Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Introducing Vivien Blackburn

I've loved the coast ever since I can remember.

When I was young we lived by the sea in Gibraltar, Cornwall, Scotland and Malta and I loved the colours and light that constantly changed with weather, time of day, season and tide.

Returning home to our house in Cornwall from visits to family 'up country', we could tell when we were getting nearer the coast long before we could see the sea, simply because of a special quality in the light. I'm sure Sarah, a member of our group who is lucky enough to live there now, (turning me viridian with envy), will confirm this :>)

The sheen of wet sand, the wild surf, the way the waves move, reflections, skies, the particular colours of a place and sense of place are what interest me.

Cornwall in all areas and all moods is my favourite county to be in and to paint. The north coast is wild and rocky. The colour of the sea here changes from vivid blue to green and silver, jade and lilac. It has caves, high cliffs and sand carved into ripples and pools by the ebbing sea. There are rock pools, reflections of the high cliffs and clouds, gulls wheeling up above and rough seas coming in straight across the Atlantic.

The colour of the rocks changes from amber to almost black as you round Lands End and head towards Cape Cornwall.

The south is gentle with flooded valleys and creeks, herons and woods that overhang the water. Inland are moors, patchwork fields, high banked hedges, full of flowers, lining incredibly narrow roads and wooded valleys

North Norfolk is 100 miles away and our nearest coastline but is a total contrast to Cornwall. The beaches shelve gently and the tide goes out a very long way, leaving shallow water in pools and channels reflecting the sky, until the sand dries in the sun and wind.

The sea is also much calmer except for winter storms and the colours are often greyer or silver, sometimes muddier from the silt washed down through rich farmland that was once a vast area of marsh. In good weather the sea can still be a vivid blue. Along the edge of the beaches that stretch for miles are dunes and salt marshes.

This is a gallery of paintings of Norfolk in oil, watercolour and mixed media - done plein air on the North Norfolk coast

Leicestershire - Another strand of work associated with water is a series I started on local, inland waterways. I decided to look at the river, canals, pools and streams, making it a slow-burn, long term project that would weave in and out of other work as I had the time or opportunity.

(rough sketches testing out Inktense pencils)

Unlike the seascapes, which concentrate mainly on the quiet lonely stretches of beach that I love, the waterways project includes industrial landscapes as The Soar, our local river, and the the canal weave through the city. River and canal also weave through pleasant countryside, through villages, past medieval packhorse bridges and farmland.

Whilst talking about my work some time ago I realised that I like the edges of things - where water meets land, where sky meets sea, the edges of woods but never deep forests - the edge where things change.

Watermarks - the group

I thought it would be interesting to set up a group blog of like minded artists - all with our own particular interest in water, our own concerns about what and why we painted and different ways of making the marks that knit together to create our images - so the title had to be Watermarks :>)

Lindsay and Katherine agreed to be co-founders and Katherine has been wonderful with her organisational skills and technical knowledge - thank you Katherine. The 3 of us bounced my original idea about and it evolved and grew with their fantastic input into ...... this ...... far better than I could have created alone :>).

I hope you enjoy it. The members are extremely talented and with their widely different ways of working in different parts of the world it should be a fascinating journey. We've got lots of interesting things planned so ........ sign up to follow us ......... and please let us know what you think.



Anonymous said...

What can I say vivien...you are so gifted and having the pleasure of seeing your work in real life, makes me really appreciate your ways with water here even more...I enjoy seeing the differences you've captured between all the areas you've painted and I'm looking forward to what's to come.

Making A Mark said...

...my pleasure Vivien. :)

I do like the way you talk about water!

Sarah said...

OOH, great intro Viv, thats a lot to live up to!

Laura Frankstone said...

Well done, Vivien! I can now confess that I purposely don't look at your blog as much as I'd like because I don't want to be influenced by the way you've painted something watery! Now, though, I'll be more courageous since you and I are fellow Watersprites ;D.

vivien said...

wow! what lovely lovely comments! Let me tell you - I feel exactly the same looking at the lovely fluid way YOU all work! and I'm really looking forward to working with you all :>) !!!

Lindsay said...

What a rich post Vivien. When you put it all together, your body of work is impressive. I too like the way you write as well as paint.
Seeing all your "galleries" makes me think I really should have a web site to organize my work.

Thanks so much for inviting me along for this great adventure. What excellent traveling companions there are.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Fabulous writing, it brings me to the places you've been and your images show them to me. I love the blues that are constant through the work.

I have a lot of work to do to catch up!

Gesa said...

Great post, Vivien... I really do need to THINK about my intro. :)

Robyn Sinclair said...

It is a very impressive body of water (oops) work ;) Some of these paintings are already familiar delights as I have watched them posted on completion. Now I'm looking forward to delving a little more into your process. That will be a delight.

The other delight as you know, Vivien that I am the very lucky owner of that rare self-portrait featured here. When my Flying Pictures Sketchbook finally returns to me, I look forward to hugging it in real life. :)

vivien said...

the self portrait is indeed rare! and over-kind to myself!!!

annie said...

I do like how you share your many explorations through WATERWAYS and SKETCHES and SEASCAPES. Having gone over and over these on your website and blog, and then the beautiful work all of you have done on FLYING PICTURES, I am eager to see what you'll share here.

caseytoussaint said...

What a wonderful post. This is a beautiful introduction to your work. I love the variety and color here. And I had somehow missed the fact that that was a self portrait until I saw Robyn's comment! It looks like a wonderful group and a great blog.

vivien said...

Thanks Annie and Casey :>)

Well, the FPP was so much fun! Looking forward to doing something else with you and the group in the new year

Kelly M. said...

Amazing body of works you've compiled -- what a history of your art, your marks, your inspirations! Bravo! :-)

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi Vivien!.....I left you a vote and congratulatory message on watermarks! Masterful use of watercolour... whateverv your subject!

The short list piece is a gem!

Good Painting!
Warm regards,
Bruce Sherman