of the waves is more viridian rather than the turquoise it looks here.

Any feedback?

I'm still too close to it to maybe judge impartially but it is making me feel the tumult and confusion of the waves as I walked along at the waters edge - I don't know if it's apparent to others though? From this low viewpoint, the horizon was a mass of incoming swells, not the straight line of an east coast painting. There was an intense feeling of the weight and power of the water pounding towards me and I wanted to catch that feeling.

I haven't a clue what to call it - I hate choosing titles! My studio wall needs painting to…

blogger is scrambling my site :(

I decided to add a picture behind the title and although they are all still there in the template, my links, history and lots of other stuff has disappeared from the side bar


deleting the image makes no difference, resaving the items makes no difference - blogger what are you doing???????

charcoal sketch of the beach

Charcoal sketch of the beach, evening, approaching rain. Vivien Blackburn A charcoal sketch in the beach series - I think I may do a large, more finished one of this for an upcoming show. I really do like charcoal and the wide variety of marks you can get - smudgy sfumato to hard crisp lines. It's the medium I'd always choose for a large drawing, often with ink applied with bamboo pen and paintbrush to push the darkest darks. What is your favoured drawing medium? I managed to do a little more to the canvasses today before having to go out but the light went before I could take any photographs. I'll update those during the week. .

sketching every day things

Lyra skintones set of coloured pencils - swatches
I really like this set of Lyra skintones coloured pencils - if doing a portrait I'd want to add at least a deep dark blue to help with the cool darks and probably other colours - but they are lovely for sketching with in a mono/limited palette way.

This was a quick demo sketch of a jar containing erasers and a pencil sharpener from the art cupboard at college. It's good practice to do observational sketches of every day objects and shows students that almost anything is worth drawing :)

and this was my cup of tea that went cold while I sketched :)

I'm hoping to get on with painting this weekend.


work in progress, seascapes stage 3

work in progress. 40 inch square canvas. Wild Seas. Vivien Blackburn

The beach is a typical Cornish cove - funnel shaped - so the waves come racing in and clash from different directions, bounced off the rocks, as they are forced into an ever narrowing route. I love the chaos and tumult. The sand is carved into hollows and ridges and patterns as the tide moves. I don't know how well I'm going to be able to catch this but it's what I'm trying to catch.
My Monday class doesn't start up for a couple of weeks so I managed another day of working on the canvasses :) I'm now at the stage where there is a lot of thinking time or waiting for paint to dry and progress slows.
30 inch canvas work in progress stage 3 - seascapes Vivien Blackburn
This one is the most resolved so far. A quieter day, looking diagonally across the beach when the tide is out. The evening clouds a soft apricot. I still have work to do on it though.
30 inch canvas work in progress seascape. Vivien Black…

seascapes continued - stage 2 of wip

work in progress, seascape, 30 inch square canvas
The paintings are slowly developing. At the moment there is a fairly limited range of colours in use but there are purples and turquoises in the water that aren't shown well in these photos and the sand has more colour. Each is developing in its own way. This one is about the beach in the evening with the tide out and pools and patterns of ripples in the sand shining as the last light catches them, casts shadows and creates reflections. In the distance the big breakers crash on the shore.

40 inch square canvas, work in progress

This one is closer to the waters edge and I'm trying to get the tumult of the waves and the fact that up close like that the horizon is no longer straight - it's made up of multiple swells sweeping in to break close on the heels of the previous wave. Those dark lines need on the right need to be toned down and partially lost. It has a way to go and as it develops the thinking time increases in relation …

beginning new seascapes

start of a new seascape 40 inch square canvasI've started on some new seascapes. They are based on the sketches I did in Cornwall and memories of the beach at all times of day with the waves crashing and the light and weather constantly changing. I'm abstracting from them - I want these paintings to be about how I feel about the spirit of the area and not simply a realistic interpretation of it. I now have to let these early marks dry before I can continue and as I'm still having to work extra hours it won't be a fast process :( start of a new beach painting 30 inch square canvasThese are at a very very early stage and have a long way to go. Hopefully a lot of these marks will remain in the finished piece but there are many layers and adjustments to go - I don't have a clear pre-worked-out result in my head but simply an idea of the feeling of the particular weather and light and moment that I want to recapture. As the painting develops it may change dramatically -…