An hour of getting rid of the blank white canvas and laying out the basic tones and colours for this painting. It’s been quite a while, for various reasons, since I daubed paint on canvas so this initial start should commit me to action. We loved our stay here a few weeks ago and the coastline along this particular part of the Cornish coast is stunning. I sat sketching the sea from ontop a cliff here and watched a sailing ship weight anchor and it’s small boat venture into Mullion Harbour over the crystal clear turquoise water.
Another Biddie Black this time of Greencliff near Abbotsham in North Devon, painted on thick cartridge paper 700 x 260mm. and above is a video of removing the tape along with some of my guitar music to keep it company. It is at Greencliff where I obtain my black pigment after walking down the winding coast path, past the old lime kiln and scrambling over the pebble ridge. On this particular day it was quite warm so I spent a lot of time here sketching and taking photos. I was asked by someone on the beach, was I digging for Bideford Black as they had read about it? I confirmed their suspicion and showed them where it was collected along with my black hands as evidence. I love this part of the coastline as it’s very secluded and quite a suntrap, ideal for evening BBQs. Someone before me had dug out some pigment and left the cliff in quite a state with a gaping hole this I made good with more mud and pebbles. You know what they say, ‘Love the beach leave no trace!’ and that includes litter.
A spur of the moment decision to drive up the coast to Lee Bay and hunt for more sea glass with my wife. She’s making jewellery at the moment so we’re making the most of the great weather. Not too much of a haul today as the tide was in but still there was glass to be found. This was followed by a visit to the Grampus Inn for wine, beer and sandwiches. This pub makes it’s own gin and beer and I must say the ale was superb! Al
Sadly my mother Ruth recently died so after a lot of organising of funeral arrangements we decided to keep a previously booked short break to Mullion in Cornwall and take a breath. Luckily for us the weather was wonderful and there were very few tourists around; this was apparently because of our weekend fell between Whitsun and Half Term Holidays, a sort of vacational sweet spot. Mullion is a beautiful little harbour with stunning views up and down the Cornish coastline a perfect place with which to explore from. During our weekend we visited Kynance Cove with it’s spectacular rock formations, Cadgwith Cove with it’s idyllic thatched roofs and cottages, Gunwalloe Beach with it’s beautiful church in the dunes and the town of Porthleven with it’s interesting harbour and market stalls.
We stayed at the brilliant Mullion Cove Coastal Retreat in a lodge with a jacuzzi! What a great time we had late in the evenings drinking wine and relaxing in the warm bubbly water. I’m sure some of these images will eventually inspire me into creating more paintings. For my wife and I the highlights of the weekend were Cadgwith Cove, where we had a marvellous meal at the Mullion Cove Inn, and of coursethe stunning Kynance Cove. Al
My wife Donna had a jewellery making course in Colyton in Dorset so I decided to tag along and then travel on to visit Lyme Regis and hunt for some ammonite fossils. The weather was rather cloudy but soon the sun came out and I edged my way along the pebbly beach, dodging the outgoing tide’s waves. It was wonderful looking at the ammonite fossils in the large rocks and there is an area where they carpet the whole area. With my geological hammer I managed to find some fossils along with a special ammonite preserved in quartz crystals. To add to the day a Chinook Helicopter flew up and down the coast a few times, I’m sure the pilots had a great view over the Dorset Coast.
A lovely visit to Cadgwith Cove during our recent visit to The Lizard in Cornwall, leaving sea mist at Kynance Cove behind. The sun was out and I explored whilst my wife searched the shingle beach for sea glass and found some marvellous green and blue treasures. We had lunch of cheesy chips at the friendly Cadgwith Cove Inn and ventured back to the beach for a swim. I must say it was it was so quiet here!
A trip out to Abbotsham to visit Greencliff and restock up on some Bideford Black pigment. What a marvellous day it turned out to be as the weather was forecast to be rather grey. It was an easy walk down to the Lime Kiln and then down onto the pebbly beach. There were a few picnicking couples enjoying the solitude and breath taking views along the North Devon Coast. I found the black seam and removed some of the dark claylike material, someone had been there before and left a hole in the cliff, this I made good with some rocks and clay to prevent any more erosion or collapse. After washing my hands I walked up and down the beach sketching and taking some pictures for further paintings, I then sat and admired the view in the Spring sunshine!
In search of the elusive Bideford Black Pigment otherwise known as Biddiblack. Running alongside seams of anthracite across North Devon is a black clay-like material that was mined for 200 years in Bideford for its uses as a strong black pigment. The unique ‘Mineral Black’, or ‘Biddiblack’ as it was known, was commercially produced for applications in the boat building industry, for colouring rubber products, for camouflage on tanks in WWII and was even bought by Max Factor for the production of mascara. The mines were closed in 1968 when the production of cheaper oil-based blacks and the depletion of the seam made the operation financially unviable, but many locals still remember the ‘Paint Mines’ and have tales to tell of using the paint or going into the now defunct mine shafts. Today it’s revered by artists who love it’s inky black non reflective properties. It first has to be dried, ground and then mixed with a medium such as PVA or Gum Arabic. Looking forward to making my own now and seeing what images I can produce.
Most of the information above was from a very informative website called The story of Bideford Black.
Westward Ho! 24 x 30″ acrylic on canvas. A painting of this North Devon beach, sunset at low tide. Often during strong tides old timbers from ship wrecks and pebbles become exposed, now and again land mines laid down during WW2 appear too. This painting isn’t quite what I imagined it would look like when finished, I lost heart with it during the second sitting but decided to see it through for a learning experience. So this is it you win some you lose some! Al
A great day in Lynmouth and not too busy, the tourists must be at the beach! We spent a few enjoyable hours again looking for sea glass and found some great finds, even a few rare blue pieces. We then met up with friends who live in nearby Lynton and imbibed in some coffees overlooking the beach; a couple of surfers were enjoying a clean left hander. Then followed some beer and wine at the Rising Sun Pub on Mars Hill. As with yesterday the sea mist swept in cooled the air and stole the light, a planned visit to the Watersmeet Tearooms for a cream tea with whortleberry jam was abandoned, it’s a hard life!