Monday, 26 October 2009

Dawn finished at last

Dawn, 40 inch canvas, oil. Vivien Blackburn

Finally finished. It proved a nightmare to photograph - the subtle colour changes just aren't picked up well enough. They show a little better in the details below.

I wanted to catch that early morning light as the darkness is chased away by the amber colours of dawn. The sea is calm and the rocks only half seen. The glow catches the top of the far cliffs and the tops of some of the wet rocks.

The horizon doesn't really slope - it's the photographer who had a bit of a list to port.

Below is a morning light painting I did plein air - one of the several sources that this developed from. The tide here is a little further out and daylight further advanced.

if you click on the above image you can see further work on Cornwall.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Brittany sketches

I spent more than three glorious weeks in Brittany and became completely enamored of its tranquil beauty and its intimate scale. It is less dramatic than I'd imagined, less rugged than coastal Scotland and Ireland, less vertiginous than some of the places in Cornwall I remember, more temperate (there are palm trees and camellias and fig trees in the Golfe du Morbihan!), more feminine somehow, more French than I'd expected. May I please have another lifetime? I'd live in Quimper or on the Morbihan coast, I'd rear my children, I'd dine on the freshest oysters imaginable, and I'd paint every spare moment I could steal or borrow.
I'd originally planned to take acrylic paints and gessoboards to make rock and water studies on location. Due to my mother's precarious health, I had to travel as lightly as possible, knowing I might have to return home at any moment. Thus, these sketches, from which later paintings will ensue:Presqu'ile de Rhuys, beach with rocksRocky shore, Golfe du Morbihan, BrittanyPort Coton, Belle Ile en MerEbb tide, Brittany beachGolfe du Morbihan, tide's outBreton beach, rocks and water
I have more of these sketches and will post them here soon. I am in the process of sharing all my sketches from Brittany on my blog Laurelines, so please drop by and have a look!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The remains of the day

On Saturday I gave a workshop on gyotaku for a local art association.  I initially wondered how I would fill the time, but its funny how I always think that prior to workshops, then at the time wish that there was extra time to do all the things that I had planned.  And this time it was no different.

This was my first time using squid to print with and, despite the little tentacles clinging to everything and being a bit 'ewwwwww' to me, they did produce some interesting shapes and textures.  I didn't have a lot of time to play with them during the class but will as soon as I have some time.

The demonstration that I did at the workshop was a capelin, enhanced with watercolour. I  started some demo work on a print over aa background but ran out of time, so its in limbo right now, waiting to push ahead or be relegated to the never never drawer.

One of the workshop participants brought in a large salted cod to print.  Salt fish is a Newfoundland tradition and goes back to times when salt was the preserving agent to keep fish and meat edible over the winter once dried.  Its still very common here, but is an acquired taste, not one that I've ever really become fond of.

However, because of the large size and complex texture of the flattened fish, I suggested using some coloured tissue paper to print on and it worked well.  Unfortunately, the mustardy yellow of the tissue doesn't show well in this photo, but the fish shape is classic Newfoundland tradition still seen in rural Newfoundland.

Finally, the true remains of the day.  The little capelin that did yeoman service during the day will have a last run at prints tomorrow, then off to the compost along with some left over squid bodies and tentacles.

More details and images from the workshop are posted on my blog Illustrated Life.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Fair Isle's Beauty

Dave Wheeler
Yoal hauled up above the sea foam

I subscribe to Nature Conservancy's weekly pod casts and this story about an American family's move to Scotland's Fair Isle captured my imagination. This remote, storm buffeted island is remarkable for not only its beauty but the tenacity of it's inhabitants as you will hear about in the pod cast.

After visiting the Fair Isle Web Site, I found not only a couple of live web cams but the most extraordinary photographs by Dave Wheeler His photography takes my breath away and I had a very hard time deciding which sea scapes to choose to illustrate this post.Many thanks for his kind permission. You can see more of his work on Fair Island here.

I've already begun to casually mention in several dinner time conversations how much I'd like to take a work camp vacation on Fair Isle. I'd probably have to commit to nightly back rubs to sweeten the deal.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Last Canoe Trip of the Season :>(

Last month, Craig and I had a chance to, once again, canoe the lovely Kishwaukee River. This class "A" river was a bit low on this day. The water was warm which was very convenient as we had to float the boat over a few sand bars.

As you can see from the videos, the weather was clear and warm in the early afternoon, then later, we broke out the ponchos for my first rainy canoe trip. I'm embarrassed to say, that the first mate grumbled a bit when directed by El Capitain to go back and pack the ponchos even though the sun was shining. The ponchos were perfect and we both remained dry and cheerful.

This week, we have had freezing temps and I'm afraid that this was our last trip of the season. I will miss Dry Sherry, her silver hull shining only from metallic luster (not leaking water) as we bed her down for the winter.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Dawn: in progress, not yet finished

A quick update on Dawn. This is the stage it's currently at - with the previous 2 stages below.

The beach is a crescent, with the village at the lower end, facing north, so the sun would rise on the right side of it (as seen from the village) and set on the left, behind the lifeboat station and harbour - so it was always beautiful.

The middle one wasn't quite so grey, it was the warm artificial light that bleached the blue out of it. The bottom one wasn't quite so blue - so difficult to get the balance right in the photos. The clouds are a little bit paler but otherwise this latest image is pretty close to the original.

It's nearly there. It's a balancing act of keeping enough light in it that it isn't too overwhelming and dark on a wall - but keeping that early dawn, rocks lost in darkness and not seen too clearly feeling.

plein air sketches of dawn from a nearby viewpoints:


and here

and here

c&c welcome :>)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

first stage - dawn

Dawn - work in progress, first stage

This is the roughed in start on the 40 inch canvas - sorry it's not a good photo - there is more dark sky that my arms weren't long enough to fit in the photo. It was wet and I wasn't going to wrestle with it anymore

I'd decided to work on it in the living room as husband was safely out for the day and wouldn't know

Dropped the oil paint loaded palette on carpet, hitting curtain on way down

got paint from wrist to armpit wrangling canvas and trying to catch palette

cleaned carpet

washed curtain

had shower to remove woad painted ancient briton look

decided NOT to work in living room again

More about it and the missing sky segment here