HELE BAY painted on a canvas panel 500 x 250mm, using some pigments sourced at Fremington Quay. I am presently working on smaller scale pictures to keep my enthusiasm whilst planning larger compositions which move away from my usual landscape work. Hele is a favourite place of ours to search for seaglass and is a short pleasurable walk along the coast from Ilfracombe Harbour. There is free parking here and is a great place to sit in the sun or explore the rock pools.


I’ve spent an interesting afternoon looking through the rock strata at Fremington Quay. I’ve collected Bideford Black from Greencliff at Abbotsham and used the blackish colour called Poor Man’s Coal from here at Fremington too. A renowned pigment artist called Peter Ward mentions that there are other distinct colours to collect here too, namely, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, White Clay and Grey. On inspection these pigments are quite evident here so after collecting some samples I will prepare them for future painting projects. Below is a link to an interesting article by Peter Ward.


We spent a warm sunny day celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary and as Lou Reed sang it was Just a perfect day. First we visited Tapely Park where an old vintage sale was underway, we had cream tea under the sun and looked around the many stalls there. Later in the day we had dinner at the Boathouse in Instow and watched the sunsetting over Appledore. Once the sun had disappeared into the sea we walked the beach in the warmth and enjoyed the last Bank Holiday of the year! Al


I’m pleased to be part of another Black Art’s project organised by photographer Adrian Beasley. This residential course will run from the 12th to the 16th September and will be based in North Devon. The project will feature the following artists.

Adrian Beasley who will be based at Hartland Quay featuring landscape photography and computer enhancement of images.
Stephen Raff, will be taking students through the wet plate photographic process and creating glass plate images.
Al Brown will show how to make and use the local Bideford Black pigment and use it to create landscape paintings of the North Devon coast.

These few days should prove to be an exciting challenge to create memorable black and white images of North Devon. There are still a few places left! Al


A smaller composition 10 x 20″ just to keep my motivation going whilst I plan my latest large scale project! Image painted from a recent visit to Lee Bay with my wife for a glass hunting forage. My wife Donna makes sea glass jewellery under the name Flotsam & Then Some! We had the usual beer and lunch at The Grampus pub then ventured onto Sandy Cove, for a rare afternoon we had the beach to ourselves and we felt like we were on a deserted island.


Another visit to Lee Bay in North Devon in search of seaglass, known locally as Mermaid’s Tears. First a very enjoyable lunch at The Grampus pub consisting of ploughman’s lunches washed down with their own brewed ale then on to Sandy Cove. Once there we discovered that we had the beach to ourselves and we made the most of the situation by searching amongst the rocks and crevices. The climb back up the steep cliff steps was rewarded with a fabulous panorama of the North Devon Coast and on the walk back sloe berries were already on the trees lining the pathway waiting for the gin makers harvest.


I spent a rather enjoyable few days at this year’s Cropredy Festival in Oxford. It was the first time this has been held for a few years and an air of excitement hung over the area. This festival is run traditionally by the fantastic Fairport Convention and always shows an eclectic mix of the best music around. I loved visiting the village in the morning, having coffee by the working canal and listening to the fringe music at the Brasenose and Red Lion Pubs.
Highlights for the weekend for me were, Trevor Horne with Lol Creme of 10cc, Robert Fripp & Toya, Steve Hackett of Genesis, Turing Brakes and of course the emotional end of the festival featuring Fairport Convention with Richard Thompson and Dave Mattacks playing the entire 1970 Full House album. Maddie Morris was a favourite of mine too. Harvest Moon pictured at the top features Steve Hacket playing Afterglow!

Above the Fairport Farewell with all musicians.


Well I had a good time at the festival meeting up with old friends who I haven’t seen in about three years due to the Covid Pandemic. I work every Glastonbury as a member of the Recycling Team and receive free vegetarian food, a rather nice camping field and our own massive marquee serving local beers, ciders and evening entertainment, we also get the festival ticket for free too! All in all we spend just over a week here and when we first arrive there is no public on site so it’s great to see open fields and no crowds.
It became alive when the festival opened and I managed to make the most of the late nights and also discovered new places I haven’t seen before. Strummerville, named after Jo Strummer of The Clash who used to make camp here, with it’s sofas, camp fire and reggae music. The Bimble Inn in the early hours was fantastic with it’s weird eclectic bands, real ale and Lord of the Rings vibe. Arcadia with it’s laser display and Spider were impressive along with Shangri-La and it’s twilight alternativeness!

On returning home from the festival a few of us quickly came down with the dreaded Covid and am now suffering from the usual fever, headaches, lack of taste and smell. This lack of taste and smell has now changed, so everything now tasting like rancid coconut and burnt electrical cable.
I haven’t placed brush to canvas for a long time due to family matters and now Covid but I hope to regain the fire soon! Al


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.