Showing posts from May, 2009

Links to artists taking part in the sketching Skies from Observation Project

Dawn at Sennen Cove, coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook, Vivien Blackburn

Quick sketch of the sun burning through the dawn clouds in coloured pencil in a moleskine sketchbook. The colours used are on the left hand page.

As promised - Links to the participants in my skies challenge. The challenge was to paint skies at different times and in different weathers - from observation not photographs.

No particular order here, just added as they arrived :>)

There is some lovely work so do take a look

Dinah Mow sky studies and more here

Laura sky studies

Jeanette sky studies

Sydney sky studies

Doug sky studies
and Katherine Tyrrell gave me these links:
Canary Wharf Sky 31st January 2007 - Canary Wharf Sky from Greenwich 31st January 2007

two - Canary Wharf Sky - 4.51pm, 8th February 2006 and Canary Wharf Sky - 7.55am, 2nd January 2007 in Advice for Artists
Canary Wharf Sky - 3.47pm, 6th December 2006
Canary Wharf Sky - 8.24am, 13th January 2006
Canary Wharf Sky - 4.52pm 18th November 2006
Canary W…

details of sketches below

Reducing the file size for the internet has the problem of tightening work up - these are details of the sketches below to show the loose scribbly marks that makes them.

The mine buildings are made of local rock so blend with the environment, though the shapes are stark and man made.

The Crowns at Botallack, sketches of the ruins of old tin mines on the cliffs in Cornwall, and blue blue seas

Sketch of The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, engine houses of the old tin mines, and a blue blue sea. Moleskine sketchbook. Coloured pencil. Vivien Blackburn

Around St Just and along the coast are dozens of ruins of old tin mines. These sketches are of the mine at Botallack. Nearby is a mining museum at Geevor, where you can see how the mining was done, how the tin was separated from the ore along with arsenic and other elements and you can go down a short section of mine and learn about working conditions and life expectancy, which was 28.

Spoil was burnt in kilns and other elements extracted, including arsenic which settled on the inside of the chimneys. This was scraped off and bagged for sale by young children. The whole area around the mine was polluted by the mining and is only now recovering.

Note the 2 engine houses low down on the cliff face in the distance in both sketches - and imagine walking down a slippery, narrow path in a gale to get to work there (steep drop to …

Sketches of Dawn : Skies and Sea

Apricot Sky at Dawn, Calm Morning, oil, approx 9 ins across, Vivien Blackburn

Dawns are more subtle than sunsets but can be utterly beautiful.

I always mean to get up and get out to paint dawn landscapes/seascapes but only occasionally manage it, usually on holiday. Staying in Sennen Cove, right on the sea front, meant that I could sketch the dawn before the rest of the family woke up - cup of tea by my side, quiet, just sketching happily :>)

View out of the side window, Dawn, watercolour/mixed media. 10ins wide approx. Vivien Blackburn

Dawn at Sennen Cove, Calm sea with gentle swell. Coloured pencil in 'large' Moleskine sketchbook. Vivien Blackburn

Dawn at Sennen Cove, Quiet still morning, apricot blush on the horizon, Pearly colours. Coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook. Vivien Blackburn

These were all done on quiet still mornings when the sea was calm.

For paintings and sketches of wilder days check out the links below - click on images to be take to the relevan…

skies from observation - challenge update

Cornish sunset, oils, Vivien Blackburn

The skies from observation project

If you are taking part or would like to take part in this - you have until 30th May - I'm going to list the links to the participants then.

Do have a go!

All the people taking part feel they've got a lot out of it. There's nothing like observation to hone your skills :>)

No work from photographs - all work to be done from 'life'

Link to the original challenge post

The above image is a quick sunset study in oils in a Canson watercolour sketchbook.

The beach at the foot of the Cot Valley, Pentire, Cornwall, painting in oils,

The foot of the Cot Valley as the stream joins the sea. Oil painting, approx 15ins. Vivien Blackburn

I think this beach is called Porth Nanven, it's at the foot of the Cot Valley. The valley is a steep V shape, with a very narrow road leading down it, above a small stream that tumbles steeply downhill over rocks and joins the sea at this tiny, perfect little beach.

This is somewhere I want to revisit to paint more.

There is a little more viridian in the sea than is showing in this photograph. I haven't quite managed to adjust the colour to show it enough.

click the image to see 3 other studies in oil on our Watermarks site.

Sennen Cove, Wave Studies, drawings in coloured pencil in a moleskine sketchbook

Windy Day, Sennen Cove, coloured pencil in moleskine sketchbook, Vivien Blackburn

This was a study in (to borrow Tina's phrase) wave mechanics.

Waves roll in and break at certain points due to rocks/depth of water etc so it's possible to watch subsequent waves in repeat patterns and begin to analyse -

the movement, how they break - in a steady line across the bay? or breaking in several places with the lines of surf meeting up with a splash of spray?

The spacing of the waves and perspective (waves further out smaller? this will depend on the steepness of the beach and the weather)

direction of travel - this can be surprising as they can angle unexpectedly across the beach, crossing waves from another direction

how rocks or sand affect the movement and spray

the way that foam is formed and the patterns it makes

the colours of the underside of the waves

light and shadow of waves

the darkness of water over rocks or deep water

the translucency of water over pale sand

changes in waves with t…

morning sketch, rain clearing, Sennen Cove, Cornwall, moleskine and coloured pencil

Drizzly grey morning, Sennen Cove. Coloured pencil in moleskine sketchbook. Vivien Blackburn

Another early morning sketch, this one in the moleskine sketchbook in coloured pencil. A grey morning with rain clearing - it turned out to be a nice day after this bad start.

Even on a 'grey' day there are lovely soft colours in the sea (not shown terribly well here - I find cp sketches quite hard to scan or photograph :>(

The lifeboat spent most of the week anchored in the bay as they were building a new slipway and the water was fairly calm. When the winds and waves got stronger, later in the week, it was moved, presumably to a more sheltered harbour. (That's supposed to be the lifeboat in the middle)

When I was young and lived on the north coast of Cornwall, all the fishing fleet used to move round to the south coast when bad gales were predicted and shelter in the harbours there away from the wild seas.

In one 120mph gale a huge aeroplane was cartwheeled across the airfi…

Cornish hedgerows - full of wild flowers

In spring Cornwall and its hedgerows are full of wild flowers. I didn't get to take as many photos of them as I would have liked but here are a few.

The ancient hedges have stone walls under the earth, bushes and flowers and were designed to keep livestock from escaping. Travelling off the beaten track, down narrow lanes, the flowers brush each side of the car. If you meet another car someone needs to reverse to a passing place - or if you are unlucky like me you meet a massive tanker and have to reverse half a mile because the passing places aren't big enough to cope!

May is a great time to go before it fills up with tourists and of course you are less likely to meet anyone head on in the narrow lanes to the beautiful little bays off the main routes.

I put a slide show of photos of Sennen Cove and its waves in changing weather over on Watermarks - take a look.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall, Dawn, coloured pencil sketch in Moleskine sketchbook

Sennen Cove, Dawn. Coloured pencil sketch in 'large' moleskine. Vivien Blackburn

Dawn, the sea is calm with a gentle swell rolling in, no surf this morning and the tide is high. A pale amber glow of sunrise silhouetting the cliffs. Colours are soft and muted, no drama.

The cove at dawn sketched in polychromos coloured pencils (plus a few odds of others) in the 'large' moleskine sketchbook - they do a really nice larger one now but I'm not sure if the paper is the same. Does anyone know? I really like the surface with cp's.

More to follow :>)

Other paintings of Sennen Cove can be seen here:

Morning, rain clearing

Morning Bay

Rocks and Waves

View of the bay

Misty Morning, Sennen Cove

tiny canvasses - you can also see them on Etsy

graphite sketch of waves and harbour wall

Sennen on a windy day (oil painting)

or searching on Cornwall shows work on other beaches and Lanyons Quoit

Windy Day, Sennen Cove, oil painting plein air, using Griffin Alkyd quick drying oil paints

A windy day at Sennen Cove, surf coming over the harbour wall
Oil paint, size about 14 ins, Vivien Blackburn

High tide on a windy day with huge swells sweeping in and crashing onto the reef of rocks offshore and over the harbour wall. At the front a confused lacy pattern of foam.

This was done last week in Cornwall, in Griffin Alkyds. I love these for working on quick plein airs as they dry overnight. Thinner applications of paint are dry within hours but they give enough time for pushing and pulling colour and marks, unlike acrylics.

This speed of drying means glazes can be applied the following day where required instead of a long wait.

Griffin Alkyds are proper oils and are used in the same way as any other oils. They are NOT water soluble and are NOT acrylics as some people imagine. Alkyd resin is a drier mixed with the paint to speed and even up drying times and I find this very useful.

These were painted on Friday and were perfectly dry to pack up on Saturday :>) even with …

Stormy seas, Sennen Cove - graphite and moleskine

Stormy Seas, Sennen Cove, Graphite in moleskine sketchbook, Vivien Blackburn

I'm back from a week at beautiful Sennen Cove with the family - 4 generations of us.

I was determined to make some time to paint/sketch :>)

We were staying right on the seafront and this was the view from our bedroom window yesterday. Huge waves rolling in and crashing on the rocky reef offshore and over the harbour wall - a wall of mist/rain meaning that the horizon was lost. Luckily it cleared up and turned into a lovely day, though still windy and wild.

Waves repeat patterns of movement so it's crucial to watch, observe, see how they move, where they crash together, the changes of direction across the bay ....

My little Jakar battery operated eraser is great for drawing back into areas of tone, pushing and pulling the shapes and tones and form until it hopefully does something like what I wanted :>)

So .... about that sky challenge .... a few people have posted results and I'll be doing a …


Skies - details Vivien Blackburn
click to see larger image

I'm going to be offline for a week so I thought I'd leave you with a challenge for anyone wanting to take part,

Look at the skies where you are and do a series of studies from life - different times of day, different weather. Really look at the colours. They don't have to be plein air - they could be simply out of the same window, looking at the changes.

Then leave links to your blog posts on skies in the comments section.

I hope some people feel like joining in :>) and look forward to seeing the results when I'm back online.