[Please click on images to see them whole! ]
It has taken me a long time to get my Wales sketches ready to post. Life, with its illustration deadlines, its family obligations and pleasures, its holidays and feasts, its ordinary hiccups and flare-ups, intervened. And then there was my being daunted at the beauty of the Pembrokeshire coast, that thin place, as Celtic Christianity would have it, where heaven and earth share an unusually permeable and fragile boundary.
Anyway. Here we go. I used an accordion sketchbook from Sea White of Brighton, one I'd had for several years and rediscovered before I left. It seemed a perfect sketchbook for my adventure on the Welsh coast! When spread out, the book is over 12 feet long. I filled one side. I drew, I painted, I cut and pasted, I slathered mud and sand and berry stains... the place called for many responses and evoked many of my passions.
My husband and I walked sections of the Wales Coast Path, a dream I've had ever since I read Richard Fortey's 'The Hidden Landscape.' On the coast path there are many places to sit and sketch and bask in the glory.
The coast is dramatic, stunning, magnetic. A large part of my heart is still stuck there. (And I'm working like anything to be able to go back soonish...more about this another time.)
I took my little scissors and a glue stick with me to be able to add some collage elements to my sketches, the way I do with my illustrations. I got a start with this practice in Wales and am eager to do more on subsequent travels.
The rose hips I saw, pictured below, in the front garden at Ty Gwyn, the historic house where we stayed in Pembrokeshire, were luscious and huge... that must be the climate that rugosa roses pine for. My garden certainly isn't.
A chief goal of my Places Project is to use found organic materials in making my drawings. I discovered in Alaska there's a limit to how much you can do as a visitor from far away,in a short period of time, with necessarily portable and spartan materials... but, again, I did what I could. The day pictured here I was ecstatic...painting with soil and sand, dripping with chilly water, standing, striding, drawing in the midst of one of the richest geological spots on the planet! Heaven and earth side-by-side, indeed!
My second mud and sand drawing, below. Those rocks! That movement! Those textures!
Farther down the coast, David and I walked to St. Non's Well. There I gathered mud from the well's source and smeared it on my page, adding berry stains from nearby wild blackberry hedges for color and good measure.
Since I couldn't always attach organic elements themselves, I made paper and paint versions of them and pasted them to the page, as below.
I chose coastal Pembrokeshire to visit, as mentioned above, because of the incredible geologic history of this part of Wales. The energy of the earth, 450 millions of years of it in this case, is visible everywhere you look. And this part of Wales was once connected to Scandinavia, which is another reason I, the ardent Scandinophile, wanted to go. The rocks here are vestiges of that Caledonian Orogeny, which produced the mountain range stretching then from Norway to northwestern Scotland to Wales and to the present-day Appalachians. Back then, of course, there was no Atlantic Ocean separating these lands.
I made simple and stark drawings of some of the rock formations at Whitesands Bay, some of which you see here. I don't know exactly what I will make of this inspiration, but with this and my experience in Alaska, I have a huge crowd of ideas and images waiting in the studio wings for 2017.
I made the sketch below from one of my own reference photos, something I rarely do, but here I was trying to capture the look of very rocky rockiness with bottled ink and palette knife, a method I couldn't use as a transatlantic, carryon-only traveler, on site.
And, speaking of 'thin places," this sketch I so enjoyed making one morning in Fishguard is way off in terms of rendering of depth. Everything is very smashed together in thin space, which gives it , for me at least, a kind of quirky charm!
Do you see why I loved Wales so? I am hoping to go back in spring and fall next year, but its going to take a whole lot of fixing and arranging. Wish me luck!