Surrender to the Ocean is the title of my centre piece Cornish seascape for my exhibition ‘The Sea and Me’ held in August 2017 at the Castle, Bude.
With no particular aim or scene in mind, I had one large painting to make for my exhibition and I had a blank 140 x 90 cm stretched canvas to fill.
I always have an iconic wave painting for my exhibition each year and I wanted this to be much more fluid rather than drawn, a certain wateriness whilst having vibrancy and lots of movement and energy.
The first washy layers gave me some form and the wave revealed itself.
The finished painting for the exhibition. It had mixed reactions, but everyone felt like they were standing in front of something quite formidable. I just wanted to dive under it… to surrender to the ocean, but for some it, they felt overwhelmed and feared drowning.
Surrender to the Ocean 140 x 90cm
I had very little time to complete it and after the exhibition, I actually completely painting out the foreground and reworked it, strengthening the whole painting. The foreground spatters didn’t make sense to me and were too random lacking depth and tonality. The finished reworked painting now hangs in Rick Steins restaurant at Porthleven.
large seascape painting of cornwall
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.
The title and theme for my 5th solo exhibition at The Castle, Bude was ‘The Sea and Me’
After losing Mum in February, this became a much more spiritual journey of paintings. In fact only one was painted from an actual scene that I had photographed and taken notes on.
The other 20 or so paintings all evolved from a series of markmaking and putting colour in big washes onto a large canvas’s, letting it merge, find it’s resting place and then adding, removing and creating coastal images using the visual library in my memory of my favourite places.
I found this lovely quote that made me feel relaxed about any future art I make and that life does change, throw challenges at you and that you can change direction and it’s OK to do just that.
All art comes from life … Teching Hsieh
The exhibition was greatly received and over half of the work sold. So maybe working under pressure is good for me. Less time to think about it, analyse and listen to my soul and let it speak my art.
We had been out for the evening, were heading home after a couple of lovely gin and tonics at the Deck watching the sunset. On our return home we called back to see friends at the beachhut. After a gin or two I headed home to try to prepare dinner out of what was in the fridge.
No one else had eaten either and in my head, I knew I could make the aubergine with some extras and a bit of rice extend to feed us all and it did. Everyone came in and said ‘Oh..we have invited a guy we met at the beach but he probably won’t turn up’. But turn up he did, armed with some beers and joined Kim, Jo, her sister Maeve, Don and I for a late impromptu supper.
We discovered he was a famous photographer Simon Anand, who has photographed just about every celebrity before they go on stage at theatres. His photographs have even formed part of an exhibition at the V & A.
He was quiet and unassuming but interested in my art and we had a long conversation about the differences between our practice but also the similarities. He wrote some lovely messages on postcards of his work for each of us. Mine said ‘For Sue, who loves the sea’ , a black and white photograph of Kate Blanchet.
While we were chatting, he had taken a liking to my driftwood tree and in a moment I decided to give it away thinking he would get a lot of enjoyment out of it in his own home and have a piece of Cornwall. ‘I’m so over driftwood’, I said.
So my driftwood tree is now adorning the home of a Londoner and I hope he gets a lot of pleasure out of it.