Northumberland artist Edwin Blackburn is the son of a riveter who worked in the local shipyards. His father was a keen amateur painter and photographer who encouraged Edwin’s early drawing talent as a child. His native Northumberland gave him great inspiration and immediate access to endless subject matter.
Early in his working life he became an apprentice draughtsman. His technical drawing skills were to be later fully utilised as an artist. His early work was very draughtsman like, pen and ink drawings depicting local Northumbrian scenes. They were varied in content, the coast, castles, shipyards and coal mines, these all being part of Edwin’s local environment during his early life.
Edwin then progressed to work in the mediums of watercolour and pastel. He is a self taught artist with no formal qualifications in fine art.
The early 1980’s saw the first publication of his work in colour, a series of lithographic prints depicting the more picturesque side of Northumberland, Durham and The Lake District, aimed at the tourist market these sold in great numbers, as a consequence Edwin needed help to manage the sale and distribution of his work.
A trading company with business partners was formed. This led to further publications and the range being extended from pictures to include postcards and greeting cards. This was a major success regarding the volume of work sold but was a very commercial enterprise. Being heavily involved in the business distracted him from what he wanted to achieve as an artist, after several years the business was wound up.
In 1986 “The Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race” arrived locally on the River Tyne, Newcastle. This proved to be a major turning point in his artistic career. The majestic and emotional sight of the tall sailing ships inspired and captivated his mind. Some of the paintings that followed were reproduced as limited edition prints.
Now established as a marine artist, his work is in private collections throughout the UK and numerous countries worldwide. The late 1990’s extended his local and British interest to include American maritime history, East coast whaling ships, West coast lumber schooners. This resulted in Edwin’s work being sold via Christie’s Maritime Auction in New York.
Edwin’s work displays attention to detail and an understanding of the maritime genre. He still retains some interest in landscapes but is happiest painting the sea and coastline, rivers, and the vessels that inhabit them. He enjoys the research and challenge that is required to portray ships, capturing water and its movement, reflected light and the ever changing mood of the weather, the crucial elements of marine painting.