Saturday, August 29, 2020

Sun Setting over Fox Cove.

“March Sunset from Fox Cove, #2”
(North Cornwall, England)

Watercolour, Gouache & Sepia Ink, with touches of Pastel
 on  90lb., Not, Turner's Blue-grey Watercolour Paper
from Ruscombe Mill
5” x 7”

[Note: “Not”, in the Media description above, means “cold pressed” ... that term is used in Britain, cold pressed over here.]

A mixed media work like this begins with a sharpened stick, a twig really, dipped in  sepia Acrylic Ink, and the cliffs and rocks were broadly blocked in. The acrylic ink was used as it is waterproof, once dry. Many times I use Walnut Ink, even though it is not waterproof, but not when the paper will be saturated with Watercolour washes. In that case I might outline the forms in pencil first, then lay in my Watercolour washes, and then work in the Walnut Ink over that, and then continue working with Watercolour and Gouache, with a not quite dry brush effect ... you might say a dry wash; the ink might bleed a little, but not a lot ... then true dry brushing to finish off. I have digressed from the description of this work where I used Acrylic Ink, straight off ... I probably began with a light pencil line to place the horizon. Once the ink was dry, Watercolour and Gouache were used for the painting. Much of the inkwork would have been supressed by the opacity of the Gouache, so some of it would be re-established with the stick and Ink again. Finally some judicious touches of Pastel were used in the sky.

Arriving back in Treyarnon Bay, Cornwall to sell my little flat, after my first four months in Oregon, this was my first sunset. We are standing at the head of the cove looking down the length of it. The view in the the last post, “Blustery Day at Fox Cove,” was from down the left side looking across the mouth of the cove to the promontory on the right. The spine of rock in mid-cove, in this little study, was out of view to the right in that larger Watercolour. You will see that it is #2, in the title above. Number one is in Helmsley, Yorkshire, with, and can be purchased there, framed. The above work is unframed. In the other one, the sun is just at the bottom of the bright orange strip of cloud above the horizon. In the image above, the sun has just slipped below the bright yellow edge of cloud below the orange strip, so that it is behind the light blue clouds just above the horizon. These light blue clouds have a number of openings allowing light to glow through, and the sun may briefly shine through one of these before it disappears below the horizon ... or it might not ... that is part of the enjoyment of a cloudy sunset ... will it show through, or won't it ... will there be good colour, or will it fade away as a grey bland evening. In this case the colours never got any better than this, and once the sun actually dipped below the horizon, that was pretty much it, but it was good for this little while.


Bitterbrush leaves are on the turn. About the end of the first week of August, the first yellow leaves appeared. At first I thought they were late flowers until I took a closer look, and saw they were leaves; now about 10% of the leaves are yellow. There is another bush, related to tha gooseberry, that is even further into the yellow. Autumn is here already, even though the days are still getting into the high 80s, and low 90s.

The Seasons come and the Seasons go. The weathermen and the newscasters will tell you, for example, that the 21st of June, the Summer Solstice, is the first day of Summer. Shakespeare would disagree, and so would I ... it is Mid-Summer's Day, not the first day of Summer ... Mid-Summer ... the longest day of the year, and thus the shortest night ... A Mid-Summer Night's Dream. Summer begins six or seven weeks earlier. In Padstow Cornwall, Summer begins on the 1st of May, and is celebrated as such. I celebrated 23 Maydays in Padstow, and I sang the Mayday songs with them, and I fully agree with the them ... “them Padstonians is right, Bey!”. Thus Autumn begins in early August, and the Autumn Equinox in September, the 23rd I believe, when the night and the day are of equal length, is not the beginning of Autumn ... It is the middle of Autumn, as the leaves are telling me now. Of course the Seasons are not to be pinned down to a particular date; they vary with the climate and latitude, and even altitude, but for England, and Oregon, and even in the Upper Midwest, where I grew up, it generally works that way. Midwinter ... 21st of December ... the shortest day of the year ... snow lay heavy on the ground, when I was a boy living outside of Lake Nebagamon in northern Wisconsin ... not the first day of Winter ... Mid-Winter.


Since last Saturday, the 22nd, there has been a smokey haze over the landscape from the wildfires around San Francisco 500 miles to the south. Friday night, the stars and the Milky Way had been glowing at their best, but when I awoke and looked across the flat, to the hills, a mile or two away, there was what looked to be a mist and a positive fogbank. The fogbank soon burned off with the sun, but the mist remained and as the day progressedprogressed got thicker. I couldn't smell smoke and I saw nothing to indicate it was close by. I'm not convinced that the fogbank wasn't just that, a fogbank ... it acted like one and there has not been one since; only this continuous smoke haze. Anyway, that first night I could see no orange glow in the sky in any direction, so I reckoned there was no fire close by. I was still not certain that it was smoke. I have no cell connection in camp, and my car radio died some time ago. The next day I went to town for supplies, I was able to get internet radio a few miles from camp, so I heard about the smoke from the wildfires around San Francisco. The fifth day of smoke, Wednesday, it was almost clear in the early morning,  but buy evening was the worst day yet; reminiscent of the Montana wlidfire smoke I experienced, when camped on Brooks Lake, north of Dubois, Wyoming, back in  ‘17. Last year was good in that I had no smokey days all Summer long, except for the second time, in ten days, that I passed through Crater Lake National Park; that smoke was from a wildfire way to the west near I-5, I believe. I wonder how long this smoke will last?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Blustery Day at Fox Cove.

“Blustery Day at Fox Cove”
(North Cornwall, England)

Watercolour on Saunders Eaterford,
140 lb., Cold Pressed Watercolour Paper
12” x 18”

Available ... email me.

My usual walk out to the sea-cliffs, from my Treyarnon Bay abode, was to proceed south along the country lane for a couple hundred yards, then turn right onto an even smaller lane. This took me about 600 yards straight out to the cliff tops, the last hundred yards or so through the fields. On the way I would pay attention to see if the local Mr. Badger had recently crossed the road on his accustomed route, or if Master Fox had  deigned to make a recent appearance. Once through the fields and onto the cliff-top, and the coastal footpath, you would be at the head of Warren Cove. Now between Treyarnon Bay to the north and Porthcothan Bay to the south there were six smaller coves: from Treyarnon south being Wine, Pepper, Warren, Fox, Minnows, and Rowan Coves.

So, now being at the head of Warren Cove, if you turned right  (north), and proceeded onto the promontory between Warren and Pepper Coves, you soon would come to the earthen ramparts and ditches of an Iron Age fortification. From here if you looked across Pepper Cove to the next promontory, and then beyond Wine Cove you could make out further ramparts in line with the ones you were standing on. It is my theory that these three now separate lines of fortification were once all connected as one line of ramparts, and that during the intervening 2000-2500 years has seen the sea eroding the coves deeper into the land, thus separating the single line of ramparts into three. Originally this rampart probably would have had a timber palisade on top and a fortified gate. Inside the ramparts, further down the promontory between Warren and Pepper Coves, are the remains of a fogou, or souterrain, as it is known in Scotland. This is a short tunnel excavated out of the rock. Although there are many theories, no one is really sure what they were for. For me this one was dug so that millennia later I would have a place to shelter from passing showers ... well that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Back at the cliff-top at the head of Warren Cove, and turning left instead, within yards the footpath crosses over a Bronze Age round barrow, some 3000-3500 years old. Who was buried here, I wonder? We'll never know. Pausing for a moment and looking south towards Porthcothan, a mile or so distant, other round barrows can be seen. Proceeding around the wide promontory, between Warren and Fox Coves, will bring you to the north side of the mouth of Fox Cove. This is the headland, in the Watercolour above, with the wave smashing against it. Just to the right of where the wave is crashing is a steep path down into the cove, making it accessible at low tide; and at the lowest tides the water's edge is almost out to the tip of the promontory ... you wouldn't think that you could walk down there, looking at these rough seas in the painting; but you can. The difference between the lowest and highest Spring Tides of the year, on this coast, is about 27 feet. Here on the Oregon coast it is just a few feet ... not impressive at all, and I have no idea why the tides on the two coasts should be so different.

Fox was my favorite of these little coves; Fulmars nested there in Spring. In the painting you can make out the Quies (the distant islands) beyond the tip of the promontory. To their right and out of sight, you would eventually spot Bull Rock, just off Trevose Head, where the lighthouse is (see the post before last and the one before that). In the Watercolour, we are on the south side of Fox Cove on another wide promontory between that cove and Minnows Cove, another accessible cove with a bit of scrambling.


A Hummingbird flew into my truck a couple of days ago. “Yes, yes, we've heard this before,” I hear you say, but this time it was in for about five minutes! At first he was just checking out any red items in the truck, paying especial attention to the rolled up top of a bag of tortilla chips, which must have resembled a large red flower ... he kept going back to it. Eventually, while checking out items on my dashboard, he decided that there was nothing for him there, but was stopped from flying off by the windshield ... just like a big old fly, he tried it several times, before settling on a brush case to think over the situation. He sat there cocking his head, no doubt thinking “I can see where I want to go up there, but something invisible keeps interdicting my flightpath ... maybe it's a force field.” Quietly I told him it wasn't a force field, but only glass, and that there were open doors to fly through, but would he listen? Noooo. A couple more attempts at the windshield were made, interspersed with sitting on the brushcase and philosophising about Life, the Universe and Everything. He looked very bemused ... yes, a hummingbird can look bemused. Stop philosophising, I told him, and just fly out one of the doors. Show me you're smarter than a fly. But he was determined to test the laws of physics. Finally, being afraid he was wasting too much energy in his abortive attempts to pass through the force field, I went outside and waved a hand on the outside of the windscreen (that term is for my British readers), and a moment later out through the door he flew. That's all there is to it, I shouted after him. That proved he was still smarter than a fly, since when I do that to them, the flies just buzz to another part of the windshield/windscreen, and/or hide in the crevices between the objects on the dashboard ... fly out the open doors? “Doors ... whut doors?”, the flies drone in inquiry. And that's my Nature tale for today.

By the way, the Hummingbird was back the next day checking out my red tail lights. Also he wasn't bashing into the glass, as his wingtips were brushing against it first and he kind would lose power, before trying again.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Afternoon Light in Kynance Cove.

“Late Afternoon Light after the Shower”
(Kynance Cove, Cornwall, England)

Watercolour & Gouache, with Sepia Ink
on Ruscomb Mill Turner's Blue, 90#,
cold pressed Watercolour Paper

6” x 9-1/4”

Continuing on from last post's theme of using Turner's Blue Watercolour Paper, this view of Kynance Cove is more akin to Turner's use of the paper, while the last post of my Sepia drawing was more akin to Claude. In neither one am I attempting to emulate J.M.W. Turner or Claude Lorrain, but if I had not seen either of their works, I probably would never have thought of using this paper in quite this way. Actually that might not be true. As a young man (in preparation for a Summer long hitch-hiking journey, from Michigan's Upper Peninsula out to the Maritime Provinces of Canada and New England, drawing and painting), I was doing a Watercolour a day, and studying several Watercolour “how to” books, by such artists as, Ted Kautsky (sp?) & John Pike, but the one that I found most useful was a small 75 cent Studio Vista pocket book on Watercolour painting by the British Artist Rowland Hilder (I got to meet him centuries later at a Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition, before he passed away, and tell him so). In that book he talked about painting on coloured papers, which were difficult to find in the darkest corners of the Upper Peninsula; but a seed was planted.

It was on that hitch-hiking journey, while looking out to Sea, in the gloaming, and watching the rising of the Moon, from the cliffs on the eastern shore of Maine's Monhegan Island, I was inspired to go to England. The island's Cathedral Wood was out of view, from my vantage point, and as I looked around, musing, I wondered whether Scotland might look like this. The Moon rose a little more. Maybe you should go and see, I thought; and yes, you could go to that little school of art, Heatherleys, that you saw ads for in that British art magazine, “The Artist”, that was occasionally to be found in art supply stores; yes, you could improve your drawing and painting skills. Art was merely a hobby at that time. The Moon rose higher, and as I fixed the idea into my head, I wandered back to Cathedral Wood, and spent the night rolled up into my blanket roll ... no sleeping bag on that trip, folks! And in the fullness of time, two years later, I walked through the doors of the Heatherley School of Fine Art and the rest is history. Instead of the two years in England that I planned, I ended up in residence for 34 years ... 23 of them in Cornwall.

With the seed of coloured papers planted by Rowland Hilder's little book, I finally found suitable papers once I arrived in England. Eventually I discovered how Turner and then Claude had made use of them. In my early days at Heatherley's I got a pass card to the Student's Room at the British Museum, which was really the Prints and Drawings library. You would go in and look up what you wanted to see, then a curator would trundle off into the abyss, and eventually return with what you had requested to see; in my case it was usually Turner sketchbooks ... I hadn't discovered Claude yet. The Turner Bequest was still at the British Museum (the Clore Gallery at the Tate Britain hadn't yet been built to house his bequest ... in fact, it was just the Tate, since the Tate Modern hadn't been built yet either), and I eventually worked my way through much of it, discovering Turner's use of coloured, and especially blue-grey, papers. There is one Gouache on blue paper of Luxembourg in the Bequest that I would die to own, and another in a private collection of a Sunrise over Rouen ... perhaps when I win the lottery, I can persuade the one in private hands to be relinquished ... make them an offer they can't refuse.

Ah, but anyway ... Kynance Cove ... it lies down on the west coast of the Lizard Peninsula on Cornwall's south coast, not far from the southernmost point in Britain. In fact the Lizard is just an inch or two off the right of this painting. Kynance is not an easy place to access. Oh it's easy enough to get down the footpaths from the carpark, but once down there the tide has to be watched so you don't get cut off. You never seem to have enough time down there. It's also a place to be avoided in Summer, as the traffic on those narrow lanes can be worse than Hyde Park Corner during rush hour. I only went there a few times in all my years in Cornwall, and always in the off-season. It’s quite a trek down there from the north coast ... at least in Cornish driving terms. Bedruthan Steps might get crowded in Summer, but even then if you watched your tide-tables closely, you could go down early in the morning as the tide was going out, come back up about when the first Summer people were arriving, and then in the evening, after the tide had come back in during the afternoon and was beginning to go back out, you could go again ... and most of the visitors were now gone to their holiday abodes for supper. But then, I lived near Bedruthan Steps, at Treyarnon Bay; perhaps Kynance Cove could have been figured out if I had lived as close.


I thought I was finished talking about chipmunks & ground squirrels, but I have begun to tell some of them apart, as individuals, and they have been highly entertaining. Although I haven’t bought strawberries every time I've gone to town for supplies, they have remained cheap and I've only missed them a couple of times. The last two purchases have seen a couple of the berries beginning to spoil, and so I cut thebad parts off and the squirrels and chipmunks got a bonus that day. Even though I'm pretty sure that they haven't actually seen me putting out the remnants, they do connect the strawberries with the truck, as they can smell them before I've eaten them, when they come past checking for the remnants on the ground. The remnants I have for lunch get distributed once I've finished eating, but the ones for supper get distributed as I settle in for the next morning's breakfast. I usually have one kept  back in reserve so that one of little guys doesn't get everything ... it doesn't always pan out that way. Sometimes the chipmunks get there first. They tend to grab one and run off with it, especially if they detect I'm watching them. Thus usually more than one gets strawberry remnants ... either all chipmunks or a mixture including the juvenile ground squirrels. If “the Big Fella” gets in on the act he usually stays put and scoffs down the remainder; “the Big Fella” is the main adult Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel. If he gers there first then that's usually all she wrote. He also doesn't get all paranoid with me watching. When he misses them altogether (even the one in reserve), he seems to know it and will come past periodically grumbling away; at least that's what his chittering sounds like.

During the hot weather we've been having, the majority of days this past month, “the Big Fella” has sometimes come and plunked himself down on the ground by my open door and stretched himself out, just like an old dog ... not longer than a minute, or so, but that's probably a considerable length of time, in ground squirrel minutes. Their vision must not be in colour, as they snuffle around finding the strawberries by smell, rather than sight, since they sometimes miss one just an inch away, when if they were seeing it in colour, they could not miss it. They seem to be attuned to faces, at least the eyes, as they know when I'm looking at them, even if I'm perfectly still. Like most living creatures, including mankind, they notice movement straightaway. Sometimes when I'm watching them eating something, and I'm perfectly still, I might do the old up and down eyebrow movement, and they will immediately stop chewing. They might continue eating, after a suitable time with no further motion on my part, but sometimes they might have run off after the eyebrow twitch.

Natural foods I've observed them eating, are the flower heads of Lupines, as well as the leaves. The grasses are now getting attention, now that the seed heads seem to have ripened to their liking. I”ve seen the chipmunks up on the Ponderosa branches nibbling at the base of the needles. “The Big Fella” dug up some sort of insect pupa (so it looked like), right by the truck and nibbled away at it; there was a viscous yellow fluid that was inside. He ran off with it, no doubt thinking my interest in watching him was a desire to eat it myself ... not until I know what it is, Big Fella. Very occasionally there will be a bad bit of broccoli or baby carrot that I have to throw out, and I have discovered they like those as well (and avocado remnants) ... haven't seen them running down a deer and devouring it just yet, but considering the variety of things they do consume ... well, time will tell.

The ground squirrels are bulkier than the chipmunks, so that “the Big Fella” has about four times the mass of the slimline chipmunks; even the juvenile ground squirrels that are just a tad longer than the chipmunks, are heftier ... maybe twice the bulk. You wouldn't think that they would make any sound when running, but sometimes, when they are chasing each other, it does sound like a miniature pair of horses tearing past. Most of the time, however, they are quite silent in their movements. Oh, and the ground squirrels do climb trees ... Just not as high and a bit awkwardly, compared to the chipmunks.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Sepia Drawing of Trevose Head Light.

“March Showers passing Trevose Head Light”
(North Cornwall, England)

A Wash Drawing in Sepia & Cobalt Blue Watercolours,
heightened with White, and with Walnut Ink
on Ruscomb Mill Turner's Blue, 90#,
cold pressed Watercolour Paper

6” x 9-1/4”

Click here to make this your Own

Claude Lorrain’s (1599-1682) drawing book, the Liber Veritatis (the Book of Truth), lies in the British Museum, and we are fortunate to live in an age were we have access to so much great Art on line. Perhaps that is one of the few fortunate things, considering the polution, global warming, pandemics etc. that we also have to put up with (don’t get me started!). I have a book, published in the 70s I believe, with all the drawings of the Liber Veritatis in black and white; excellent for information, but being not in colour, missing most of the subtleties of the originals. Ten years ago I downloaded all 200 drawings of the Liber ... back then it took awhile with the slow connection we had at the time. Claude Lorrain began that drawing book, as copies of his finished oil paintings, to provide a record of his works ... if it wasn't in the Liber Veritatis then it wasn't a painting by him, but a forgery ... thus, the Book of Truth. Like many long term endeavors, things changed over time, so that towards the end some of those drawings were drawings in their own right. The book consists of a folio of eight pages of a cream paper, then a folio of eight pages of a blue-grey paper, then cream, blue and so on. The blue paper is similar to that used by J.M.W. Turner almost two hundred years later.

Although Albrecht Altd√∂rfer was probably the first painter to paint pure landscapes, some two hundred years earlier, Claude is really to be considered the first consistent painter of Landscapes. Yes, I know that Annibale Caracci also painted them a bit earlier, and that Poussin (contemporary with Claude), could also be considered, but Caracci's were part of his larger oeuvre, and with Poussin the Landscape really forms a theatrical backdrop to his all-important figure arrangements. With Claude you can consider his figures as mere staffage, and really an excuse to paint his landscapes ... those golden-glowing atmospheric visions of a mythical Arcadia. And of course the times demanded the “staffage” to tell a story ... of history; of mythology; of religious import; of whatever. But Claude was a Painter of Landscapes, pure and simple, and every Landscape artist that followed owes him a debt, whether they've ever heard of him, or seen his work, or not. The mighty J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), the only Truly Great British Artist (as far as I'm concerned), knew this, and it's fascinating to see two Turner's juxtaposed with two Claudes in the National Gallery in London.

But back to the drawing ... with the blue-grey paper you have a middle tone already there, so that when drawing, the sepia washes and Walnut inks will form your darker tones, and the heightening with White (chalk, gouache or Chinese White), will form the lights; also the sepias & warm browns harmonize so well with the blue-grey of the paper. In a lesser way, a cream paper will serve the same purpose, as far as the tonality is concerned, but you won't have the lovely warm/cool effects produced by the use of the blue paper. I've gone a bit further by also adding Cobalt Blue and Winsor & Newton Naples Yellow to the palette. The Cobalt Blue helps delineate the Sea, and the Naples Yellow warms the chill of the white, where necessary. Of course I'm not producing a “Liber Veritatis” here, with this Watercolour Drawing of Trevose Head Light (even though it was created after the large Watercolour and therefore a record of that painting), but I do have several sketchbooks, that I had bound with the blue-grey, cream or buff papers of my choice, for use when drawing out in the Wilds. Incidentally, Turner used the blue paper to create exquisite Watercolours by mixing Chinese White, with the Watercolour, essentially making them Gouaches (opaque Watercolours); his “Rivers of Europe” series are absolutely stunning.

To modern eyes, many will have a problem with Claude, since Landscape Painting has come a long way in four hundred years; but when looking at any paintings from the past, you must approach them within the context of the times in which they were painted ... your pleasure will be all the greater for a little preparational history study before hand. Do pluck out your “modern” eyes, and insert your early “17th century” ones when lookng at Claude.

[Note: Yes, there are the contemporary Dutch Landscapists to be considered, but few people outside of the Netherlands saw those paintings. And many of those Artists, had been to Rome, and were thus aware of Claude, who, though from France, spent most of his working life in Rome. Being based in Rome, in those days, pretty much guaranteed that knowledge of your work would be spread throughout Europe.


It seems that the birds have stocked up on their share of calcium, as the eggshells are only being dabbled at. As I suspected, they must be interested in them mainly during the nesting season. So I will pick up most of them, and dispose of them in my garbage bag when I leave camp, leaving only a few tinier bits in case someone needs a calcium top up.

There are about 40 or 50 juvenile scrub jays in the area, and sometimes they are all in the vey large fire ring, about 50 feet from my vehicle. There must be some trace minerals, or something, that the birds and chipmunks need, as every camp I am in they are attracted to the fire ring. I first noticed this at my camp at Lincoln Portal, 16 miles south of Aspen, Colorado. Kept an eye on it ever since.

A small flock of female and juvenile Mountain Bluebirds were observed feeding a couple weeks back ... not as show-ey as the sky blue of the males.

Another Hummingbird flitted through my truck a couple of days ago.


There is not much Rabbitbrush near my camp, mostly Bitterbrush and Sagebrush, but what there is now in its prime, the flowers having come out in the last couple of weeks. The plant itself is a lovely spring green, adding another variant green to the High Desert, now that the grasses are all ochre. On the way to town for supplies there is much more Rabbitbrush on show.


Yesterday, and I do mean yesterday as I am posting this today, a thunderstorm trundled by to the east. A bit of rain fell here, enough to cool down the evil heat that had been building since early morning. I still find it interesting to hear these storms coming, an hour or two before they arrive. It's almost a subsonic rumbling that you're not sure you're actually hearing, at first. It could be a distant plane, you think, or maybe a pickup truck pulling a caravan, bouncing down the dirt road. But no truck appears, and the susonic rumbling continues long after any plane would have long gone. The sky might give it away, if I walked out to the road where I have a more unobstructed view, and eventually it does, even here in amongst the trees. I removed my two 5 gallon spare petrol containers from my trailer hitch platform, and took them off 50 yards from my SUV ... no sense sitting having a bomb attached to your Faraday cage if lightning strikes. But all the thunder was to the east, and no actual lightning was to be seen. A bit of rain fell. The wind came up for a bit, and the sun only came back out about an hour before sundown, with the dark clouds persisting eastwards, long after the thunder had ceased ... you could still see the distant thunderheads far far off on the distant eastern horizon, glowing pink in the sunset, hours after the rain. It's the slow build up that I find interesting ... I've not really noticed it before this year, and it's happened several time since April.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

March Showers at Trevose Head Light.

March Showers at Trevose Head Light.
(North Cornwall, England)

A Watercolour
on Saunders Waterford, 140#,
cold pressed Watercolour Paper

12⅛” x 21⅛”

Available: email me.

Bedruthan Steps was about a two mile walk along the sea-cliffs, to the south from my flat at Treyarnon Bay, descending into and out of Porthcothan along the way. Low Tide at Porthcothan allowed you to cross the mouth of the very deep cove saving several hundred yards on your coastal walk. There was a sea-stack with an arch there, as well, that you could access at low tide. You always think that the landscapes that you are familiar with are timeless, at least in your lifetime, because geological time is sooooo long in comparison. But this is not necessarily so. If you take note of your surroundings, by and by something will happen that you thought would not. A case in point is that the arch in the sea stack at Porthcothan fell through during a January storm in the mid 90s. So now instead of an arch with the sea spuming through at high tide, there is what now looks like two broken teeth. Living for sixteen years at Treyarnon Bay, and walking those local cliffs, as often as I did, there were other rock falls in the various coves that I detected over those years, although none as obvious as the loss of that arch. With the arch gone, I wondered whether I had gathered enough reference material during the preceding years; how much is enough?

Bedruthan Steps was to the south, as I said, but Trevose Head was less than two miles to the north of my residence. From my place, if you walked down the lanes to the Sea, and keeping to the north shore of Treyarnon Bay, you would then round the low headland dividing that Bay from Constantine Bay. Then skirting around Constantine, continuing north, you would reach Booby's Bay, really for all practical purposes part of Constantine Bay, and then the neck of the Trevose Head peninsula. Strolling along the south side of that peninsula, up past The Round Hole (a sinkhole connected to the Sea through a cave), you then come to this view in the painting above.

On this particular March afternoon, the seas were quite nice and blustery, and you could see showers passing by to the north and south, until this one passed over and began to move on up the coast and inland. The bulk of it was to the right over the aforementioned Bays (it was almost not worth putting on my rain gear), and as it passed on the Sun came out and a rainbow began to appear. The swells were large, but not particularly so, but they were hitting the cliffs just right to cause great spumes of water and foam. Since my eye level is about 60 feet above the water here, the wave in the foreground is not far off that in height; so the wave hitting the cliffs on the extreme right, across Stinking Cove (yep, that's ‘er name, Bey), is just breaking the line of the horizon, so it is just higher than 60 feet. I knew this would be a painting from the moment the shower passed over.


A dark Tinkerbell flew about my camp just past sundown the other night. I thought it was a Hummingbird flitting about, but as it flew horizontally, its body was in a vertical position, and I had never seen that before. Also it seemed a bit late for a Hummingbird to be out, I thought. With its posture and flight idiosyncrasies, it did remind me of Tinkerbell without a light ... kind of a demon Tinkerbell. I still would have thought it to be a Hummingbird, until it crashed into my Thule luggage container on the top of my truck, and I was able to see it was a huge beetle, brownish, and about four inches long, now lying on its back on my SUV's roof, and unsuccessfully trying to right itself. Well, I drew my bush knife and flicked it over, and a short time later it cranked up its wings and flew off ... in that odd verticle position ... definitely a demon Tinkerbell, for sure. Too dark to take a photo, even if I had my camera ready.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

More Poldark Country.

“Evening Light Carnewas Cove …
Bedruthan Steps on Mid-Summer’s Day”
(Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall, England)

A Watercolour
on Saunders Waterford, 140#,
cold pressed Watercolour Paper

3⅛” x 7⅜”

Carnewas Cove is the next cove to the south of Pendarves Cove, the cove you descend into down the narrow stairway in the crack in the cliffs. It is accessible only at extreme low tides, or through a cave to the left of the bottom of the stairway. This cave would be just to the left of the view in the painting of Pendarves Cove in the last post. Much of the time you would have to wade through pools to get through the cave, but occasionally the sand washed into the cave, at certain times of the year, is just the right amount to allow a dry-shod perambulation through. This Mid-summer's Day was just such an occasion. Once through, the view is better, with the Sea filling the cove, rather than the expanse of sand that would be there when low tide might allow you to proceed around the sea-stack in the Pendarves Cove painting.

The distant coastline, with the white houses and ending with the headland and island, I cannot recall now exactly where and how far down the, coast towards St. Ives, we are looking. I would need to refer to my maps of Cornwall, which are not to hand. It could be that we are looking at Godrevey Island, forty miles or more, as the raven flies, in which case St. Ives, and the heights behind it, would be off the right of the painting. They were all in view during the 1999 Summer eclipse of the Sun; sadly, what was not in view was the Sun itself!. A first class day, it had started out to be, and I had chosen my observation spot on top of a broze age tumulus, a half mile north of Bedruthan Steps. Then a couple of hours before totality, a band of cloud appeared down the middle of the sky, obscuring the Sun during the eclipse. Both St. Ives, way to the southwest, and Boscastle area, to the north-northeast, were out of the cloud shadow, but both were just out of the line of totality as well; and this was proved as when totality occurred, and we were in darkness, they were both in wan sunlight. The eclipse was still interesting, but not what it should have been, had we been able to see the Sun. It was not until 2017 when I was able to see an eclipse from the Wind River Range in Wyoming. But I digress. Up on the clifftops hereabouts, St. Ives may be easily seen on a clear enough day, but down here at the water's edge, not so much. So that distant headland and Island may not be as far as Godrevey Island ... wish I had my maps.

This Watercolour of Carnewas Cove falls within the strictures of “the Miniature,” being under 25 square inches. But it was not intended as such, and it was never framed within those strictures, being originally placed within an 8” x 12” frame.


Time only for a couple of observations:

After a couple weeks of temperatures in the 90s, the grasses here have lost most of their green blades even within the clumps, except for those that are mostly in the shade. Their seed heads are being nibbled at by the ground squirrels and chipmunks. The transition from green to yellow ochre was interrupted by a couple of good heavy showers, one day last week. Thunder and lightning and an hour long shower from 1:30 - 2:30 PM, and another shower in the evening. They kept the dust, and the flies, down for a couple of days afterwards. The afternoon thunderstorm was a slow moving affair. You could hear a rumbling in the distance for a couple of hours before it arrived. It also did not look like it would actually come over my camp, as the clouds did not look at all threatening, and there was still a lot of blue sky around, even after the rain began. It kept that day from getting into the 90s, but the next two were mid-90s. My SUV is in the shade most of the day, and even on the hottest days there have been breezes, so generally it has been bearable. One or two days has had humidity enough to sap your energy. The past two days have benn in the mid-80s, and it is amazing what a few degrees can make ... 85° can feel absolutely cool, after 95° days!

Obviously I'm talking Fahrenheit degrees here, Folks. I reserve Centigrade and Kelvin degrees for scientific discourse, and rightly so. Fahrenheit degrees, I feel, are much more human. You older British will remember Fahrenheit degrees. But the rest of the World, really has no experience with the human scale of the Fahrenheit degree. There is 1.8 Fahrenheit degrees to 1 Centigrade degree, so there is a subtlety to the Fahrenheit scale lost in the Centigrade scale; temperatures jump too fast in Centigrade. For example: 10°C is 50°F, and when you jump 10°C to 20°C it is already 68°F, whereas if you jump 10°F to 60 °F, it is a less jarring increase in temperature ... a more subtle temperature rise ... and psychologically (dare I say it? Why, yes I do!), a more human increase ... 35 degrees does not sound hot at all, but 95 degrees ... well, that sounds like a sweltering day ... and, of course, it is. “It's below zero outside.” is damn cold, if your Fahrenheit degrees man as I am, but if you go by Centigrade degrees, below zero is not particularly cold, especially if it's a dry cold. Give me Fahrenheit degrees for everyday living, all day every day, but for Scientific Discussion I'll take Centigrade or Kelvin degrees. Perhaps now that the British have ruined their lives with Brexit (and mine, since my pension is British, and the £ fell like a stone, with Brexit ... most ex-pats), perhaps they'll go back to Fahrenheit degrees ... hell, I would.