G’day viewers, my name’s Graeme Stevenson, and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world. Lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles, and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well hi folks, welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we are in the United States of America and we are in the state of Utah, and you are going to see some artwork today that’s going to blow your mind. When I first saw this gentleman’s artwork I thought my God, I thought they were photographs. I’d like to introduce you to Geoffrey Blackburn. Geoffrey, thank you for being on the show, it’s a fantastic privilege to be here. You didn’t have any formal training, you did go to Utah University. (Geoffrey) I did a probably about a year, maybe a year at the University of Utah. They actually let me bypass a bunch of the stuff I should have been doing. They liked my work so they let me into some advanced classes. (Graeme) This is actually one of Geff’s paintings at the back here, and what you’re going to do with us today is explain how you sort of put these together. I mean they’re unbelievably detailed pieces, I mean some of the most detailed landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. And even as a small size you can blow them up to the size of a bedsheet, and they still hold their character together. (Geoffrey) One of the things that distinguishes the way I paint this country from anyone else that I know, is that I actually paint the geology accurately. I’ve sold a lot of paintings to geologists and mining companies because the geology is accurate. So that’s what’s one of the distinguishing features of what I’m doing. (Graeme) And it’s amazing, and literally are some of the best landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. And then you’ve come to a situation these days where you actually take the photos and then you manipulate a lot of the photos that you’ve got. Now you’ve got some models that you originally made at one stage, and then you took these Marquette’s after you’ve done the original models, and put these tiny little birds in there. But you can see just by the detail on this screen here, how extraordinary this mans work actually is. It’s just amazing. So what we’re going to do know is we’re going to go upstairs and we’re going to watch you paint. It’s actually like thousands of hours isn’t it just to do one of these? (Geoffrey) Well, at least a hundreds anyway, yes. (Graeme) Yes, the detail’s quite mind-boggling, but we’re going to go upstairs to Geoffrey’s studio, and we’re going to make a start in there and go through all of his techniques, and talk about this fascinating mans life as we go along. So lets go back upstairs. (Graeme) All right Geoffrey, well we are in your studio, a magnificent studio it is as well, surrounded by your glorious paintings. I mean it’s a privilege to be here, but because your work takes so long to do, you’re only going to give us some snippets of ideas on how you go about your methodology in producing all of this. You’re just going over this with pencil and the smudge sticks. (Geoffrey) Yes, I use the charcoal pencil to get this and what I’m going to do is I’m going to smudge it out in some areas and then I’m going to glaze over that. One of the things I used to do is I use to call Grumbacher, the head chemist at Grumbacher, he used to tell me that the oil paint loves charcoal underneath it. has a nice chemical reaction to it. So I do all my underdrawings with charcoal and then I paint over the top over it; it works wonderfully. So what I do is I’ll start out with the charcoal drawing on top of my substrate. If I work on a substrate that’s canvas and when I use canvas I always use Belgian linen, I never use cotton. But I have reasons lately I’ve been using a masonite, and when you use masonite you’ve got to use tempered on both sides, so tempered masonite both sides, and I use usually 3H or something like that. And then I’m going to do just for a minute I’ll just show you how I smudge it around here. So I’m going to work some of the shadow areas, I’m just going to go back to the original painting and just take some of these shadow areas and just mess with it a little bit. So I’m just going to smudge a little of this little of this charcoal that’s already on the board. I’m just going to smudge it around here, and it just makes a nice surface and I can paint right over the top of that, and the paint loves it. (Graeme) The patience that you have is beyond extraordinary. It’s just… you know, you’ve only got to look at some of the paintings. Castle Valley Thunder, which is a fairly long piece, but the amount of detail that you get in there is simply mind-boggling; it’s incredible, it really is. (Geoffrey) Well it’s a study in self abuse and sort of like, I can be like one of those old monks that used to whip themselves with the (Graeme) Flagellation? (Geoffrey) Yeah, exactly. Flagellation with the small brush. (Graeme) Yeah, and through all of this and the amazing way you approach your work, you’ve actually written a book and I think that the book helps people really to organise themselves, but to be able to bring out the best of their ability as well. (Geoffrey) Yeah, that’s the point of it is to tap into your creative ability. The whole idea is what you’re doing here, is you’re trying to get something from here out to here. That’s the whole point. It’s like if it’s here nobody can see it, so if you bring it out here then that’s the object of the exercise. So the book, the whole essence of the book is to make that transition, so it’s like beaming something from one universe into another; that’s the point of the book. And I’ve laid out the steps and they work, and the proof of it is my paintings. (Graeme) Yeah, without a doubt. (Geoffrey) Everybody does it by the way, everybody’s doing it all the time, but most people are pretty much unaware of how it is that they do it, so there’s no consistency in the way that they do it. And you can apply it to art and you can apply it to anything, but we’re applying it to art and it works just beautifully. (Graeme) So you can go to Geoffrey’s website which is R Geoffrey Blackburn dot com and go in there and actually click on the book and have a look at it. And then yeah, I think it’s just amazing. And this is a man… the end result is you can see in Geoffrey’s work which is simply amazing, that he’s obviously come up with a creative process that works incredibly well. I you know, I just stand in awe at what he does it’s just incredible. You look at pieces like Dead Horse Autumn – The Approaching Storm and it’s like you would think that that picture would be eight feet tall and ten feet wide, but it’s not. It’s only about two foot by eighteen inches, but it’s like you can simply walk into the painting. And to develop the discipline and to understand the mechanism of your colour, just to follow the palette alone is something that you can get out of this book as well. (Geoffrey) Most paintings are designed to be looked at through two or three feet away, so you stand back and you take in the whole painting, and then that’s the experience which is perfectly valid; it’s a wonderful thing to do. That’s the way that people traditionally paint. My paintings are different. I want you to… What I’m trying to do is create a portal, I want you to be able to step through the surface of the canvas, or I call everything a canvas even though it’s just a substrate, and you walk right on into the painting. And when I’m creating these things the very process of creating it is I keep going in, and going in, and going in, and as I’m painting what happens is I am curious myself. I wondering well what’s behind that rock? What’s behind the next rock? Well I don’t know until I paint it, so I keep following, following my paint brush right on into the painting, and it’s quiet a, quiet a, a very strange process, almost like what Michelangelo was doing with his chisel, I’m doing with my paintbrush. I have to find out what’s inside, you know? What’s going to happen next? What’s the next thing? (Graeme) We’re just bringing up a piece now called Red Canyons, and it just blows you away. You can zoom in on these and each individual inch is a seperate painting in itself because of just the amazing detail that you’ve put into the work. The perspective of colour, the horizon, it’s just amazing, it really is. (Geoffrey) That painting I sold to the guy that one of the three guys that crossed the Atlantic in the ballon, right. Maxie Anderson, he’s the guy that eventually brought it. Yeah, that look a while to paint. That was, I think that was the first one that went over eight hundred hours. I actually had a time clock when I painted it. I used to literally punch in, and that painting followed me around the house. I paint it and and I’d… it followed me everywhere I went including into the bathtub. I put it up on the, I’d put it up on the faucets, and it would sit there and I’d sit there in the bathtub and look at it, and stare at it, and flip it upside down and look at it in all these different directions. (Graeme) There must be a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction when you’ve created a masterpiece like you do. There’s just simply not a lot of people in the world that can paint like this, there just isn’t. (Geoffrey) By spending a decade with geologists, bouncing around and looking at all this stuff from a geologist stand point. In fact most of these paintings that I’ve done have sold to geologists or mining companies, or people that work in you know, mineralogy and so forth. They’re fascinated with the fact that I actually capture this stuff. So what I want to do is just put a couple of glazes on here, just so you can see how I start a basic glaze, and then I’ll take one of these paintings that’s much more developed and already started to work, and I’ll show you what happens when you’re a little further along in the process. (Graeme) Fantastic. (Geoffrey) Okay. (Geoffrey) Okay, I’m going to take my palette paper and what I do is I cut a square out of it. I do my mixing on the outside and I put my paint on the inside. I mix on the outside, because I through the outside away every day, because the paint dries because of the mediums that I use. It’s a really cheapie way of doing something on a really cheap palette. Works perfectly, I advise it. Okay, so that’s thing one. Okay, so now when I do the paint put the paint on, I use an unbelievably miserly amount of paint. Now for the formula for a successful painting career if you’re listening to the people who run the galleries – the Gallerists. Love that word. Anyway, they like lots of paint, big paintings, big thick paint-stokes. I do small paintings normally, hardly any paint, and everything just exactly the opposite. So if you want to you know, ignore everything I say, feel free. However, what I do works just dandy for what I do. So the first colour I put on there was a really gorgeous looking whatever it was it just disappeared. Yes, this is a King’s Blue, King’s Blue Light, its made by Old Holland, gorgeous colour. The other colour I just put on here was a greenish-umber made by Utrecht, also a nice colour. And this one is an Indigo, Winsor and Newton Indigo. And sometimes I like to call them and torment the head chemist just to see what they have to say if I have a question. So I recommend doing that too. This is the only yellow I ever use which is Naples Yellow, and that can be Rembrandt, see I think I’m using a Rembrandt Naples here. And lets see, found some Winsor and Newton Titanium White and again you see that there’s hardly any paint on my palette. And this little bit of paint will last me if I actually come into the studio every day, this will last me for probably two weeks, just that tiny bit of paint that I have in there, amazingly enough. (Graeme) So does it dry out quickly in the hot Utah summer? (Geoffrey) Not really. (Graeme) Yeah. (Geoffrey) There actually is a way if you have oil paint, I learned this God, sixty years ago. I actually took an art class long, long time ago from this beatnik couple, and this was way back before hippies, this was back in 1960. In fact I remember listening to Kennedy talking on the TV. When I was listening to, these guys were telling me this, they were teaching me how to preserve the oil paints after a painting session. They said you can scrape it off and you can take a jar of water and take the paint and scrap it off, and scrap it on the inside of the bottle. So you scrap it off your palette, put it on the inside of the bottle, fill the bottle up with water, seal it up, next day you go back in there and you can scrap it out of the bottle, and put it back on your palette and it’ll stay viable. Works like a charm. (Graeme) Yep. (Geoffrey) So if you want one of those people that like to paint with a lot of paint, do that and it’ll keep your paint going forever. Now I’m going to use the medium, so there’s three different mediums that I would use if I was going to paint a bigger painting than this, but for this particular painting it’d be two mediums I’d use for this one. I’d use this Max Medium QuickDry by Grumbacher. And the reason I’m using this is cause this guy, I think I mentioned his name, George at Grumbacher, the head chemist, he recommended this to me. And it’s been a great medium, it dries, is completely dry in twenty-four hours, and after about two hours of painting it will it’ll start to get, it’ll start to gum up and get like honey. So you want to get your painting done quickly, and I never mix it with anything other than the paint, so I do that. So this is the way I paint. I go in with a straw, take out a drop, and that’s it. That’s what I use for a session right there. (Graeme) That’s, (Geoffrey) Pretty, pretty cheap. (Graeme) that’s one brushstroke for any other artist; that’s half a painting for you. (Geoffrey) Yes, exactly, that’s pretty much, that’s about all I use and probably won’t even use most of that, that’ll dry out. Okay, so I’ll mix up a little tiny bit here, you can’t actually see it from that side over there, but I will share with you. A little tiny bit see? (Graeme) Yep. (Geoffrey) A little tiny bit like that, not much. I’ll put this over here just so you can see what I’m doing. Okay, so I’m going to go in here with some little Ultramarine Purple, just thin it down so there’s hardly anything there, and I’m just going to go up here and start working in here. (Graeme) And they’re reasonable translucent? (Geoffrey) Yes, totally translucent. Looks about like it does on the palette. So I’m going into the shadows here and just, and I use these purples all the time, particularly the… So what you’re doing is you’re kind of alternating between a warm purple and a cool purple. And the warm purple is the, well the Dioxazine is a warmer purple and the Ultramarine is a cooler purple. (Graeme) Yeah, I think what a lot of people don’t realise across the world, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I first started exploring Arizona, and New Mexico and Utah when I was young, is you get a lot of snow in these areas as well, as hot as it is – it’s a desert area – (Geoffrey) Oh yeah. (Graeme) you get snow everywhere, and you’ve got one called Moab Blue’s. (Geoffrey) Yeah, there’s one here called the Dead Horse Winter, and I painted it at the same time, (Graeme) Yeah. (Geoffrey) and that’s a painting of Dead Horse Point and those days are so cold that the hair in your nose would freeze, and your breath would freeze, and it was just ice crystals everywhere and the snow was blindingly bright, it would hurt your eyes, it was so bright. (Graeme) Well there’s another one talk about snow, Bryce Canyon. (Geoffrey) Oh yeah. (Graeme) I’ve been there myself, I mean Zion, Bryce, Archers National Park they’re all around this area, but they are spectacular scenery isn’t it? (Geoffrey) Yes. So what I do – what I’ve done here so far, is I’ve started with the purples, I started working the purples into the area, into some of the shadows. So I go up here and probably use some of these same purples, maybe add a little Dioxazine and I go up in the clouds; there’s some purples up in the clouds so I probably start working some of he purples up in the clouds – same thing. (Graeme) So in your style, I mean you really just glazes layer upon layer upon layer, so you get to a place where glaze layer upon layer upon layer so you get to a place where then you want to start refining it. (Geoffrey) Yeah, you keep working it, working it, working it, kind of smear it in and then you let it dry. And then so I just work it like this and I probably come back after all this dries which will be tomorrow and then so there’s that. And then if I want to start working in some of the… say we want some of these browns here. So off I go so I’m just glazing right on over the charcoal and getting a nice base down. So while this is going to dry, and working in around the purple, even over the purple a little bit – doesn’t really matter. Okay, so you’ve see this little bit of part of how you work with the charcoal, how you get some of the paint on the board, and what happens so you can paint directly over the charcoal. You don’t necessarily, you don’t have to actually fix it, you can actually paint right over the charcoal, just you know, blow it off. But I like using the charcoal pencil it works great. You can get some nice detail in there, and you can kind of… And then you can use water and you can kind of feather it out and make some cool stuff happen. Get your shadows in there and then you can build on those shadows, and then you can kind of paint over it and glaze over it and then off you go. So now what we’re going to do is we’re going to segue into another couple of other paintings in later stages of development. (Graeme) Alright Geff, well you’ve put these other two pieces up, and you’ve got your black and white referrals there and some very small brushes. What type of brushes are you using there? (Geoffrey) Okay, I’m using these white nylon sables that I almost always paint with. (Graeme) Yeah. (Geoffrey) I’m going to be working in, working in the water here and I think I’m going to start up here and see if I can knock these shadows down a little bit. They’re a little bit bright yet, so I’m going to throw a glaze in the shadows and see if I can bring them down just a wee bit. Make these pop a little. (Graeme) And you’ve sold your work to some quite famous people over time too. President Reagan and then actor, Robert Redford, has some of your work as well. And a well known brand name which I I think we all probably have known since we were kids, or at least people born around the time that you and I were was Doctor Armand Hammer. (Geoffrey) Yeah, he got prints of mine, these serigraphs that I was doing at the time. (Graeme) And you’ve got a few Senators that have got your work as well, (Geoffrey) Yeah. (Graeme) and a Governor. (Geoffrey) Yeah. (Graeme) Multi awards that you’ve won over the decades for your work. You’ve been praised and won some pretty, pretty incredible shows, (Geoffrey) Yeah, it’s kind of fun. (Graeme) particularly when they give you a check. (Geoffrey) Yeah, that’s even sore fun. (Graeme) That’s the best part. And with your specific skills Geoffrey, I mean they’re very well sort after. You do a number of workshops here, we actually hope to get you down to Australia at some stage to do some too. But you do a lot of international shows, you sort of got a bit jaded with the galleries, and the international shows serve as a better purpose for you to be able to display your work and to talk to people as well about what you do. (Geoffrey) Absolutely, there’s one thing I want to say to everybody out there in video-land, I would like to say this: Everybody has their own voice. You have your own voice, your own magnetic north, and my mission is to help you find that. You need to find that. And thus, you’re not going to paint like me. I don’t want, I don’t want you to paint like me; trust me, you do not want to paint like me, because you are not me. You have to find your own magnetic north and when you do, the quest is glorious, it’s wonderful, it’s awesome. And when you do, you’ll put some colour in your life, not just a little colour, not a little tiny bit of colour like that, but huge amounts of colour and it’ll go on and on and on. (Graeme) That’s fantastic. (Graeme) Knock yourself out. (Graeme) Well said. Now it’s unusual for somebody of your ability and what you do to be involved in the licensing industry, but you are actually in the licensing game and licensing your work to a number of different companies. (Geoffrey) I’ve always wanted to see my, my paintings on a, my images on some different kinds of substrates. And it’s just a gloriously stimulating creative adventure using images I’ve already created, and mess with that imagery and create yet again with it, and then put it on a glorious, beautiful platform. And women come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and they’re all beautiful, every one of them. And to be able to put my imagery on that platform I mean, wow, what a trip. (Graeme) It’s a great day. (Geoffrey) Yeah. (Geoffrey) What a trip. (Graeme) Well we’ve had a brief look into your work and ability, Geoffrey. It’s been a great day to be with you, and obviously with the fact that you take hundreds if not thousands of hours to paint your paintings, we didn’t expect to see one completed by any means. But it gives you an idea of the talent of this man and what he’s capable of. We’re hoping to get Geoffrey to a number of different countries to do workshops. So if you want to talk to Geoffrey about that you can go into his website for a start which is R. Geoffrey Blackburn dot com. Go in there or come into colour in your life of course, colour in your life dot com dot au and we’ll be putting information some information up about workshops with Geoffrey as well. We’ve had a great day, Geoffrey. Thank you so much for being in your studio. (Geoffrey) It’s been a gas. I loved it. (Graeme) Well without a doubt one of the most amazing landscape artists I’ve ever come across in my life. Geoffrey, it was fantastic to be here. (Graeme) Thank you, Sir. I enjoyed it.(Graeme) And you’re an absolute wealth of knowledge. That’s the thing that I found by being here with Geoffrey, is the knowledge he about art, and about just creativity its own is quite overwhelming. So once again your website address is R Geoffrey Blackburn dot com. And also go in there and have a look at his book. There’s a lot in there that’s about creativity; it’s not just about marketing by any means. It’s about solving the problems of who you are as a creator, and getting the best results out of your hands and your mind at the same time. Outside the workshops as well, so we hope to get Geoffrey to some other countries too. A very talented guy with so much information it’s incredible. And if you want more information and you want to come in and talk to us about what’s going on, you can come to colour in your life dot com dot au. And go to our social networking platforms on Facebook and on YouTube, we’d like to see you there as well. But we’re going to head out and start traveling Utah again to some other people. But until we meet again guys ~ remember: make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you next time. Bye now. (Geoffrey) Tally-ho. (Graeme) Tally-ho.