Showing posts from May, 2007

She's Back

I can't believe it - she's back - oh the relief!!!!! :) She must have been locked in somewhere as she's very very thin - I may get her checked over by the vet tomorrow unless she looks fine. I'm not sure if her side hurts her - it could be just hunger pains. She's eaten a lot of cat biscuits and I've microwaved her some chicken breast.


I haven't been posting this week as we've had a terrible week - Rosie, who I raised from a 2 week old orphan kitten, needing 3 hourly feeds 24/7 and therefore my 'baby' is missing. She's the original scaredy cat who runs in if the wind ruffles her fur, in the day she never went beyond our garden and at night not much further. She slipped out on Friday night and wouldn't come back in. My husband got up twice in the night to look for her - no sign, which is unheard of, she's usually scrabbling at the door frantic to get back in by then. Wednesday. Still no sign. We've put posters up everywhere, informed animal rescue centres, asked everyone to check sheds and garages and put up posters. My husband must have walked hundreds of miles searching. Someone told us of a dog nearby who killed a cat the previous Wednesday - so you can imagine the horrible pictures in our minds and the upset. The phrase 'worried sick' describes how I feel - nauseous with w


Albertine and Masquerade, oil on canvas, copyright Vivien Blackburn The roses are out in my garden - I can't reach the beautiful Albertine roses that are just beginning to flower - as they open further down the stems I'll be able to. They climb very high on the tall fence and over the living room window. I painted them another year along with some climbing masquerade roses - they looked just like the chintzy curtain fabric in old fashioned tea shoppes. So, I worked from an overblown rose that I could reach. I don't know what kind it is, they are pretty but not a beautiful shape. overblown rose in coloured pencil copyright Vivien Blackburn It was difficult to scan - I find coloured pencil on certain papers with the paper shining through are very very difficult to scan. It glows more than this but I'm not very happy with it. I played with the sketch in photoshop and like the simplified version much better and I've been able to make the colours glow a bit more like th

small work, abstracts and collage

These small collage and mixed media pieces were done in response to a challenge to look at city streets - but not in a traditional way - to find something else there, abstract it and experiment. I became fascinated (I know I'm a sad person!) with the potholes and cracks and marks on the pavements, with summer dust and dried pine needles accumulating and did some sketches. I'd got some hand made paper that I'd made on a one-day papermaking class. It was interesting paper for collage but some was a bit too thick to do much else with. The paper had interesting additions - I'd put pine needles, petals, threads, all sorts into it. It was perfect for the subject. They are made of layers of my hand made paper, acrylic paints, powdered earth pigments and whatever made the right kind of mark :) They are only tiny - 5inches square-ish. One day I may do some larger canvasses based on them - but at the moment I'm juggling enough projects! I really enjoyed working with a limite


copyright Vivien Blackburn Katherine asked me to show how I frame work, so .... here goes :) This is how I framed the big mixed media and pastel abstracted flower. The frame is over 3ft square and the mount was either 4 or 5 inches wide - I think it might have been 5 with 5.5 inches at the bottom. It could even have had a wider mount (mat) - but the framing costs got a bit much! My framer taught me when I was starting out that it pays to have an extra half inch at the bottom to stop the 'falling out of the frame' look that you can get if the mount is equal all the way round. I don't use coloured mounts, just antique white - a soft creamy colour. I usually frame in limed ash - again a pale neutral colour that lets the painting be the key element. By using one type of wood they all look right together in a show. The widths of the frame may vary but the 'look' is the same. I never frame work on canvas. I use gallery wrap canvas and paint the edges - usually in a colo

and the LSA show .....

Azurete copyright Vivien Blackburn These are the pictures from the Society exhibition - it's quite a big show at the Art Gallery and Museum in town. Members can put in 3 paintings. Mine are the the one above, which is tiny - about 5 inches square. I framed it in a white Ikea box frame with a white mount - it went really well with the blues. Azurete (should have an accent on the last e) is French for the blues. Link to the website: Some of the paintings were quite bold and mine seemed to be surrounded by them! The trees in the middle is mine. About 3ft 6in tall on gallery wrap canvas. and again, I'm on the wall with the bright colours! the seascape in the middle is mine. It's about 4ft tall, oil on gallery wrap canvas - my husband and father made me the stretchers for the long canvasses and I put the canvas on. I thought I had until the weekend to get my work ready for the next show - The Pastel Society ...... no, I'd

the press review

and there's my painting centre stage! with gallery owner Roger.

pictures at an exhibition :)

Today I managed to visit (with camera) 2 exhibitions that I have work in at the moment. These images are from our group show at the West End Gallery. You'll probably recognise some of the work that I've shown here. We got a really nice write up in the local paper as well :) On this wall, with those awkward small windows, they hung the canvasses as it wasn't so suitable for heavy framed work. They are easier to photograph without reflections from the flash. Ros put some of her gorgeous knitting paintings in. and the red flowers are mine.

Inspire me Thursday - Dreams

Inspire me Thursday's topic this week is dreams - I rarely remember my dreams except sometimes if I lie dozing half asleep and half awake in the morning I remember funny little fragments of dreams. This was the last one - I dreamed I'd washed my hair, then before I blow dried it I did some painting. Then, getting ready for bed realised it was still damp .... couldn't be bothered to dry it more and went to bed with it damp! (my dreams are always pointless and weird!) so the last bit is added ... what it would look like in the morning. The story reads around in a spiral from the centre - washing hair, painting, realising it's damp, sleeping, getting up looking like a scarecrow (what's new?) It's just a sketch but could be done properly as a large charcoal drawing. (and there's an interview there with me this week :) - thank you Melanie )

Trees and Rocks progress May

I had time to paint today :) and got on with this canvas (40ins square) that has been reproaching me every time I passed it for weeks! It's nearly resolved now. I need to soften the wisps of cloud at the top, maybe thicken the tree branch on the right to add a little weight there and whiten some of the spaces between the branches. It looks a bit tighter than it is so I've included some details so you can see the brush/knife work, which is actually loose. Those of you who subscribe may need to click in to the site to see the slide show as it doesn't work in email subscriptions or feeds. I did some more work on 3 long thin seascapes as well but there is still more to do on them. Now I'm going to curl up with a book and be lazy :)

digital imagery

I went out sketching last year with friends at Coombe Abbey - it was mostly too manicured and neat to really interest me, though the landscape and walled gardens are lovely. I tend to like wilder places. They had these amazing cardoons and artichokes in flower - if only I had a big sunny garden I'd grow them, they were absolutely huge - way bigger than fist sized and this beautiful stunning sky blue. The dried seedheads are gorgeous as well. I did some drawings from them in coloured pencil but hadn't done any work from them until now. I've got to work later to cover for a sick colleague so didn't feel like getting on a roll with the oil paintings, only to have to stop and clean up just when I want to keep on, so I decided to see what images I'd got to play with on the computer - it's clean! These are what I've done so far and I can see them leading on to watercolours and canvasses, I like the shapes and the suggestion of the textures and colour of the ar

Opening Night

I was going to call this post Private View - but it occurred to me that some rather strange people just might pop in? The Private View was great (thanks Katherine :) ), buzzy and fun. The gallery owners were lovely keeping everyone supplied with wine and looking after us - I could have done with a chair though, I was exhausted by the end! Sales were thin but as this is a new venture in a new place I wasn't hoping for too much. Today I'm really really tired so this is going to be a short post and then I am going to paint :) - it's a horrible grey rainy day so it'll be studio painting. I have 8 long thin seascapes to get done so will probably work on those and on finishing the big snow/trees/rocks canvas, which hasn't been touched in ages.


Whew! I thought I'd never stop labelling and pricing and packing. Of course it decided to rain steadily as we loaded and unloaded. We delivered the paintings today for our group show :) - now Simon and Roger the gallery owners are busy hanging it. So all is quiet until the private view tomorrow night. It's a new project for them as they are framers(and have alos built up a business selling giclee prints nationally) and have mainly sold prints before. They have just moved into nice bigger new premises. We are the guinea pigs (they know all of us - they are the best framers and so pretty much all the local artists go to them) and of course it will take customers a while to realise that they now sell originals - so I'm not hoping for too much. This is one of the paintings I've put in. It was done plein air on a glorious day, the first warm day of Spring - the wind was cold but we were sitting in the lee of the dunes, sheltered and just soaking up the warmth there. I'v

I've been tagged!

Thank you Katherine :) ( ) who tagged me. I'd read about this on Maggie's blog recently and the idea sounded fun - I've already bookmarked some interesting blogs that I hadn't come across from the tags people have listed :) . So ..... I have to pass on 7 interesting links and include 7 little known facts? ok here goes :) interesting blogs that hopefully haven't yet been tagged Patrice Large - I know I wrote an article on him, but I'm hoping he will come up with 7 really interesting and totally new links for us Bridgette Guerzon Mills - I love her abstracted encaustic pieces, I've never worked with encaustic and would love to try it. A great blog by an Australian artist with a lovely sense of humour Huge vibrant, bristling with life, canvasses of flowers, a French Can

using sketchbooks continued :) : looking at trees

Trees are one of the recurring themes in my work, as part of a wider landscape and studies of individual trees. The sketches on the left were done in a local country park. The trees were absolutely covered in eyes and the more I looked the more there were. I'm not certain but looking at them I think it's where the deer or rabbits had nibbled a branch and they are the scar that was left. I wasn't interested in background or context, I was just fascinated by these recurring eyes and it's simply a sketch investigating them. This was done with Caran d'Ache neocolour II, watersoluble waxy crayons in an A4 sketchbook. The piece below was done some time later, playing with monoprinting on hand made paper, looking at this and other sketches of bark - I decided too many distinct eyes was offputting in a 'final' piece as it had quite an uncomfortable feeling :) so this was from imagination, based on a number of sources. It's about 8 inches tall. There are more of

the value of sketchbooks

I know some artists who don't use sketchbooks or make sketches - but most do. For me they are a really important facet of my work. Lots of the sketches will never be developed but serve to help me learn about a subject and get to know it well. Sometimes they'll come in useful years later as this one - it was done 10 years or so ago, when I did a small body of work on this industrial area of the canal, it interested me and I always felt I may do more one day - and now this area is part of my waterways project. This is somewhere I intend to sketch again at some point. It's just a few hundred yards from where I sketched the factories and weir recently. The building is an odd quirky shape, built to fit between the 2 diverging pathways. It wasn't totally finished - the white area on the left is the canal, I concentrated on the buildings and bridge and never finished the water surface. The shelves of sketchbooks are a really useful resource for now and the future but

blogs, bloggers and interesting art and people

work by Patrice Large - link below When I started blogging I wasn't at all sure whether I'd continue and it felt rather strange talking to thin air :) As time went on and people responded and I felt more comfortable, the readership really grew and I really enjoyed the dialogue and the discovery of so many interesting blogs out there and some really nice and exceedingly talented, and often very funny, people. And they didn't seem to object to long rambling sentences like that ;) I keep discovering new and fascinating blogs :) one recent one is Patrice Large ( and it helps me brush up on my French) - if you don't speak French you won't be able to read it but you'll certainly appreciate the sheer drama of his watercolours of sailing. and I'm a scaredy cat who'd never set foot in a boat in the conditions he paints - millpond ca

the joys of plein air - or not!

Katherine mentioned in her response to the previous thread that we remember the uncomfortable plein air paintings/sketches - and it's very true. Burned into my memory is the day Sue and I went to the coast - the wind was icy, we were frozen (we always spend a looooong day painting on the beaches) and we hadn't done any work we were really happy with - we'd normally have several. We'd tried 2 different beaches. No shelter at all to be had as the wind was straight off the sea. At one point Sue realised she'd left her handbag in the public toilets 5 minutes walk away - half an hour earlier . She ran back and it was still there :) When it came to packing up time my mobile phone was missing - it was switched off so it wasn't as simple as ringing it to find out where it was :(. It couldn't be found so we returned to the other beach and searched the dunes - you just try to remember just which precise dip you'd sheltered in on

aerial sketches of the packhorse bridge and frog island

I looked at some possible compositions for aerial views, particularly of Aylestone with the ancient packhorse bridge, Victorian canal bridges and footbridges, paths, tracks and roads making patterns across the landscape. It will be a while before I start any finished paintings from them as I want to do more sketching and finished paintings plein air before I start this. It will be more abstracted, playing a little with perspective and I need more knowledge of what is happening at ground level - the colours and textures and contours and details - before I start a large canvas from these. Most of these are in mechanical pencil but the one below is a mixture of oil pastel and coloured pencil - It was going to be watercolour over the oil pastels scribbles but then I decided to experiment with coloured pencil along with them. I quite like this composition with its 5 bridges packed into such a small area and criss crossing of paths and tracks. There are interlocking arrow shapes and Z shape

sketching and hypothermia

The 15C packhorse bridge across a small river and flood plain. Charcoal. I'm sure I'm suffering from hypothermia! I'm still chilled inside and it's now 1am. I'm off to bed in a minute - husband went hours ago so it should be nice and warm as toast. Ros and I went sketching by the packhorse bridge this afternoon, both of us wrapped up well but oh it was Cold . I got absolutely chilled to the bone and after a couple of hourse we gave up and went off for a hot chocolate and a warm by the fire in a lovely little tea shop. We both got 2 sketches done first though so our haloes shone :) The first one above was in charcoal, I sat uncomfortably balanced on a thick tree branch above some mud and water trying not to drop the sketchbook in it ..... or me. The second was of the old iron railway bridge across the canal - the river that flows under the packhorse bridge joins it on the left. The old railway track is now a footpath that goes for several miles across the city. Mech

exhibitions and posters and glitches

I've not been writing here this week as I've been rushed off my feet with a new term starting with endless paperwork, computer hiccups and glitches and an exhibition to get ready for next week. I designed us a lovely contemporary poster in Publisher and now the computer with that on won't talk to the printer - this elderly computer doesn't have publisher and copying and pasting resulted in lots of zzz's and asterisks and gobbledygook :( so the poster is very boring and ordinary - and wasted lots of hours of painting time attempting to sort it out :( We all paint very differently - Sue M's work is very abstract and often based on her visits to Florida. Sue G paints solely at the coast. Mary does fascinating work from old photographs, doing a lot of research into the backgrounds of the people she paints - maids, children in a spartan Victorian 'blind school' - she had a studio for a time in the building that had been the school - her work always has an in