Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Koi in progress

You don't know how hard it is for me to show unfinished work! As I've said before, it goes against my very private artist's nature and my training, too, BUT this blog is about all the aspects of the making of art about water and the processes involved, so here we are.

What I love about koi as subject matter is that, in painting them, I can give free play to my love for calligraphic shapes, my attempts to render movement and energy, and my passion for the physical qualities of paint and painting surface.

Painting koi in water is a revelatory experience. It is a meditative experience. It is challenging, and it is, above all, and shockingly, fun! Since I am not a natural painter in the way I am a natural draftsman, I don't often feel that painting IS fun. But when it is going well, there's nothing so gratifying to me.

In the first two paintings above, you'll see my struggles with opacity and transparency in rendering water using acrylic paints. This struggle will be ongoing over the next months as I continue this series. But I welcome the struggle. I'm learning from it. This is what I mean about the revelatory nature of this project.
I've begun a series of small studies (about 5" x 7") to give me quick ways to explore various palettes, various acrylic mediums to add for texture and flow and transparency, various compositions, and to help me define the shape, form, movement inherent in MY approach to this subject. I'll make 30 of these, one daily when I can, in addition to continuing to work on my large pieces. I have 6 or 7 larger pieces going right now!. Here are the first three studies. They are VERY loose, very coarse. They're exactly what I need!

These issues of transparency, opacity, texture, and wateriness have been with me for a long while. Here is (a very bad photo of) one of a series of paintings I made around a lotus theme in 2005. It may be that I'll move back to a more abstracted style such as this. It may not. I trust the koi to show me the way.

The Crowns Botallack - update

The Crowns, Botallack, finished .... I think, Vivien Blackburn

The Crowns, Botallack. detail. Vivien Blackburn

Looking at this painting, hung where I could see it and decide what might need editing and adjusting, I've made some changes and think it's now finished. (whole of the finished painting lower down)

The balancing act of making the buildings visible but capturing the way they appear part of the rocks and the landscape, not jumping out at you, was something I wanted to resolve.

Also, I've now glazed the top of the sky with ultramarine - and part of the sea and shadows on buildings and rocks.

The Crowns, Botallack, detail. Vivien Blackburn


Now to get on with the rest of the series ......

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Koi on masa

I have completed a painting of a koi carp pool, thanks to a blizzard removing the distractions of tv, telephone and internet for 24 hours.  Its on a half sheet of masa which is then glued onto a half sheet of Bockingford 140lb watercolour paper.  The full painting is below, and a close up of two of the fish in the top image.

The process is a little time consuming in the set up but once that is complete it's fairly straightforward in watercolour painting.  However, masa paper does become quite fragile when wet, so manipulating the paint on the paper is impossible without it turning to fibres under your brush, then tearing.  So painting on this makes you think carefully before you place your brush and to let layers dry throughly before adding more.

I'm working on another fishy piece using the same technique that's coming together slowly and I will give you a sneak preview of it now.  You can visit my blog  - Illustrated Life - over the next few days to see more and to read details on how the whole thing is created using this technique.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Alleyways and Waterways of London

The Magic Hour and October at the Sackler Crossing, Kew
coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Old Ford Lock, River Lea and Ecology Park Pond #1
(both of these are views of near where I live in East London )
coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I belong to the Drawing London Group and we currently have an exhibition at the Barbican in London. The theme is Alleys and Backwaters of London so being a member of Watermarks I decided to devote myself to the backwaters aspect for my four drawings which are included in the show - which show two lakes, a pond and river!

The exhibition opens on Tuesday 2nd February 2010 and continues until the 24th February at the Barbican Library at the Barbican Centre (2nd floor), Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS (latter is a link to Google Maps).
This exhibition aims to capture the atmosphere, excitement, lights, shadows, colours and tones of London and its people with works in various media – watercolour, oils, pastel, print, ink - that are all available for sale. There is also a display of the artists’ sketchbooks. The Drawing London group meets monthly in different neighbourhoods around the capital to work inside and out, in the streets and buildings of the city, through all seasons. This is the third Drawing London exhibition since the group’s inception in 2003.
Drawing London 2010 Alleyways and Backwaters of London
2-24 February, Barbican Library

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, mixed media

The Crowns, Botallack, detail, mixed media on canvas, Vivien Blackburn

The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, mixed media on 20x16 inch canvas, Vivien Blackburn


I think it's just about complete - any tweaking will be minor.

It's a nightmare to photograph to catch the colour that's there - the milky greeny toned sea around the rocks isn't showing very well.

The old ruined mine buildngs seem to grow out of the rocks, being built of stone. I wanted that feeling of maybe at first not noticing them - the sea and the wild scenery is the 'star'.

The path down to the engine house is narrow and would have been scary in winter gales - and then once undground and under-sea, they would hear the boulders grinding on the sea floor, just feet above their heads.

The original sketch was one of those blue blue days, when the sky and sea seem to merge.

The colour of the sea around the rocks doesn't show well but is that beautiful milky eau-de-nil colour of water full of air bubbles from the waves breaking. For these sort of days in Cornwall I really need my pthalo blue and viridian :>)

And the next one in the series has the first sketchy marks down - this time Runswick Bay in Yorkshire and probably another limited palette piece like Saltmarsh. You can see it here.