VALLEY OF THE ROCKS.

We spent an enjoyable day walking from Lynton to the Valley of the Rocks along the South West Coast Path, some of the sheer drops were quite alarming. It was great to be out in the winter sunshine, the views up and down the North Devon Coast were breath taking. We watched the Wild Goats, that live the cliffs here, being herded across the road with lots of goat head butting along the way. After sitting in the warmth of the sun we walked back into Lynton and had tea and shared a cheese sandwich, I can thoroughly recommend the Cracker Barrel Café.

From a few years ago still for sale.

LEAVING HEDDON’S MOUTH.

An acrylic painting inspired by a walk down to Heddon’s Mouth from Hunters Inn. We walked North up along the South West Coast Path from the Heddon Valley and had a picnic there amongst the rocks enjoying the views up and down the North Devon Coast. This view is looking toward Crock Point, Lee Abbey, Valley of the Rocks and in the distance Countisbury. 750 x 500mm acrylic on canvas.

FAIRLINCH CROSS.

A mixed media composition using Acrylic Paints and Bideford Black. Inspired by a drive back from Putsborough Beach on a winter Sunday when we came across Fairlinch Cross. The cold winter light shone off the wet road with the windswept trees bowing over the hedges, I was struck by the stark contrasts of dark, colour and the shadows of the hedge crossing the road.

It’s always very therapeutic slowly removing the masking tape on a completed painting! I just love that clean white edge; or is it just me?

THE PATH BESIDE THE MARSH.

At the end of the beach boardwalk heading towards the Crow Point Carpark there is a a little pond of brackish water on the left. It is here where the brightly coloured damsel and dragon flies hover during the warm spring and summer. With this painting I’m trying to capture that Tulgey Wood sense of dark foreboding. I’ve also made a dark brushstroke across the sky to hint at a starling murmuration. This composition is in Bideford Black on thick cartridge paper, with some scraping and pigment removal.

When using this medium I often apply the paint using twigs, rags and stiff brushes with which to spatter fine specks. I also use scalpel blades, course and fine sandpapers and cotton buds to soften and remove pigment, in fact anything to create depth and texture to the composition. It helps to have a strong resilient paper with which to do so.

PUTSBOROUGH BEACH & COFFEE.

An enjoyable walk from Putsborough Beach to Woolacombe and back for some Sunday exercise. There has been a break in the latest cold weather spell so out comes the winter sun to draw out the dog walkers and cold water swimmers. I forget how good it is to walk this beach and in the distance you can see the inviting white houses of Woolacombe illuminated by the sun. On the return we had cups of hot tea at the Putsborough Beach Cafe busy with the chatter of wet bathers wearing those ubiquitous Dryrobes, here we looked out at the surfers making the most of a small beach break.

WOODCUT WORKSHOP IN HARTLAND.

I spent a long, and thoroughly enjoyable day in Hartland Village with Adrian & Clea Beasley on a woodcut print workshop arranged by the wonderful Merlyn Chesterman RE. We spent time cutting woodcut print blocks, then inking and printed them. It was amazing how accessible this media is. With sharp gouges and blades we created woodblock prints from loosely drawn images. The magic happened when finally we inked the woodcuts, laid the paper down, and with a ball bearing baren impressed the paper onto the inked block. There is something quite magical about lifting the paper and seeing your image printed crisply onto paper for the first time!

Above is a quick image of mine of a wind blown tree. To the right is a monochrome image with the initial cut at the bottom and a more refined image at the top. Due to the lack of close observation of the tree I thought to myself it was slightly disappointing, but I was learning fast, after all it was my first image. To the left, Merlyn suggested that I create another block to make the image two tone composition, so with a graduated grey/blue background the image was greatly improved and the final print can be seen at the top of this post. The two matching blocks can be seen in the left hand picture.

Above are a mixture of today’s offerings and for our first attempts I’m rather impressed. I thought that my friend Adrian Beasley’s image, next to my tree was very strong with it’s powerful movement.

Photos above by Clea.

CROYDE BAY PUMPING.

Continuing on with the sunny weather we decided to have a meal at The Thatch in Croyde Village followed by a walk down to the beach. The waves were working so we watched surfers enjoying a clean winter wave from a grassy outcrop. I never take living in this part of the world for granted, in North Devon you’re never far from either a world class beach, dramatic coastline or the picturesque views of Exmoor. That reminds me, I must get my long board out this year after a long lay off due to injuries! Al

WINTER ON THE MARSH.

After the rains of the New Year the weather finally broke so I decided to make the most of the day and cycle along the Tarka Trail into Braunton, across the Marsh, down the Old American Road to Crow Point and then return home along the Tarka Trail. The air was warm and there was a kind of stone cold neon cheap light across the Estuary which made the whole trip so worthwhile. Above is one of my favourite Linhays on the Marsh which I’ve painted on several occurrences. Al

Above left, a view out across the Taw Estuary to Fremington. Above right, the beach at Crow Point looking towards Appledore & Instow.