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.

The simple life I've always wished for!

Monday 5th July 2010

V Nice sunrise.

Being here brings me clarity. The world falls away and I am free of distractions.

No distractions. No family to visit, no friends to entertain, no meals to cook, no house to clean, no nipping to Morrisons for something nice for tea, no emails, no post, no appointments, no nothing. My focus, my ‘reason to be’ is to paint. It is me at my best. Just me, what I see and a simple means or recording it - the age old eye-hand-paper!

Perhaps this is the ‘simple life’ I’ve always wished for!

However on my first proper visit with all my world packed in my little fiat I did tell Andy the YWT Warden ‘I’m gonna live here’ his reflex response was ‘No ye not’. We played verbal ping pong for a minute ‘Yer I am’ ‘No yer not’ ‘Yer I am’ ‘No ye not’ til I gave in! I think that’s only the second time I’ve heard the man say No.

Like a fishbowl with the water on the outside!

Saturday Morn 19th June 2010 4.40am

It was never going to be a great sunrise this morning.

Something interesting started to happen in the sky when a fog like cloud of rain crept with stealth across the river from the West and has swallowed up me, the lighthouse and the view! There is no horizon to be seen at all along my 360 degree window. This morning it is like a fishbowl with the water on the outside. Nice and dry in here though. However this is my last morning. And though my bed tempts me back I may as well start packing up now. Get the kettle on the old trangia. When I woke I did feel a little sad to be leaving. Actually the rain has cleared really quickly (in 10 mins) so I may get something.

Another sunless sunrise!

Friday 18th June 2010
Was up at 4am. A sunless sunrise!

Painting Notes - Use pastels and oils. There are no ‘rules’. The important thing is that I manage to record what I see and with sunrises that means with speed.

Even with all the 18 colours laid out on my palette and I ‘know’ my palette so well, the mixing takes valuable time. Then there’s the choice of brushes, for different colour, then there’s the choice of how to apply the paint – a lot of turps or a little etc etc. There are too many decisions to make with too little time. So despite gearing myself up to use oil and preparing 30 little hard boards to paint on over the next three days – it just didn’t work. It takes too much time to ‘do oil’ and with the subject changing before my eyes and being so fleeting and ephemeral as the nature of the sunrise is I will have to return to my tried and tested means of pastels for ‘speed recording’. This is my usual practice to take those rough sketches back home and build them into big polished paintings over time.

I’m going to keep the paints here and the next visit bring a large board A1 size and use that to do a more considered slowly drawn painting of the headland which I can work on on sunless days like today.

A day like today there’s no drama in the sky (apart from the ungodly screeching of the Eurofighters out doing target practice at Donna Nook and doing a right turn at the lighthouse) a thick blanket of cloud covers the sky with no holes to let in a bit of drama in the form of light pools on the sea. Nope! Just a reliably constant blanket of cloud. Though the winds picking up so the cloud may be pushed away. I’ll try working on the prep’d boards in pastels but I’ll need to prep some paper for next time. Friday pm
I can’t believe how many ships are dotted around the horizon and that come up and down the river and indeed enter and leave Grimsby Docks which can be seen from here. Being familiar with the view across to Spurn from Grimsby and Cleethorpes and further along the River from my house up on the Wolds, a steady stream of ships can always be seen. But to fully appreciate how busy the River is the open sea needs to be seen. The view today isn’t so clear but I can count at least ten ships. The Humber Pilots who are stationed here have 2 or 3 little boats with huge engines and they seem to be in constant use.

It’s finally brightening up.
Here there is space and light to fill my lungs, heart and mind. I can’t think of any place better to be at this time in my life.

Keep your nerve marymary!

Thursday 17th June 2010

Was up at 4am. Very disappointed with the results. Tried to use oil on board and it just wasn’t gonna happen. My time here is so precious and the sun rise so momentary I can’t blow it by making the wrong choice of medium. Use what works. Use the tried and tested method!

Painting Notes - Definitely draw with coloured pencil first. Just to get a quick idea of form and especially the horizon and cloud form. Do not lose your nerve marymary! Keep the whole surface clear of everything other than art materials.

New Artist In Residence : Mary Rogers : Keyholder to the Lighthouse!

7th May 2010

It’s official! I have my own key to the Lighthouse and I have taken over the blog from Steve Allbutt. Thankyou Steve. I am the Artist In Residence for Spurn Point for the next 18 months! YES! Andy Gibson YWT warden has kindly extended the residency from a year to 18 months. Thankyou Andy! Due to a necessary ‘life quest’ I have to undertake which will distract me from my path to Spurn but I’ll be here as often as I can be. It will make me more determined to be here!
Sitting at the uppermost level of the Lighthouse...

Second trip up here today. The first time on my own. It is awe inspiring and quite overwhelming. The 360 degree view and the height gives a unique perspective and is different to anything I’ve experienced before. Being high up I can see cloud patterns and more sea! Also there’s the unusual land form of the peninsular stretching North with sea either side. And looking south west the land terminates and is surrounded by sea. Although I have been asked if I was a homing pigeon in a former life (!) I don’t actually have a compass in my head. I know that I am looking south west and north exactly because below the 360 degree glass window there are marked the points of the compass which I imagine came in handy in days before satellite navigation for obvious reasons. It’ll come in handy for me as I will be able to observe the rising sun shifting along the horizon over the coming months. And I will have a sunset over Grimsby – my home town!Now I’m up here I think my initial impulse to focus on the sunrise was a good one because there is so much sky and so much sea one could become dizzy with it! It’s not only a circular view but above your head and below your feet could send you crazy with confusion as where to paint and where to start. It will take the pressure off as I’ll have two blasts of intense working periods at start and end of the day and then a lighter freer time to observe and perhaps do longer observational studies such as the shape of the headland or little quick studies like the patterns of the tide on the shore or birds flying, figures walking along the beach, the ships waiting to enter the river and I may even venture outside the safety of my glass bubble!
It’s very strange though I have noticed the tide is coming in on the sea – side of the peninsular but going out on the river - side.

What is embarrassing though is that until I came up to the lighthouse for the first time this morning I was certain there was a light in this lighthouse, that it was still operational. Mmmmm. Didn’t admit it to Andy though. He has quite a ‘particular’ sense of humour and wouldn’t have let that one rest.

Can’t wait to get started!

I am so lucky to get this opportunity.

Post Script: My observational skills must be rusty. Rest assured the sea is going out on both sides of the peninsular. Mmmmm!

The plan is to set up a studio here at the lighthouse. This will be my base for working during the residency. There really is no place on this little planet I would rather be at this stage in my life! Ahhhhh the Lighthouse at Spurn Point.