Monthly Archives: May 2014

see, the sea… [yet again]

Monday 26 May 2014

sea notes: striations of agitated sand[banks] beneath the sea’s surface, a thin tapering line of violet-grey marked the horizon on one side, the sky palest blue to mauve…

seascape sketchbook drawings

and then there was the shimmering expanse of a pearly viridian sea green, as sunbeams filtered by clouds moved over the flat mass of water…

i am trying to recall something of the experience of watching the sea change colours, over the course of an hour or so [quick sketches, in graphite].

seascape sketchbook drawings

it was a bright and breezy afternoon by the sea… and it rained.

with the sudden deluge of rain my sketchbook and i were all too soon drenched. the pages swelled up into the shape of a concertina, all crinkled and kinked – and i dropped it right by the sea while putting on my rain mac…

oh the irony! sea drawings united with the sea!

there was a similar downpour of rain a day or so later, further down the coast, when i took a quick detour on my way home, to see the sea, once again. i thought this diversion might help a little with some of my paintings.

i met a man with two ladders painting a fisherman’s hut. i remarked favourably on the crackled patina of the encrusted black paintwork, what a shame it was to have to paint over it. he replied that he had been given strict instructions NOT to paint over it by the owner, and was only re-painting a small side window. i thought more about the two ladders – from prior experience painters and decorators will carry at least two ladders at all times – and came to the conclusion the roof also needed fixing. i also learnt from the brief exchange that the fisherman’s hut belonged to a very well-known painter – nice studio!!

the sky soon turned very dark and i knew it would rain eventually.

i walked close to the waves, watching the tumbling coils of dark water, the creamy-coloured spume frothed and foamed – [as it does!].

sea waves drawings

the sea rippled and scurried to the shore, waves rolling in, crashing, drawing back – [as they do!].

more sea waves drawings

sea scatters, glistening shingle along the foreshore, large pebbles deeply embedded in the smooth wet sand. i want to prise some of them out, or skim a few small ones back into the sea…

sea waves drawings

these quick sketches were done while walking and just watching the waves, the drawing and mark-making imprinting a memory of sorts.

sea drawings

most of the sketchbook i have since had to tape or glue back together. it is now in a slightly wonky state, but its temporary union with the sea has given it some character.

[more thoughts] when i look at the sea i don’t always experience it as having a history or a story to tell, how others might have lived or died by it. the sea is the element, in the moment: timeless, vast, powerful, dramatic, dangerous – but also reassuring in its vitality and constancy. then there are the issues of coastal erosion, rising sea-levels, pollution, the litter and debris, sea-life… i do think about these things too.

whenever i feel on edge [stressed] i have a desire to go to the edge, the edge of the land, that is – as if it will help to disperse the issues on my mind because they are quite literally behind me.

a trip to see the sea is seen as invigorating, good for the constitution. stormy changeable weather discourages the tourists. a walk to the end of a pier at on a blustery day and it can feel as if you are on a big ship, sailing the high seas…

twenty sketchbook sea waves drawings

[perhaps i should have taken some photographs instead]

The real sea is cold and black, full of animals; it crawls under this thin green film made to deceive people. The sylphs all round me have been taken in: they see nothing but the thin film, that is what proves the existence of God. I see underneath!

[Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre]

the grey tree

Tuesday 13 May 2014

the grey tree, in the woods…

[digital photograph of a tree in the woods – may 2014]

on a woodland walk, the shape of the tree presented itself; dark, splayed out and leafless, backlit by a low sun. only later did i notice that the digital image of the tree in the woods was recorded in greyscale, as the camera was on the ‘text’ setting. i rather like the result, it’s quite grainy, like an old 1900s photograph.

piet mondrian the grey tree 1911

Piet Mondrian, De grijze boom 1911 [Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag]

this Mondrian painting is in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. there are some interesting Mondrian landscapes in their collection, together with many early abstractions (see the chequerboard paintings 1919). i haven’t seen any of them. the Mondrian’s i have seen (or the ones i most remember) were in the Museum of Modern Art in New York about ten years ago. i recall fixating on the quality of the painted edges, how slightly imperfect the blocks and lines were, having previously seen reproductions of the later grid paintings in books.

The surface of things gives enjoyment, their interiority gives life.

[Mondrian, note in a sketchbook, c.1911]