Northcott Mouth Evening Light

Around 8pm I decided to take off to Northcott Mouth, a favourite beach just a mile away.  I needed to see the sea, maybe do some sketching, but mostly just be.  It was a pretty ordinary sort of day and by evening the wind had picked up and it had cooled off; a sign of the weather changing.

It’s these sort of days though that can catch you by surprise; when you think there will be nothing to see and then nature pulls out all the stops seemingly just for me as I stood there gazing. A moment in time when an ordinary evening turned into a sight of wonder. It felt like a lucky strike.

Panorama of beach, North Cornwall , evening seas

Panorama shot of Northcott Mouth beach

I only had my phone camera but took over 20 snaps as the clouds piled in and the sun dipped.  As time went on the light got softer, lower and the sea took on the colours of the sky.

These moments often spark off ideas…. I could create a whole series of paintings from this one evening’s photographs.  An entire exhibition of changing light, colour with dramatic skies all from one location.

Too late for my forthcoming exhibition in August ‘The Sea and Me’ but maybe for the next.  Indeed, the panoramic shot above reminded me very much of a canvas I painted two years ago which featured the stone bivvy above, “Lifeguard’s Retreat

Ingenious Pursuits

A new collective Ingenious Pursuits reflecting the hidden talents of makers in North Cornwall was a weekend event over the May bank Holiday.

The whole idea for the event was inspired and curated by friends Rich and Jane.  They own Jacques Cabin, a local company who make beautifully crafted furniture made from recycled woods in a myriad of colours.

Norton Barton farm, a developing business with food and creatives in mind was a perfect venue for this weekend event showcasing the cream of North Cornwall in terms of design. They added a great bar and food from the up and coming producers at Norton Barton.

I was very privileged to be a part of this event.  It was cleverly laid out in a big barn over two levels mixing everyone’s work together creating sets reflecting a home.

Two new paintings ‘Sunset over Lundy‘ and ‘Supernova‘ provided the core of my display along with some smaller originals and a selection of framed prints.

The standard of workmanship on the furniture and diversity was stunning and everything was enhanced by artwork from myself, Stephen Brownhill Photography, Merlyn Chesterman and  Katie Godden Green with beautiful contemporary lighting from Stuart Lamble Designs whilst Welcombe Pottery , Stone and Ocean and William Peers sculpture added a three dimensional element.

The furniture providing the backbones to the exhibition was stunning and visually beautiful in it’s contrast and style.  Exhibitors were the eclectic Jacques Cabin, Max Marshall , Pacha Design and Paul Anderson.

St Ives School of Painting Skills Update

I have just returned from ‘St Ives School of Painting’, having done a four day art course ‘Advanced Abstraction’.

Winter is a great time to be in St Ives, when it is so much quieter.  The quality of light is clear and blue and walks along the shoreline skipping the surges are in solitude.

Sue Read cornish artist

Advanced abstraction with oils was a four day course with charcoal sketching, outside drawing, monoprints, mark making and exploration with oil paints before making more detailed surface work in colour  with individual tutorials.

Kerry Harding  was very intuitive to our needs and after feeling slightly lost and unfocused over the past few months, I was able to consolidate ideas and made a clear plan to move my art practice forward.

The first time staying away on my own too, and loved it, meeting different people for a glass of wine in the evening and different conversations.  If you are thinking of it; do it. There are courses for all levels.







I believe in Me

People feel a need to create, whether it’s art, gardening, cooking, DIY.  “How do you get the confidence to sell myself” is a question I’m often asked.  Well, it’s simple… I believe in ME.

That is Being ME, Doing ME and sharing ME.  Present and future.

Painting for me personally is a metaphor for living. It’s listening to intuition, your heart, trusting in your ideas and being brave.   This is all built on a strong foundation of remembering what excites me, going back to simple things and what and who make my life amazing.  This is what gives me confidence and a passion to keep creating an ‘Expression of myself ‘.

I had no idea how to make this painting. I just let it come with a feeling of trust, bravery, excitement and some frustration too. It wasn’t easy, but I always have faith that it will come ok in the end. It’s all part of the journey in art and life.

cornish abstract seascape

It’s very easy to be comfortable with what we know. We have an inherent trait to protect, defend  and  fear the future and what we don’t know. But it’s far more exciting to let things unfold, discover the new, break boundaries, meet new shiny souls and once in a while take a risk.  No regrets and all that.

A Journey to meet Joan Eardley

I like the idea that fate plays a part in our lives and Joan Eardley was calling me. We have a beach hut for the winter at Crooklets and I have an idea to paint the sea in all weathers using the beach hut as my base and also sanctuary for tea and soup.

My heroine has long been Joan Eardley, a painter of  semi abstract expressive seascapes on a massive scale. She painted outside in all weathers and ever since I saw a painting at the ‘Power of the Sea’ exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, I have been waiting for a new show of her work. So you can imagine as a fatalist this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

Joan painting Catterline

Joan painting Catterline

This  new exhibition was full of previously unseen works from private collections. This included one not seen in England since it was painted which came from the British Embassy in Tokyo, as well as intimate family letters with photographs and press releases.  It all came together to give a real insight into the life she led.

Joan Eardley

Joan Eardley

Rather than write  a biography of this amazing lady I wanted to write about my experience. There are a few links at the bottom of the page which outline her work during her short life. She died at the age of 42 from breast cancer, but can’t help wonder what she might have gone on to produce and leave as her legacy.  As it is, there are several hundred paintings from her home at Catterline of the village and sea, but also from her days in Glasgow where she painted the children in the streets and slums inviting them into her studio to sit for her. They are all stunning, very different in subject and composition, but alive with the same colour.

Explaining the two contrasting subjects and her time spent in Catterline on the coast, she said ‘These kind of goings away are entirely necessary for me. If you paint, you need a rest but not the kind of rest an ordinary person thinks of, a holiday ‘.  She divided her time between Glasgow and Catterline and could approach each subject with a fresh eye.  Her passion to paint was so strong, it was part of her everyday life.

We flew to Edinburgh during a cold snap in early December. From the guesthouse we walked just 1/2 a mile to the Galleries of Modern Art just outside the city centre. It was a fabulous crisp sunny morning but the frost was so strong and deep it felt like snow (not something we are used to in Cornwall).

Along leafy streets, down a wooded slope we joined the Water of Leith. Crossing a bridge in this deep valley we ascended the other side to come out into the grounds of the galleries. It was an amazing start to the day. After visiting gallery One with a great selection of modern art from Bridget Riley to Warhol, with a mix of the French Impressionists and Scottish Colourists, we made out way across to the Dean Gallery for the main exhibition of Joan Eardley’s work titled ‘A Sense of Place’ in another beautiful building.

Laid out over two floors in five galleries every turn gave you another view to a magnificent artwork.  Thinking of it as a pilgrimage, the reality of being there, the excitement and a long felt connection; to see it all in reality with her use of colour and having a real feel of her being in the room, I welled up with tears more than once.

From her drawings & sketches to her large works, there was a lovely journey of discovery of who Joan was and what her art meant to her. She used an enormous amount of paint and wasn’t afraid to be vigorous with it. Very few gentle strokes, but scrapes with thicker dry brush and softer rubbed areas just made your nerve endings tingle. The colours were confident and there was a strong blue she obviously loved that was jewel like and made other colours just sing.

I felt a connection with this lady; she was confident, in her life and her art.  She loved to paint on the beach in all weathers loading her motorbike  with canvas and paints.  The sea paintings on a massive scale are quite abstract and painted very quickly at each session.  Many completed over several months with the oil  thick in places and collage and sand mixed in. There was little white. A turquoise underpainting almost disappeared with greys, greens, siennas  and blues all which way. They were totally mesmerising. People just stood and gazed.   Why do we stand and gaze at artwork?  It touches a part of our soul that nothing else reaches….that’s the only simple explanation I can come up with.

Eardley seascape

I could go on and on and on. Her paintings so full of vigour, amazing colour, texture and vitality there is lots to say. Choosing to wear men’s trousers ( her mother disapproved), repairing her cottage ceiling with old canvases, she loved her surroundings, she lived for her art; she died too young.

The title of this post was nearly ‘I promised my son I wouldn’t get a motorbike’ . I have been so obsessed with Joan Eardley I think my family fear I might turn into her. My son’s comment to my facebook post about my pilgrimage to Edinburgh  was ”Mum…. just don’t get a motorbike! ‘.

I thought this article on the exhibition was the pick of the bunch. BBC Joan Eardley  and more of her art here and for more about our trip to Edinburgh there will be a follow up post.