working in series

a selection of recent aceo's of the coast. Vivien Blackburn

available at

Working in series

Katherine 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 above

When 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 trees, they are wonderful - there is a book of his work Two Woods on - surprise - 2 local woods :>) Another is The Long Field, where he repeatedly visited a field near his home looking at it in many different ways.

- searching on the tag 'beach' on my blog brings up 31 posts

- coast finds 20

- seascapes finds 66!

and there are a lot more on my website

(and prints for sale at )!

I've also got a series on trees! with 25 posts on the subject :>) - it's an ongoing one with pauses between whilst I work on other subjects.

Trees are interesting, they have characters like people, they are dynamic with their energetic powerful forms and the way they reach for the sky, they can be sculpted by the wind when near the coast into one-sided fantastic shapes. Their colours are so varied - so many shades of green - their trunks a myriad of colours but rarely brown! and then the autumn with its fiery colours.

Someone who did wonderful drawings of trees in the landscape - particularly in the Snowdonia area of Wales - was John Blockley, I have a beautiful book of his drawings and sketches done plein air with a lot of powerful drawings of trees, It's not a how-to book but a facsimile of his sketchbook.

Then of course there is the waterways series that needs working further on - it got held up this summer with family health problems but it's one I intend to continue. It was always going to be a slow burning long term project done between others.

And others that I revisit that aren't long series ....... yet! like feathers and flowers and local landscapes.

When working on a series it's important to have variety of scale, colour, ways of looking at the subject, composition, weather/time/season for landscape/seascapes, the lighting with still life/flowers. Change scale - look at close ups and distant views, get to really know your subject and look at how other artists have treated it - ones who work in a similar way to you and those who work very differently.

You can see more series here:

A book of 40 pages with over 40 of my paintings: website

work for sale at to see where paintings were done

and then there are prints at Imagekind - click on the link in the side panel to see more series - flowers, seascapes, cats, digital imagery .....

ooops! I meant to time this to post tomorrow and accidentally hit publish - so you get 2 posts today.



Great post Vivien - lots of useful tips!

This one is going into a list of posts which will become the subject of a post at some point on my blog.
Kari Gibson said…
Lovely grouping of your coastal aceos, they look great shown together like this and highlights the effectiveness of a series. You make some great points about how to work such a theme to maintain interest for artist and viewer. Great advice (and great links too)!
harrybell said…
Still not got the hang of URL shortening, I see :) Your book is at:

I have that facsimile of John Blockley's sketchbook, too. It's one of my treasured possessions. That man was a wizard with both watercolour and pencil.
Martha Marshall said…
Beautiful series, Vivien!
Chris Bellinger said…
You mentiong Kurt jackson eminded me to tell you that he has a interesting interview in Grenata.

He is holding a show at Gosport from in Gosport so I hope to make it over there
His latest theme has been the coast of The Solent Way
There is a link to the Grenta interview (11th Sepetember0
on my blog at worpressdq
vivien said…
thanks Katherine and Kari and Martha :>)

He was indeed a wizard I agree Harry :>)

- thanks for the shortened link - I simply haven't had chance to look into the shortening again - we went away and since we came back it's been hectic!

and now the **** younger cat has had an accident (car?) and is currently being xrayed - needs an overnight stay in 'hospital' for pain relief and a lot of running back and forth to vet and animal hospital is my evening 'rest' today :>( - awaiting xray results at the moment for possible fracture to spine or pelvis :>(

Chris when I get to the blogs I'll read that with interest :>)
Gesa said…
now... that's a lot of aceos. thanks for this post - and the collection of your different series. now with autumn approaching, i'm getting back to the trees - i think i like them a lot without leaves. i actually ordered kurt jackson's book as well as yours in my endeavour to do more seascapes. and i'll look of for john blockley - so much i don't know ;)
laureline said…
Thrilling to see your coastal grid! you know I'm such a fan of your coastal pieces. Your work and Kurt Jackson's have encouraged me to pick up a theme I've done on and off my whole artistic career, that of water---that and the fact that the search for water is such an emotionally potent one for me in this time of climate change. But back to YOUR work. I have your Blurb book and love it. It would be such fun to meet up sometime when I'm in England and go to the sea together to paint ;D.
I agree with Katherine---this is a wonderful post.
Your aceo's are beautiful Vivien! I enjoy series too, especially the working through part. You discover more and more about a subject that you originally just saw one painting in. A post full of info..thanks.
vivien said…
Hi Gesa, Laura and Ronell :>)

and thank you for the lovely comments!

Laura - I'll watch your paintings of water - I really like your work so this will be interesting :>)

and Gesa I think you'll like John Blockley - the book to track down is a sort of facsimile sketchbook one - just pages from various sketchbooks of his, such beautiful free powerful drawings. he did a number of 'how to' books which are great for beginners but the work in these is 'real'.

and Ronell you are so right about developing ideas in a series - it sparks off other thoughts and leads on who knows where :>) I love that

and it was great to know that 2 of you bought and like my book :>)
vivien said…
I forgot to say that yes, I too prefer winter/autumn/spring trees to summer ones. I like to see the skeleton rather than a big blob of heavy green :>)

Popular posts from this blog

linoprint fish and digital experiments

playing with watercolours and coloured pencils

Hedges silhouetted agains the snow, winter light: watercolour and Derwent tinted charcoal pencils in Stillmand and Birn Beta Hardback sketchbook