Tag Archives: Brecon Beacons

Like Liquid Silk

30 May

culvert 1

I did some development work today, using one of the drawings I did en plein air on a recent field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Laboratory. I sketched some culverts up in the Brecon Beacons, near the source of the River Tawe and today I worked on a very large piece of vintage Waterford paper with my own home-made walnut ink and some Isabey brushes.

The paper is lovely, very thick with deckle edges and the ink glides across its surface like rich sepia liquid silk. I used the ink neat and watered down into a mid-brown wash and I also splashed ink across the surface. I’ll leave it a couple of days then decide how I want to proceed – do I use colour or not? Or should I put in some darker tones with Indian Ink?

 

 

A Heavy Fog

19 Feb

kilns 1

Here’s a drawing I did a while back, en plein air, walking on the Brecon Beacons in winter with a sketchbook of black paper and a stick of white soft oil pastel. It was a very misty day, the fog hung heavily over the landscape and washed out the colour from the surroundings.

 

 

 

 

Beacons

2 Feb

beacons

Driving back over the Brecon Beacons to Swansea, I did a quick sketch in the car, drawing an approximate image because we travelled too fast to do a detailed drawing.

Close Up

18 Jun

Maen Llia 1

Here’s a closer view of the drawing I did of Maen Llia yesterday. We drove up to the Black Mountains in changeable weather but, as often happens, as soon as we stopped the car, thick black clouds loomed over the hills and dropped torrential rain onto us. Nearly Midsummer and we’re huddled in the rain!!!! Anyway, it cleared up after a while and I walked through the mud down to the stone which is a couple of hundred yards from the road. I worked on top of some Fabriano Accademica paper prepared with charcoal, white acrylic paint and my own home-made walnut ink. When I was preparing the paper, I was allowing myself to be influenced by impressions and memories of the landscapes I had been visiting on my hunt for the wild megalith. I drew firstly with compressed charcoal, drawing lines over and over again, taking a sensory pleasure in just drawing lines. Lines are beautiful. Then I chose from my box of Daler Rowney soft pastels and worked in impressions of sky, hills, pasture, mosses, lichens.

I overlaid the stone onto the background, without making it solid, keeping a transparency because that’s sort of how I feel about the stones, that they are echoes from the ancestors overlaid onto modern life; they are mostly not noticed by us, even less understood, hiding in plain sight.

 

I’ve been travelling around South Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen, who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Also with us  is film maker Melvyn Williams, recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

 

The Licking Stone

17 Jun

Maen Llia 2

 

I’ve been travelling around South Wales drawing ancestral stones since February and today I paid a return visit to Maen Llia. I loved it so much the first time that I wanted to go back and draw it again from a different angle and also to spend some time there absorbing the atmosphere. Last time I drew the stone from a distance but today I went up really close and was surprised to see that it’s made of uncharacteristic red sandstone, heavily pitted over its surface, interspersed with thick colonies of mosses and lichens. There was graffiti carved into it’s surface – from the 1860s! I walked down to the stream that it is reputed to sometimes drink from – Maen Llia translates from Welsh as ‘The Licking Stone’. It’s a magical site.

 

I’ve been travelling around South Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen, who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Also with us  is film maker Melvyn Williams, recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

The Old Quarry

3 Jan

brecon walkers 1

I’ve been looking at the photos I took yesterday up on the Black Mountain, selecting some for sketches. I’m using a white conte crayon, which is quite chunky, into a Daler Rowney ‘Ebony’ spiral bound A4 sketchbook. Here’s Husb and Number One Niece walking around the site of the old lime kilns and quarry.

Quarrying took place for around 200 years, from the early Industrial Revolution until the mid 20th century and has left its mark on the landscape. There are some very well marked walks taking in the industrial history of the area. It was unseasonably warm but very misty, we were up high and there was very low cloud over the mountain. It’s not easy to draw small figures with the blunt crayon but I don’t want to transfer to ink and fine detail. I like working out of my comfort zone.

Misty Mountain

2 Jan

kilns 1

Husb and I joined one of our nieces for a walk today on part of the Black Mountain north of Brynaman. Between the holidays (lots of pyjama days) and the awful torrential rain and storms, we’ve been going a bit stir crazy so despite the dire weather forecast, we thought we’d head on up the mountain and see if we could get a bit of a walk to blow away the cobwebs. On a clear day, the views are spectacular but, although it was quite mild with no rain, there was very low cloud and thick mist so we stuck to a well marked path and had a decent hour’s walk heading north-east from the car park to a limestone quarry and kilns. The path was too treacherous, stony and very muddy, for me to sketch while walking so I took digital photos on my Samsung phone to draw from in the warmth of home. I used simple materials, a white conte crayon into my Daler Rowney Ebony sketchbook (A4 spiral bound). There’s a slight texture to the paper which suits the misty atmosphere and I used the crayon along its flat side rather than the point, using a bit of smudging with my finger in places. It’s a fascinating area, geologically and historically and I’ll do some more drawings over the next few days.

The Final Cwtch

2 Nov

Tair Carn Uchaf

Another unseasonable warm and bright day, but glorious weather to say goodbye to artist Ann Jordan’s ‘Cwtch’, a giant woollen blanket and environmental installation. You can read more about this extraordinary piece here. It is in it’s final resting place, a circle of eroded peat bog up on the Black Mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. A multi-generation group went up the mountain with Ann and some rangers from the national park and helped to stretch and lay it in place and then, after weighting the edge with local stones, we scattered a sackful of local heather seed over it. The blanket should provide a good environment for the seed to germinate and grow and stop the patch from further erosion.

cwtch photo

Of course, I took the opportunity to have a scribble. I’m looking west-ish here towards ‘Tair Carn Uchaf‘, the Welsh for The Three Upper Carns, ancient burial mounds in the distance and Carn Pen y Clogau on the right of the drawing. One of the park rangers described the area as a ‘Bronze Age Landscape Of The Dead’. That phrase brought up all sorts of images. I think I’ll be heading this way again, soon, to do some more drawing.

Whinberries On The Beacons

6 Jul

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We spent a couple of hours foraging for whinberries on the Brecon Beacons earlier today. Whinberries are a type of blueberry or bilberry and the picking season is very short. I haven’t been out picking them for years and I can’t remember how I cooked them before.

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Traditionally, they’re baked in a pie. I’ll sleep on it and make something nice for tea tomorrow. I stopped picking for a few minutes to scribble Husb in my tiny spotty sketchbook with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size S.

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