Friday, 8 October 2010

Scribbled Sunrise Spectacle

Saturday 18th September 2010

Well I’ll have to go home. Run out of paper. Had to use a discarded sketch to draw my last sketch. The sunrise was a real spectacle. Bit overwhelming and beyond the limitations of me and the pastels. But I had a scribble anyway. So I’d better pack away before I start thinking how sad it is to be going. Only three more weeks till I return. I’ll try to stay a little longer next time.

Just stopped as I was driving away long this narrow lane to let traffic by and was compelled to write –
this place is very special.
Very special. I’m glad I had to stop so I could note this. Very special.
In a city, in the metropolis people say ‘you can be anonymous’. Here – in isolation I can be mySELF.

And It All Went Pink Over GY!

Friday 17th September 2010

It is a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. A bit of haze to the horizon but the cloud that so strongly featured in the sketches at sunrise has been burned out white now. I can feel the suns warmth on my face. Mmm. Particularly good because there is such a strong off shore wind. I know it is off shore because I can see spray from the waves from the action of the wind. It appears to be trying to push the waves back but that pull from the old moon is too strong. that!

Am not alone! Don’t worry I’m not having one of my mystical funny turns! The flying ants are gone. Probably dead as there’s no way out apart from a couple of cracks in the glass as the desiccated pigeon up in the rafters is proof. This time I’m sharing the lighthouse with tiny red spiders. Not ‘mite’ the peril of tomato growers. Bigger and cuter than those! And funny as they appear very determined and in a hurry all the time. I think to children they’d be known as money spiders. Hope so.

The suns still shining. Oo good there’s a bit of cloud gathering.

It's all gone pink over GY!

And it’s gone. Five minutes earlier was singingthe R & B masterpiece (joke) ‘This is why we do it’! And now it’s gone all gone! The visual feast is over.

I’m quite overwhelmed! Just had five minutes just sitting. And breathing! I can breathe again now it’s all over! That was the best yet!

This cold clear night allowed me to observe the moon three quarters full. And it’s trajectory is really flat. It has moved along the points of the compass in my circular room from S to SW without hardly dropping. And it never reached high in the sky. About 45 degrees at it’s zenith.

Shame On Me!

Thursday 16th September 2010
10.25pm I’m ashamed! I know virtually nothing about the cycles of the moon. Been sat here more than half an hour and the yellow half moon plus a day – just seems to be sat there in the sky. I still can’t decide whether it’s setting or rising. Just checked –it’s just east of a south westerly position so I guess it’s setting. But it hardly seems to be moving. Not like the rising moon I watched rising at my last visit which seemed to have shifted up every time I looked. Perhaps the trajectory is different at different stages of it’s cycle. This must be the case. I do know that the full moon rises when the sun sets and the full moon sets at sun rise. Though I must confess that I only discovered this when thinking about doing this residency. So in the mid winter when the nights are longest the moons night journey across the sky will take double the time it would in the mid summer. I love that the pattern is reverse of the sun.

But unlike the sun which tracks back and forth along the horizon steadily throughout the year I suspect the moon moves back and forth but over a period of one month which of course is the cycle of the moon.

I’ve got it. This moon, tonights moon is travelling across the sky on a very gentle angle. It doesn’t seem to be dropping because it’s travelling on only about a 20 degree angle. It’s shifting across the sky quickly but appears to gain nor lose height. The full moon I saw setting at the last visit seemed to drop in minutes.

Soon, in a couple of months I’ll have more freedom to get here to the lighthouse more frequently and I’ll be able to observe these patterns more closely I hope.
I’m pooped. Got to go bed.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Whoops pressed publish a bit too soon then !

25th August 2010
Full moon ‘proper’ this morning. Was still above the horizon after sunrise. Which surprised me. By the time the sun had risen above the skirt of cloud on the horizon it only took moments before it was blinding.

Had a really good visit. Gets better each time. I become more fluent in working in the pastels due to consistently intense working periods while I’m here and increasing familiarity with the place/subject. I’ll be sad to leave as always. But I’ll be back!

Post Script
On my drive home I was happy to find a little stow away. One of the flying ants – found it’s way to freedom.

Where Is Everybody?

Tuesday 24th August 2010


Why isn’t everyone here?!? Stunned at what I’ve just seen! Forgotten this was going to happen when I got up 10 minutes ago. My mobile phone alarm work me up at 5.30am and I noticed I’d received a text from my friend Rebecca in New Zealand. She’d ended the text ‘Watch out for the full moon!’ I looked out of the little window and saw a bit fat, pale pink moon just above the horizon as I looked across the river to Grimsby/Cleethorpes. Amazing.

Made a few scribbles but my camera not up to it.

Wait for the next show. My word coming here when it’s full moon is amazing. As the moon sank into the horizon the P&O ‘Merry Ferry’ passed through my ‘shot’! The street lights across the river cease to twinkle at dawn. It becomes a continuous strip of orange lighting just above the water line.

Received a text back from my friend in NZ she was watching the moon rise looking out from her back door. A clear cold winters evening in Wellington.


Sun shifted loads along the horizon since I was here last month. It was quite funny because I was looking in the wrong place and then noticed the glow starting further to the right along the horizon at East North East.


Sketch 1 – observed and sketched distortion at the horizon as the power of the rising sun burns out the straight horizon of the sea.

Sketch 2 – observed and sketched a distortion of the sun as it’s just about to emerge fully from the horizon. Reminds me of the omega symbol from the Greek alphabet. I can imagine that this is where the symbol derives. The ancient Greeks were a sea faring nation after all. I also imagine that this only occurs when the sun rises from the sea. It is like a circle with a flat bottom.

Sketch 3 – I like this – the sun has just cleared the sea.

Sketch 4 By this sketch the sun is becoming impossible to look at – only such a small distance from the horizon.

Just realised the sunrise and sunset are the only times when we can look at the sun.

A clear sky at sunrise (and sunset) doesn’t make for a great painting but it’s great for the soul! Not great for the artist but great for the ‘human’ in me. An affirmation of being a conscious being, that awe and those feelings of insignificance business … with or without an observer the sun will always rise and has always done so and will continue to long after we are gone etc etc. Unless you are a fisherman, Humber pilot, farmer or a milk man, it is a rare opportunity to see this for us mere mortals. So for all those reasons it’s great… but it doesn’t make for a great painting!

I wonder if milk men have a spiritual/religious wobble each morning on their milk rounds. I like to think so.

Technical note – Important use reverse side of new paper when priming for next trip. Too much texture. No good.

Draw initial sunrise sketch in red, crimson or orange. Not purple.


The Eurofighter boys are playing their wargames in the heavens.


Cloud chaos out there this morning. Far too complicated and fast moving for me!


Blasted by rain from the West. The wind is making whistling sounds like a kettle on the boil and I can smell the sea as I’m blasted by cold air. Inhale Inhale!

12.10 am

Well totally enveloped in cloud. Blasted by rain. It’s that inside out fishbowl phenomenon again!


It’s been a pleasure to get out all my ‘blues’. All my blue Sennelier oil pastels that is, which have been boxed away since the Cook Islands. Just remembered I had downsized my carrying sketch box for ‘landwork’ or rather landscapes local to my home. Now I am back ‘at sea’ out they come. It gives me colour precision when sketching to have so many blues. Though I’m confident I shant be needing my turquoise blue, phtalo turquoise and light turquoise. They can remain boxed away sadly. I remember now that that turquoise blue was what inspired me to sketch the lagoon. As simple as that. That colour moves me.

I think I’ll have to invest in all the greys Sennelier produce and develop a new appreciation for this subdued colour palette. Sennelier do an English Grey which makes me smile. The Prussians have their blue, the French have not only marine but ultra marine. But as greys go English Grey is a pleasant grey! I think they should produce a North Sea Grey.

The North Sea has a distinct hue!

Aint No Sunrise...

Final sketch after the sunset last night
Monday 23rd August 2010
Wall to wall low cloud and rain. There aint gonna be no sunrise. I was warned by a couple of reliable meteorological sources namely Andy the Warden and my mum. And they were right. Noticing the direction of the rain pouring of the roof I’d surmise the rain’s coming from the North and the increased noise indicates the rains getting heavier!
Oooo looking westerly there’s a mucky pink glow on the cloud wall – like the colour of cloud when it’s snowing.

But hey who cares! I’m here. I’m dry and I’ve got the kettle on for my first brew of the day. And despite the low visibility there are still subtle cloud formations to be seen. Perhaps I need to learn to do subtle!!
As I tried to explain last night before giving in to the land of Nod not only is Spurn Point unique but being in a Lighthouse is a unique rare experience too. As an opportunity to work it is unrivalled in my experience and I lack the imagination to think of anywhere to beat it. I’ve heard that Maestro David Hockney is working from the Pier at Bridlington and I’m sure he has wonderful conditions to work in, luxury in comparison, but it doesn’t beat a 360 degree view from a lighthouse.Here at the top of the lighthouse there are no walls. I can look at the sea and sky (or cloud and cloud as it is today) in three hundred and sixty degrees. I look up and see sky above my head. Last night I realised this as I sketched the jewelled sky in the west but every few minutes checking I wasn’t missing the moon rising from the sea.
Open views 360 degrees upward too.
What a wonderful opportunity and how rare to be able to see the sun rise and the sun set and the moon rise and set. And the building itself, this lighthouse of course being a tower is cylindrical, not a box so when a look out, wherever I look, the horizon appears an equal distance away. I can’t explain this…! I am in a circular building and… This is the first time I’ve ever observed this. Now let me try to explain…! Usually when we walk through the world our view is obscured by buildings, trees, land form etc we very rarely have a clear view. I am high up here with a clear, uncluttered view. I am in a circular building and I can see 360 degrees. I have noticed for the first time that one can only see into the distant horizon only so far (I don’t know how far, it doesn’t matter) But that distance is equal, the distance one can see is equidistant. Therefore from this point, where I sit in the lighthouse, I look out and I have a circular view. Normally this circular view can’t be seen. appreciated or witnessed. Urgh I must stop trying to explain. I’m going round in circles!! Hah! Am I stating the obvious? Has everyone always realised this but me?
Here comes the sun diddle diddle
Just sat here about to start sketching as the sun has lit up the sea and I’ve just noticed scary currents about 500m from the shore. At that point the wave pattern is travelling in the opposite direction to the prevailing wave movement. There is an ellipse, a horseshoe is formed by white tipped waves (white horses).
My camera wont take an effective photo to show what I see. Ooooo it is a bit sinister. The way the waves are travelling in the opposite direction to the rest of the sea.

Aint no sunrise but a nice sunset!

We Are Not Alone

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Sunday 22nd August 2010

Evening 7pm

Here! Though am not alone in the lighthouse. I’m sharing the space with what appears to be newly emerged flying ants! Though they aren’t flying and are quite dopey. Hope they don’t bite.

Just remembered I left a jar of hot chocolate here. Ah simple pleasures! And my mum’s raspberry sponge cake M Mmmm ! Thanks mum!


I’ve been keenly rewarded by an amazing sunset. Again it crept up and surprised me. I never can tell what’s going to happen. There was a lot of cloud at the horizon. The pink band directly above the horizon intensified as I sketched becoming a deeper crimson. Then the sun unexpectantly started to appear at the base of the cloud wall slipping down and entering into the crimson band.

It is so exciting to see and to watch. And during those moments I feel so lucky, privileged, blessed … I don’t know what’s the word, like I’ve been allowed to take a peek at Tutankhamen’s jewels or something. And perhaps because I’m here on my own it’s like a big secret that I only know about. Like sneaking into the British Museum after hours or something (or wherever King Tut is these days!) It is such a rare moment. And I scribble my vain attempts to capture what I’m witnessing.

It was visually interesting to observe the distortion of the sun as it was sinking into the horizon. The sun created a curve in the line of the horizon obviously because of it’s intensity.

It was great to see the reverse of the sunrise - the suns orb sinking rather than rising.

After the sun disappeared I eventually made out the faint vertical and diagonal lines of the Humber Bridge. I was stunned! The sun sank behind the bridge! It’s a shame that no one was here to witness this with me. The flying ants weren’t interested! I have never seen the bridge from here before. I didn’t know it could be seen. As the sun was setting the orb of the sun was too intense and burned it out. But once the sun had sunk away the bridge was faintly silhouetted. I really couldn’t believe my eyes. Anyway I quickly added a few lines of what I could see onto my first sketch.

It was funny though. All this was happening in front of my eyes but eyes in the back of my head would have been useful! I am really aware that it is nearly full moon and what little I do know about the moon cycles is that the full moon rises at the same time as the sun sets. How amazing is that! What symmetry in nature. I have never seen the moon emerge from the sea. So I am two days away from a full moon. Every few minutes I would have a quick glance round to check if there was a moon.

This circular 360 degree glass tower is sooooo perfect. I can’t believe how lucky I am. The sun rise, the sunset, the moon rise, the moon set etc all from one spot.

Gotta go to bed up at 5.30 am.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Humbly I sit and stare in awe

Tuesday 6th July 2010

First sunrise with the full orb of the sun – rather than just tantalising flashes of intense colour through rips in the cloud.

It’s very special. And those first few rapid moments of the sun emerging from the sea have to be watched. They can’t be wasted by grabbing the right colour. Even looking down to record what I’m seeing wastes too many precious moments.

I must be brave and open that heavy solid iron door and go out on the balcony to draw the sunrise in future. Just for the pure clear view rather than though the glass which has only been cleaned by the sea spray and rain for the last 100 years! There’s not too much wind howling around the tower today so it would have been a good day. But I realised that after the event of course.

It feels good at 6.20 in the morning to feel the warmth of the sun on my face.

The only downside to the sun presenting as an orb is that once it has crept up a few degrees from the horizon the orange/white light changes and the blasting intensity of it’s all powerful light intensifies as it quickly rises. Then the blue blotches appear in the vision and I remember I need to protect my eyes and on with the sunglasses! Or I go blind!

9.40am Just counted seventeen ships at sea looking in an easterly direction.

Tuesday Night 1030pm

How lucky I am! A really great day. Orb sunrise and an amazing sunset. I was merrily sketching the sky after the sun had dropped behind a wall of cloud which had some horizontal breaks in it of orange and pink – when the whole thing erupted as the orb of the sun exploded into view instantly changing everything before my eyes defining every curve of every cloud. It was a vast complex mass of colour and form. Far beyond my limited means to record! I find that when this happens I have to humbly sit and stare in awe as Nature displays her glory.

It was unexpected. The day to end in such a blaze. The sky had hazed and clouded over not long after sunrise. And the sun shone intermittently. It was a warm day and I had to leave the tower and go down to the cool of the beach. By seven o’clock as I left the beach rain threatened. There was no indication of the awesome spectacle to come later. Perhaps I will start to recognise a pattern over the coming months and know how to see a good sunset coming hours before it happens. For my purposes, I know already a clear sky is unwanted. I always want a bit of cloud. This adds colour and form and breaks down the strength of the suns blinding intensity. Otherwise you just can’t look at the sun without the risk of damaging the eyes. Which is too great a risk. Anyway. Last morning tomorrow. Wishes for a good sunrise. I’ll be sad to leave as before.