Friday, October 29, 2010

watercolour techniques - splattering and drawing with paint - and extra static pages added to the blog

A quick demo done for my class of splattering watercolour wet-in-wet and drawing through with the brush handle as a pen

One of my students, just starting watercolours, was doing some very heavy, one dimensional trees. This was a quick demo to encourage him to consider them as 3 dimenstional, with branches coming towards him as well as sideways :>) and to leave 'sky holes'; to consider colour variation, texture, light and shade and different intervals/areas of colour. It's very important not to let marks become same-y and standard sized.

Colours were splattered wet-in-wet by holding the paintbrush horizontally, only an inch or two above the paper and tapping it sharply with the forefinger of the same hand. This means the area that the drops land in is fairly controlled but with the lovely randomness of nature. 'Throwing' the brush Jackson Pollock style results in more directional marks - and more mess :>) and isn't always suitable for small paintings - though never say never in painting.

The 'wrong' end of the brush was used to drag the lines for the branches before the paint dried.

I've added a couple of static pages at last, something I've been meaning to do for ages. I thought I'd create some galleries of particular subjects ..... and who knows what else with time ? :>)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Random sketches from observation

Random objects with peacock feather, Vivien Blackburn

Sometimes there is time for a quick sketch but not time for concentrating on more finished works - and sometimes it's relaxing to just practice observation in sketchbooks for no particular reason :>)

These are recent doodles.

Random objects with leaky tube of glue, Vivien Blackburn

I'm not usually interested in traditional still life set ups. I find them a bit static and just not interesting enough. I do like them when they have a twist that makes them exciting though - like the red shoes or glowing paper bags of Nicole Caulfield or the dynamic watercolour still lifes of Shirley Trevena. It's something I keep meaning to experiment with - maybe this winter?


you can see other still life sketches here

I have to get some stuff ready for an exhibition I'm taking part in with a small group of friends - more on that and planning for exhibitions coming soon ...............

Sunday, October 17, 2010

how to unblock mechanical pencils?

doodles

Does anyone else have problems with mechanical pencils? Mine seem to have such a short life :>( One of them is at the top of this doodle.

I love them because you don't have to sharpen them and the eraser is part of the pencil and so they are ideal for minimal equipment sketching.

They always always seem to eventually get clogged or the mechanism fails. How to unclog them? a really fine needle isn't fine enough or strong enough it seems. Is there something I could soak them in ? like oil or something?

These doodle were done with a Kuretake pen - which I find a bit scratchy somehow. I'm not sure how much I like the feel of it in use.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fun stuff




I just had to share this fun thing Jeanette has put on her blog! There is some really interesting stuff going on there artwise too :>)

They follow your mouse movements and a click feeds them :>)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Art Talks and discovering artists new to me

John Atkinson Grimshaw, Liverpool from Wapping

Last night I went to a really interesting talk by Sue Edwards on the stories behind paintings. She was not a painter but an art historian and so her slant was on the hidden stories, the significance of objects/settings, the social commentary, the background of the artist etc. And she really knew her subject. Fascinating. Some I knew some I didn't. It was a really interesting night.

This was one of the paintings she showed and it introduced me to an artist I didn't know, John Atkinson Grimshaw. The light in his 'moonlight' series was beautiful - here the warm colour from the lights on the right, it's security and safeness contrasting with the cool light and possible danger of the docks on the left. The glow reflecting off the cobbles and those difficult dusk/night colours, things disappearing into the gloom in the distance are all handled brilliantly. I'd like to go and see some of these in real life.

His faeries I could live without! very Victorian and why the poor little things had to be floating chillily naked in diaphonous drapes isn't quite clear - apart from an excuse for Victorian gentlemen to look at nekkid ladies ;>) The Victorians did love their fairies (along with nymphs and shepherds who also had clothes with a tendency to fall off ) - I suppose our modern equivalent is the sexy vampire?

This group often has interesting speakers, though lately we've had a couple who hadn't checked out the experience level of the group and talked as if we were all total beginners - boring in the extreme. A group of 100, long established artists , is highly unlikely to be all beginners! The poor speakers found rows of empty seats facing them after the mid session coffee break as some members bailed out! but still they didn't change the pace or level in response to the lack of enthusiasm. A good speaker should be able to adapt if things clearly aren't interesting their audience, working on the wing and not simply sticking to the formula they've worked out.

The group consists of varied levels from enthusiastic, experienced amateur to a high number of professionals, the speaker should certainly have learned this before deciding on their presentation.

I've been asked to speak to societies and won't! I can teach, I'll do workshops - but demos and talks - NO!!! I think you owe it to the audience to be good, interesting, knowledgeable, flexible and responsive to each different audience - involving them and invoking replies and ideas and also fun. I'd mess up the demo, hate all those eyes watching my every move ...... not for me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn leaf in coloured pencil


Autumn, Vivien Blackburn, coloured pencil

I had my class of beginners working on autumn leaves this week - they did some really good work :>) and this is one of my demos.

I need to get hold of some sycamore leaves before they lose their colour - they are such a lovely shape.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Landscape from a flint stone

Landscape in a flint, watersoluble pen and coloured pencil

Another in the landscape from forms - this was from a flint stone. The dark areas and dips and planes all relate to marks and pits in the stone. There was no preliminary drawing of the flint 'as is' with this one. I just went straight in with a sketch moorland landscape using its features.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

seascape from tree roots

Imaginary seascape from twisted tree root, watercolour, gouache, ink, oil pastel, coloured pencil


This is the seascape I did from the previous tree root sketch.

The curves of it suggested one of those arches of rock carved out by the sea.

I started out with free lines in ink, using a piece of thin wood as a pen. Then I just kept working into it, trying to keep some of the lines of the sketch. It's about 14x10 inches. I could certainly work further from it but it's staying as an experiment rather than a finished piece I think.

I'd swirl the lines a bit more in doing it again to regain the dynamic shapes of the wood, which have got a little lost here?

Later a small sketch that made a landscape from a flint stone ....

click here to see original post on the source drawing

Saturday, October 09, 2010

gnarled root, drawing in charcoal, pastel and coloured pencil

Gnarled tree root, drawing in charcoal, pastel and coloured pencil, approximately 11 inches square


Drawn with Pitt charcoal/graphite mix pencil, with touches of pastel and coloured pencils on blue grey pastel paper. It was an amazing shape to draw, fluid and convoluted.

We were experimenting with creating landscapes from still life objects. I don't much like the piece I did from this so may rework it before showing it here.

I also did a very quick landscape sketch from a flintstone, this time without a preliminary observational sketch. I'll scan that later.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

update on the trees

Winter: Blue skies mixed media

Another one in this series - this is the whole image at 13x16 but it will be cropped to 11x14.

Winter, collage, mixed media

I worked further on this one and this is how it looks now.

Looking at this one and listening to opinions and weighing them up (thanks) I've made alterations to this one - there's actually a little bit more intensity of colour IRL - but you can see I've changed the trees tonality and introduced a touch more water. I also added hints of scrubby bushes on the hillside.

Towards Dusk remains the same


and so does Still Pool.

So - that's the final 5 images. What do you think?


other work on trees can be seen here

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

paintbrush sketches in pencil, charcoal and biro

Sketches of some of my paintbrushes - in pencil, biro (ballpoint pen) and charcoal

Just some sketches done as demos or when time was short and I could just fit a quick drawing in.

More work on the trees series tomorrow.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Towards Dusk, another in the series

Towards Dusk, mixed media and collage, 11x14 inches

Another one in the series of birches. I've done more to the previous 2 and will show them when they are completed.

I was adding the dimension of time to this - hope it 'reads' to others?

Friday, October 01, 2010

That skull again - pencil sketch

Sheep skull, graphite sketch on A4 paper

Another sketch of that skull. The shapes are so involved and complicated that it's fascinating to draw.

This was another demo for a class, trying to make them continue observing and refining after they thought their drawing was finished. They continued working on their own projects and just kept popping back to check on progress from time to time and discuss the why's and wherefore's of what I was doing.

I'm doing a workshop (as a student) on kiln fused glass this weekend which hopefully is going to be interesting - if anything at all works I'll photograph it :>)