A LOOK BACK AT MY 2022

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

SANDY COVE

Acrylic on 610 x 390mm canvas of Sandy Cove in North Devon. This secluded and somewhat idyllic beach is just around the coast from Lee Bay. When the tide is out you can walk to this beach via The Smugglers Walk, a meandering pathway through the rocks and cliffs which eventually brings you to this place. Quite often this beach is very quiet and a perfect place to hunt for sea glass, look through the rock pools or have a relaxing picnic. It is now becoming popular for sea swimming too!

BOTTLE STOPPERS AT HELE BAY

It seems that a return to glass hunting on Hele Beach was in order today and although the tide was fully in we thought it possible to search the sands whilst the tide ebbed. We arrived, parked in the fee carpark and walked onto the beach, the tide was dropping quickly revealing shining wet stones and glass. It’s quite odd how searching in one direction you see no glass yet you can turn around and see everything, we believe it’s all in the angle of the reflective light and the wetness of the glass. You also have to crouch down quite close to the sand as sea glass fully reveals itself to only those who search intimately.
Today we found two bottle stoppers which are quite rare and some equally illusive blue glass. We managed to fill two small bags with our endeavours all the more with which my wife can continue to make her jewellery.

COMBESGATE BEACH

A quiet day at Combesgate Beach near Woolacombe in North Devon. With most of the summer visitors gone the beaches have now finally been reclaimed by the locals. We spent the day sitting in the sunshine on Barricane Beach drinking mugs of tea from the beach hut owned by the now locally famous Sri Lankan chef who supplies curries on summer evenings. In a week this curry house will be craned off the beach and stored marking the start of the approaching winter season.
Of course sea glass was found at Barricane but not so much at Combesgate around the corner although the rock formations there were outstanding. It’s on days like these, when you have the beach to yourself, you appreciate living in such a part of world.

LEE BAY

Well on a surprisingly sunny Sunday for October Donna and I decided to return to Lee Bay for a little more sea glass hunting. It was quite busy for this time of year but on our secret beach all was well. We spent a couple of hours strolling up and down picking sparkling sea glass out of the warm sand, so once our bags were full we decided to go to The Grampus and have some beer and cheesy chips.

WORKING WITH THE BLACK ARTS

A wonderful few days spent again as the BLACK ARTS with organised residential workshops managed by Adrian Beasley. The workshops featured tutors Adrian with digital capture, editing and printing, Stephen Raff taking clients through the early wet collodian photographic process and myself painting compositions with clients using the unique Bideford Black pigment. Our clients stayed at the Seagate Hotel in Appledore, North Devon and were taken to venues each day. I had the great pleasure of being based at the scenic Northam Visitor’s Centre beside the beach at Westward Ho pictured above.

Below are pictures of some of our clients work produced over three days involving group discussions. Each evening a different venue was chosen where we chatted informally about our day’s progress over meals at Belluno in Bideford, The Beaver in Appledore and Moran’s Restaurant in Westward Ho. On the final evening we all got together to look at the final work produced which included ‘The Big Reveal’ where everyone could see each other’s compositions. As you can see from the pictures superb work had been produced and the fabulous Indian banquet cooked by Clea, Adrian’s wife, ended the three day course superbly.

HELE BAY

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.

PIGMENTS FROM ROCK TO BLACK

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.

LESSON PREPERATIONS

An afternoon of running through lesson ideas in the use of Bideford Black and paint application techniques with Adrian Beasley. Adrian used assorted brushes, rags, scalpels and spattering techniques to produce these two wonderful images of the boardwalk at Crow Point. The subject is a particular favourite of mine but in a few weeks with other students other ideas and compositions will be explored with regard to Westward Ho, pebbles and beachscapes in both black and white photography and paint.

THE BLACK ARTS RETURN

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