This is my first blog of 2016: My new year’s resolution was to get fit and take a daily walk along the South Devon coast path, with camera. Those photos will be the subject of a future blog!
Meanwhile I have been reviewing the walks and photographs from last summer. On all my excursions I was looking for GREEN and my camera recorded green from the North of Wales to the South of France. Let’s start in North Wales:
Spending a few days in the Llyn Peninsula on the north coast of Wales in the small town of Nefyn I was lucky to be able to take some photographs in perfect weather, capturing the beauty of the sheltered bay.
It is always a joy to hear the Welsh accent and in Nefyn the Welsh language is spoken by most of the locals. Nefyn is an old settlement dating back to the Iron Age with a hill fort, Garn Boduan. Fishing for herring was an important part of the economy in Nefyn during the 18th and 19th Centuries. There’s an excellent local maritime museum in the renovated St Mary’s Church, run by volunteers, which admirably tells the interesting stories and history of Nefyn.
I love the contrast of this man-made turquoise green net against the natural greens of the wild flowers on the cliff edge, overlooking Nefyn beach. Nefyn is now a popular holiday area for families with a safe sand beach and yacht club. Everyone seemed to know everyone on the beach with families returning year after year to their beach huts and boats.
The beach huts are a necessity for the picnicking or barbecuing equipment as well as all the swimming and boating gear. I love the colour, order and pattern of the beach huts, and imagine the stories they could tell.
Walking along the sandy beach at low tide I marvelled at the seaweed, a different variety from those on my local beach at Meadfoot. I wondered if this is the Welsh seaweed for laverbread or is it a sea lettuce? The themes of land, sea and sky, the textures of the landscape, the shape and forms of rocks are of continuing interest and all will inform and be referenced in my future artworks.
I photographed many beautiful stones, and this volcanic pebble had to be selected for my blog just for its greenness!
I walked along the stretch of the coast path which skirts the golf course and overlooks the picturesque Porthdinllaen Bay, enjoying the views and the wild flowers, the contours the golf links and the varying green hues of the grasses.
How many greens? Fifty at least!
And at least fifty blues ……
“Land, Sea and Sky” is now on exhibition in “Celebrate” at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, until 6th September.
For my next project I am exploring a green palette. Hence the title of this blog Fifty Shades of Green.
For inspiration I have been looking back at my photographs of the bright fresh greens of the Peak District in early June, while staying at Blore Hall, near Ilam.
The sunlight on fields, woodland trees, dappled shade over rivers and ponds.
I adored the fields of buttercups – the golden yellow hovering over the green – the texture is just crying out to be captured in a collagraph plate.
How to create this range of greens in the studio? I have printed lemon and primrose yellows over ocean blue and turquoise lake; and over crimson on white and black Somerset paper. By varying the transparency and thickness of the inks I am obtaining differing hues and tones of green.
My visit to the Peak District timed perfectly for the hawthorn blossoms. The clear white flowers and the bright translucent leaves against the blue sky made for a perfect June day.
I love the shape of the gnarled wood of the hawthorn hedge and the patterns the branches have made interwoven with the remains of a fence.
The boundaries of fences, hedges and dry stone walls and the lines of pathways all form inspiration for boundaries and edges of shapes in my prints and collages. For the printing plate I am using textiles – blanket pieces hand stitched with a herring bone stitch to create the pattern of fields. These are textured with an artist’s medium before being sealed and printed by the intaglio process. This creates a beautiful rich embossing.
I have been printing sheets of paper for use as collage, just as Matisse did for his Cut Outs, The magnificent exhibition of these works at the Tate Modern gallery last year was a joyous inspiration.
Mondrian’s shapes and compositions are reminiscent in this farm building in Tissington, and also in my work in progress, prints hanging up to dry in my studio. These may well have further printings and/or collaged printed papers applied. I shall be working on these prints over the next few months, heading towards Fifty Shades of Green, with the deadline for this project being “Life Illustrated” 12 October – 15 November, which will also show my sketchbooks. The sketchbooks and workbooks will form a future blog.
The three carborundum prints, “Land, Sea and Sky” hanging in my studio are now dry and are an inspiration for me to return to the same plate and explore further colour-ways. It’s interesting how when I first printed them I favoured the prints with the red band but now I’m going to experiment further with transparent and opaque blue hues.
The sea across Lyme Bay yesterday was silver and merged into the distant haze around the South Devon and Dorset coast. White horses shone in the early morning sun. The sea in Torbay was extremely lively. The waves at high tide dashed over the seafront with great force, and the whiter than white spray glistening in the sun looked quite joyous and shouted with a freshness that it’s great to be alive. This feeling of exhilaration and lifting of the spirit is something that I’m endeavouring to capture. Today the high tide had a grey fury and threw its treasures over the seawall at tourists and cars alike.
Rolling the relief ink on the glass slab. The plate has already been inked with the intaglio blues. Photograph by Julia Finzel.
The photographer and printmaker, Julia Finzel, spent an afternoon in my studio taking photos of me working. She is undertaking an interesting photographic project about artist printmakers who have worked at Dartington.
The colours I am mixing will have a higher chroma than the blues of today’s sea: for the intaglio colours – I have added viridian to azur, ocean or orient blue and violet with Prussian blue, and for the rolled blues extender with thalo, royal and ultramarine blue. Lots of inks were used and extender tubes now empty! I must now order some more tubes of intaglio extender and relief extender.