Painting the Welsh coast | Part 1
Behind the scenes, painting along the Welsh coast for my upcoming solo exhibition
Ever since painting Barmouth Bridge a year or so ago I have been inspired to paint a collection of works along the Welsh coast. Working my way from North to South, following the coastline heading inland, here and there as and as I fancy. (This was the rough idea at least)
So, mid June, as the weather took a turn and there was a whole week of glorious sunshine forecast. I packed the van full of canvasses, painting, hiking and camping equipment. I had previously done some modifications to my van which enables it to hold about 20 wet paintings without them touching. This is key as I paint in oils which can take weeks to be touch dry! So with all this ready I drove north, all the way to Holyhead at the top of Anglesey. As it turns out I’ll need a lot more time than I originally thought, so this blog is part 1. Consisting of Anglesey and Snowdonia. Part 2 will follow, and most likely a part three to finish, before the exhibition will be ready.
Anglesey – 22nd June
Quite a lot of the welsh coast, and also inland still remains undiscovered to me, Holyhead, past home and inspiration to well known welsh artist Kyffin Williams(1918-2006) was no exception. Any unexplored region always means to begin painting always takes me a lot longer. I like to explore the area, find out where light and composition come together to make a great scene. After setting up camp and getting my bearings I spent a few days walking/cycling around with my sketch book. The light at this time of year is fantastic, the only drawback being that the days are so long. I’m quite intrigued by the light at both sunrise (04:00hrs) and sunset (22:00hrs). This makes for a long working day if you want to paint both.
On the first evening I found a sloping field full of hay bales which gave the impression they were gently rolling toward the sea. That was the first view of the Welsh coastline to get the paint treatment, painted in the hot late morning sunlight. South Stack and the pilots houses were also particularly pretty, located by the sea means the evening light is spectacular. This is just one of the locations I did many sketches of. I just didn’t have time to complete any paintings from unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll find time to revisit again during part 2 of the Welsh coast tour. Below you can see some images, some of them just show some of the wonderful scenery and others show paintings in progress.
Snowdonia – 27th June
I really enjoy spending time in Snowdonia National Park, especially Capel Curig, and area which apparently was also of particular interest and inspiration for J.M.W Turner . Probably due to the dramatic scenery and imposing mountains. I went to stay here for a week, with a few spots to paint in mind.
I spent the first 4 mornings waking at 03:45, hiking the 1hr45mins climb through devils kitchen on to the Glyders to paint the sunrise. In the end I felt the painting was very dramatic but didn’t really capture Snowdonia as a whole. The Glyders have this ‘moonlike’ surface which is stunning, but also quite strange. So this uncertainty coupled with a few days of strong winds meant this painting was never finished. When I’m painting ‘plein air’ I try to keep my ‘2 day rule’ in mind. (If after 2-3 days I’m not convinced by a landscape painting, in my experience there is usually something fundamentally wrong. So I opted to discard it and start something else.) So after 3 days spent on that project I needed a lie-in and a day off painting. I met up with a friend for the day and had a great time scrambling and hiking, stopping here and there for some sketching. See photos below.
Llanddwyn – 30th June:
After struggling with Snowdonia I Went back to Anglesey today. A place called Llanddwyn in south Anglesey. Again, didn’t manage to finish anything here but will aim to go back and try again, with a better idea of where to paint.
I then decided I needed a few days rest at home. Making good use of the drive home to explore all of the undulating lanes possible. In hope of new inspiration I visited Caernarfon, whilst looking around I popped in a photography exhibition and got talking with the artist who told me about a few ‘well kept secrets’ he enjoyed to photograph. One of these happened to be on my route home through Snowdonia National park, not far from where I had been the previous week. So I took one of those tiny backroads to Llyn Nantle and this was a stunning spot, lost in time. The first tick on the list of places to come back and paint after a 2 day rest at home.
Beddgelert – 4th July
Today I arrived at Cae du Campsite, not far from Beddgelert. Set up camp in the evening and early bed ready for the next day to see the sunrise at Llyn Nantle. I knew the morning light would be great, but the mist rising from the lake was a bonus. I spent three mornings working here. It was so beautiful, picturesque, and sums up perfectly the feeling one gets exploring Snowdonia during the early hours of the day. I had to leave it unfinished but will head aim to complete it during part 2 of the Welsh coast trip. This, I aim to recommence in a few weeks time.
This particular collection of paintings will all be displayed, for the first time at the upcoming solo exhibition. (more details to be released soon) Thus giving exhibition visitors purchasing and viewing priority. Apart from the shots here on this blog you will be able to see teasers of each painting in the gallery here up until the 2nd day of the Welsh coast exhibition. At this point they will then be available for sale (& viewing) online as well as at the exhibition. If you wish to reserve a painting appointment can be made by emailing Daniel directly.