The liquid sunshine of Cornish gorse has filled my coastal journeys this Spring. The beautiful May coloured the coast a vivid yellow matched by my cadmium yellows dark and light and filtered into many of my new paintings.
I usually make a cocktail to match the theme of my annual solo show and this year it has to be the vanilla coconut fragrance and taste of the gorse flower.
The Cornish call gorse ‘Furzey’ probably due to its apparent fuzzy nature but picking the buds wasn’t so easy. A slow arduous process as the darn bushes have some nasty spikes.
There is also a lot of folklore associated with it. The proverb ‘ Kissing is out of fashion when gorse is out of blossom’; it was often used as wedding decoration and if a sprig was tied to the door on May day, you could get a glass of milk and slice of bread as a gesture.
I love painting gorse…..mixing cadmium yellows with paynes grey gives a beautiful warm greeny grey that is in the dark tangled undergrowth and with my loose spatter style, a myriad of yellow profuse and mix to make a dense yellow carpet to depict the gorse in full flower.
The Tate in St Ives has been closed for 18 months while they dug into the rock face to create an enormous new gallery space. (link here to the Guardian for more info) I had an invitation to the opening but thought I couldn’t go as we would be on holiday in Portugal…. BUT lovely Ryanair and the French air traffic control conspired against us and our holiday was delayed by a week.
In a cloud of disappointment and feeling very unsettled, we decided to take off to St Ives as we could now attend the grand opening. As it was it turned out to be fortuitous occurrence as the weather was like summer and the event was incredible.
The new space is bigger than anyone expected with polished concrete floors and voluminous space inside. There is now a permanent exhibition of St Ives artists and history.
A free evening of canapes and tours was very exciting. We even got to sit next to Jon Snow from Channel 4 news in the beach cafe overlooking Porthmeor beach the next day. A very exciting time for Cornwall. I only took a few snaps and have just loaded the one above. I love it because the ceramic tiles on the back look like verdigris copper but are in fact all hand painted and they were incredibly beautiful. You will have to go and see for yourself.
We eventually got to Portugal and had a fabulous holiday. A win win all round.
Painting a a commission of Duckpool , North Cornwall, of the sea and a beach I’m not so familiar with, faced me with a few challenges.
The commission came from a lovely family to remember their first and favourite beach in North Cornwall that held so many memories and years of holidays in the area.
Duckpool is a fairly undiscovered spot in a beautiful valley that runs down to the sea from Kilkhampton in North Cornwall. The roads are steep, narrow and windy and not for the faint hearted, but this affords the most stunning rugged landscape laid out that has not changed for centuries.
The beach is framed by towering cliffs and it’s not difficult to imagine the years of smuggling and hard life in this valley.
I spent some time here just absorbing the feeling of the place and it is often the memory of a glimpse of light that stays with me. This was the case this October with beautiful low sunlight coming through the waves. My clients knew the sea well and loved the light at this time of year, so it seemed timely to include it.
We measured the space to get the best proportion for the painting. Scale is so important and I love a large painting to give impact. With a blank canvas of 140 x 90cm facing me, it’s a brave first step to put some acrylic inks fluidly onto the canvas.
The following pictures show the journey…..
First layers of acrylic inks , sky and distant coastline all forming
Add more form to the rocks
Add details and light to the waves
sparkle and movement with paint spatters
dragging whites and greys to layer water and light
October Light, Duckpool
The finished painting was framed in a tray frame. The wave has light and colour and the whole painting an immense feeling of energy and movement in the sea. The foreground balances the left background with the dark rocks. The stones in the foreground are loosely painted with a variety of colours giving the whole painting a harmonious feeling.
My best to date? maybe it feels like that because of the way I felt challenged. It was certainly worth the effort.
Prints of the painting are available. Please enquire here.
I spend a lot of time on the beach and in the sea. It has always been my sanctuary, but I hadn’t realised how important it was for me until this year.
Life throws you a sideswipe from time to time. We have been very blessed, but this year so far has been sadness on top of sadness for our personal family and close friends. We lost our dear Mum and Nan in February and then the loss of two young men through cancer and heart failure has touched us beyond measure.
We are very lucky to live by the sea and never take it for granted, but it is only through their passages of grief, I have realised I am certainly not alone in finding sanctuary there. Whether it is time remember watching sunsets, playing as a child or just for the experience of being by the sea, it is a special place for many.
I think we all find solace in the space, the ocean, the clean air, and it is a coming together of all the elements including ourselves to be one?
For me, being in the sea and with my favourite element of water, time stands still. I just ‘be’ and enjoy the experience of invigorating ionised air and the energy of the water as it is pulled by other forces, the weather and the moon.
There have been some epic sunsets of late too which just fill your heart and soul with wonder.
After a very busy few weeks and the opening of my exhibition at the Castle, we both needed a break and to spend some time together.
But yet again August brought rain, and cool winds so we escaped to the shelter of Calstock. It is a small traditional village tucked in a valley on the Tamar estuary. Turner painted this area and there are lots of walks along the river and it’s valleys tracing in his footsteps. Calstock is famous for the viaduct that spans the river and takes the trains into Cornwall. It is vast and at all times of the day, reflected in the waters of the Tamar.
We stayed in converted donkey barn in the middle of Calstock with an artist and her husband. ( the beauty of finding quirky stays through AirBnB).
From Calstock, its a gentle walk along the river to the National Trust’s Cotehele house and quay. Passing lovely little boathouses and the boat yard it was so peaceful. A lovely cafe hut within the boatyard provided a lovely pit stop with an honesty policy on cakes and tea and coffee you could make for yourself.
It was a welcome break in the beautiful quiet backwater Cornwall in the height of the summer tourist season and a perfect place to reflect on the past few weeks and make plans for the next.
If you do ever go though, take some supplies with you if self catering. There is no longer a shop in Calstock although they were trying to start a mobile shop in a bus. I hope it happens. One place not to miss is the gorgeous little cafe called ‘Lishe’ and walking in the Tree surfing woods at Gulworthy above the Tamar river.