Monday, June 30, 2008

fpp - sketchbook exchange update

Poppies by Glen Heath - detail

I have the next book in the FPP sketchbook exchange and help!!!!! what a challenge. The book is Nina's and her theme: Polychrome. You can see how Nina started the book here, with a beautiful watercolour of the view from her home.

Now Glen has lived up to it with this lovely study of poppies - the full image is below with some of Nina's work showing on the left:

How to follow this ????????????????

I need chocolate

And how am I going to part with this book?

and I've had a sneak preview of the next one which is currently with Glen - and it's gorgeous as well

I need more chocolate


Sunday, June 29, 2008

family and painting ... or not painting, sketchbook exchanges and hedgehogs

This is our friendly garden hedgehog enjoying a pasty (OK - I know the edge is scorched!) - he/she really enjoyed the cheese and potato pasty and remains of the cat's dinner :>) Flearidden I know, but awfully sweet. He/she was limping so we'll keep an eye on the situation and make sure food is out. (the limp isn't due to the cats as they have a live and let live attitude to the hedgehogs)

He/she is very efficient at keeping the slugs and snailsin the garden at bay. The cats just watch with interest - and a little wide eyed annoyance at their dinner disappearing!

Sam doing his best Bruce Willis impression

And above is why no painting has been going on - the family have been over for a visit, so nothing else was happening. The cats were not impressed with the scary noises, too many people and disruption to their routine.

Glen Heath
Detail from Glen Heath's addition to the FPP sketchbook exchange - isn't it fabulous? This is in Nina's book - theme: Polychrome

It warrants a separate post so I'll show you the whole spread in a post of its own - watch this space :>)

This week hopefully some painting can happen.


Monday, June 23, 2008

waterways project - charcoal sketch

The canal just outside Market Harborough. Charcoal sketch, size A3. Vivien Blackburn

A charcoal sketch of the canal just outside Market Harborough - a spur comes off the Grand Union canal and climbs up via 14 locks to reach the marina here.

It was surprisingly busy with lots of boats passing and as they go at little more than walking pace a few chatted as they passed. The passing boats and changing light as clouds wento by meant that the reflections constantly changed. The trees were silhouetted against the brightly sunlit field.

Little bright blue dragonflies were skimming over the water and landing on my friend's painting. They obviously didn't think much of mine.


Friday, June 20, 2008

keeping the post office busy

mixed media sketch . Beacon Hill, Charnwood, Leicestershire. Vivien Blackburn
This one is winging its way to the US to take part in an exhibition with friends - 2 English and 3 Americans. I had to stay with small images to fit in so decided on a series of work on trees from my plan chest (she says smugly ;>) - said plan chest still feeling shiny and new and lovely and I need to look in at it each time I pass the room! ). I don't often work small except for plein air sketches so it wasn't easy to find work to fit in 10x8 or 11x14 frames.
Today I had to post the moley exchange book, the FPP exchange book, these sketches and 2 cards to the US - eeek!!! it added up to rather a lot!
Keep your fingers crossed for sales so I don't get these back.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

waterways projected revisited (at last) and playing with Neocolour II and Inktense

Ros, June 08, sketching along the canal at Aylestone. conte pencil. Vivien Blackburn
On Monday I went sketching along the canal at Aylestone with Ros - sketch of her above, working hard.
It was lovely to be out and a friendly little robin shared our lunches and spent the afternoon virtually on our feet and perched on the bench I was sitting on :>)
.... and of course I didn't have my camera.
It was a lovely warm, still afternoon and everything was lush and green. Along the bank in front of us the seed heads on the grasses were a pinky mauve colour and there were white clover flowers.
We were near a lock and boats occasionally arrived to tie up while they operated the lock gates and went on their way and occasional walkers passed by. The robin stayed throughout :>)

The canal at Aylestone, the curves and ridges of medieval strip farming are still visible in the field on the other side. Plein air Pencil sketch. Vivien Blackburn

This was the first sketch I did using a mechanical pencil - it's ok for the light and the information I need is there - but it's a bit grey for me and I don't find it as interesting as using colour. I was quite pleased with the shine on the water and the reflections and ripples.

small experiments with inktense pencils and neocolor II pencils

I'd ordered some inktense pencils - and as I can't find my Neocolor II's I gave in and bought some more. They arrived and I had the little play above, working from the pencil sketch. I like colour! I'm enjoying using them. The inktense aren't as waterproof when dry as they seem to claim - they do still lift and muddy other colours.

The canal at Aylestone, with the ridges and furrows of the medieval strip farming system still visible in the form of the field opposite. Inktense, Neocolor II. Vivien Blackburn

This was done from the pencil sketch, changing elements a little and finding out what the inktense and Neocolour II will do when used together. I like the fact that you can get very subtle colours out of them as well as deep vivid tones.

Some of my students liked the pencil sketch better and others the coloured version - what do you think?

I like the coloured one best.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

playing with colour fields in pastel, harmonious and complimentary colours

Colour field experiments in pastel on pale grey paper. Golds and blues. Vivien Blackburn

Colour field experiments. Pastel on grey paper. Blue, Violet and Gold. Vivien Blackburn
These small pastels - just over 5 inches square, were pure 'playing' with colour interaction - taking complimentary colours and making vibrant little squares of colour as the complimentaries zing against each other.
The second one hasn't photographed very well - the magentas are much more glowing in reality than they appear here.

Colour field experiment in pastel on grey paper. Greens and Russet. Vivien Blackburn
The last one makes me think of apples and autumn, the middle one of beaches on one of those deeply vivid blue days and the first late summer harvest time.
They were done with Inscribe pastels, which is a very cheap brand but really nice to use and with a wide colour range, I use them alongside my Unisons.
I do love the vivid colours of pastels and the kind of marks they make - that lovely mix of softly diffused and blended colour with rough marks put down and left untouched - such an expressive medium :>)
Do you use pastels? what kind?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

sketching plein air and then playing in Photoshop

I scanned the plein air sketch on the right below into the computer and then desaturated it and manipulated it a little (above) - and now I'm working on a large charcoal sketch based on it. It was quite windy and the tall grasses were bending and I want to get the feel of this into the bigger drawing.

I do like charcoal :>) so I'm looking forward to working on this.

I sketched again near where I did the cowparsley and fields of rapeseed (the 2 left hand pages) - the fields are no longer yellow, the flowers are almost gone now and the cow parsley is starting to go to seed (right hand page). Things change so quickly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the sketchbook exchange - nina's work

Sketchbook exchange update

Nina's painting in her book - which is currently with Glen (but I got a sneak preview!) and will come to me next.

Isn't it gorgeous? Her theme is polychrome and there are the most gorgeous subtle colour changes in there with a wonderful sense of light - the golden light of late afternoon/early evening

I love her sense of balance with the other elements as well - the writing, colour swatches and lettering make a really beautiful spread of pages.

The use of watercolour is masterly too.

A book of all the images is clearly going to be essential - I'll hate saying goodbye to so many of these.


Monday, June 09, 2008

the sketchbook exchange - this one is nearly ready to fly

watercolour, fragment of watercolour sketch - Vivien Blackburn

I picked up Glen's book on Friday and have had fun (though it was intimidating after seeing the gorgeous images she'd created) adding to it. These are fragments of what will soon be flying on to Ronell in France :>) I've done 2 pages and just have to do the half page, where the next person - Ronell - can interact with my image.

My book is on its way to Lindsay in America now with Ronell's work added - I'm dying for Lindsay to get it and show what Ronell has done with it :>) I know it's going to be gorgeous!

Once Ronell receives this I will be able to show the whole of the images and the book so far ....

and another fragment from the other page - any idea what it's done with?

I'm thinking it might be good to produce a Blurb book of ALL the images from ALL the books when we've finished - what do you think?

I shall be so sorry to say goodbye to the ones that won't return to me and that would be a lovely way of keeping them all.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

collagraphs with coloured pencil touches - and what is a collagraph?

Fish 1, collagraph and coloured pencil, 9x7 ins, Vivien Blackburn

Whilst sorting through old work to store in my lovely shiny new plan chest I came across unfinished pieces that were worth working further on - these 2 collagraphs were put in the 'To Work On And Finish Later' drawer.

This morning I got out the coloured pencils and added just a few thin glazes of colour to push the colour range a little and add warm and cool variations. Polychromos pencils work beautifully over the printing inks on Fabriano Rosapina paper.

Fish 2, collagraph and coloured pencil, 9x7ins, Vivien Blackburn

Collagraphy is a printmaking process - in this case the 'plate' was the card used for the mats in picture framing. The lines are simply cut into the surface with a craft knife, the darker areas are where the top surface has been peeled away, leaving a fuzzy surface. The lighter areas are where PVA glue has been painted on - this repels the ink and makes it easy to wipe it off.

Before printing, it is varnished with Shellac, a meths based varnish. Oil based varnishes would melt when the ink was applied and the plate would get soggy and disintegrate.

The the ink is applied and rubbed in to the cuts and wiped off the surface to leave a thin veil of ink - at this stage it's quite creative and no 2 prints will ever be the same. The way the ink is wiped off and the colour applied is like monoprinting.

Then the plate is printed using an etching press - the high pressure is needed to force the ink out of the grooves.

The lines print darkest as the grooves hold the ink, the peeled away sections are next in darkness or intensity, the smooth untouched surface can be wiped so that it is as pale as you want and the pva sections are very pale.

Applying the ink isn't a totally accurate process so the finished result has a looseness that I like, held together by the incised lines. It isn't possible to use many colours of ink at once either - the second print was simply a deep blue ink and a yellow ink blurred and blended where they met (plus the touches of coloured pencil done later).

I really like the moment when you peel your print away from the plate and find out what you have :>) I do want an etching press of my own.

Some people stick lace and textured things onto the plate - but for my work I find this a little crude and coarse. I do sometimes use fine threads or fabrics but nothing too clunky. These hold the ink differently and create intersting textures that are indented into the paper of the final print.

Another method that I mean to try sometime is one I've read on someone's blog - and I apologise to you but I can't remember who the blog belonged to! If you recognise yourself please leave a message and a link? Anyway, they collaged flat pieces of card/whatever and inked up the plate, wiped it - leaving the ink puddled around the edges of the collaged pieces, and then printed it by hand rubbing it, giving outlines from the shapes used. It is possible to hand print with this technique because there is no intaglio involved (intaglio=cut into the surface marks holding ink) - intaglio processes like etching need high pressure to print, for relief processes, where the ink is on the surface, it is possible to print my hand - though a press makes life easier and I like the way it prints better. I want an etching press!

Do you do any printmaking? if so what do you do? do you have an etching press?

Tomorrow an update on the sketchbook exchange ........ link

Thursday, June 05, 2008

plan chests, old and new work - pastels still life and charcoal drawing of hands

drawing hands in charcoal - over life size, A1 paper - also featuring my lovely plan chest!

This shows part of my plan chest - the large sheet of paper - A1 - is lost in the large shallow drawers, they take huge A0 sheets :>) A1 is the size of 8 sheets of typing paper side by side.

One of the fun things of starting to load work into the plan chest was in unrolling old drawings and finding stuff from the degree and pre-degree - not seen in years! This one was a uni challenge to draw our hands - here revealed are my horrible chubby paws :>o - We had to draw our left hand with our right and vice versa. Any guesses as to whether I'm right or left handed?

a much older pastel drawing I came across - about 2ft 6in tall -ish. This was done at a weekend workshop. It doesn't show up well in the photo but that really does look like velvet on the seat in real life. It brought back happy memories of a friend who died last year and the fun we had on the course.

Feathers and seedpods, mostly pencil but the large ?protea seedhead is in charcoal pencil

And lastly the sketching I did yesterday in one of the telescopic sketchbooks I made following Lindsay's instructions.