Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mid-Winter Afternoon at Sandymouth, Cornwall


“A Fine Winter’s Day at Sandymouth”

(North Cornwall, England)


Watercolour on 140-lb., Not,

Saunders Waterford Watercolour Paper

9” x 22-1/2”


Available ... email me.

Sandymouth? Where is Sandymouth?” I wondered, as I looked at a small painting in an exhibition. I had been in Cornwall for 15 or 16 years and hadn't heard of it, much less been there. I finally found it on my Ordnance Survey Maps and the mystery was solved ... it was found at the join of two maps, and so I had overlooked it all those years. It was just a few miles north of Bude. Eventually I made it down there, and quickly decided that the off-season was the best time to go, like most places in Cornwall. Not because of crowds, in this case, but because of having to pay to park in a private field; something as a Cornish resident I felt shouldn't apply.


The tides on the Cornish coast are large, even at neap tide, compared to Oregon ... I don't know why that is. Beaches, however, vary in how the tide acts. As an example, Sandymouth is what I call a “fast tide beach”. As you can see in the Watercolour above, the shore is covered with rocks and pebbles, and intersected with volcanic dikes, from the cliff bottoms on the right out to the level sands on the left. At high tide most of this is covered, and it takes awhile for the sea to drop far enough to expose the sands. At low tide on a spring tide the sea recedes much farther out than seen here and you can walk a long ways on the level sands. Every so often a larger wave will break and will come farther in on the sands than you might expect. But the exposed sand doesn't last long, and soon the tide turns and relatively swiftly the sands are inundated by the sea. Even on a spring tide you have maybe an hour to hour and a half. Thus I have coined the term “fast tide beach” for such. Tregardock Beach, south of Trebarwith Strand and Tintagel, is just such a beach. It's not that the tides are any shorter in time between low and high, but that the sands are so level that when the sea recedes, a great distance is exposed, and when the tide comes back in it seems that it comes in faster because so much ground is being covered.


In the above Watercolour, it could be we are at low tide on a neap tide. But if it's a spring tide then the sea would either have a long ways to go farther out, or be on its way back in. Without referring to old tide tables, I couldn't say which. During the course of the year, the sands also shift so that in this painting more of the sand is in amongst the rock, making it easier to reach the level sands to the left. Sometimes it's a real pain clamboring over the rocks to get there. I did another painting from the other side of the sea stacks, seen here, looking south on a low spring tide which shows the extent of the sands. That painting won the St. Cuthberts Mill Award for the best work on paper in the 1999 exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, in England.





A Rufous-sided Towhee came into camp, and pecked around for a bit. It's a bird I am quite fond of, with its red breast and black head with garnet eyes; a secretive bird given to rummaging around in the undergrowth. I didn't expect to see one out here on the edge of the Ponderosas.




While still smokey, it has thinned out the last couple of days, as the wind has been coming from the southwest, and the fires in that direction are further away. Only an easterly breeze would really clear the air, however.

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