Showing posts from September, 2008

working in series

a selection of recent aceo's of the coast. Vivien Blackburn
available at
Working in seriesKatherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark has written an article on artists working in series and is planning a series of trees.I tend to work very much in series, with few one-offs. A huge series is on the coast and a grouping of recent aceo's on the subject is aboveWhen working on a series it's important that you have ideas to work through. For me it's the changing light, time, seasons, colour and mood of a place and I really like to be able to revisit the same place in different lights and times.Someone who works in huge series is Kurt Jackson - one project was to follow the river Thames from its sources to the sea, another followed the Tinners Way, a tin mining route across Cornwall, others looked at lighthouses, Cornish Estuaries ...... lots and lots of series! see them at Also look at the way he handles tre…

Sennen Cove, Cornwall, mixed media sketch, misty rainy morning

The view from the house windows, misty drizzly morning, Low Tide . Mixed media on Canson watercolour paper, 11x9 ins, September, Vivien Blackburn
This was the view from 'our' windows (for one week only :>) ),one drizzly, misty morning, Even though it was misty the sea was still soft lavender and jade colours and the grey clouds had hints of lavender, the distant cliffs hazy without detail, the wet sand shining with mauves and pinks and hints of autumn reds in the foliage on the nearest cliffs.

It's in mixed media - mostly watercolour but with touches of coloured pencil, watercolour pencil, a little oil pastel ........... that's about it but there could be more! I'm interested in catching the light, mood and particular colours, not in producing a purist watercolour-only work ;>)

I like to use mixed media for the extra marks and 'language' potential, using coloured pencils sometimes to scumble a contrasting colour over underlying rocks or sand to create a …

sparkling seas and narrow lanes, cornwall

The View from Cape Cornwall, misty. Photograph: Vivien Blackburn This is a view back from Cape Cornwall towards Sennen - the light was silvery blue and misty, the water in the distance sparkling. The photos below were taken by my daughter - I wanted to show the steep narrow lanes. The one down to Sennen is used by the double decker buses - being stuck behind coming up the steep hill was not fun! The rocks are the ones that shelter the tiny harbour, visible at low tide but a lot of them under water as the tide comes in. The road looks much wider in the photo than in reality.
The ones below were a narrow lane with hardly any passing places that came down off the moor - luckily we didn't meet any cars coming the other way, it was only just wider than a single car :>)
Journeys take a little longer! even the main roads are a lot narrower than most of the country.

charcoal plein air sketches, lanyons quoit and rocks on the cliffs

Lanyon Quoit, Penwith, Cornwall. charcoal sketch. Vivien Blackburn
Charcoal is such a painterly medium to use, so expressive and versatile. I love it. This sketch of Lanyon Quoit, which dates from about 2500 BC was done in a mix of willow charcoal and charcoal pencil.. It's only about 10 ins in size, in my sketchbook, but I want to do a large drawing too.

Huge rock formation on the cliffs above Sennen Cove, charcoal sketch. Vivien Blackburn
I think our ideas of what constitutes beautiful landscape stem from our childhood. I lived in Cornwall and loved the rocks, the wild seas, the changing weather, light colour and the special light there, also the little narrow lanes with trees meeting overhead and glimpses through gateways in the high hedges of farms and valleys and the sea or the trees twisted into strange one sided growth by the prevailing winds on exposed hillsides.

My father spent a lot of his childhood in Hampshire and loves woods and trees and lush countryside and doesn&…

standing stones, stone circles and quoits

The Merry Maidens Stone Circle photograph: Vivien Blackburn

The Merry Maidens Stone Circle photograph: Vivien Blackburn

a small quoit - I don't know if it has a name, it didn't show on the map, photograph: Vivien Blackburn

Lanyon Quoit. photograph: Vivien Blackburn

Some of the stone circles and ancient stone monuments in Penwith, the southern part of Cornwall. This part of Cornwall has a LOT of them up on the moors - way out of proportion to its ancient population it seems - historians are unsure why there are so many. Lanyons Quoit is from about 2500 years BC

That's the sea in the background of the one with the signpost, you can just see the horizon line though it is nearly the same colour as the sky.

links for further information:


Sennen Cove, Cornwall, oil sketch

Sennen Cove, Cornwall, sketch in oil paint, Vivien Blackburn
I really like sketching directly in oil paints, it allows alterations and changes, layering, scratching through ..... so adjustable :>)

This is an oil sketch in my sketchbook. I rather like working on paper - I know it isn't archivally sound but it's a sketch - and Toulouse Lautrec and Degas did it - so it'll do for me! I can close the page when I've finished and get a slight print on the facing page but the pages don't stick and it doesn't harm the painting at all - I can then work on the next page and the next .......

I use Griffin Alkyd quick drying oil paints for this and they are dry by the next day. Done with a palette knife for ease and speed.

This is a view of a section of the bay shown in the previous watercolour but this time on a sunny day with vividly blue sea - I do love the way it changes colour.

Cornwall: watercolour sketch, rainy day at Sennen Cove

Rainy Morning, Sennen Cove, looking across to Cape Cornwall and The Brisons, watercolour. Vivien BlackburnThe lovely thing about the coast and Cornwall in particular, is that even on a grey, drizzly morning there are still beautiful, though more subtle, colours in the sea and the landscape. Brooding clouds, rain approaching in front of the far cliffs and still looking lovely :>) This was the view from 'our' dining room. The rocks at our end of the beach are exposed at low tide. Offshore is a vicious reef of rocks that helps shelter the tiny harbour from the Atlantic gales.

Other days it was vividly blue and turquoise but sometimes it's more fun to paint these days of bad weather, clouds and interesting light.

'Our' house was at the harbour end of the bay, a crescent shaped bay with a beautiful beach of pale sand sweeping round to rocks at our end, the beach is popular with surfers. There's a lifeboat station, a gallery, a little shop that bakes it…

Cornwall - sketching and a zillion photos

We've just spent a fabulous week in Cornwall,staying at Sennen Cove, taking 100's of photos and doing a bit of sketching too, when I could. Bliss.

The view from our bedroom in 'our' house (for the week anyway!)

A map of Cornwall for those not familiar with it
Cornwall is the most south western corner of England, the 'toe', sticking out into the Atlantic. A county of contrasts where Sarah of Muddy Red Shoes is now lucky enough to live and where I lived for some years as a child. I lived near Mawgan Porth - the subject of a whole series of paintings I've previously shown here.

Penwith has a wild and rugged coast, lots of tiny harbours and coves and moorland in the interior with a lot of stone circles, quoits and standing stones. There are the engine houses of old tin mines perched precariously on the edge of cliffs - it's all absolutely beautiful :>) The lanes are narrow, with high stone walls and hedges, (with passing places for when you meet another car)…

ACEO and taking a break

Ring Around the Moon, watercolour and coloured pencil, ACEO, Vivien Blackburn
I'm taking a break for a week.

Will return then with paintings I hope :>)

See you


More ACEOs - the beach at different times

Surf at Sunset. Watercolour and coloured pencil. ACEO. Vivien Blackburn
Morning Walk, watercolour and coloured pencil. ACEO. Vivien Blackburn
Towering Clouds, watercolour and coloured pencil. ACEO. Vivien Blackburn
Winter Sunset, watercolour and coloured pencil, ACEO, Vivien Blackburn A few more little paintings done amidst the chaotic juggling of hospital visits and work. I can manage these small ones, where I find it difficult to work on the large ones because of time limitations at the moment. If you are interested you can buy them here: (I might pop back later to try out shortening this link with all the advice I've had - if I can follow it!) If you have an Etsy shop, please leave a link in the comments?

colour test

have a go at this colour IQ test - you need to make the colours change smoothly and seamlessly

are you a colourist painter or a tonalist? tonalists don't score so well, colourists should

I got 0 - a perfect score she says smugly :>D


Summer, Cool Morning , ACEO

Summer, Cool Morning, watercolour ACEO, Vivien Blackburn

Another tiny painting, this time of a cool summer morning, clear blue light, with a breeze blowing the clouds, walking down towards the surf, the blue of the sky reflected in the pools and on the wet sand. My idea of heaven :>)If you are interested in buying this or any of the others I've shown, you can here: only $18 :>)It's amazing how many of you that I know online, I've come across at Etsy - I've bookmarked you as I meet you there :>)I haven't seen the news yet today - has the spider moved?and hey!!! I've managed smaller urls :>)More links:the book: for prints of my work: Tyrrell of had the excellent idea of offering to put anything on Imagekind that someone wanted a print of - garbled English there but you know what I mean! if there is anything I've shown tha…

Giant 50 foot Spider in Liverpool

A giant 50 foot spider is crouched on the side of a tower block in Liverpool - it is due to lay eggs and will walk through the city .........

Photographs by Matthew Andrews

so ......................

does anyone remember the wonderful elephant that La Machine made last year? I would have loved to have seen it. a not very good video of it - it moved far better than appears there update: a link to the spider moving and a previous creation


and a few more ACEOs

Night Beach, ACEO, watercolour pencils, 2.5x3.5ins Vivien Blackburn and a few more ACEOs.
Winter Sunset, ACEO 2.5x3.5ins, watercolour, Vivien Blackburn
Approaching Rain, ACEO, 2.5x3.5ins. watercolour and cp, Vivien Blackburn
Night Beach, ACEO, watercolour pencils, Vivien Blackburn Please take a look at my Etsy shop if you haven't already - I'd welcome feedback :>) and if anyone has the time to explain to me how to do those shortened urls I'd be very grateful! .

ACEO's seascapes in watercolours, watercolour pencils and coloured pencils

Evening Beach, watercolour pencil, 2.5x3.5 ins ACEO. Vivien Blackburn
I've never done ACEO's before but decided to have a go. It's not a format or size I would normally use but I actually really enjoyed doing them.

If you are interested in buying any of my ACEOs take a look at my Etsy site as I'll be uploading them there later today and tomorrow. I've only just begun and I'll keep adding new ACEOs and paintings as I go .....

My shop address at Etsy:

Blue Morning, ACEO, watercolour, Vivien Blackburn
Night Beach, ACEO, watercolour, Vivien Blackburn

Spring, Breezy Morning, ACEO, watercolour. Vivien Blackburn

Spring, Breezy Morning, ACEO, Watercolour, Vivien BlackburnI had fun with these so there will definitely be more :>)

What do you think?