Showing posts from 2007

New Year Resolutions

Casey, Charcoal sketch. Vivien Blackburn Other bloggers are starting to make New Year Resolutions, something I normally give a miss! this year I thought maybe I ought to, so that I have targets set. I'll be covering a colleague on maternity leave and my time needs to be a bit more organised so that I get time to paint and have work ready for upcoming shows. I'm definitely organisationally dyslexic so this is tough ! I'll continue to work in series The waterways series : looking at local rivers, streams. ponds and reservoirs - one for when the weather is a little kinder to my arthritis, though I do have sketches to work from now. The coast series - I have lots of sketches and research to work from Local landscape series - ongoing to do more work in the flowers series doing more research and more large canvasses sketches of new grandson Sam as he grows :>) sketches of the cats - simply because I like sketching them a new series of totally abstract paintings , incorp

Abstract painting and Abstraction

Swithland Woods by Vivien Blackburn. Watercolour and mixed media approx 12 ins sq Tina Mammoser has written a really good blog post today on abstraction at - do go and read it. It gives a good insight into the way she thinks and the preparatory sketching that goes into her lovely abstracts of the English coast. I like working on the edge between abstract and representational, sometimes slipping into total abstraction and sometimes working more representationally. The work evolves from observation and sketches, which are essential to me to understand the subject matter, the colours, form, composition I want to work with, perspective and tone. Sketching plein air in the local woods led to the first painting shown here - a watercolour/mixed media done from memories of different days working there over a long time. Sometimes I find I work best this way - lots of studies done over time but then putting them away and relying on visual memory. Degas believed in t

Happy Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

No snow PLEASE!

This was last January - I do hope we don't get snow this year - it may be beautiful but it makes the journey to and from work a nightmare. We had freezing fog this week - beautiful as it coats the trees in white and turns the world into a misty fairyland - but so COLD. It kept freezing on the windscreen until the car really warmed up which was fun ... not. I'm now into the last of the Christmas food shopping, presents all organised and it will be a relief when the shops shut and whatever is forgotten ... it's too late.

Nicola Bayley, illustrator and favourite books for children

The Patchwork Cat written by William Mayne and illustrated by Nicola Bayley Nicola Bayley did the beautiful illustrations for the Mousehole Cat, talked about in an earlier post. I did a search to see what else she had illustrated and ordered this one, The Patchwork Cat. The illustrations are every bit as gorgeous. It tells the tale of Tabby, a 'patchwork' cat who loves her patchwork blanket. When it's thrown away because it's old and dirty she inadvertently lands in the rubbish cart (because she'd crawled in to the bin to sleep on her blanket) and has to try to find her way home - carrying the blanket. Just look how well NB has caught the fear in the face below - she's like Beatrix Potter in being able to show the feelings of an animal whilst still being true to life and not Disney-like. All, luckily, ends happily as , lost and very tired as she drags her blanket, she comes across the milkman who takes her and her patchwork blanket home. Look at that bl

quick mixed media winter scene

Birches in the Snow - Vivien Blackburn - mixed media 8 -12 ins approx It's cold and though it isn't snowy like this it feels cold enough to be! Mixed media - watercolour, oil pastel, coloured pencil, conte pencil and tippex. Travelling to and from work through the countryside the best views are always where it's impossible to stop :( so I look hard and try to remember the light. We did have a dusting of snow one day - which was worrying as we never normally get snow until January. I hope we don't have a hard winter.

digital images, artists books, fine art degree and telling a story

Ravelled Sleaves: artists book copyright Vivien Blackburn There isn't any painting going on at the moment. I have to get on and finish Sam's Christmas present book and I've been busy present buying as I've been totally disorganised this year .... ok ... disorganised as usual. I'm nearly there :) thanks in part to Amazon and Ebay! I thought I'd show you some old digital work - an artists book I made during my degree . I'd chosen a module called Integrated Imaging , which was about photography, video (I gave that a miss) and digital imagery - not that the tutors had a clue about digital imagery or photoshop! they were a painter/photographer and a film maker. I had already started using photoshop and playing with digital imagery and saw it as an ideal opportunity to explore it further. The rest of the group worked in photography or video. I was working part time, doing the degree part time and my daughters were at senior school so life was really hectic. The f

The Christmas Card design for this year

The Christmas card design for this year - digital image from mixed media sources Vivien Blackburn You can't see it very well here - but that is a star shining through the trees. I decided I'd better get a move on with the Christmas cards as I've hardly even thought about Christmas yet apart from a few presents bought online ....... and a few things bought for me while I was searching! oooops - I was supposed to be searching for presents for others I'm still doing horribly long hours - yesterday involved leaving home at 7.30am and getting home at 10pm - teaching morning, afternoon and evening. :( and I'd rather be painting. Do you make your own cards? for everyone? just for family and close friends? originals or prints of your own designs/work?

Visiting galleries with a critical eye, sketching and David Prentice

David Prentice a watercolour of the Malvern Hills Yesterday I had a wonderful day in the Cotswolds at the opening of the new John Davies gallery in Moreton in Marsh. I travelled down 60+ miles from the midlands and Katherine travelled 80 miles up from London and we met for a coffee and a day of galleries, lunch and art-talk :>D = the first image is from the Cowleigh Gallery in Malvern, where DP lives. It's a lovely friendly little gallery with some great work if anyone is in the area with a knowledgeable, friendly owner. David Prentice English Air - Black Cap Pastel

sketchbooks a personal view :)

from the medieval tomb of Roger LeStrange in Old Hunstanton I've just been reading Katherine's post for today at She's discussing some interesting books on keeping sketchbooks - well, as you know if you've been reading here, I love sketchbooks :) I love using them and looking through other people's - it's an insight into the way they think about their work, their process, ideas, whether they work in linked series and a chance to see all those things sketched for the sheer interest and never intended to become 'finished' paintings. My sketchbooks are where I think ideas through, draw things simply because they interest me, make notes on artists that I should look up, stick bits in, preparatory work for canvasses, lists of ideas or materials or notes on work I've seen, experiments with mixes of media ..... anything and everything. Mine are messy and mixed, not intended to be s

the john davies gallery

David Prentice: English Air, Advancing Shadow This post has been written with much cursing of blogger as it kept playing up, disappearing into another screen and losing whole paragraphs that I'd written and saved - but it hadn't saved them >:>( One of my favourite galleries is reopening after a move from Stow on the Wold - in a gorgeous old stone building, but quite small - to a large industrial unit with masses of space in nearby Moreton in Marsh. I'm going to the Private View next week :) - these are great as the artists are usually there and it's a chance to talk about the work over a glass of champagne. I'm usually the designated driver so read fruit juice for me. There is a great selection of contemporary art on show and JD also shows 19C and 20C work. It's the contemporary that I love though. Artists showing include: David Prentice


Well the art and craft fair was exhausting! loading and unloading the car - in the rain >:>( Sue, who works there was incredibly helpful and made it an awful lot easier :>) helping me unload and load up at the end and providing a welcome cup of tea as we finished setting up - thank you again Sue, you were a treasure. Valerie who had set it up had organised it really well and everything ran like clockwork from knowing where you should be to parking and checking on us frequently - thank you to Valerie too. There was some lovely unusual work - photoetched silver jewellery, fabric bead necklaces, fantastic scarves, art work in light boxes (an interesting concept and one I've often wanted to have a go at), hand made leather/mixed fabric bags, farm foods, felted wool 'paintings' - these were really unusual and lovely, basket making, Christmas decorations and more .... and us 3 painters. I'd known before we went that paintings were probably going to be too expensive

questions answered

I was contacted again by an A level student who wanted to interview me about my work and I thought I'd post her questions and my answers here, I'm sure she won't mind and I thought they were good questions. Joanna: Thank you for your reply, my Art teacher had warned me about the hectic schedules of artists! Here, I have put together a few questions that interest me relating to your work. I know it's quite a long list so don't feel pressured to answer them all!Thank you for your time. I can see from observing your artwork that you experiment with a wide range of mediums; how long does it take for you to complete small or large scale pieces? me: that one is like 'how long is a piece of string' :>) small plein air seascapes are often about 11 inches square and usually take about an hour or just over - they can't take any longer because the light and the tide and the colours change so fast! I tend to work with a knife a lot plein air as it

getting ready for the art and craft fair

There's no painting going on at the moment because I've had to cover for a sick colleague and I'm busy getting organised (hmmmm .... not my natural state) for the art and craft fair on Sunday. I've needed to prioritise and I have paintings to take so don't really need to rush to do new ones. What I did was to redesign my business cards, design some new fliers and make some price labels for work, oh and an informal, illustrated cv. Then there's the planning what to take. Our space is upstairs :( but there is a lift :). The three of us are sharing a large room with someone else, who does embroidered pictures - that will be interesting. I don't know her and haven't seen any of her work. I hate, hate, hate the setting up and taking down! All those heavy paintings, portfolios, browser and stuff to lug from car to room :( - it's a great feeling when it's done though :) and I enjoy the actual setting up - I just want to be able to transport the st

more cards for art and craft fair at Belgrave Hall

cards, copyright Vivien Blackburn The art and craft fair looks as though it will be fantastic. I've had details of exhibitors and they include Glass creations - fused glass jewellery,dishes and stuff, other jewellery, Chutney and preserves, willow weaving, Farm foods, Garden Sculpture, embroidery, ceramics, textile art, felt work, photography, bags and scarves and the three of us with paintings and cards. so ..... anyone who will be anywhere near Leicester on Sunday (18th November) do pop in and take a look. It's at Belgrave Hall on Loughborough Road, a lovely Georgian House museum with walled gardens, it's free and is open 11-4 We've been down to see my daughter and gorgeous grandson - so blame him for my absence over the last few days. :) 11 weeks old and loving all the fuss and attention :) .

paying it forward

I'm really happy as I'll be receiving a piece of work from Tina Mammoser in the new year :) as part of a paying-it-forward /good karma ongoing scheme . I'm really looking forward to owning a piece as I've read her blog and loved her work for a long time now. So .... now I get to pay it forward or spread good karma :) the first 3 artists to leave comments asking, will receive a piece of work - like Tina, it may be after Christmas as I'm currently up to my eyes but they will receive something. Then I hope they will reciprocate by paying forward to others. I'm juggling too many things at the moment and dead on my feet, so not a longer post today I'm afraid.

colours of autumn, small quick watercolour sketch

Autumn colours A small quick sketch in watercolour - the autumn fields are looking lovely, some have been freshly ploughed and the hawthorn, blackthorn and beech hedges are gorgeous colours. Well they have been gorgeous colours - it's been windy today so as I travel to work tomorrow I may find all the leaves have blown away, they are on their last fling and just a little wind will mean goodbye to all that gorgeous colour and those lovely golden carpets of leaves will fade. I love the long shadows at this time of year as I travel to work in the early mornings through the countryside and autumn skies are wonderful and dramatic. Seeing the vivid golden leaves against a threatening purple sky is so beautiful :)

cards from watercolour sketches

towards the headland, watercolour, Vivien Blackburn I have lots of small quick paintings that were done as demo's of techniques for classes, usually added to over several sessions as I explained how to use use coloured pencils over a previous watercolour that 'didn't quite work' or showed how to use oil pastel as a resist with watercolour or splatter paint, wet in wet ..... a zillion bits of the 'language' of painting. I'd often continue working on a fragment done another week. I never do a complete painting as the students are there to paint themselves, not watch me, but I do show them how things work in small quick examples. So .... I had quite a few of these sketches doing nothing. They are only small, sometimes just a couple of inches square, sometimes 6-8 inches. I decided to make use of them by cutting them up to make some more cards for the Art Fair. I like the abstract minimalism of them. Three more cards ready to go :) .... and another 3 ...

Autumn in Bradgate Park

It was such a gorgeous day today that I decided to have a day off :) I took off for a walk in Bradgate Park - the light was wonderful so I'd taken the camera - 126 photographs later ..... Bradgate Park is where Lady Jane Grey lived - these photos show the ruins of her house in the lovely changing light as clouds passed by and made these lovely flashes of light and dark. The house is surrounded by rocky hills with ancient oak trees and a herd of deer. The park was left to the city last century and is a really popular place for walkers. You can walk miles from here through the large park and local woods and footpaths across fields. - a link to more information on Lady J, beheaded after trying to claim the crown, pushed by an ambitious family. The family owned the land for miles around. I love the long shadows of this time of year - these are from trees just out of the pict