Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Crowns Botallack, stage 2, work in progress, mixed media on canvas

detail

details, mixed media on 20x16 inch canvas, work in progress (below right)

Here it is in progress, hanging next to Saltmarsh.

I decided not to keep the background white but keep closer to the original sketch and more natural colours. The blue really was that blue - it is a natural colour there on a good day - honestly! See my photographic evidence here :>) The border and sides are now black. I took some of the black into the painting in line form, not all the 'drawing' in it is black but where it is, it links to the border well.

The water around the rocks is greener in reality - that beautiful milky turquoise green that water, full of air bubbles, around rocks turns.

Lots of things still need tweaking and pushing - so all is subject to change :>)

The mine buildings are made of stone and blend into the cliffs, looking almost as if they grew there naturally, not standing out at all - I want to keep this and catch their strength/fragility - heavy stone but so vulnerable perched there on the steep cliffs.

The mine tunnels went several miles out under the sea and the miners would hear the rocks grinding on the sea floor just feet above their heads in storms. The walk, down a narrow path along the steep cliffside to the engine house in a gale would be fearsome in itself - and then to hear the rocks and wild sea just above you ???

It's beautiful now but the area was polluted with spoil tips, arsenic and other toxic debris when the mines were active.

Friday, January 29, 2010

project update - The Crowns, Botallack, mixed media, work in progress

The Crowns, Botallack, mixed media, detail


This is the next one in the series for the forthcoming project exhibition. It's worked over an older painting that had turned into a total pigs ear. The parts I was happy with have changed drastically.

Now I've stopped I can see several things I want to change - the direction of that gulley/ravine for a start and the too-even-at-the-moment stripes of colour in the sea.


Full size image but not a good photo I'm afraid

I'll try to get a better photo of the next stage.

I particularly wanted to keep the sketchiness of the orinal plein air drawing, with its ragged edges. This one won't have a border in the sense that Saltmarsh did - but it will have that white edge and the sides of the deep canvas will be white.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saltmarsh, mixed media painting - maybe finished?

Saltmarsh - maybe finished? 20x16 ins, mixed media and collage on canvas, Vivien Blackburn

The blue-mauve background that was surrounding the painting wasn't playing up the colours in the painting - instead it was fighting for attention with them. So I decided to change it to a deep bitter chocolate colour - burnt umber and cerulean blue, cooling and greying the brown. It's a colour that flickers throught the painting. It now highlights the colours and their subtle changes from warm to cool (that sadly don't pick up well in the photos) and emphasises the drawing.

There is a very little black from the charcoal but all other darks are deep shades of brown and blue.

I added flicks of copper in the leaves of the tree, in the tree on the left and in the reflections. I like the warmth against the other colours. That is also quite difficult to photograph being metallic. It's a bit more subtle in real life, the camera make it gleam too brightly - the second to last photograph catches it as it looks best.

Details:





The pale blue is a bit more lavender than it appears here - it's so difficult to get the colour balance for it right without changing the turquoisey blue too much. This last image has a bit too much of a pink cast in the lights - they should have a very very slight warm golden tinge, too slight to pick up well.

The canvas is a deep sided box canvas, painted in that bitter chocolate, and won't be framed - though this is one that would work well in the very dark wood frames popular in the US.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

interesting links

It was our group crit night last night - and I left my painting behind so, though it was a brilliantly constructive session and I now know where I want to go with it, I can't pick it up until tonight. Work will continue tomorrow.

I may start another today.

So - I thought I'd share some links that I've found interesting this week, passed on by friends, in my bookmarks or read in blogs.

  1. Unusual mirages, a fascinating article by James Gurney on a type of mirage I'd never heard of
  2. Sand paintings by Ksenyia Simonova
  3. Van Gogh's letters with translations and illustrations, fascinating
  4. John Piper working
  5. John Virtue working

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Saltmarsh update - mixed media experiment

Saltmarsh, work in progress, Vivien Blackburn

This is where the canvas now is.

I've sent that middle building back a bit, changed the colour of the border from a turquoise based blue to a mauvey one and introduced that into the painting.

I've brought the light colour into the sky to silhouette the trees.

I've collage a little more texture into the sand with tissue paper.

I've flicked little bits of paint for gravel and leaves.

I've worked on the way your eye follows the lines of the wet mud/sand etc through and up.

You can see stages and close ups below:




I'm thinking of adding the faintest traces of copper in the trees and the bush in front of the building on the left - just a hint of a warm colour.

I won't be able to work on it for a couple of days now as I'm teaching extra hours, so it can sit on my desk while I think about where next.

Any thoughts?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Saltmarsh, mixed media and collage

Work in progress, Saltmarsh in mixed media, 16x20 inches. Vivien Blackburn

This is an experiment with a mixed media piece with collage, acrylics, charcoal and ink. It's loosely based on sketches done plein air - but only loosely. The project it is part of is explained here.

I rarely use collage so this is about pushing the boundaries, doing something new and having fun experimenting :>)

Details below:





There is a lot of layering paint, scumbling. glazing. sgraffito, collage. splattering. drawing into ..... and more!

What I want to do with this is combine drawing with the collage and paint. The artist I've chosen to look at for the project is J0hn Piper. An example of his work here. The idea is to bounce off the artist you choose and produce your own work. not simply work 'in the style of'.

I'm planning to knock the blue border back a bit and make it more subtle and moody.

Anyone using collage? any thoughts???

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

details of winter snow

close ups of the image from yesterday

The paper was a pale grey, the whites are oil paint put on with a flat brush in single strokes between the branches, leaving bits of the grey flickering through the entire image.



They would make interesting large canvasses if only I could keep them that simple ....

..... large brushes .... lots of paint ......


and time ....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monotype and mixed media: Winter Snow

January Snow. Vivien Blackburn

A painting that started out as a monoprint demo and ended as a mixed media piece. About 10/11 inches tall.

The monoprint was done using oil paint on acetate, printed onto paper wet with turps. I then worked into it with a colour shaper and a brush, using more oil paint and then a graphite stick to draw through the wet paint. The graphite stick worked beautifully on the turpsy surface, gliding across it and making intense oily marks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

snow

photographs copyright Vivien Blackburn

Back teaching today and I took the camera. I was planning to take some landscape photos pf the snow on the way - and I did, you'll find them on my photography blog - but I rather liked the footprints in the snow in the car park, the road markings and asphalt shining through. Lovely abstract shapes, tone, limited colour range and pattern :>)



and the cars parking and reversing had made this fabulous row of hearts :>)




OK - enough now. We really don't want any more. Well I don't. That's enough snow for the year now please - now let us head on towards Spring with a gentler, warmer winter .... Please?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

and there's my painting on the wall :>)

Maggie Stiefvater, best selling author - my painting on the wall to the right :>)

......... just to encourage those collectors amongst you ;>D A photo of Maggie with my painting on the right in her new house - below it's above her desk in her old house :>)


She's a talented artist and musician, as well as still being #5 in the New York Times best sellers list, she's been in the list for 23 weeks running. Despite all this success she remains grounded and a downright nice person, a friend. The painting behind is by Nicole Caulfield - another talented friend.

Anyone who hasn't read her books - read! They may be YA fiction but they transcend the age thing like Harry Potter (- though very unlike HP).

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

mixed media and playing with the results in photoshop 101

Winter Woods, Icy. Vivien Blackburn

Today I wasn't in a 'serious' work mode so I played with watercolour, coloured pencil and oil pastel on Ingres pastel paper.

The original is below - not very exciting, just an experiment to see how the media worked together on the Ingres paper (quite well - it's something worth experimenting more with). Simply an imaginary scene with no reference.

Winter woods, experiment in watercolour, oil pastel and coloured pencil on Ingres pastel paper, about 10 inches, Vivien Blackburn


Digital manipulation of the sketch above

In this one I applied a dry brush effect first, to simplify shapes down and altered the colour balance slightly - more cyan in the highlights and more blue in the shadows.

Then I duplicated the layer and applied a find outlines filter. This creates a layer of scribbly fine lines wherever it finds edges of shapes/colours. I upped the contrast on this layer to make it simply a light background with dark lines. I used a mixture of Levels and Brightness and Contrast to do this.

Next I multiplied the layers and flattened the image - the scribbly lines are now part of the underlying painting layer.

For the image at the top I applied Invert to change the colours and then a Gaussian Blur filter to soften the hard shapes this gave and create a slightly mistier feel. I could work further by applying more Gaussian Blur to the background trees to create a really misty frosty feel, selecting them to adjust without changing the foreground elements.

This is a short and simple idea of the way I begin to play with images in the computer - there are usually many more stages and layers, with erasing, selecting smaller areas to change, cloning .... whatever it takes,

Anyone who hasn't got Photoshop could download Artweaver for free to try experimenting :>) It's really just a matter of finding out what it can do under the various headings and playing. You'll find some surprising and beautiful effects and these can feed back into paintings with more traditional media - I never copy them but the paintings move on again, developing from the experiments.

Does anyone fancy doing a digital manipulation challenge?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year and a New Blog

From Cape Cornwall. copyright Vivien Blackburn

Inspired by Anita who has started a blog where she intends to take a photo a day, I decided to set up a photography blog for the new year. Another friend intends to start one - but I'll leave her to tell you when she gets it up and running :>)

I've got an archive of thousands of photographs of landscape, the coast and objects that interested me. Occasionally I put them on here but there are too many. The new blog will be a mix of old and new work.

You can find it here if you are interested :>) Through the Lens