LIZARD BREAK.

Kynance Cove.

Sadly my mother Ruth recently died so after a lot of organising of funeral arrangements we decided to keep a previously booked short break to Mullion in Cornwall and take a breath. Luckily for us the weather was wonderful and there were very few tourists around; this was apparently because of our weekend fell between Whitsun and Half Term Holidays, a sort of vacational sweet spot.
Mullion is a beautiful little harbour with stunning views up and down the Cornish coastline a perfect place with which to explore from. During our weekend we visited Kynance Cove with it’s spectacular rock formations, Cadgwith Cove with it’s idyllic thatched roofs and cottages, Gunwalloe Beach with it’s beautiful church in the dunes and the town of Porthleven with it’s interesting harbour and market stalls.

We stayed at the brilliant Mullion Cove Coastal Retreat in a lodge with a jacuzzi! What a great time we had late in the evenings drinking wine and relaxing in the warm bubbly water. I’m sure some of these images will eventually inspire me into creating more paintings. For my wife and I the highlights of the weekend were Cadgwith Cove, where we had a marvellous meal at the Mullion Cove Inn, and of course the stunning Kynance Cove. Al

Cadgwith Cove.

CADGWITH COVE.

A lovely visit to Cadgwith Cove during our recent visit to The Lizard in Cornwall, leaving sea mist at Kynance Cove behind. The sun was out and I explored whilst my wife searched the shingle beach for sea glass and found some marvellous green and blue treasures. We had lunch of cheesy chips at the friendly Cadgwith Cove Inn and ventured back to the beach for a swim. I must say it was it was so quiet here!

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.

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.

VALLEY OF THE ROCKS.

We spent an enjoyable day walking from Lynton to the Valley of the Rocks along the South West Coast Path, some of the sheer drops were quite alarming. It was great to be out in the winter sunshine, the views up and down the North Devon Coast were breath taking. We watched the Wild Goats, that live the cliffs here, being herded across the road with lots of goat head butting along the way. After sitting in the warmth of the sun we walked back into Lynton and had tea and shared a cheese sandwich, I can thoroughly recommend the Cracker Barrel Café.

From a few years ago still for sale.

LEAVING HEDDON’S MOUTH.

An acrylic painting inspired by a walk down to Heddon’s Mouth from Hunters Inn. We walked North up along the South West Coast Path from the Heddon Valley and had a picnic there amongst the rocks enjoying the views up and down the North Devon Coast. This view is looking toward Crock Point, Lee Abbey, Valley of the Rocks and in the distance Countisbury. 750 x 500mm acrylic on canvas.

THE PATH BESIDE THE MARSH.

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.

PUTSBOROUGH BEACH & COFFEE.

An enjoyable walk from Putsborough Beach to Woolacombe and back for some Sunday exercise. There has been a break in the latest cold weather spell so out comes the winter sun to draw out the dog walkers and cold water swimmers. I forget how good it is to walk this beach and in the distance you can see the inviting white houses of Woolacombe illuminated by the sun. On the return we had cups of hot tea at the Putsborough Beach Cafe busy with the chatter of wet bathers wearing those ubiquitous Dryrobes, here we looked out at the surfers making the most of a small beach break.