Tag Archives: Devon

The Sentinel

27 Feb

Sentinel

The Sentinel is a massive quartzite standing stone, the first ancient monument we met as we walked up Mynydd Llangyndeyrn, which translates from the Welsh as the Mountain of the Church of Saint Cyndeyrn. The stone was flat on the ground until 1976, when its socket was found and it was re-erected. Nobody is sure what the stone signifies although it may have been a way-marker and some think there may have been another opposite, forming a portal to the Bronze Age landscape of the Mynydd. As I circled the stone, looking for the right angle to draw it, I noticed the coastline in the distance. I was on the mountain with archaeologist Dewi Bowen and film maker Melvyn Williams and Dewi told me that the coastline was North Devon, around the Bideford area. Coincidentally I had some Bideford Black in my bag and so decided to use it to draw with. It’s a strange oily black pigment, a bit like coal, that used to be mined commercially in Bideford until the late 1960s. Local artists still dig it out and use it and I was lucky enough to be sent some back last year. It’s very possible that Bideford Black might have been traded and used many thousands of years ago.

Click here to find Dewi Bowen’s book about standing stones. Click here to see some of Melvyn Williams’ films. Click here to see my art for sale.

Bideford Black

14 Nov

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I was with a group of artists working with the 15 Hundred Lives collective at Creative Bubble today. We have the artspace for a couple of days every month to work together and to let the public come in and see how art is created. I’ve been working on a very big drawing in charcoal and chalky pastels, based on an original life drawing, and I’ve been trying out an old traditional pigment, Bideford Black, which is a naturally occurring black clay-like pigment from Devon.

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I found it very interesting to use. It feels like a lump of crumbly clay but when you start to rub it on the paper, it quickly acquires a smooth surface and feels oily as it moves across the paper. I thought it would be hard to overlay it with other media, like carbon and chalky pastels, but they went on beautifully.

DSC08171It made me feel a connection to ancient artists, those who drew on the caves in Paleolithic times, using ochres, chalks and clays they found on and in the earth around them. Primeval. I like it. I’m at Creative Bubble for another day tomorrow so will finish the drawing then.

In The Beginning

22 Oct

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I’ve been invited to take part in a collaboration between artists in Swansea and across the meltwater in North Devon. I’m starting to plan a new piece of work for it, probably an installation in cyanotype if it works out. I’m beginning with some sketching en plein air so today I took a walk up a local hill to do some drawings and photos of some very specific places that will be relevant to the final artwork. I used Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens in sepia, sizes S, F and B and spent just a few minutes on each. I drew into my A5 leatherbound steampunk sketchbook.

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When I got back home, I put on some tonal washes with the walnut ink I made this week. It’s great stuff to use, very silky and thick, it flows nicely off the brush. It settles out in the jar so I dipped into the top to do the pale wash and then pushed the brush into the thick sediment to do the darker tones. This is where the final artwork begins. I have to work quickly from now on as it has to be finished for exhibiting in January.

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