KYST 38 – from Salthammer Odde (Snogbæk) to Bethesda (Stavnshavn), 21.09.18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 38 It was a warm, still morning and I arrived in good time for a change, in time to see the wonderful sunrise over the sandstone rocks at Salthammer. I unpacked and got to work, just as a sparrowhawk shot past in pursuit of some starlings.

Deeply unsatisfied with the day’s first painting, I tried to loosen up a little, concentrating on the orange light hitting the side of the slumbering black-headed gulls.

A backlit herring gull was deep blue, with a silver lining.

Once the magical first hour of dawn had turned into daylight, I turned my attention to the various plants and flowers growing in the sandy beach by the shore. These were mostly new to me and very different from the flora on the granite coast further north.

(clockwise from top left – med uret fra top venstre) Sea rocket/Strandsennep, Nipplewort/Haremad, Yarrow, Røllike, White campion, Aftenpragtstjerne, Common bugloss/læge-oksetunge, Common stork’s bill/hejrenæb, in middle (?)

The jetty leading to Snogebæk harbour was silhouetted by the rising sun. A few tourists wandered aimlessly, the atmosphere subdued and soporific. Truly the calm before the storm, as I knew that the storm ‘Knud’ was due to arrive at Bornholm in the afternoon. A friend arrived with coffee and food. I remembered how I had been sitting on the exact same bench only a week previously with my students.

I finally packed my things and started to walk on the beach away from Snogebæk and south to the day’s destination at Bethesda. The southerly wind, now building, pushed waves into the bay and piled great banks of seaweed and algæ along the shore, which were covered in feeding gulls, corvids and ducks. I tried to capture the intensity of their frenzied and jerky movements with quick expressive brush strokes, but I struggled with the baking sun burning the watercolours dry.

I carried on along the beach and looked back towards the same birds, this time trying to capture their movement with ink.

By the time I rounded the next headland at Broens Odde, the wind had really picked up and the sun was long gone. Groups of ducks, gulls and cormorants huddled on the strange greenish siltstone rocks and faced into the wind.

I suddenly realized the day had flown by. I had been going for nine hours without stopping for food or rest, and was only halfway to my destination. I continued around the cape, waving goodbye to Nexø and Bornholm’s eastern coastline, and walked into the wind, along a sandy shore. On the sea some kite surfers cavorted and leapt through the waves.

I arrived at Bethesda, put up the M60, and immediately got to work on a timed slice painting, knowing that the storm was imminent. The buildup of tension was palpable and by the time I finished the second section the kite surfers had fled and the rain had already started. A huge wall of deep blue and gunmetal grey clouds rolled in from the south west. As I began the third section I could see the wall of rain across the sea heading straight for me. The wind suddenly whipped up, changed direction and chaos ensured. Hundreds of swallows suddenly shot out of the forest where they must have been sheltering and flew into the storm in panic. Dogs barked, children screamed and I ran back to the shelter of the M60 just as the heavens opened.

Once the rain had paused I rushed out again to complete the painting. Back under the umbrella I worked on  a new painting of the feeding birds, looking at my painting from earlier and trying to recall the shapes, sounds and smells of the feeding birds (see top). Soon, dusk came and I walked back along the beach in the rain, all the way to Snogebæk where my car waited.


Weather report = A sunny start, clouding up then stormy.. Temperature between 18°C and 22°C, then down to 13 after the storm. Wind between 4 and 14 m/s from the south then west. Hours of sunshine: 5 hours.

Lessons learned – need to get new palette, new brushes, new waterproof walking boots and new stativ **

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.40 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 20 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 34 species (0 new ones: running total 123)

Other stuff = ‘Knud’ was our first storm of the autumn. As we’ve mostly had an Indian Summer on Bornholm, it really felt like my slice painting witnessed the end of the long summer and the start of the new season.

People talked to = 4 (1 + 1 + 2)

In my head – still last week’s course, and the talk I’m giving at Faber’s café on Sunday (2pm ;-))