My love of the coast surely stems from being brought up on an island. I particularly enjoy painting fishing harbours and lighthouses. I find myself drawn to Cornwall which features in many of my coastal works.
Lighthouses are one of my favourite subjects. This may be because I was brought up on the Isle of Wight – the home of the spectacular Needles and our local lighthouse, St Catherine’s, whose fog horn always had an air of mystery to me as a young child.
Or perhaps it is because they are a symbol of the wildness of the ocean and man’s relationship with it, often impressive feats of engineering that are nonetheless dwarfed by the vastness of the sea around them.
There is little that I enjoy more than exploring old fishing harbours such as those dotted around the coast of Cornwall – the textures of stone, roofs and rock, the mud, seaweed, grime and lichen, the clutter of ladders, ropes, old tyres and fishing paraphernalia. Harbour walls often have sections with contrasting textures dating from different ages, sometimes resembling geological strata. I love the smell of the fish, but maddeningly can’t stand to eat it.
I love sketching boats, particularly working boats. I’m drawn to lone boats aground when the tide is out, which conveniently don’t tend to move when you sketch them. Some boats seem to almost have a personality, and most clearly have a story. I wonder what that story is, how long they have been there, who used them last. Sometimes that last use was clearly long ago. I love it when the ravages of time leave rusty looking marks on hulls, or worse. Probably not kind to the boat owner, but the sort of thing that artists delight in.