A selection of some of the paintings I’ve completed in 2022, the year started out with a Bideford Black and ended with a large composition called Secluded Stream. I’ve had the great pleasure of twice visiting the Lizard in Cornwall this year and searched for sea glass with my wife along the North Devon Coast. During the year I was invited by a friend of mine, Adrian Beasley, to join again with the Black Arts for a residential course and worked with clients using the Bideford Black pigment at the Northam Visitors Centre. Having not exhibited for quite a while I ended year at the Burton Gallery, I’m now taking a slight break to plan my 2023 campaign. Al
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.
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
Just a couple of minute sketches in Bideford Black to show briefly how you can use this medium for monochrome plein air sketching. I’m trying this out to see if perhaps I could post some lessons with regard to my work. The second video has a little of my guitar for good measure. Not bad attempts so we’ll see how this goes! 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.
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