Monday, September 29, 2008

working in series


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


available at vivienb.etsy.com


Working in series

Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark http://makingamark.blogspot.com/ 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 http://www.kurtjackson.com/ 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 http://vivienb.blogspot.com/search/label/beach

- coast finds 20 http://vivienb.blogspot.com/search/label/coast

- seascapes finds 66! http://vivienb.blogspot.com/search/label/seascapes

and there are a lot more on my website http://www.vivienblackburn.com/

(and prints for sale at www.vivienb.imagekind.com )!

I've also got a series on trees! http://vivienb.blogspot.com/search/label/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: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/218005/?utm_source=badge&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=140x240

http://www.vivienblackburn.com/ website

work for sale at vivienb.etsy.com

http://vivien.paintmap.com/ 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.

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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 haze of another colour in a way not possible with watercolour. Or oil pastel under the watercolour to sparkling through it. Artists who I admire frequently throw a mix of media into their work - people like Shirley Trevena, Kurt Jackson, John Blockley and of course Turner - all using dynamic mixes of media to achieve their vibrant paintings and sketches.

For the last couple of trips to Cornwall I've insisted on staying where we are almost on the beach, with fabulous views from the windows and it has really paid off - it has meant that I can sketch in those odd moments when the family are busy with something else before we go out and I can see the scene in a variety of lights and weathers, which is what really interests me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

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.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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:
http://www.historic-cornwall.org.uk/a2m/bronze_age/stone_circle/merry_maidens/merry_maidens.htm

http://www.cornwall-online.co.uk/heritage-trail/heritage-other/lanyonquoit/Welcome.asp

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Monday, September 22, 2008

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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cornwall: watercolour sketch, rainy day at Sennen Cove

Rainy Morning, Sennen Cove, looking across to Cape Cornwall and The Brisons, watercolour. Vivien Blackburn

The 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's own bread daily (mmm it was lovely) and a couple of cafes and a pub - quiet and lovely :>)

Lots of walkers pass by as the coastal path goes through some amazing scenery and Lands End is only a couple of hours away walking - 2 minutes in the car by road!

This is watercolour with touches of watercolour pencil and a little white gouache in the rain.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

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) which in Spring are full of wild flowers. Hills are steep and twisting - lots of changing gears !

This time we visited Penwith, an area further southwest - right at the end of the land. Lands End, the most westerly point of England, was just around the corner from us, no distance at all but a 2 hour walk for those with a head for heights and a lot of energy - the coastal footpath has spectacular views, fantastic rock formations and hidden coves and my family even discovered a wrecked ship rusting in one small cove.


Sennen Cove Harbour

I love the changing light and weather in Cornwall - the photo above was taken one day and the one below on the next day, of the harbour just to the left of our house as you looked out to sea.


The sloping ramp is for launching the lifeboat. This wasn't a rough or windy day - winter storms there are dramatic!

more updates to come :>)

links: surfcam with frequently updated images http://www.camvista.com/england/other/cornwall_sennenbeach.php

and for daily pictures of the cove and the harbour http://www.sennen-cove.com/today2.htm

Cornwall is my favourite place - where is yours? and why?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

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: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6150568 (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?


Monday, September 08, 2008

colour test

http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77

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

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

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: http://tiny.cc/dvy4e 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: http://tiny.cc/ZbARW

Imagekind for prints of my work: http://tiny.cc/y3rkt

Katherine Tyrrell of http://makingamark.blogspot.com/ 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 that you would be interested in a buying a print of, just email me and I can arrange to upload it there, :>)

website: http://www.vivienblackburn.com

Friday, September 05, 2008

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



http://www.lamachine.co.uk/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29222703@N08/2824889038/in/photostream/


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



does anyone remember the wonderful elephant that La Machine made last year? I would have loved to have seen it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV6vRcn-bE8 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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5lDkYBh-fQ


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHOEWyQpsCw&NR=1



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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

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!
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

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: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6150568



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 Blackburn

I had fun with these so there will definitely be more :>)

What do you think?