Much to the frustration of my long suffering wife, I only get up early on holiday. This wasn’t hard the first morning of my trip as I’d pulled the van over in a lay-by on the A30 near Penzance sometime after midnight, after a fitful night woke to the sound of manoeuvring juggernauts. I was in Cornwall for an indoor course at Newlyn following on from an outdoor painting course last year. I’d decided to top and tail it with a few days of painting on the coast.
I was near to St Michael’s Mount so I turned onto the Marazion road, squinting into the dawn, seeing glimpses of the mount to my right. I pulled in at Perranuthnoe which I thought might be a likely painting spot, gathered my things and set off. Along the path I realised what a stunning dawn I was missing behind me so decided to turn my back on the mount.
Dawn over Perranuthnoe
I used a pink board and the painting session stopped abruptly when I had my first hail shower of the weekend. I have to thank the hail for causing more of the pink ground to show through, I think this sketchiness improves it.
The shower passed and I moved on to the Mount, I used a smaller board expecting the showers to return and wasn’t disappointed, they did. One feature of hailstones is that they land in your thinners and you don’t notice until you find a large globule of water lurking at the bottom.
Back at the van I had a late breakfast and coffee in some satisfaction having completed two paintings. I drove across the Cornish peninsula to the North coast and headed towards Pendeen. It was on the schedule last year but was too foggy to use; I was keen to see what I’d missed. Pendeen lighthouse was a spectacular but very exposed spot but I found a little nook with enough shelter from the fierce wind.
Towards Levant from Pendeen
I used a larger board, 1ft by 2ft, and thought the view along the coast would work on this elongated format. I wasn’t quite sure if the weather was going to hold so I was as free and splashy as a I could with the initial dark painting hoping that much of it could stay to add interest and save time. I’ve included a close-up showing the thinners giving a rocky effect towards the bottom. Once again the hail struck but I was able to retreat to the van to block in the sea and sky before returning to the cliff to capture the frothiness and patterns of the waves.
The next day I moved to Porth Nanven facing The Brisons, it was wonderfully sheltered from the wind. The dawn was a beautiful peachy orange as I attempted to capture it.
At Porth Nanven
The effect was fleeting and I realised in the process that I ought to be prioritising painting the more transient bits at the outset and not painting the rocks! I’m happily still learning.
Next was breakfast and off to Newlyn for an abstracts in oils course I’d booked myself on. My gloopy efforts from the course are still dripping and un-photographable but I may share them at some point.
After the course I ended up at Carn Groose near St Just which has panoramic views of the North coast. Once again a pre-breakfast dawn painting, this time looking back over St Just and a mine chimney.
Dawn over St Just
I tried to grab the dawn much more quickly in this one, hence the heavier brushwork.
After some food I settled down on the headland at Carn Groose, looking towards Land’s End, a favourite painting spot from last year.
Porth Nanven and Land’s End
In situ Carn Groose
I really wiped, scraped and splatted the surface on this one, I’ve included a close-up.The board was only 1 foot square, I think I would have benefitted from a larger canvas for this session and got even looser.
I was prepared for more hail but I ended up worrying about having not packed sun cream and sat next to a very large pile of my discarded coats and jumpers. The only disappointment of the day was afterwards when talking to some people who had been sat above me. They had been watching humpback whales (now long gone) breeching on the horizon to the right Land’s End. I was oblivious. Next time.
A fun and educational experience all around, perhaps an annual one at the very least and am already looking forward to returning.