'Golden light at deadman's forted Salcombe. Glad canvas tracks. Weighty pony.'
acrylic, grass, earth and pony lick on canvas
110cm x 110cm x 5cm
*In a bespoke, wooden, carpenter made, artist finished, white tray frame.
This painting will be for sale in Mayfair in March at the Herrick Gallery as part of the Art for Jo's event for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Walking out along the coastal footpath, giant canvas, primed in the Slad Valley in Gloucestershire, now impossibly tucked under my arm like a human sail. Tacking left and right as I rounded each headland nook. Backpack full to bursting of paints and palette knives, I step out with wintery optimism. The sun is shining, and of course I carry an orange to cheer myself up once the wind bites in and I force my fingers to hack into the peel. I'm not entirely sure exactly where I will paint. All I know is that this path I walked not so long ago with friends, will yield me some spectacular, yet familiar views. Echoes of the East Coast of Scotland fill my mind as the cliffs tuft and swoop down into this divine sea. I walk on, my mind clearing naturally as the wind leads me on a drunken path. And finally, I round the corner, the wind dies down and the shelter that Salcombe is built from, swoops me into its gentle lull. The wind falls out of my ears as I reach for the grass, and my horizon climbs back to halfway. The frame is simple, solid, jurassic mass to my right, sea ahead, estuary to my back left. I am so full of this landscape, it seeps and sweeps out of me in large scoops, in wide armed strokes and crouching dances. Numb, orange, long neglected, thermos long forgotten, canvas filling every skinny bare inch of my mind and primal in body. I sit back onto my heels, and silently, fiercely study the piece before me. The gold is on. This then is finished. I look up, breaking my trance, the light is starker now, the shadows way deep, behind me, creeping up from my right, ponies. One, two, I don't know how many, small, impossibly curious ponies, begin to crowd in. Taking it in turns to lead as their confidence grows. Finally, they come forward taking it in, poking at its edges, nibbling its frame. This I find impossibly funny, surreal, ridiculous, wonderful. Conservation ponies, grazing the painting. And then when my clicks and chuckles have died down, I realise the long walk back. Painting held out like some prized jewel, some heavy treasure that must get home in one piece. My fingers are numb as they grip the sides, the paint has made no attempt to dry. I'm nervous. I'm tired. I'm utterly exhilarated. My overalls are one sticky mess, my hair is one nest and my brown irises are now all but blue. The wind does not let up. But the painting, she is back, she is new, she has life.
How to get there:
If you want to find my painting spot, a good picnic spot if ever there were one or on a gentle sunshine day, perhaps a perfect spot for something cooler. You'll find it just up from Salcombe Beach, along the footpath at the far side of Starehole Bay. Or if you are coming from the National Trust's East Soar carpark just keep following the coast path, do perservere and you will find it not long after the turning path for a spot of tea at this wonderful steam procuring, perfectly located barn. They also do amazing cake.