Showing posts from April, 2009

new large A3 Moleskine - Folio books - REVIEW

Moleskine Folio Books

There are some new sizes of moleskine sketchbooks and watercolour books available - in much better sizes for creative images. They are now doing A4 and A3 in both the sketchbook and watercolour books. At the moment they are on a special introductory offer. They call them Folio books.

acrylic ink over oil pastelin moleskine sketchbook

I bought the A3 watercolour book. A3 for those unfamiliar with European paper sizes is equivalent to 2 sheets of computer letter paper side by side - about 15 inches across the landscape format page - so 30+ ins approx across a double page spread. A really nice size :>) A4 is computer letter paper sized at half A3.

I like the elastic band closure and robust construction of my moleskine sketchbook, so, thought this was worth trying out. The previous small size of the 'large' watercolour moleskine meant I had never bought one. I believe the paper is the same. This book has the same format and pocket in the back …

Earth Day, Pollution

Swans nesting amongst plastic bags and floating rubbish. photograph: Vivien Blackburn

It's sad how uncaring people can be of our environment.

The canal and river wind their way through the city with a footpath enabling you to walk the entire length, a green lung for the city. Unfortunately parts are spoilt by sights like this. There is a wealth of wildlife including kingfishers in quiet spots - but swans here are nesting amongst floating plastic bags and rubbish. :>(

This is at the shallow edge of the water just beneath where I sat to draw the scene below.

The recent move by supermarkets to persuade people to stop using plastic carrier bags can only be a good thing :>)

Why don't they go back to the paper carriers for those who come without a bag of their own? from sustainable sources of course, they are much more environmentally friendly - and look much nicer too.

previous work done here

and more

and more

and go and read Sue's post today about the 4 P's - absolutel…

setting up an Etsy shop

Goody Two Shoes, ACEO, Glen Heath

One of my friends, Glen, is a very gifted painter but has only recently started to get interested in computers, websites, blogs and internet sales. I've featured her work here before.

This afternoon I helped her to make a start on creating an Etsy store - take a look. So far there are just half a dozen aceo's but more will be added, including larger works.

Glen did her BA (Hons) Fine Art as a mature student and gained a Distinction. She then went on to do her MA.

Glen's website

Tulips and Tudor

photos from a trip to Oxborough Hall, a 15C moated Tudor House yesterday.

before tobacco and potatoes arrived here or settlers arrived in the US :>)

Artists work: David Poxon

David Poxon - Made in England

Following the review I did of the Watercolour Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, David Poxon emailed me:

Hi Vivien- I always read your blog! Thanks for the nice mention- it is much appreciated. Attached is my pic Made In England in this years RI - please put it on your blog if you like. Size is 27" x37"- pure watercolour of course! With the current state of the nation it seemed like an apt title! My website is if you would like to post a link . Many thanks- heres hoping I get in the 2010 expo! best wishes david
This was an absolutely amazing painting and his website is well worth browsing - I particularly like the rusty hinges and padlocks and decrepit wooden doors - something I've always found strangely beautiful.

Thank you David for the picture and permission - and for reading!

I wouldn't think there would be any problem getting into the 2010 exhibition!

Browse and enjoy everyone :>)

Visiting the museum archives

Durer etching
This morning I was at the local art gallery and museum with an art group I belong to.

One of the members had organised for us to be taken down to the basement and be given a tour of some of the 800 oil paintings and 3,500 watercolours, plus hundreds of prints, miniatures, 3D works and more, that they store there.

Simon Lake, curator and conservator gave us a fantastic tour.

A highlight for me was a lovely polished wooden sketching box with a palette in the lid and bottles of powdered pigments and oil to mix them with. It belonged to Sir George Beaumont and was from the mid 1800's - before tubes were available. Paints were freshly mixed and stored in a pigs bladder. We saw his paintings (interesting but not having a wow factor for me) and the box that he'd used :>) There were still dry pigments and oils in the containers and some more in papers sealed with wax. I love the 'real' and human elements like this. It was absolutely delightful.

(I l…

still life completed

Still Life, acrylic, 16x20 ins. Vivien Blackburn

I decided today to paint the edges (deep pthalo blue to work with the painting) of the still life I did a couple of weeks back and finish off bits I hadn't had time to complete.

Here is the original post showing it as it was

Reducing the size to this thumbnail makes it look a bit tighter than it is really. It's quite loosely painted.

I like the way that the colours move through it better now

what do you think?

the tiny canvasses in a group

the 4 inch canvasses grouped - Vivien Blackburn

Jean asked about seeing the small canvasses together - here they are Jean :>)

and another tiny canvas

Beach, Winter Evening, 4 inch square gallery wrap canvas, 1.5 ins deep, Vivien Blackburn

Winter evening light at the beach, acrylic on deep sided, gallery wrap canvas, another for the Etsy shop.

and another tiny canvas

Winter Morning, acrylic on deep gallery wrap canvas, 4 inches square, Vivien Blackburn

Another of the series of mini canvasses destined for my Etsy shop. A windy morning with the surf crashing on the sand and pools reflecting the sky.

The sides are painted to match the painting so that framing isn't necessary.

more small canvasses

Early Morning, 4 inch square canvas, Vivien Blackburn

Here are a couple more from the series of tiny canvasses I'm putting on my Etsy shop

The striped cliffs at Hunstanton, 4 inch canvas, Vivien Blackburn

The first is the far tip of Cornwall where the weather fronts from the Atlantic first hit land. It's from the same spot as the one in the last coast (stormy one) but turning 180 degrees to look the other way.

The second is Norfolk, the east coast, where there is a section of cliff at Hunstanton that is banded in white chalk, brownish Carr Stone and red sandstone - a bit like an Angel Cake :>D

I enjoyed doing these and trying to keep a sense of space and light and place and freedom of mark making but on a tiny scale. I need to get on with my big canvasses as soon as I can though. Exhibitions loom.

What do you think? What range of sizes do you work?

4 inch seascapes on deep sided canvasses

High Winds and Surf, 4 inch square canvas (deep sided). Vivien Blackburn

Instead of working on my planned 40 inch canvas I was in a mood to work with these little 4 inch canvasses I'd bought to do some work for my etsy store. This one is based on a wild day with the surf pouring over the harbour wall and the rocks offshore.

Below is a side view so that you can see the painted edges and depth of the sides. It's a little bleached out by the flash - the accurate colour is above, which was taken in daylight.

I'm going to be uploading them to Etsy if anyone wants to take a look.

Watercolour exhibition in London

Yesterday I went to an exhibition of The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in London at the Mall Galleries. It was wonderful and vibrant and extremely diverse.

What I love about this society is their openness - to them watercolour is about making paintings and not making pictures in narrow confines dictated by some committee who are full of 'thou shalt nots'. Watercolours were mixed with acrylic, gouache, pastel., oil pastel, charcoal, collage and more making for vibrant imaginative work alongside beautifully subtle pieces.

Photo realism sat next to sensitive painterly realism, dynamic abstracted pieces and pure abstracts.

Here are some links to work by the artists, sadly there is nowhere to see the actual work in the show - the Mall Galleries really need to improve their website.

It was well worth the trip and Ros and I had a great day. The weather was fantastic - warm and sunny,


The knockout of the show for me was Bob Rudd. They were large paintings, beauti…

Old Flooded Slate Quarry, Swithland Woods, Waterways project

Flooded slate quarry, Swithland Woods, Watercolour/mixed media, 11x14 ins approx, Vivien Blackburn

The pale colours here in the ground are a little bleached out - they should have a pale pink/amber colour.

Old flooded slate quarry, coloured pencil, approx 11x14 ins, Vivien Blackburn

I've been looking at the old flooded quarry near Swithland woods in watercolour and coloured pencil.

The slate that was quarried there is very ancient pre-Cambrian rock - the oldest rocks in Britain. Until recently it was thought that no fossils were preserved in this ancient rock - but recently fossils of ferns have been found (details of this and the geology and history of the area are in the links below).

It's thought that the woods are the remains of primeval forest, having been there from at least 5,000BC.


The history of Swithland Woods, which may be the remains of primeval forest from 5,000 years BC

Geology/History/walks in the area

Photo of a larger pit nearby