In September I was fortunate enough to spend a week on the west coast in Wales. The weather, starting to show signs of autumn, with a nip in the air and colours of change, held up. I spent most days walking ( the Pembrokeshire coastal path) and sketching. I love autumn!
For this trip I felt differently about sketching. It wasn’t just as an end in itself and this felt somehow free-er, more relaxed. I was creating sketches to gather feelings, impressions and memories of the landscape for subsequent paintings. I have previously discussed the different types of sketches I create and you can read about them here.
Walking the coastal path: Routes
I was based in Trefin, a few miles out of St Davids and within minutes walk to the coastal path. On several days, sketches were created on circular routes from either St Davids or Trefin. On one occasion, I sketched on a linear walk from Trefin to Abercastle.
Sketching the coastal path: Materials
I created sketches on loose watercolour and cartridge paper. These tended to be A4 or bigger; I also used a small square Seawhite of Brighton hard bound sketchbook (mainly coloured pencil and mixed media) and a small A5 concertina sketchbook that I used to do collage pieces. I used a variety of media. These included: watercolour; coloured pencil; acrylic inks, Posca markers graphite and charcoal, white gouache and collage papers. All materials fitted in my back pack and folder carrier.
Sketching the Pembrokeshire coastal path: Mixed media sketches
These sketches were done as a direct response to the scene in front of me, the weather (often very blustery!), my feelings of the place. I focused mainly on textural detail and shapes, often zooming in to portray the rock structures or wildflower seedheads etc in the small square sketchbook . The larger pieces tended to be larger scenes. I used blind contour and gesture drawing as well as direct contour and intuitive mark making. I created a couple of pieces from memory after a day walking and sketching on location. The variety of sketching really helped me. I just did what I felt like doing-a bit of this and a bit of that!
Sketching the Pembrokeshire coastal path: Collage
I pre-prepared a concertina sketchbook with papers and ink prior to my visit. I then worked over the pages, using more collage, pens, pencils and markers, on location. You can also see a video on my YouTube channel, sharing the stage-by-stage creation of this sketchbook, here.
I will use the material I created on location as inspiration for mixed-media collage paintings, back in the studio. I am currently taking a 10 week programme with Louise Fletcher called Find Your Joy. Interestingly, the thoughts and feelings and emotions from the sketching week on the coastal path have already played a part in my experimental work. It is as if the memories seep into my practice. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, when I start a specific series of pieces intentionally based on my coastal path experiences.