KYST 16 – from Knuds Næse to Store Sandkås, 20.04.18

For at læse denne KYST 16 blog på Dansk, se her…

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 16 A little delayed, Tina and I drove north, leaving behind the thick fog that covered the southern half of the island. As we crested the hill and continued down to Allinge, with the sea to our right, we could see a crimson sun had already broken through the horizon, its reflection mirrored in the dead calm sea. I quickly unpacked my things, annoyed at arriving so late, and got to work.  The lilting trill of willow warblers, newly arrived from the south, carried across the bay to the rocky outcrop where I sat and painted. Over the bay by the smokery, I could see a group of bathers take a short dip in the water. The sun rose, the bird chorus slowly abated, some joggers ambled by and I drank it all in, blessed to be able to witness the awakening day.

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I had been checking the weather forecast all week, and I looked forward to a sunny and warm day. Already I had jettisoned my gloves, wooly hat and thermal flying suit, and still I felt overdressed and bogged down by all my bags and gear. I had been battling a cold all week and still felt a little under the weather. I found a small sandy beach between some rocks and set up my M60 brolly, under which – for the first and definitely not the last time – I took a nap. Woken quickly by a phone call, and cursing modern technology, I started a large painting of a large pinkinsh granite outcrop covered in splodges of mustard lichen. I struggled with paints drying too quickly and felt too tired to be able to concentrate for long periods.

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I started a smaller painting looking south, where fresh green shoots of grass dominated the beach. It was rubbish and I cursed myself for starting it in the first place. Returning once again to familiar ground I grabbed my telescope and watched some eiders, wonderfully lit in the deep blue sea.

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Eventually I wandered onwards, clambering over the rocky coast, between and over the endless granite outcrops streaked with basalt and splattered with lichen. Between some of these outcrops were tiny sandy beaches and in other places the granite had crumbled into crunchy pinkish gravel.  Further from the sea, there were rock pools surrounded by tussocks of tough grass and sea sedge, some of which were fed by small streams and springs – and in one of these pools, I found scores of smooth newts.

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Discovering these pools immediately lifted my spirits, as I had spent a good portion of my childhood gazing at newts. I set up my chair by the edge of the pool and in no time at all I was transported back to that wonderful state where my contemplative non-thinking gaze somehow inhabits and occupies their amphibian universe. The newts were feisty and full of the joys of spring, and they cavorted and danced and mated and nosed about, as only newts can. There were common toads as well, one female somehow tethered by her string of eggs, as if she was unable to cut herself loose. Each time she moved off she was pulled back, her movements attracting the excitable newts who surrounded her like miniature crocodiles, pausing a while, before moving on.

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I walked onwards over and around the bays and outcrops until I arrived at ‘Æggehønen’, a huge erratic boulder deposited by a retreating glacier – or thrown by an angry troll Kjestena on Chritiansø, who had apparently aimed for St. Ole’s Church but missed (see top).

By now I had completely run out of water and was feeling decidedly peaky. This section of the coast is unpopulated, save for some wonderfully situated but unoccupied summerhouses, and I was thinking I might have to walk all the way back to Allinge to get some water.  Just then, however, I bumped into a friend, who, as luck would have it had a summer house just around the corner. I stayed a while and listened to some local stories, before walking back a little and painting some common gulls, whose yelping cries were constantly in my ears as I walked around.

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I walked onwards and through a small wooded area where the first white and yellow anemones and violets could be seen poking through a carpet of new waxy wild garlic leaves. Recently arrived blackcaps and lesser whitethroats chirped and burbled while a song thrush fluted from the top of an old ash tree. A little while earlier I had seen my first swallow – it was spring and I had decided then to paint some flowers, or at least some buds or green leaves. I managed to paint a willow (goat willow?) but again, felt too tired to concentrate, and wisely left the flowers for another time.

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It was getting late, and I walked on to the day’s endpoint, Store Sandkås, a small sandy beach with a rocky outcrop. I spent a while looking for a good vantage point and eventually sat, exhausted, looking north west across the bay, as the sun set in the cloudless sky just to my left. I tried to capture the metallic pastel shades of the sky and water with the strange cat-shaped ‘ørneklippan’ in the distance, but the painting was another disaster (detail below)

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At the end I sat there waiting for the sun to go down so I could go home… Just above me a group of swarming insects danced and swirled. Suddenly feeling creative again, I quickly unpacked my paper and followed the traces left by the insects with my pencil against the deep blue sky. Guided by the erratic movements of the insects and freed from the need to think myself and the desire to make a ‘good’ picture, I enjoyed drawing and managed to finish the day on a positive note.

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KYST 16

Weather report = Sunny for all of the day. Temperature between 8 and 16 °C, perhaps up to 20°C in sheltered spots. Wind between 2 and 6 m/s from the southeast. Visibility: good in the morning, some sea fog over the sea. Hours of sunshine: 14 hours 30 minutes.

Lessons learned – painting in the hot dry sun is just as annoying as painting when it is cold/wet and so on – more comfortable, but not as exciting.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 13.5 km

Day lasted = 14 hours, 29 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 43 species (9 new ones = marsh harrier, sand marten, swallow, blackcap, lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff, willow warbler, goldfinch, song thrush = running total 76)

Other stuff = one of the disadvantages of being bird obsessed is that you miss all of the other stuff going on. The plants and flowers are a bit of a blank slate for me.

People talked to = 3 ( 2 + 1)

In my head = not much, mostly feeling ill.

2018-04-21.2

 

 

 

KYST 15 – from Kongeskær to Knuds Næs, 13/04/18

For at læse denne KYST 15 blog på Dansk, se her

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 15 Disturbed at my arrival, a group of eiders silently abandoned the shelter of the rocky shore and launched themselves into the boiling surf. A blood-red sun began its meteoric rise through the day while the foaming sea crashed and tumbled over and into the granite outcrops. Alone and awestruck I began the day’s first painting in the teeth of the cold onshore wind.

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After a while the sun was covered by some clouds and I carried on, past the school and into a small park-like area. Here I wandered around listlessly, eventually settling down and looking southeast to the distant smoke house chimneys of Allinge.

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I walked on a little and turned and looked northeast where I had just been, with the returning sun now behind me, and tried to capture the energy of the waves rolling in.

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Frustration started creeping in and I was tired and underslept. The constant roar of the waves and the buffeting wind I found irritating rather than invigorating, so I took a detour away from the shore to Madsebakke, a nearby archeological site where Bronze Age Bornholmians had carved symbols and pictograms into the smooth granite outcrops. Despite – or perhaps because of – being painted red, the pictograms were slightly underwhelming, and it took me a while to connect to the significance of the site.

Eventually I returned to the coast, where a flock of eiders frolicking on the waves brought me back into familiar territory and brightened my mood somewhat.

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I continued to the small harbor at Møllerende, where I visited some friends and enjoyed a wonderful coffee and home-made bread in their garden. Refreshed I returned to the harbor where I spent some time observing a nearby rookery. There was a bit of nest swapping but otherwise they were quite subdued. In the shelter of the M60 I felt drowsy and warm, and – for the very first time since KYST began 15 weeks ago – I took my gloves off.

Here I also made a sketch of ‘Domen’ the new building that is the focus of ‘Folkemødet’ – Bornholm’s political festival and one of the island’s biggest events. It was difficult to imagine that this area would be heaving with thousands of tourists in just a couple of months.

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I walked on, past the harbor at Allinge, and onwards to the grassy area at Kærenæs, where I watched a huge flock of long tailed ducks and common scooters tumbling in the huge waves. Onwards I trudged to the next bay, just south of Gulehage, where I eventually managed to find shelter from the wind behind my M60 brolly on a grassy area just in front of the beach.

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I sat down for a late lunch and got talking to a friendly local gentleman who soon popped back to his house to grab a bottle of schnapps. Wonderfully fortified and refreshed, I started to draw a pair of shelducks who were resting in the distance, their rusty coppers and greens harmonizing wonderfully with the backdrop of lichen covered rocks and ultramarine rock pools. As so often happens, however, my eye through the telescope seemed to disturb them, and they soon disappeared.

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I walked onwards past the small sandy beach to my destination Knudsnæs, another rocky outcrop with fine views in all directions. I was exhausted now, but decided to walk around and explore for a while rather than sit still. The wind had abated a little, but the sun had disappeared and it was getting cold. The huge waves continued to crash into the shore and the common gulls yelped and screamed. White wagtails flitted around amongst the rock pools. Though it felt like a spring day, there was still only a little growth and the birdlife and birdsong was still rather stilted.

I found a sheltered spot and painted the rocks and the view to the north in ‘strips’ every half an hour or so, as the day slowly fell away and the sky darkened to a deep violet blue.

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KYST 15

Weather report = A little light rain in the early evening. Sunny or hazy for most of the day. Temperature between 6 and 9 °C. Wind between 9 and 13 m/s from the east. Visibility: hazy. Hours of sunshine: 10 hours.

Lessons learned – do not drink tea just before you go to bed. Get some new paintbrushes. Maybe time to ditch the thermals?

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 11.2 km

Day lasted = 14 hours, 3 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 33 species (0 new ones = running total 67)

Other stuff = I watched a cormorant swimming in some huge waves just off shore. As the waves built up in size, one after the other, he decided it was all getting a bit much. He turned and swam into a huge 3 or 4 metre wave and, just as it was about to break, he opened his wings and the momentum of the wave tossed him up like a rocket. Amazing.

2018-04-14

 

 

 

 

KYST 14 – from Sandvig Strand to Kongeskær, 06/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 14 blog på dansk, se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 14 An orange disc perched on the horizon in a clear cobalt sky was the magnificent sight that greeted me as I arrived at Sandvig strand. The icy wind, however, put paid to any notions of an easy day, and I spent a long time trying to find a sheltered spot. Nestled between some boulders with a view of the ocean, I quickly got to work

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I watched the day unfold. I was hoping for more bird song, but the day felt wintery. Flocks of wood pigeons passed regularly overhead on their way north to Sweden. White wagtails and black redstarts flickered about between the pink granite boulders. Some red breasted mergansers cavorted in the bay, and I studied their strange courtship dance.

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Some very friendly highland cattle silently passed by, munching on the tough brown grass between the boulders. On the rocks below I watched a mink patrolling the water’s edge. Despite being an American pest escaped from a fur farm, it seemed utterly at home. The mink’s flat head reminded me somewhat of a fur seal, and at one point, instead of following the rocks it decided to swim across the bay.  I could see its little head powering through the choppy water, unconcerned with the mobbing gulls.

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I painted Sandvig town and harbor over the bay, with the sun reflected in the many hotels’ windows.

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Some clouds spoiled the morning and the day suddenly got much colder. I walked around looking for birds, partly to keep warm. Eventually I packed my things and walked across the bay and under a boardwalk, where I sheltered for a while. The sun returned and I set up my M60 on a rocky shore, looking back across the bay to where I had just been. The tussocks of dead grass had green shoots poking through.

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A solitary sandwich tern, shadowed by a freeloading common gull, dove repeatedly after fish. I marveled at its grace and energy as it battled effortlessly with the strong wind and its annoying companion.

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A large flock of cranes flew north, battling against the wind. I tried to sketch their flight formation as it bent and twisted.

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I packed up and walked around Sandvig for a while. For centuries a small and insignificant fishing hamlet, Sandvig expanded during the 19th century as granite extraction became increasingly industrialised. At one point the majority of the working men would have been employed in the quarries, many of whom would have been Swedes who migrated to Bornholm. In the last century Sandvig became a popular tourist destination, and today the town is a strange and charming mix of old stone cottages, terraced workers’ houses and hotels and guest houses. I sat in the protective arms of the tiny harbor and felt warm and drowsy in the sun.

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I continued southeast and scrambled over the impressive pink granite rock formations, sometimes sharp and angular, sometimes soft and folded, in places ground and polished smooth by glaciers. I struggled to find a good vantage point out of the blustering wind. I watched huge flocks of long tailed ducks frolicking in the distant waves, suddenly taking flight or diving in unison. There was an incredible joy and independence to their movements. Closer to shore a huge greater black backed gull brooded menacingly, while nearby a herring gull kept a watchful eye open.

It was getting late and there was still a way to go. Here there is no coastal path, so I decided to keep to the rocky shore, passing in front of hotels and private gardens. Despite having right of way, I felt almost like a trespasser as I scrambled over innumerable rocky outcrops and through patches of brambles. The houses and hotels here are exclusive and the views are incredible. Now, in the early evening I had the sun on my back for the first time, and the rich saturated colours of the mustard yellow lichen, the pinkish granite and deep blue water was intoxicating. I met a friend and we shared a sublime whiskey on the rocks, before I got to work on my last painting of the day, finishing as the sun dipped below the horizon behind me (see top).

KYST 14 

Weather report = No rain or snow. Sunny with a short cloudy period in the morning. Temperature between 2 and 5 °C . Wind between 12 and 5 m/s from the west. Visibility good. Hours of sunshine: 10 hours 30 minutes.

Lessons learned – I need to stop overthinking assessing and rating my paintings and the day itself. The day is so long, and such a physical and emotional roller coaster, that any idea of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is made redundant.

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 6.92 km

Day lasted = 13 hours, 4 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 34 species (9 new ones = black kite, red necked grebe, pheasant, common crane, sandwich tern, black redstart, goldcrest, starling, carrion crow = running total 67)

Other stuff = for a moment, a starling in all its metallic finery, with the blue sky behind.

People talked to = 3 ( 1 + 2)

In my head = aches and pains, my shoulders and back, how can I improve my posture, my Achilles, need to start running, etc, etc… the shitstorm that is UFC 223…

2018-04-07

 

 

 

 

 

 

KYST 13 – fra Salomons Kapel to Sandvig Strand, 30/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 13 blog på dansk, se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 13 Whilst the rest of Bornholm was still blanketed in snow, I was surprised – and a little disappointed – to find out there were just remnants left on the Hammer peninsula. According to the weather forecast, the day promised sun and no wind in the afternoon, but when I finally made it to the start point at Salomons Kapel just as the day began, it was overcast and the onshore wind was howling with huge waves crashing on to the rocky shore. It was too windy to put up the M60 in the exposed spot where I had finished last week, so I hunkered down and made a quick sketch before moving on in search of shelter.

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Close by I found a spot beside a rocky outcrop where I could put up the M60 and draw an incredible series of windswept whitebeam trees. As always, my mood, the day’s weather and the environment conspired to dictate my choice of motif. No birds sang, it was hard to believe that is was Easter Friday.

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I packed up and continued northeast to a more sheltered beach, just before the lighthouse. In recent years a tradition has sprung up here – a wonderful and spontaneous collective land-art project whereby passers-by have started creating stone towers. Passing tourists add their own and by summertime the whole area can be covered in hundreds of them – only for them to quietly fall and disappear during the autumn and winter storms. There were none to be seen, so I got the season off to a good start.

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Warmed up from my exertions I sat and looked at the wonderful rock formations with the waves crashing in.

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After an early lunch in the small sheltered pine wood nearby I carried on to the lighthouse – Bornholm’s northernmost point. I sat as far out as I could and painted the waves pounding the lichen covered granite rocks. From now on, and for the next 18 weeks, I would be heading in a southeastern direction.

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I kept on the rocks below the coastal path, and clambered around trying to find shelter. The wind had abated only a little and the sun had shone for 15 minutes or so before disappearing again. The pink granite formations flecked with all sorts of lichen were incredibly complex and striking. Below the cliffs away from the shore there were several pools and springs, the whole area a universe in itself. In spring and summer the Hammer peninsula attracts botanists, but all was brown and dead and there were few signs of spring. In one pool, however, I did find rafts of frogspawn – my first of the year.

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I walked around enjoying my solitude. I studied rocks and waves. I felt far from everyone and everything, despite the steady stream of walkers on the coastal path above.

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Eventually I found a good spot looking south to Sandvig strand, where I set up my telescope and watched a distant group of eiders rocking in the surf (also see top).

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The day felt long and when I finally packed up and moved to my destination point close to where I had left the car 12 and a half hours earlier, I was exhausted. I looked across the bay. In the far distance the town of Gudhjem could be seen as a blue stripe. A small bird caught my attention – a fine male stonechat, a handsome and unusual bird in these parts. It felt like my reward for the day.

KYST 13

Weather report = No precipitation. Overcast with a short period of sunny intervals. Temperature between zero and 3 degrees. Wind between 3 and 9 m/s first from the north and later north east. Visibility: good. Hours of sunshine: maybe 30 minutes, if squeezed altogether?

Lessons learned – While Danes generally ‘keep back’, Germans are more like English people in that they have no qualms approaching you when you are painting. Twice I got huge shocks from some sweet German tourists whilst I was away with the fairies.

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 7.14 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 47 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 28 species (1 new ones = stonechat = running total 58)

Other stuff = I am sort of sad to leave Bornholm’s west coast – driving back I noticed the remnants of a fantastic sunset, which I had completely missed where I was.

People talked to = 7 ( 1 + 2 + 3)

In my head = ’God’s Plan’ awful Drake song that my girls listen to. The video is horrific. Need to move up to studio and sleep there Thursday nights. Underslept, noisy teenagers coming home from parties.

 

2018-03-31

 

 

KYST 12 – from Hammerhavn to Salomons Kapel, 23/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 12 blog på dansk, se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 12 Arriving at Hammerhavn harbour just before 6 am, I was still tired and groggy after an unsettled night’s sleep. For perhaps the first time, I was not really ‘up’ for the day ahead.  It was cold, but just above zero, so freezing paint would not be an issue. The sky was completely overcast and there was little or no wind. Compared to the gusty energy of KYST 11, the day seemed a little flat. I settled down and got stuck into the view of the castle and the cliffs beyond.

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Some gulls and jackdaws were hanging around, the jackdaws perching on roofs of the smart new wooden cottages. Some yellowhammers sang, but otherwise there was little birdlife and spring felt far away.

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I walked onwards, north and up on to Hammerknuden – the granite peninsula that is almost separated from the rest of the island. Just before in one of the cottages in the harbor, I had read about and seen photographs of the huge granite quarries which had dominated the social and economic life of the area until very recently. Now, however, they were closed; either filled with water or clad with vegetation, and once again I was reminded how dynamic and ever-changing the landscape is.

I passed through a low wood of twisted oak, birch and juniper, up over the cliffs and on to wind-blown slopes of juniper and sloe. Here I could look down at the groups of razorbills and guillemots cavorting on the waves far below. There was a manic energy in their movements which I tried to capture – first strung out in a line, then bunched together, sometimes in unison, sometimes in disarray.

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I walked onwards along the eroded path, testament to the popularity of this walk in the summer. Today, however, I was alone, apart from the highland cattle and hardy-looking sheep that grazed on the slopes.

Whenever possible I tried to clamber down the cliffs on the shore. The geology was incredible. Slabs of pink granite, covered in all colours of lichen and moss, in some places hard and sharp, in others rubbed smooth and flat by glaciers. I found a fantastic spot, looking down over some interesting rocks. I tried to really follow the visual planes of the rocks, but the light was changing and uneven, as the overcast sky opened out and the sun shone in sporadic bursts. Unable to deal with the conditions – too hot, too cold, paints drying too quickly, too slowly – I gave up.

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I clambered around on the huge granite boulders at the base of the cliffs before looking back one more time southwards at the distant blue shape of Slotslygen, Mulekleven and Vang, before heading Northeast, for the first time.

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The coastline around the Hammer peninsula is wonderfully picturesque, but I was disorientated, cold and tired and struggled to find my groove. I decided to concentrate and faced a slab of lichen-flecked granite.

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Just as I was about to set off again I almost trod on a water rail, which must have been there the whole time watching me as I drew. It flew weakly off. I tried to find it again, but could not. What an earth was a water rail doing on the coast – a bird whose pig-like squeal I was familiar with from the reed beds in the middle of Bornholm? Perhaps it was on its way north, to Sweden (see top).

A little later and I had reached my destination, Salomons Kapel, a ruined chapel from the 12th century that was once surrounded by a thriving herring market – now long since disappeared. My feet were wet and freezing and I struggled to even think about painting. Instead I walked around and looked for birds, and I was rewarded in no time by my first eider ducks of the year – a sure sign of spring – and a pair of black guillemots, my first ever on Bornholm.

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The day was long and I huddled under my M60 umbrella. A beautiful chocolate brown mink passed just metres in front of me trotting along the shore. I made a squeaky cat noise – it looked up at me for a second or two, then carried on neither interested nor alarmed. As the end of the day approached, a sea fog came rolling in from the east, over the granite outcrop and on to the spot where I sat and brooded.

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KYST 12

Weather report = Cloudy with regular sunny periods around lunchtime. Sea fog in the late afternoon. Temperature between 1 and 3 degrees. Wind between 1 and 3 m/s first from the east and later north-east. Visibility: medium. Hours of sunshine: maybe one and a half hours, if squeezed altogether?

Lessons learned – it doesn’t have to be amazing every time. It’s ok to just put the brushes down and have some time walking around, looking at birds and so on.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 7.2 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 25 minutes (have now passed equinox)

Birds seen and heard = 32 species (no less than 7 new ones = woodcock (overflying), guillemot, black guillemot, skylark, rock pipit, eider duck, water rail = running total 57)

People talked to = 3 ( 1 + 2)

Other stuff = bigger paper next time?

In my head = Det er så fuldt af sjov, ude i en skov..’ children’s song STILL in my head all day… Thinking of impending trip to Billund. School shootings. Plastic pollution. The end of the world.

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KYST 11 – from Mølledal (Hammershus) to Hammerhavn, 16/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 11 blog på DANSK se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 11 Swaddled in umpteen layers of clothing, I hunkered down and looked up at the imposing ruins of Hammershus castle, just as the sun crept over the horizon behind me. Once again, the temperature was sub-zero, and my watercolours froze and crystalized within seconds on the paper. The wind was strong and bitterly cold but thankfully blew from the east, giving me at least the opportunity to find shelter on this, my last KYST on Bornholm’s west coast.

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As I walked down Mølledal valley towards the coast some yellowhammer, greenfinch and a chaffinch sang rather weakly in the woods beside me. Hardly a dawn chorus, but nevertheless a sign of things to come. Last week’s slush had frozen back to ice, but a small stream accompanied me down to the rocky coast.  Spring felt very far way. A jay mimicked a buzzard’s call expertly, and settled in a tree close by, before flapping off with a prehistoric screech. Reaching the rocky coast, and partly sheltered from the wind, I felt inspired with sympathy for a wind-sculpted hawthorn (see top).

I climbed around the rocks for a while, partly to keep warm, and then walked up the massive granite outcrop, upon which Hammershus castle sits. The historic seat of power on Bornholm, the castle has been deserted since the early 18th century, but it still retains an imposing physical presence. I walked around the ruins, happy to have the castle to myself, but the wind up here was finger-numbingly and eyeball-freezingly cold. I tried to travel back in time and imagine the scores, hundreds even, of people who must have worked and lived here, at any one time – over many hundreds of years. I tried to imagine them on a day like today, when all was frozen hard and the wind bit through everything. I lasted but a few minutes, before retreating back in the lee of the cliffs.

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Looking out I could see how the sea was calmer in the shelter of the island. Every now and then huge gusts would be visible on the water, as if an invisible helicopter was landing. Further out, far from the shelter of the island, huge white crested waves attested to the power of the wind. I followed with my binoculars the red pilot boat, as it raced out from Hammerhavn harbor to help or guide tankers. My paints froze very quickly.

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I walked on, past the castle, and found a fantastic sheltered spot where I could put up my M60 and enjoy some food and a fine sea view. The sun at last struggled to break through, only to disappear again, as wave after wave of snowstorms came passing through. There was an incredible energy in the day.

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I walked back a little, and struggled to find shelter from the gusty wind. I clambered down a gully right down below the cliffs to find shelter, and here painted some rocks – about all I could manage as I battled with the cold.

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Back at my sheltered spot – and partly because I was aware that it had been so long since I’d attempted any bird studies – I got my telescope out and followed a distant flock of common gulls bobbing on the surface.

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Eventually I walked on, around the cliffs and down through a sheltered wood of cherry and birch, back to the shore and the arms of Hammerhavn harbor. There were few people about or signs of activity save the aforementioned Pilot boat. I walked around for a while looking for a sheltered spot to put up my brolly, but I struggled with the gusting wind and regular snowy squalls. I finally managed to peg it down but the snow kept coming in and at one point the wind lifted the whole thing up. I swore a lot.

Looking back towards the castle I decided to make a timed ‘slice’ painting, trying to record the day’s energy. A snowstorm came suddenly and the castle almost disappeared, the snowflakes freezing onto the paper, to be replaced by sun and a bright blue sky – before the next flurry. It was incredibly intense, trying to work with the weather and record and reflect my perception of it. This was exactly the sort of experience and painting I had hoped for when starting this project – it felt like a collaboration between me and the day.

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(Detail)

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I finished off, completely exhausted, by making a four-part study of the wonderful setting sun, with the paints sometimes crystallizing, sometimes turning into a sludgy mess – before the lonely trudge back to Hammershus and my waiting car.

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KYST 11

Weather report = snow flurries throughout the day, cloudy with regular sunny periods. Temperature between minus 3 and minus 1 degrees. Wind between 10 and 18 m/s first from the east and later north-east. Visibility: very good, when not obscured by snow clouds. Hours of sunshine: maybe four hours, if squeezed altogether?

Lessons learned – peg the M60 down in one or two places before putting up in strong wind. The original Pot Noodle tastes much better than recent imposters.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 9.04 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 44 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 28 species (3 new ones = mistle thrush, fieldfare and greenfinch = running total 50)

Other stuff = starting to get the handle of the freezing paint thing, and how to work with it. Winters from now on will be fun…

People talked to = 6 ( 1 + 5)

In my head = Det er så fuldt af sjov, ude i en skov..’ children’s song STILL in my head all day… Thinking of an old friend who passed away last week.

2018-03-17

 

 

KYST 10 – from Pissebækken to Mølledal (Hammershus), 09/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 10 blog på DANSK se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 10 After a very early start the day began rather innocuously. I parked the car in Vang habour and walked along the coast and back to the waterfall. There was little wind and the temperature was around 1 or 2 degrees. While some ice and snow did remain, the waterfall was a torrent compared to last week. I struggled to depict the movement of the water.

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Packing up my things I walked northward along the coast to ‘Stor Rams’ a huge erractic boulder depositied by a glacier, just by the water’s edge. This part of the coast is really off the beaten track and the only footprints in the snow were those of roe deer and hares. Already the wind was picking up and as I started painting it started to sleet, also on my painting.

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My path along the beach was blocked by the imposing granite cliffs of ‘Mulekleven’, so I decided to climb up the wooded slope to the clifftop path. Despite all the weeks of frost, the mixture of wet mud and slush made the going very difficult and I had to make two trips on all fours with all my gear. By the time I arrived at the top I was soaked with sweat, and I huddled under my M60 while huge snowflakes drifted down, followed by sleet, and then rain.

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Eventually I packed up and walked onwards along the coastal path towards Hammershus. The thick snow had turned into dirty slush, the path in places an icy brook. Soon my feet were completely soaked and frozen, so I was happy to find a small wooden hut where I spent the next few hours trying to warm up. I painted the view from the open door.

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I collected some branches with strange looking lichens and slime mould.

The sturdy hut was built long ago for the coast guard, who would patrol the rocky coast, looking for ships in distress. Inside the hut information panels described their work and some of Bornholm’s better known shipwrecks. When I had warmed up a little I packed up and carried on along the path, first through some weather-beaten birch and wild cherry trees, and later through a more open heathland. Here in the face of a strong and sleety west wind I looked back at Vang harbor. The day felt long.

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Eventually the path started descending back to the coast. I came into a large and open wooded area, full of huge oaks with twisted branches. The waves crashed into the shore and the wind roared in the tree tops. There were no birds, no signs of life even, and the atmosphere felt foreboding, threatening even. (see top)

I came down to the beach under the shadow of Hammershus, the ‘Hated Castle’, perched on a granite outcrop. The wind was blowing from the sea right up the valley and I sat and made a last painting, lasting just a few minutes before having to stop. I walked along the valley up to the road, annoyed with myself for giving up before the sunset.

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Just as I reached the new Hammershus Visitor Centre I noticed a change in light. Somehow, after such a grey and dreary day, the clouds and sun had conspired to create an awe inspiring sunset. I sat down and drank in the incredible colours, with the castle silhouetted against a constantly shifting backdrop of oranges, purples and reds. It seemed like an amazing reward after a hard and challenging day, and this burst of sudden positivity lifted my spirits whilst I trudged through the slush all the way back to Vang where my car waited.

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KYST 10

Weather report = snow, sleet and rain in the morning, light sleet in the afternoon. Overcast. Temperature between minus 1 and 3 degrees. Wind between 3 and 11 m/s first from the north, then the west. Visibility: poor, then better. Hours of sunshine: 5 mins (just as it set)

Lessons learned – take it easy. Take stops, do not allow yourself to get too hot and sweaty. Do not let your inner gloves get wet. Do not ever again go for a walk on slushy paths. Frozen and wet toes do eventually get warm when you walk on them. Stay to the end, it might be worth it.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.53 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 22 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 18 species (0 new ones = running total 47)

Other stuff = irony of wanting to be outside all day and ‘away from it all’, but making Facebook and Instagram updates through the day. No bird drawings again.

People talked to = 2

In my head = Annoying development: voice in head commentary ‘should I write this in the blog?’ (including this sentence). ‘… Det er så fuldt af sjov, ude i en skov..’ children’s song in my head all day…

2018-03-10

 

 

 

KYST 09 – from Vang Pier to Pissebækken, 02/02/18

For at læse denne KYST 09 blog på DANSK se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 09 Ever since the weekend, Bornholm had been covered by a thick blanket of snow and battered by a chilling east wind. School buses stopped running and only the main roads were cleared of the constantly drifting snow. After six in the evening, all activity ceased and we were warned not to make any unnecessary journeys. But as I looked out of the window early Friday morning the wind had died down a little, so I decided to go for it. The drive to Vang, which usually takes only 20 minutes or so, took nearly an hour, and I luckily fell in behind a convoy of slow moving cars. The road down to Vang is very steep and I was glad to find somewhere to leave the car by the harbour, and walk back to the start point by Vang pier through the thick virgin snow and morning gloom.

Despite leaving early, due to the long drive I was 10 minutes late for the sunrise just before 7am. It was still snowing hard, so I cleared a space and set up my M60. Despite being sheltered from the wind, the snow still swirled under the brolly and onto my paper. Four whooper swans sheltered in the sea under the cliffs, flanked by a rather confused and aloof mute swan.

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It was minus seven out of the wind, but I was well prepared with seven layers of clothing, a hot water bottle and a thermos flask. I had also left extra provisions and firewood in the car. I painted with nearly boiling water, with my palette resting on the hot water bottle. This way I could mix paint and apply paint to the paper, where it froze almost immediately. I made many experiments and studies of the pigments freezing, letting the snow fall on the wet paint, or even burying the painting in the snow.

 

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Here you can actually see how the outline of some of the snowflakes have been ‘captured’ by the pigment and frozen in the millisecond before being destroyed. I don’t really understand the physics, but it was incredible to see.

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I packed up and trudged through the snow back towards Vang. In the shelter of the granite cliffs I cleared a circle of snow with my shovel and set up the M60 again. Here I tried to depict the wonderful wintry scenes around me.

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At one point the sun briefly came out, and with direct sunlight on the paper I was able to avoid the paints freezing.

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After a wonderful pot noodle and a warming coffee, I walked back to Vang harbor. I still had not seen a soul. Every now and then the sun would break through the clouds. The old fishing hamlet of Vang looked incredibly picturesque covered in snow.

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A very kind couple I know invited me back to their summerhouse for a warming coffee. By this time my toes were frozen and I was glad for the opportunity to warm up, though it did feel a little wrong. Their house, an incredible old fisherman’s cottage that at one time had housed two families, was situated just outside Vang only metres from the shore. We talked about Vang, and how hard it must have been for the families back then, in crowded uninsulated and unheated houses, with little to look forward to other than another day on the freezing sea or slaving away at the quarry face. The fishermen have gone now and the quarry is closed, though Vang somehow retains its sense of community.

Soon I was burning up in all my clothes and I got back outside. The path along the shore was hidden in the thick snow. In the small wood skirting the base of the cliffs a roe deer bounded away before pausing and looking back at me. A flurry of feathers and blood on the snow marked the point where a sparrowhawk (or goshawk?) had surprised a woodcock. I could see where the hawk’s wing tips had brushed the snow as it swooped down. I imagined the chase and kill in the snowy silence. Further on I paused by some snow and ice covered boulders. The prospect was bleak but stunning in its clarity. (See top)

I walked back and forth along the path; partly looking for inspiration, partly looking to warm up. At my journey’s destination, Pissebækken (‘Piss Stream’) I sat down in the wood and looked up to the frozen waterfall. Under the ice I could still hear a trickle of water cascading down the granite cliffs. It was so cold now that the paint almost crackled on the paper as it froze. As the sun set behind the snow clouds at 5:29pm I walked back along the path, completely exhausted, to my waiting car.

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KYST 09

Weather report = heavy snow in the morning, light snow in the afternoon. Overcast with some brief sunny spells in the morning. Temperature between minus 7 and minus 4 all day. Wind between 1 and 6 m/s first from the north, then the east. Visibility: bad. Hours of sunshine: 30 mins?

Lessons learned – hot water bottle and hot water a good way of painting in sub-zero temps – glycerin too wet and alcohol too damaging to paints and brushes. Need new boots.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 6.16 km

Day lasted = 10 hours, 9 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 24 species (2 new ones, collared dove and whooper swan = running total 47)

Other stuff = hare in field, do more woodcocks get taken in the snow? Why are there so many blackbirds by the coast?

People talked to = 2

In my head = keeping warm… too cold for telescope, no bird drawings in two weeks… Amazing Andy Goldsworthy exhibition in Lund.

 

2018-03-03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KYST 08 – from Jons Kapel to Vang Pier, 23/02/18

For at læse denne KYST 08 blog på DANSK se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 08 Nearly two months in – I’m already an eighth of the way around the island and an eighth of the way through the year. Each walk is logistically more challenging, as the days get longer and the start and collection points are further from home. The project’s internal rhythm is settled now – recovery, research, walk, blog, recovery – and each Friday is a fantastic revelation, an adventure.

I settled in the snow at the top of the wooden staircase. It was completely still, the sea down below mirror-like and reflecting the pinks and oranges of the clear sky. It was minus 7; so cold that my fingers froze almost as quickly as the watercolours on the palatte.

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As the sun crept over the horizon I wandered on a little, out of the shadows in the forest, and to a clearing where I basked in the warming light and gazed down at the ocean below. Suddenly a yellowhammer sang its familiar song – my first of the year and my first sign of spring, of rebirth. I tried to work with the ice and the colours, whilst all around me and further along the coast, I could see and hear yellowhammers singing and flitting around.

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I moved on a little, but was unable to get down to the coast below. Up on the rocky coastal path, the familiar blackthorn, juniper and wild cherry trees hugged the hillside. An incredible feeling of peace and contentment.

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cofI was joined unexpectedly by a friend and we walked on for a while, then rested in the sun, enjoying a wee Bornholmian dram and a warming coffee. I ambled on alone, but still couldn’t find my way to the coast. Eventually I walked through the huge Vang granite quarry and down on to the rocky coast. Here, in the gloomy shadow of the cliffs, my aim was to walk back along the coast, to Krogeduren, a huge freestanding granite outcrop which I wanted to paint. There was no path and I jettisoned my chair and M60 brolly as the going was tough. The granite boulders were rounded and slippery by the water, but angular and unstable closer to the cliffs. Eventually I made it to Krogeduren and found a wonderful vantage point, just as the first rays of sun broke over the top of the cliffs and onto the top of the granite tower…only to realise I had left my paints and drawing board sandwiched in the chair. Much swearing. I made a quick pencil drawing, but I was cold and tired.

Back where I had left my equipment I looked towards the edge of the Vang pier, with Hammerhus visible in the far distance. I had intended to make a timed study of the passing of the sunlight and shadows over the rocks, but by now the sun was obscured by thick clouds and the wind was beginning to blow.

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I boiled some water for my late lunch, a pot noodle, only to spill all of the newly boiled water over my drawing board, my bag and my tarp. Much more swearing. In the space of half an hour the day had gone from clement to inclement, and my mood with it. I walked around a bit to warm up, then made a quick and wintery study of the Vang ‘art bridge’, where the cliff between the quarry and the coast was dynamited to provide improved unloading facilities from the quarry to the pier.

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On the pier itself, in the freezing wind and gloom, I was momentarily cheered up by a small group of zestful meadow pipits. The heavy grey clouds slowly pushed on southwards, gradually covering the remaining strip of light on the horizon, as it passed from yellow, to orange, and then to red, before finally disappearing altogether (see top).

KYST 08

Weather report: clear start to the day, later overcast, minus 7 to 0°C, wind 1 to 6 m/s from north. Visibility: not bad. Hours of sunshine: 4

Lessons learned – always put the stove on something level and stable, and take gloves off before taking the boiling water off. If you’re going to put the frozen watercolour palette in your trousers to warm it up, be prepared for defrosted paints to run down your legs.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 7.45km

Day lasted = 10 hours, 18 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 18 species (3 new = yellowhammer, robin and meadow pipit = running total 45)

Other stuff = roe deer bounding across the field in the freezing dawn

People talked to = 3

In my head = ‘alene i vildmarken’ (‘Alone’), what it would be like to NOT have anyone to talk to at the end of the day, to NOT come home to a lovely shower and a cold beer. Chess, again. Trust.

2018-02-24