A plein air painting of Crow Point from last year on a rather wet and dismal afternoon. What beautiful framing by Julian Greaves Photography in Somerset. The new owner kindly says, ‘This beautiful painting captures the very essence of Crow Beach which has many wonderful memories for me – particularly times there with my Dad and his boat.’ Al
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.
Well this year has been quite an ordeal both on a personal as well as a professional level. As a family we’ve experienced more tragedies than any family should, in my professional life I’ve also experienced great sadness over the year.
Due to this blasted Covid situation I’ve not exhibited due to lack of heart, purpose and commitment; finally after applying I managed to be selected for the Burton Gallery’s Christmas Show. Looking back over some of my recent compositions I can see real progress and growth, at least I now believe I’m going in the right direction with regard to painting and artistic confidence.
A highlight of the year has been walking the South West Coast Path from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin and on a warm, idyllic summer’s day managed to sketch Broadsands Beach; the finished painting is at the top of this post. Another highlight was walking the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall where I’ve managed to paint a few images of the wonderful storms and light experienced there, these have now been successfully sold.
I’ve a few projects already lined up for 2022 including a reunion of the Black Arts with an organised residential course. I’m looking towards a more abstract way of working and perhaps arranging a few solo exhibitions. Let’s hope 2022 is going to be a partial return to the way we used to live and love. Peace for you all in the next year! Al
An acrylic of mine from a few years ago. As Picasso once said, ‘Ever now and again one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things!’ The painting above is one such picture for me.
The Thistle Walk an acrylic 900 x 600mm inspired by a walk along the path which tops the inner Bank leading to Crow Point. On this particular occasion the path was flanked with wild looking thistles. The outer bank which used to protect a piece of land called Horsey Island has now breached and the once green space now looks like the Somme! It is too late for the wildlife there and now the salt water is beginning to change the ecosystem on the inner marsh. Some argue Horsey Island was reclaimed from the Estuary for farming and now has been reclaimed by the natural elements!
Wandering around Crow Point on Sunday I chanced upon this near the lighthouse. I loved the colours and weathering so decided to take it home. Now what to create? I’ve seen all manner of things on Pinterest as ideas so when I’ve the time perhaps a whale or suchlike.
What to do on a Sunday with a spare canvas and some hangover enthusiasm. Go out and paint one of my favourite scenes on the Braunton Marsh. Acrylic on 16 x 20″ canvas.
This is what the Explore Braunton website says. No two linhays are the same, although most are of square or rectangular shape. Some have become dilapidated but around 30 still stand today. The one which attracts the most attention is the round linhay, a grade II listed building on the edge of the inner marsh road, which has been thatched and provides endless photographic or even painting opportunities.
I visit this site many times throughout the year and each time it’s slightly different. Sometimes the water in the drain is crystal clear full of sticklebacks and at others fully of weed and cowslip plants. Local swans often glide past along with large dragon and neon blue damsel flies. In the winter it’s always quite bleak here hence the wind blown trees, all in all I prefer the spring/summer seasons.
Below are two pictures I’ve photoshopped from a quick cycle around the marsh today.
I was taken by an image on Facebook of a couple of old fisherman’s huts at Crow Point in North Devon and decided to sketch them in leu of a painting. I made my way to the White House at Crow and walked left along the thorn ridden breakwater; this is now the only way to get to these huts as part of the inner wall has collapsed. I arrived and marvelled at their rustic charm, rusty orange corrugated iron, weather bleached wooden doors and crude cobbles which remained from years ago.
Quickly I took a series of photographs and made a few reference sketches eventually the dark clouds forebode and soon it began to rain. Luckily one of the huts wasn’t locked and I weathered out the storm in it’s solitude loving that sound of rain on iron. The smells of the estuary mud and seawater filled the air as I made my way back slipping on the mud and pebbles.
After a little photoshopping, which I use for preliminary planning, I came up with this composition of the old huts. It’s often quite difficult to photograph paintings and the true colours and softness of the paint are missed, but on the whole I quite like this painting! These huts are placed at the crook of Horsey Island on the Braunton Marsh just where the River Caen (Braunton Canal) meets the River Taw. In the painting you can see The Taw in the background. Recently the inner tide Sea defences have failed and now Horsey Island has returned to the brackish muds of the Estuary.
600 x 600mm acrylic on gesso panel. Al
I attended an interesting walk and talk arranged by the Braunton Countryside Centre about the Second World War and the Burrows. I sketched a quick picture of the waterside as I’ve never seen so many Evening Primrose plants in flower. Quite an unusual light this morning quite humid, it reminded me of that Monsoon type light. I was amazed at the amount of Evening Primrose in bloom, the flowers looked even brighter against the dark sky.
This morning there was an enjoyable walk arranged by the Braunton Countryside Center it was about the Burrows and it’s World War Two usage for the D Day Landings. Many Americans were trained here for beach assault the person who lead the walk and talk was by Richard Bass a WW2 Historian from the Assault Training Centre Friends. If you can get onto one of these walks it’s well worth the effort. Al
Braunton Countryside Centre are on both Facebook and the net!
I was quite taken by this surf sticker infested sign in a lay-by overlooking Saunton Sands Beach. I’ve decided to paint this sign as a challenge and nod to all the people who have had a hand in it’s creation. From these lay-bys you get a magnificent view out over Saunton Sands, the Burrows and all the way to Westward Ho and beyond. I’ve entitled this composition ‘If you’re not local then leg it!‘ In days gone by surfers used to stake claims on local breaks with words such as ‘locals only’ etc. Acrylic on gesso panel 760 x 600mm.