Sunday, 24 June 2012

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'In the Studio'

“P.I.E. WEEK”  (Procrastination. Incubation. Evaluation.)
This week I have been doing a lot of thinking, sorting and listing. Some would say that this is procrastination, there may have been a little of that but I would prefer to call it incubation and evaluation. 

I have definitely slowed down these last two weeks, and have found myself spending vast amounts of time just thinking. I find that you need different mindsets during the creative process. I have spent the first 3 weeks gathering inspiration; I now need to assimilate this information.
A book by Geoff Petty “How to be Creative” is well worth a read, he uses the acronym I C E D I P to describe the various mindsets needed. It is out of print but the main principles are available to download:

I set out on this project with far too many preconceived ideas of how I would take notes, what I would be inspired by and what methods of printmaking I would use.
I have found that on the path it is very difficult to produce a drypoint plate effectively each day. I have been mostly making a series of loose sketches and colour notes and writing.
I am going to look at using non-toxic etching as a means to translate my sketches into plate form. I feel that the marks and tonal qualities will be what I am looking for. This is not to say that I will exclude drypoints as a process, I have already made some good plates during the early weeks.
The disadvantage of this descision is that I have done very little etching, risky … yes, but risk is what you need to move forward and I may as well have a steep learning curve to match the terrain on the path!
I have not been totally idle in the studio, here is a monotype from some sketches in week 2.

Throughout the walk I have been blown away by the colour, especially in the wooded sections. This piece is called 'Beech Row at Buck's Cross'; Buck's Cross is a small settlement to the east of Clovelly.

Amongst others, this print will be at Harbour House Gallery in Kingsbridge as part of the Press Gang Printmakers Summer Exhibition. On show will be prints produced by a number of local printmakers; each day one of us will be on hand in the gallery to chat about the various methods of printmaking.
I will be there all day (10am – 5pm) on Saturday 7th July.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

So, how's it going?

We have walked 230 miles now, that is over a third of the way. I am very pleased with how it is going - our bodies are holding up reasonably well (although my left knee continues to be troublesome on descents). My note-taking and sketching is improving every week, I am starting to sense the rhythm of the coastline and am noticing repeating motifs, I am also starting to think beyond the obvious and considering other ways of expressing my experience. I do find the transition from being on the path to being back in the studio and vice versa very difficult, it is particularly frustrating leaving the studio if I am immersed in a particular piece of work as I know I have to put it off to one side so that I am ready to absorb another week's input.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 21

Hayle to St Ives

7 miles
663 ft of ascent
Word of the day: Rooftops

Wind finally dropped over night.
Walked into Hayle for bacon sandwich, then on around estuary to Lelant. Nearly killed by a car on the road near St Erth. Stopped at the viewpoint before Carbis Bay and at the old Huer's hut just before St Ives. Apparently they used to do a lot of shouting - hence "hue and cry".

After taking this photo of the view from the Huer's Hut we noticed that we had captured this bird with outstretched wings.

St Ives was full of tourists but still as charming as ever - the view of the rooftops from the Tate Cafe is one of my favourites. Thanks to Ali Roscoe, who I worked with in art education quite a few years ago, for our tickets to the Tate.
Caught the train home; I can't believe that is 3 weeks done - we will be going round the pointy bit on the next leg!

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 20

Portreath to Hayle

11 miles
1371 ft of ascent
Word of the day: Waves

Awoke to a windy but thankfully dry day. Soon after leaving Portreath we passed Ralph's Cupboard, an amazing piece of eroded coastline that looks just like the edge of a volcano. Then, after a breezy cliff top stroll, stopped to sketch Samphire Island below Carvannel Downs. Rough sea - probably blowing about force 7 according to Tim.

Passed a waterfall which was being blown back up the cliff and over the path; even though we were through it in less than 30 seconds we still got wet through. The wind dried us off nicely within about 10 minutes.
Path diverted inland on Hudder Down following a big cliff fall with more cracks still appearing. This was between the beautifully named Deadman's Cove and Hell's Mouth.
Stopped, out of the wind at last, at Godrevy Head to watch waves and seals. This was followed by an interminable (about 2 miles) walk along the beach. Photographed some beautiful patterns in the sand and watched the kite surfers going very fast.
At the campsite we met a very interesting Swedish couple; as well as speaking perfect English, Mr Westman (a retired mining engineer) could also speak Cornish! Rounded the evening off with a meal at the marvellously named Bucket of Blood pub. 

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 19

St Agnes Beacon to Portreath

2 miles walked
300 ft of ascent
Word of the day: Stormy

Rough night with very strong winds and heavy rain. Walked down to Chapel Porth where we saw the first surfer and some very good waves (Chapel Porth is known as Badlands by the surfing fraternity).
A break in the weather encouraged us to take the tent down and start walking - it started raining again as soon as we left the campsite. Walked to Porthtowan and nearly got blown inside out. After a couple of hours waiting for weather to improve we gave up and bussed it to Portreath and stayed at the Portreath Arms.

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 18

Perranporth to St Agnes Beacon

8 miles
2000 ft of ascent
Word of the day: Industrial

Left Perranporth and walked straight into a landscape dominated by mining. Capped shafts and spoil heaps everywhere. Sketched at Cligga Head looking down a tall cliff with a rock wall full of niches. Later stopped to sketch Green Island just before St Agnes. Met a couple of photographers from London; bumped into them again at a cafe at Trevaunce Cove.

Walked on around St Agnes Head where it was really windy. Then stopped at Wheal Coates (NT owned mine) before heading inland to a campsite at Beacon Cottage Farm. Walked the mile back to St Agnes village for provisions and dinner at the excellent St Agnes Hotel. Got a bit damp on the walk back to the campsite. 

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 17

Mawgan Porth to Perranporth

5 miles walked
486 ft of ascent
Word of the day: Surf

Awoke to torrential rain, low cloud and strong winds.  Managed to get tent down in a brief lull.
Too wet and windy to walk so we bussed to Newquay to pick up supplies. Great smoothies, coffee and brownie in the Watershed Cafe (thanks Charlie!)

Bussed to Holywell Bay and walked out to Penhale Point for some photos and quick colour notes. Holywell Bay looked great with good waves but was deserted apart from a surf class and a couple of kite flyers.
The long waves breaking on Perran Beach were absolutely stonking; the one good thing about bad weather is the opportunity to experience the raw power of the sea. A cream tea at the Stepping Stones Cafe (thanks Linda) was much appreciated. Decided to spend the night in a B&B (with amazing views over the beach); judging by the noise of wind and rain all night this was a wise decision! 

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 16

Harlyn Bay to Mawgan Porth

12 miles
1800 ft of ascent
Word of the day: Thrift

Early start and saw a barn owl hunting near Trevose Head. Pleasant walk to Booby's Bay. Stopped to sketch looking across towards Constantine Bay. Realised I had forgotten my big brush and improvised using grass strapped onto a pencil using masking tape. Stopped at the YHA cafe in Treyarnon Bay for an excellent breakfast bap. Stopped again just before Porthcothan to sketch Will's Rocks. Weather got really warm and sunny. The light on the sea was amazing. Saw a blue lagoon that could have been in the Med. Stopped for an ice cream at Bedruthan Steps NT cafe. 
Just as we left we saw some people rescued from the rocks by a Royal Navy helicopter; the lifeboat was also there but it was too rough for them to do a rescue. The lifeboat did rescue another family of 5 from around the corner. All these people were bank holiday visitors caught out by the tide.
Last stop was on the cliffs just after Mawgan Porth; photographed a huge garden-like collection of flowers.

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives 'On the Path' Day 15

Padstow to Harlyn Bay

8 miles
1900  Ft of ascent
Word of the day: Choppy

Late start as first train out of Totnes was not until 0945. Once away from Padstow the crowds disappeared but there were still lots of people on the coast path. Stopped briefly at Stepper Point - met by wet and windy conditions when we emerged from the shelter of the daymark.
Unable to stop and sketch - it was a shame because there are obviously some very impressive bits of coast around here. The Cornish walls are all covered in a variety of brightly coloured flowers. The sea was very rough but we managed to grab a couple of photos on the phone.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Week 3: Padstow to St Ives - Itinerary

Sun 3rd   Padstow to Harlyn Bay
Mon 4th  Harlyn Bay to Mawgan Porth
Tue 5th   Mawgan Porth to Holywell Bay
Wed 6th  Holywell Bay to Trevellas
Thu 7th   Trevellas to Porthtowan
Fri 8th    Porthtowan to Mexico Towans
Sat 9th   Mexico Towans to St Ives

Week 2: Westward Ho! to Padstow 'In the Studio'

On returning from week 2's walk I immediately set up for Totnes and Dartington Open Studios. This was a mixed blessing: it was good because it made me tidy up the studio! and the feedback I got from the visitors looking at the sketches was very useful and made me think more clearly about what I am trying to say with the work; the only slight downside was that I lost a few days in the studio.

Thank you to everyone that came to visit! 

This week in the studio I have been working on some reductive linocuts. We walked through this lush green valley between Westward Ho! and Clovelly. I was interested in the angles of the field boundaries and the early spring colours.

First I produced thumbnail colour studies. Planning the palettes in paint or pastel first saves a lot of mess and expensive printing ink. Once happy with this stage I then mix the printing inks.

I sketched the image, reversed it and transferred it onto the lino. Reductive linocuts can be risky as you cut away the lino between each colour. Therefore if you make a mistake there is no going back, I find mistakes just have to be incorporated into the design!

At this stage there are 4 colours: pale grey of the paper, lime green, raspberry pink and dark green.

You can see why it is called a reductive linocut, as you can see there is very little lino left at this stage - it is all in small bits on the studio floor. One of the most difficult aspects of multiple colour relief printing is the registration (lining up the paper with the plate on the press), if there is any mis-alignment you create a double image which is very unpleasant to look at - it makes you feel a bit seasick!

Here is the finished print, I thought it was finished at the previous stage but decided to do one last reduction to create tiny areas of brighter pink.