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't 'get' the wilder, sometimes bleaker, places that I love.


Kari Gibson said…
Wow - superb sketches! I am a sucker for stones in the landscape like these and enjoy seeking out the ones up here in Scotland.

I seem to want to hug them, but, shhhh, don't tell anybody.
Lindsay said…
Somehow, you make your charcoal look very "colorful". Now I"m off to see those links in your post before this one. Very interesting rock forms.Usually one only thinks about the henges.
I love these deeply dark charcoal drawings giving the standing stones an intense life of their own. You could really get going with these on a larger scale, but need to take care they don't spirit you away! :o)
I also love ancient standing stones. Last year I spent a whole week on the Island of Arran walking the wild moorlands in search of stone circles and standing monoliths. They feed my imagination.
All this week I have been watching a programme on Channel Four - Britain AD, and Britain BC. Ends tomorrow but it's been absolutely fascinating.
ps: Is that you in blue with the curly hair posing beside Lanyon Quoit?
vivien said…
thank you all :>)

David no it isn't me - too young and slim to be me!

I don't think I remember ever visiting any standing stones in Scotalnd though I've seen them on TV - it would be great to time travel (in a little invisible bubble!) and see what they were created for and the life of the people wouldn't it?
Chrissy said…
Hi, I love these and your oil sketch of Sennen cove...I love Cornwall and for one reason or another haven't managed to get there for few years. Pednevouder is probably my all time fave with Treen. I recogn ised your few over Sennen and have also spent many happy hours at the Old have made me feel very nostalgic for sure - hope ur OK - ChrissyXX
vivien said…
yes, lovely places Chrissy :>)
harrybell said…
I love these charcoal drawings; I find the presence of something manmade in the landscape far more interesting than the landscape by itself.

I'm sure you're right about how the area of your growing up has an effect on what you find interesting as subject matter in later life. I grew up in an industrial town and have always found beauty in urban decay, rust, broken brickwork and the shape of buildings themselves.

Even the beaches of my childhood had broken tank-traps on them and I get a small thrill when I find anything similar hidden away in the country. Some people think they're blots. Not me.
vivien said…
Growing up in the depths of the country, I don't generally want man made in mine, nor people - but I appreciate it in other people's work definitely.

A beach near where I lived in Scotland (Findhorn) still had those huge cubes of concrete, to stop the tanks landing, along the edge of the dunes and there was an old pill box on the cliff over Sennen - and I do love the ancient stones and mine chimneys and stone cottages huddled into the landscape

I think with the man made stuff I want to draw rather than paint. I'd never thought about that difference before.

I've got a photo I took of a bleached section of wood in the sea defences at Wells, with a large rusty bolt and the stains in the wood from the rust - I thought it utterly beautiful so can understand your interest.

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