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Showing posts from June, 2009

Digital experiments with flower photos

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Digital experiment 1. Vivien Blackburn


I've been playing around with the recent flower photos and these are 3 of the results. I'd like to do some canvasses based on the first two I think. Maybe using acrylic inks to get the luminosity???

I quite like the geometric hard edges playing against the flowing natural forms of the petals and stamens.

What do you think?

Digital experiment 2. Vivien Blackburn


Digital experiment 3. Vivien Blackburn

Keep those trees coming for the challenge :>)

Hydrangeas in close up

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Aren't hydrangeas just the most beautiful blue?


Photos of the hydrangea bush I bought this week - it's sitting on the patio looking like a piece of sky :>)

and on the subject of blue - for those who doubted the blue of the sea in my paintings of Cornwall = do take a look at this photographers work. He's very talented

close up photographs of flowers in my garden

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The light was lovely in the garden so I went out with my 10x magnification filter to get close ups of some of the flowers.

paint or sketch trees: challenge

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Close up of tree bark, Marqueyssac, France. photo: Vivien Blackburn

Another challenge

Rather than another update on the seascapes I've decided to run another challenge in response to feedback from the trees post.

Feedback from people said they got a lot out of the skies challenge and I'm sure you will out of this one :>)


click the image on the left to link to the original post on trees

and you can check all posts with the tag 'trees' here


The challenge is to produce sketches of trees done from life.

These can be: close ups, extreme close ups, whole tree, part of tree, distant views - whatever you want.

Style: anything goes - photorealism to impressionism but with underlying observation

Medium: your choice, anything goes :>) oil paints, acrylics, watercolours, mixed media, charcoal, graphite, coloured pencils, pen, oil pastels, pastels, pastel pencils ....... etc etc etc

Timescale: we'll finish at the end of July and I'll post links to your blogs then - pl…

Pearly Dawn, Cornwall, and Botallack Mine, seascapes in oils, work in progress

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Pearly Dawn, Sennen Cove, Cornwall. 10 inches square, oil on canvas, Vivien Blackburn
A calm sea, pearly colours of lavender, apricot and jade. This one is another oil on a 10 inch square canvas, It was a total nightmare to photograph as the subtle jades kept disappearing and the apricot highlights - not helped by photographing it while it's wet! The sky glows a bit more and there are subtle bits of the apricot sky reflecting on the tips of the swells that aren't being picked up very well in the photo :>(

The last one I showed, of the harbour, has had the lower section of sky lightened and I think is finished.

Botallack mine is moving onwards but large areas are still just blocked in. The foreground has a long way to go and the far cliffs and mine houses but the sea and sky are further forward. The sea is going to be wilder, crashing onto the rocks and cliffs.

Work in progress, Botallack Mine. 16x20. Vivien Blackburn

c&c????

works in progress. botallack and sennen cove in oil on canvas

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Sennen Cove, Windy Day, oil on 10 inch square canvas, Vivien Blackburn

I worked a little more on the 10 inch canvas today - the photograph annoyingly doesn't bring out the viridians enough. I'll try again tomorrow. Adjusting in photoshop alters too much and has tipped it towards turquoise too much but I thought I'd show that I am working! I will lighten the bottom of the sky a little when this paint is dry.

I started another 10 inch canvas with an underpainting - it's from a sketch of a subtle pearly dawn -all soft peachy colours in the sky with mauves and pale jades and soft grey blues in the sea, all very pale.

I think I may do a series of these little 10 inch canvasses as they work well together.

I also worked on the 16x20 canvas below. It's just at the blocking in stage as yet and it all needs finishing and pulling together.

Botallack Mine, 20x16, oil on canvas, Vivien Blackburn

I decided to make the weather wilder and stormier in this one. It suits the ruggedn…

Botallack mine updated, mixed media painting and thoughts on acrylic paints

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I took another look at that painting I wasn't happy with, bearing in mind crit from friends on and off line and my own feelings about what was wrong. I spent about 10 minutes on it with oil paint scumbled over in areas, allowing the acrylic underpainting to shine through and leaving a lot untouched.

The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, mixed media painting, 11 ins square. Vivien Blackburn

The oil paint instantly improved it (for me anyway!) - the vivid blues are toned down but still glow through and now have recession. I heightened the ochre tones that you get in the grass on cliff tops, which plays nicedly against the blue. The more vivid grass and subtler sea/sky now balance much better to me and I prefer the scumbling and variation in colour that I can get with oils. I also lightened the light areas of the cliffs a little more and added more ochre where it showed on cliffs and rocks in light scumbles. The sky is more interesting and melts into the sea without a clear divisi…

Painting and Drawing Trees: observation

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Sketching Trees in the Park. Rotring fountain pen in A4 sketchbook. Vivien Blackburn

This is an old sketch done in a local park. I was trying to describe the different types of trees and their distinctive shapes, character and foliage with just pen lines. Looking back at it I like the positive/negative changes with light trunks against shadowed foliage and dark trunks against light, changing back and forth. That poor Rotring pen hasn't been used in a long time, maybe I should dig it out. I really prefer less scratchy media.

I like trees - not quite as much as water but nearly!

Trees can have very distinct character, rather like people and I really dislike the generic woolly trees in some 'how to' books.

I've dug out some of the trees I've done over time - some, like this (done in '93) done some time ago and some more recent. They are in pen, pencil, charcoal, watercolour, oils, digital imagery, coloured pencil, ink, mixed media, acrylic, pastel, done i…

Botallack mine in acrylics

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The Crowns, Botallack, acrylic and coloured pencil. 10 ins square. Vivien Blackburn

This is a another view of the tin mines that cling to the base of the high cliffs at Botallack.

I'd decided to use acrylics to see how I liked working with them in comparison to the oil sketches I'd done.

:>( I missed my oils.

I ended up throwing some coloured pencil into it to pull it together - but I still prefer my oil paintings. It probably needs a bit more doing to it.

What do you think? honest c&c please?

what to take when sketching plein air (1 ) .... oils

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What to take when you go sketching plein air?

what materials? what equipment? what medium? - oils? watercolour? pastel? acrylic? coloured pencil? pencil? what size paper/canvas/sketchbook? what to sit on?

Warm Day, April, Wells next the Sea, oil, plein air, approx 10 ins square Vivien Blackburn (old work)

what and why? that's like 'how long is a piece of string' - one person's perfect kit isn't going to be right for another. All I can say is what is right for me.

I use virtually any and all media sketching. What I take depends on
whether it's a family outing a trip specifically to sketch with friendssketching alone how long I have there to paint/sketchhow far from the car I have to walk carrying equipment and materialsthe weather

If with family then what I take is lightweight and limited, and may be simply a moleskine or other sketch book and a mechanical pencil or biro.

If with friends then it's kitchen sink time! I would take in the car: my oils, c…