KYST 37 Late again, I arrived panicked and bleary eyed at Balka’s tiny harbour, annoyed that I had missed the sunrise by a few minutes. Once I had unpacked at the end of the pier arm however, I was greeted by the most incredible combination of light and water, as the first rays of sun broke between the clouds and lit up the layer of sea mist that hovered just over the sea in the bay. With my telescope I watched a fisherman tending to his nets lost in the orange glow of the mist. On the shore, two women on horseback thundered up and down the beach, laughing with an unbridled abandon. Just when I thought the morning couldn’t get any more spectacular, a lone kingfisher darted out and flew low, dart like, over the surface of the mirrored sea, and disappeared into the sea mist. When the kingfisher returned and perched on a nearby rock I resolved to not paint and just soak in the atmosphere instead. I couldn’t though, and soon got overinvolved with a reflective gull. The previous week I had been teaching a field painting course at Bornholm’s Højskole, and the lessons of the week were still fresh in my memory. I tried to not get too upset with the reflective gull disaster, and just carry on (‘…don’t judge and keep working’). I lost myself in some herring gulls feeding in the bay, the sea mist long having been burned off by the rising sun. Before moving off from my perch at the end of the pier, where I had now been for many hours, I tackled the solar reflections on the surface of the water. I wanted to show how the green seaweed, rocks and innumerable jellyfish below the surface of the water replaced the reflections of the sky towards the bottom of the visual plane, but failed. I finally packed my things and started to walk on Balka beach towards Snogbæk, the day’s destination. I stopped again rather quickly, wanting to capture the sweep of the bay, with Snogbæk pier in the far distance. As I was painting, the first flocks of graylag geese flew overhead, returning to spend the day at Nexø Sydstrand, last week’s start point. I quickly drew the mutating shape of a large flock of several hundred geese, as it passed by. As I continued walking along the beach my eye was caught by the rills, folds and patterns in the sand caused by the action of the waves lapping at the shore, together with the tracery left by mica, crushed mussels and seaweed. A sandbank created a lagoon of completely still water that reflected the clouds scudding by in the dynamic skyscape. I made two studies (see also top) I carried on along the beach all the way to the end of the bay at Snogbæk, where I set up the M60 and had lunch and a really good sleep. On waking I looked towards Salthammer Odde, the great shelf of grey balka sandstone that juts out from Snogbæk and continues under the sea, attracting a rich diversity of sealife and birds. All week with the students we had been concentrating on tonal values and working with ink, which I had bought along. I tried to capture the movement of the feeding frenzy on a bank of seaweed, where gulls, geese, crows, pigeons and starling all worked together feverishly, hoovering up sandflies and the like. I worked again with the ink, trying to capture the dynamic shapes and silhouettes and making inky marks with sticks, feathers and seaweed. I packed my things and walked on to Snogbæk, taking time out to look and listen before continuing with painting again. I turned my back to the town, an eclectic and unpretentiousness mixture of tourist cafes, bars, summer houses and fishermen’s’ huts, and looked instead towards the sea. After a detour to the local supermarket I sat on the sandstone bedrock, hidden amongst the vegetation, and looked with my scope towards the multitude of gulls preening, sleeping and standing stoically in the early evening breeze. The day finished quickly and I had no time to draw the six curlew that arrived just as the sun was setting and my lift arrived.
Weather report = Mostly sunny with passing clouds, increasing. Temperature between 11°C and 18°C. Wind between 2 and 6 m/s from the west/south west. Hours of sunshine: 7 hours.
Lessons learned – all week I’ve been teaching – and stressing the importance of taking those lessons, and applying them ‘in the fied’ once the course had ended. Easier said than done.
Stops with the M60 = 1
Kilometers walked = 6.08 km
Day lasted = 12 hours, 30 minutes
Birds seen and heard = 39 species (3 new ones = kingfisher, shoveler, pintail: running total 123)
Other stuff = there were very few passerines about, save for starlings, sparrows, wagtails and a lone swallow. There seems to be a lull – the waders have already moved on, but the other birds are waiting.
People talked to = 8 (1 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 1) In my head – 20%, 60% 100%… elation and fatigue after an amazing course at the højskole… thinking of the diverse collection of people that made it such a wonderful week (including my mum). Thinking of how to retain that energy and put it into practice, and thinking of things to do better next time.