GREENCLIFF AND BIDEFORD BLACK.

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.  

http://bidefordblack.blogspot.com/p/history.html

Below is the view looking back towards Abbotsham Cliffs and Westward Ho. In the far distance you can just make out Saunton Sands Hotel on the horizon.

LYNMOUTH & BEACH COMBING.

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!

LEE BAY & SANDY COVE.

An enjoyable four hours searching for sea glass amongst the rocks and crevices of Lee Bay and Sandy Cove. A little sun was to be had at time but sadly the Grampus was closed until later in the day. We had a little fun leaving Lee along the very narrow farm roads, having to reverse when oncoming cars approached. Finally the sea mist, which is quite common at this time of year, bought a chill to the air so it was time to return home.

GOOD SEAGLASS HUNTING.

Another day with my wife Donna hunting for more sea glass. A cold but wonderful day walking in the spring sunshine on secret beaches looking amongst the tideline stones for jewels. A lot of the rock formations here are somewhat reminiscent of the paintings by Roger Dean. Finally this was finished off with a cream tea and latte at Watermouth Harbour at a café called Storm In A Teacup.

SEA GLASS & BEACHES.

A few beaches visited today with my wife. Broadsands, Hele Bay & Ilfracombe and you can tell the tourist season is almost upon us. At Broadsands a gang of Sports Direct clothed lads were there with disposable BBQs, packs of beer & larger. When they were finished they walked away leaving this beautiful beach like a toilet! The trouble was they weren’t the only people to do so! The adjoining campsites should be held responsible for the clean up!

POTTER’S HILL TO PUTTSBOROUGH.

What a wonderful day with my wife Donna searching secret North Devon Beaches for sea glass. Donna is returning to jewellery making using washed up colourful nylon line and sea glass. We spent the latter half of the afternoon on Barricane Beach where the beach café has recently been dropped in by crane. Here during the day you can get tea, cream teas etc but in the evening they serve Sri Lankan veg and chicken curries to the masses. This beach used to be a local secret but sadly no more so it was lovely to have it to ourselves today! Finally I parked at Marine Drive carpark and walked up the steep Potter’s Hill to the cairn at the top. From here you can marvel at the panoramic view out over Woolacombe down to Putsborough Beach.

TROUBLED SUNSET AT CROW.

Troubled Sunset At Crow & Sundown At The Point 24 x 30″ acrylic on canvas. I had a terrible dream about waking up in the night and hearing repetitive thumps in the dark. I looked out and could see distant nuclear mushroom clouds glowing on the horizon it was Russia’s last gambit. In the dream I nudged my wife and said that I loved her and our time had come! After photo-montaging and adjusting several of my images the outcome is the preliminary image above. I tend to work with Adobe on my laptop or Procreate on an iPad and work up the images, a kind of preliminary sketching before finally stabilising the final image! Now to the canvas and paints.
I’ve decided to paint two pictures one with my usual process the other with looser more spontaneous brush strokes. In progress…

Below a triptych almost. The middle, and much larger painting already sold from last year.