I should be preparing for Staithes Art Fest, but my brushes won’t be put down. After the large paintings I did earlier this summer, I turned back to smaller canvases, some may be dry for Staithes weekend…
It’s not always sunny in Whitby. Here’s a painting I started in February, and recently finished. I do like blue skies and sunshine, but rain and clouds are very atmospheric, and sometimes better suited to my mood…
Skinningrove is a tiny village, North of Staithes, with a rich industrial heritage. It is now a quiet place, except on 5th November, Bonfire Night, when a large wooden sculpture constructed by volunteers is set alight on the sea shore. Each year a different theme is chosen. It is quite stunning.
There, beyond the pier, is one of the most wonderful beaches on this coast. Unusually for this area, reknowned for its cliffs and pebble shores, at Cattersty Sands the land slopes towards the sea. Soft green curves , running into sand dunes and wild flowers, easing into clean sand… The warm weather this weekend reminds me to show you the two paintings I started over a month ago, on a similar warm evening. The quiet majesty of Nature. Warmth, peace, water. Gratitude for being here, and now.
If you are in North Yorkshire, I will be taking part in Staithes Art Festival, 6th to 8th September 2019. I will be in Cottage 4a, Northside, near the Lifeboat, exhibiting with the excellent glass artist Ailsa Nicholson. I hope you can be there. Parking is at the top of the village. There will be a free taxi shuttle from the Athletics Club and the War Memorial between 8pm and 10pm on Friday and Saturday evenings (preview Friday from 7pm til 10pm, do drop in!) and between 10am and 5.30pm on Sat & Sunday. You can read more about the festival and the hundred artists taking part here: https://www.staithesfestival.com/festival/
Some miles inland, near Goathland, is the tiny village of Beck Hole. Once a thriving and busy ironstone mining site, now only a few houses remain, including a pub, the Birch Hall Inn. It is very traditional, a bit like stepping back 70 years (or so I imagine), stirring all the nostalgic strings… I went there recently to look at the archeological excavations of the old tramway site, before they are covered again to preserve them. One could see the remnants of the blacksmith’s forge and the adjoining stables for the ponys. It is so strange to think of so many people living and working in this small valley… To me BeckHole is essentially, exquisitely English. A treasured industrial heritage, a small and close community centered around a pub, a stone bridge over a winding river, lovely cottages, pretty gardens full of flowers, a small orchard in which each tree was adopted and cared for by one of the local children… Yet this tiny hamlet is visited by many from near and far, and one is welcomed as a friend. BeckHole holds such strong memories of long walks on summer afternoons that I have spent the last couple of weeks working on these two paintings. This is North Yorkshire. I fell in love with it decades ago, and I love it still.
If you are in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, you can see some of my paintings in Blandscliff Gallery’s summer exhibition, until the end of August. It is an interesting gallery full of stunning ceramics.
And you can also see some of my new paintings in Coast Gallery, Cloughton. On the way to Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby, this gallery exhibits the best local painters and serves great coffee and cakes.
Today, the person who commissioned me to paint a tall painting came to my studio… I had painted three, so he would have a choice. He chose a tall one, and unexpectedly, a square one! I am a lucky girl, and feel very grateful.
Yesterday I was thinking back to where my current seashore paintings have evolved from. Of course, this beautiful North Yorkshire coast can only inspire…
I think of myself as facing North, twix land and sea.
On my back is the warm sunshine of yesteryears. Robin Hood’s Bay is my South, where so long ago I fell in love with that village and a beautiful man, though my roots originate much further South.
On my left are those awesome moors, clad in purple cloaks in Summer and a white mantle in Winter. There, is glory. And there, sweet sorrow buried on a hillside.
And on my right, the ebb and flow of the North Sea. Its gentle waves and fearful tempests, its constantly changing light, the chiming sound of waves over a shingle beach, those deep and rhythmic blues, the feel of soft sand, and those big skies…
I always go back to the sea… And today three beautiful women came to my studio. One, whom I hadn’t seen for about 40 years, bought “Mermaid”. Painted in 2012, soon after I moved back to the coast, it is very different from my current work. One, whom I didn’t know, bought “Runswick Bay”, unusually for me depicting the sea in winter. One, a close friend, had fallen in love with “Robin Hood’s Bay Rainbow” when I first showed it on Facebook. All three paintings are very different in approach, mood and scale, but I take it as a good omen for my current attraction/obsession/compulsion/fascination for the seashore, which I think many share.
Someone who likes my work has commissioned one of my larger landscape paintings. Leaving me free hand, he sent me a series of his photographs a couple of months ago, to give me some direction. I was inspired by his photographs to paint four seashores from which he will have first choice (next week when they are dry). I have really enjoyed painting sunsets.
For the last couple of years I have been specially attracted by water and light reflections. I think it started when an old lady with Alzheimer moved into my house. The painting below was painted during her stay in 2017. Darkly flowing water, distorted reflections, distorted memories…
Looking back over the last year, I see that many of my paintings include flowing water. This Summer, with its warm evenings, has drawn me to beach sunsets. The warmth of the colours, the depth of the dark headlands, the beautiful reflected light… I am now working on a view from Cattersty Sands, Skinningrove.