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FK 01 was made close to Vestermarie on the 10th of January when we had icy weather. Water collected on waterlogged fields had frozen to ice, which I scratched to create a shape.

‘Fire Kanter’ (’Four Edges/Sides’) is the title of a year-long self-funded art project I will be working on throughout 2021. Now that the KYST project and all its various outcomes (book, exhibition, etc) have been delivered and digested, I feel I am ready and willing to embark on another structured and time-based project.

I wanted to build on some of the themes of the KYST project, but also do something completely different. I love the structure of a year-long project and the rhythm and depth that such an undertaking entails, but I also want to change the format and build on some of the anamorphic and land art sculptures and installations I’ve been working on over many years.

‘Fire Kanter’ is a series of anamorphic squares – site-specific interventions – created and photographed in the Bornholmian landscape. I will walk around in the landscape, in the forest, on a field, by the beach. I will choose a point in space and from that point, I will create the illusion of a square within the landscape by moving, replacing and altering things I find and collect in the landscape. I will be engaging with the environment in an explorative and tactile way and getting my hands dirty.

The anamorphic nature of the project means that the area I will be engaging with is by no means square but will only appear so from the specific point from where I record the image. The challenge will be to create this illusion using organic materials within a dynamic space. Wind, air temperature and gradient will dictate the nature of the artwork, as will the plastic nature of the resources that I will be working with. I have hundreds of ideas as I write this (mid-January) but time will tell which of these will be successfully realised.

FK 01

I will be creating a minimum of one ‘firkant’ a month throughout 2021. Probably and hopefully I will be creating many more. Whilst I am not specifying when and where the firkanter will be made, my aim is to create interventions that reflect the turning of the wheel of time as well as the geographical and natural diversity of Bornholm. I will be looking at creating these artworks in a variety of different locations on Bornholm, some well-known, others much less so. Some may only last for hours or days, others a bit longer, but all will eventually be reclaimed by time and the landscape.

In order to create these squares, I will try to use as few tools as possible – just my camera and tripod if possible. I will document the creation of the firkant, its completed form and possibly the process of it dissolving back into the landscape. These images I will share throughout the year on my social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook and my website blog). Time permitting, I will write on my blog about the creation of these works. Possibly I will be making plein air timescape/slicer paintings of the squares. Depending on how all this goes, I will investigate creating a book and/or exhibition about the project in 2022, and I would like to include some of the ideas, sketches and thought processes. But maybe not – this is a self-created and self-funded project, an essentially selfish undertaking that may disappear without trace.

FK 01 – and three days after…

‘Fire Kanter’ is (another) way for me to connect deeply with the Bornholm landscape. By being in the landscape and moving things around, I cannot help but engage with it in a deep and meaningful way. I will be literally getting to grips with my environment. The raw materials of the landscape will be the tools with which I create my art. The artwork will be situated within that which it represents.

Earthbound III

It seems like an age ago now, but in September of 2020, I was part of the third Earthbound exhibition held at Gudhjem Museum. This post is just a short description of the process involved in preparing and delivering the work I produced for the exhibition – much too late of course, but hopefully this will spur me on to be a more regular blogger throughout 2021…

Earthbound is a very loose collection of five Bornholm-based artists, all of whom take direct or indirect inspiration from Bornholm’s natural environment. Earthbound III would be myself, together with the incredible pots of ceramic artist Eva Brandt, the delicate and shimmering watercolours and prints by Lone Schiøtz, atmospheric oil paintings by Barbara Sørensen and the tactile organic wooden vessels by wood turner Hans Henning Pedersen. We had exhibited together two times before, both at Gudhjem Museum, so this was to be the third act. The previous exhibitions had been very well received, and I was looking forward very much to joining forces with the other ‘Bounders’ and putting my work up on the walls of what I think is Bornholm’s best gallery space.

Right from the start I decided I would produce some large watercolours, larger than I had ever tried before. I was interested in seeing if I could make some gigantic plein air ‘timescape’ paintings, where I would follow the movement of the shadows over the landscape, through the course of a day.

I started off buying a huge roll of Saunders Waterford paper, and cutting off slices. To stretch and prepare the paper, I took it to Bjergebakke Quarry, about a ten minute cycle ride from where I live, were I submerged the paper and let it dry between huge sheets of hardboard. All this happened in August during a very hot period, which meant the paper dried too quickly and buckled a little anyway. I was OK with that.

The first two paintings I completed in Bjergbakke Quarry itself. It is an old granite quarry, very small and local in character, that has been out of use since the 70s. Now it is used for grazing livestock and the owners have kindly built a diving platform, so people can jump into the deep quarry lake. Inside the bowl of the quarry, industrial machinery slowly rusts into the soil. It is an evocative place, a quiet arena cut off from its surroundings, where nature is slowly taking back territory previously lost to human activity.

Next I went to Stevns Klint, a rocky outcrop in the northern end of Salene Bugt just south of Helligdomsklipperne. Here the natural granite rock face is completely different in character. As I had in Bolsterbjerg, I started by dividing the paper into 3 x 5 squares. Then I made a very simple pencil sketch of the whole area I would focus on, making notes and sketches. Returning the next day just after midday, I started in the middle of the painting and worked by way, square by square as time went, finishing in the bottom right square, at about 10 pm. The next morning at 5 am I returned and continued, starting from the top left square, until I reached there where I had begun the day before.

The third venue was Stammershalle, another rocky outcrop further north. Here the prominotory is riddled with iron and bronze age menhir and dolmen and I’ve always felt as though there is a special energy or atmosphere in the area. This time I worked horizontally from left to right. Again, it was an incredible experience to spend so much time outside in one place just looking and looking, and looking…

The fourth place I chose was ‘Peder Olsens Havn’ just south of Hasle on the other eastern side of the island. Here sheltering under a low sandstone cliff I was again completely cut off from everything and anyone and had only the gulls for company. At the end of the first day it started to rain and I struggled to keep the huge painting dry under my shelter. The next morning was the most incredible magical sunrise. Whilst I worked horizontally again, I subdivided the painting according to the Golden Mean. This meant that I ‘changed’ more quickly during those parts of the day that the light changed more quickly (the sunrise and the sunset).

Himmel, hav og fugle gennem dagen. Peder Olsens Havn, Bornholm

The final three paintings were sky studies, where I subdivided the sky into stripes or squares, and followed it through the day. In the painting below, I started in the top left and work down, then started up on the next column, and so on…

Himmel gennem dagen III. Vestermarie, Bornholm

I used pretty much all of August and a bit of September on the paintings. We had a week to install the exhibition, and it went very smoothly, just as it had done the previous times. We the artists worked well together and were ably supported by the passionate and knowledgable volunteers of Gudhjem Museum. Here a photo taken during installation.

I was surprised and a tiny bit disappointed when I saw how my huge paintings shrunk once within the gallery, but overall I was very pleased with the exhibition and my large watercolours. Unfortunately due to Covid there was no PV, but now I just thank the lucky stars that we were able to open at all. Such a fantastic place to exhibit, and in the company of such talented artists. I think our stuff worked really well together – Earthbound IV? Who knows, watch this space…

Birdwatch Artist of the Year, 2019!

At this year’s Natural Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, I was shocked and chuffed in equal measures to receive the Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award. In their own words ‘This prestigious award, held in association with the Society of Wildlife Artists and Swarovski Optik, is given to the artist whose work s considered to be the most outstanding’. My painting of tufted ducks in Rønne harbour was the one they chose, which made me especially happy as is was painted on Bornholm, and shows a scene that many local people will be familiar with (they huddle in the harbour every winter, just by the ferry).

Tufted Ducks on Icy Water, Rønne (sold)

I painted it in January, just after the actual KYST project finished. It was a freezing afternoon, but the setting sun cast a wonderful orange glow on the ducks. The sub-zero temperature meant that I couldn’t really control my fingers, resulting n broadquick brush strokes, and froze the washes of watercolor on to the paper, creating wonderful tendrils and patterns. I absolutely didn’t think ‘my God, its a Goddam masterpiece’ when I finished it, but it has grown on me and I was happy to submit it to the exhibition. I had no idea it would be chosen as the winning painting!

It means so much to me to receive this award, and has been given to me at a very important juncture in my professional life – just as the KYST project, its book and exhibitions, has come to a close, and lots of exciting things are beckoning on the horizon. I look forward to developing my practice and hopefully, one day I’ll feel as though I actually deserve to stand alongside previous and future winners.




No, not rum but ‘rum‘ a Danish word that can mean ‘space’, ‘room’, ‘place’ or other things, depending on the context – and which is the theme for this year’s Bornholms KultureUge (Bornholm’s Culture Week).

I have been asked by the organisers to make an ‘anamorphic street painting’ for the opening event on Saturday the 16th of September – an ephemeral artwork painted directly on the cobbles of the town square. The brief was simple and non-prescriptive – just to create something non-permanent in ‘Stor Torvet‘ with the theme of ‘rum‘ as the starting point.

Well, I have used the anamorphic technique several times in the past, see here and here, to create a three dimensional space in which the viewers are themselves immersed within the artwork, so ‘rum’ fitted the idea of an anamorphic painting very well from the start. I’ve never created something like this ‘out in the open’, but I very quickly decided I wanted to create something that would grab the attention of passers-by, and have something to do with the whole idea of ‘public art’ – a hot topic on Bornholm in recent months (see below).


Practically speaking, the ‘venue’ posed some specific challenges. The cobblestones themselves are rough and uneven, with large irregular (and sometimes grass-filled) gaps in between. This immediately causes problems with the creation of the three-dimensional illusion that is so important in anamorphic perspective drawing. The square itself is on a slight angle as well, which caused also caused a real headache in terms of defining horizons, vanishing points, levels and so on.
The non-permanence of the artwork also presented the possibility of weather playing an important role (more below…)

So, back to public art – a prickly subject here on Bornholm. Last year, a local fund that supports the arts (and me) called Brøderners Larsens gifted some money towards the creation of three contemporary artworks to be created and placed in the centre of three roundabouts on Bornholm (under the management of the local Arts Council). One of the artworks is already completed see here, and received a certain amount of criticism, but it is the second one that has really lit a fire and caused Local Controversy’. The artist collective ‘Randi and Katrine‘ proposed to create a rather kitsch and humorous sculpture of a Bornholm Round Church (itself a ‘symbol’ of tourist Bornholm) in one of the aforementioned roundabouts – felling the fine tree that is currently in the centre of the roundabout. To cut a very long and slightly tedious story short, the destruction of the tree to make way for contemporary art became a bit of a local story, with many arguing against the artwork in local papers, Facebook and so on. I followed this debate with some interest – on the one hand it is great to see art being pushed into the public sphere, but on the other hand it is depressing to realise just how far removed the ‘normal’ public is from contemporary art practice and its proponents and components. The whole debate became distilled and simplified – ‘tree vs crap sculpture’, ‘nature vs art’ or ‘good art vs bad art’ with very little debate on the potential merits of public art – and more importantly (this!) – how and why the general public could feel so far removed from contemporary art practice in general, and the commissioning of this artwork in particular.


And so on to my idea – in the middle of the town square is a large granite sculpture by recently deceased Japanese Bornholm-based Jun Ichi Inoue. Hemmed in by cafe tables and chairs in the summer, and often completely ignored by passers-by this neglected sculpture is actually a gigantic ‘sundial’ positioned so that light passes between specific points and casts a shadow on  a granite stone at the equinoxes. At various times people have suggested moving the sculpture, while others have pointed out that it is a site-specific work and should not be moved. Whatever the case – there is no question that it is neglected and ignored.

DSCF7825I propose then, to try to draw the public’s attention towards Jun Ichi Inoue’s sculpture, and to the merits and possibilities of public art. Hopefully people – ‘normal’ people – will come and take selfies and look at my painting and Jun Ichi Inoue’s sculpture. Hopefully they will react more positively to public art, who knows? I’m going to be employing the services of former students of mine from Bornholms Art School to help (it works out at about 80sq metres ‘on the ground’), as well as my own kids, and the whole thing is going to be a brilliant experience. Hopefully it’ll work out, and the rain will stay away for a while…

My own personal opinion is that the proposed Round Church sculpture looks questionable to say the least – and I have reservations about the commissioning process (local artists?) – but I have not seen the complete sculpture yet, and reserve judgement (and I can’t wait to see it). In any case, my opinion or ‘judgement’ is meaningless in relation to my support for all sorts of public art in general. I’m not expecting to love everything all the time, but just the idea of public art, the support of the Brørderns Larsens Fund and the inclusion of interesting contemporary artists is a positive thing as far as I’m concerned. Three sculptures on roundabouts on Bornholm – brilliant! And the tree? Why not get local artists such as Hans Henning Pedersen to make something with it? I’m hoping to use some of it in a school project I’m doing next year, if I can…

DSCF7822 DSCF7823

Anyway, back to the town square. The original idea was to have the painting completed by 12 noon on Saturday the 16th of September. This is not going to happen. Bornholm is currently in the grip of an autumn storm and I am checking weather forecasts hourly. All being well, I shall begin on the afternoon of Friday the 15th, and take it from there, working all day Saturday and Sunday. I hope to be completed by 12 noon on Monday the 18th – hopefully I’ll see you there…


Update – the finished work…


‘Villads’ School Project

DSCF7740‘Villads fra Valby’ was the working name for a huge art project I worked on during the first half of 2017.

The project was originally conceived by the local Bornholm council as a way of encouraging a more fluid and less stressful transition from nursery to school for Bornholm’s 5 and 6 year olds. At some point in their discussion and planning, they had the bright idea of involving local artists, and that’s where I was called in, together with local artist and illustrator (and Glasgow School of Art graduate) Tilde Lerch Engstrøm. The idea was to create an art-based project that would encourage the children to feel more positive about starting school, while at the same time giving them the opportunity to meet their new school mates, teachers and surroundings in a comfortable and creative emotional and physical space.

Originally, Tilde and I were given the popular Danish children’s book and film ‘Villads fra Valby’ as a theme or subject from which to  base our project, but actually we rather quickly dropped Villads and worked within the framework of self-portraits and communal self-expression instead. The project that we created was thus: Four sessions with every child of school-starting age on Bornholm (over 300 kids). Two sessions at their nursery/playschool (not sure what the correct English translation of børnehave should be – but Danish kids don’t start school until they’re 5, 6 or sometimes even 7) followed by two sessions at their prospective school. Running throughout spring 2017, the idea was that, come their first school day in August, the children would already be familiar with their new school, their teachers and their new school mates, and would be comfortable working in a creative and expressive way with each other.

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The idea was that the children would produce a life size self-portrait (cut out from Foamex panels) which they would draw and paint themselves – paying particular attention to how they felt about starting school (shy, proud, expectant, nervous, etc.) and how these feelings could be represented on their self-portrait (position of eyebrows, arms, colours and so on). On their figure would be a ‘secret’ door, behind which the children could draw something special that they loved. At the school, the children would then work together to arrange Foamex triangles together to create a giant artwork.

The first session was a bit of an eye opener for me, as it had been ages since I had worked with children this young – it seemed like ages in fact since I had even talked to a young child. But the kids quickly brought me back to earth with a bang, and we concentrated on practicing drawing techniques, mark making and generally having fun. The second session, where the children began to draw and paint their figures, was even more eye-opening, as the difference between what I thought the kids could do and what they actually could do became obvious (not to mention the huge difference in ability and engagement amongst the kids themselves). The third and fourth sessions at the schools were no less challenging, as it became clear that my inexperience with working with young children meant that I had seriously overestimated their ability to work together.


Bu no matter! A lot of enthusiasm and good will, will go a long way, and throughout the process Tilde and I were supported by a fantastic back up team that organised all of the practical and organisational matters, as well as the professionals working at the nurseries and schools, for whom I now have the highest regard and respect. Furthermore we were helped by other groups of people the ‘mijløpedaler’ that ferried the Foamex sheets around the island, and the ‘remissen’ that cut them all out (all 312 of them…)

‘Villads’ was a pilot project; a vast and ambitious project that was challenging and even disruptive in many ways for many people. Along the way much hard-won experience was gained and hopefully this will lead to even more successful projects in the future. Despite all of the stresses and difficulties, however, my abiding memory of ‘Villads’ will be the children themselves and their joy and pride when showing off their figures to their friends and families at the ‘private views’ (all 15 of them) that we held around the island in May and June. For what its worth I really enjoyed working with the children – almost as though I had forgotten how much fun they could be. The way children of this age can draw – completely free from fear – is a wonder to behold, and they created some truly wonderful self-portraits. It really was uncanny to see how they somehow managed to capture their expression or their personality even, with a few deft strokes of the pen. Amazing…

If you’re any good at Danish, here is a film of one of the private views, made by Øens TV, Bornholm…

More photos and film soon…


Bird of the Month Prints – finished

So, I finally managed to finish all twelve of the prints. All were hand-printed at Tryk2 værksted in Årkirkeby, Bornholm – more info here.

The prints have already made the trip to Sweden for an exhibition, and this weekend (25th May to the 28th May 2017) they will be on display, along with some new watercolours, at Engholms Brændpunkt, Sandvig, as part of this year’s ‘Kunstrunde’… The prints cost 600kr each framed, or 450kr unframed (4.800kr / 3.600kr for all twelve). The actual image measures about 12cm square (fit a square 24cm frame)…

They will also be availiable soon at NaturBornholm, Artbox and Svanekegården

bird of the month - all twelve


Bird of the Month Lino Prints


I’ve been working on a new project – ‘Bird of the Month Lino Prints’ (for want of a better title) since December of last year. The idea behind the project is the creation of 12 two-colour reduction lino prints – one for each month of the year – depiciting a Bornholmian bird, or group of birds, in a Bornholm setting.

Actually I’ve been thinking about doing this for years, and my head has been full of ideas about which bird and which place on Bornholm. Self-enforced and ‘proactive’ projects like this are a much needed counterpoint to my usual working practice – ‘reactive’ responses to ephemeral changes in the environment. The self-enforced structure of the project, together with the somewhat methodical nature of printing, gives me an different way of working  which I find both challenging and refreshing.

As such, the project is driven by the following (informal) objectives/rules

  • Each print will be small and identical in format (approx 12 x 12cm)
  • The print run for each month will be between about 20 or so
  • Each print will depict a bird that is ‘classic’ for Bornholm for that particular month
  • Each print will depict the birds in a recognizable place on Bornholm – one where they can be seen
  • Each print will be a reduction linocut – in most cases with just two reductive stages (=white paper, plus two colours)
  • Each print will be nearly colour neutral, with an emphasis instead on tonal contrasts and a simplified graphic approach. Groups of birds, strongly lit and blending in and out of their background, will be the order of the day.

I am now more than half way through, and hope to be finished some time in Spring. I’m hoping they will be ready for the exhibition in Sweden, and perhaps even for Kunstrunde here on April.

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All the printing has taken place at Tryk2, the fantastic printing workshop in Åkirkeby, Bornholm. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. Anyone interested in Bornholm and printing should book it for a few weeks in the summer (it comes with a flat). It is very well equipped and affordable – check out their website (*new website currently under construction, will update link soon…).

Here is one of the prints I’ve been working on. Black headed gulls for August (this is actually three colours/levels of reduction, so I broke my rule here…).


The finished print here…


Anyway, I eventually settled on the following month/bird/place combinations…

  • January – Rooks (Råger) – Østermarie Rundkirke
  • February – Ravens (Ravner) – Rytterknægten
  • March – Lapwings (Viber) – Udkæret
  • April – Shelduck (Gravænder) – Salthammer
  • May – Ederfugle (Eider ducks) – Christiansø
  • June – Vandrefalke (Peregrines) – Vang
  • July – Razorbill (Alke) – Hammerknuden
  • August – Black Headed Gulls (Hættemåge) – Dueodde
  • September – Cranes (Traner) – Bastemose
  • October – Greylags (Grågæes) – Nexø Sydstrand
  • November – Fieldfares (Sjagger) – Svaneke
  • December – Long Eared Owls (Skovhornugle) – Rønne

The list is more a reflection of when and where I get my inspiration from during the year, rather than an attempt to showcase rare or exciting birds that you find on Bornholm. There were lots of ‘honorable mentions’ that didn’t make it onto the final list – but who knows, maybe I could do another round in a few years?

I’ll update my progress on this blog… until then, back to work…

Breaking Through – Brud i Gennem


‘Brud i Gennem’ (badly translated as ‘Breaking Through’) is the name of an anamorphic installation I did at Galleri Rasch in Rønne, Bornholm in the end of September 2016.

Nothing to do with birds (though I did actually hide a peregrine in one of the paintings) the exhibition is concerned with the way in which we (=I) struggle to deal with the ‘viral’ images of dead and injured children that are pumped out of Syria into the wider media on a regular basis. In a broader sense, the exhibition addresses the issues surrounding the Syrian Humanitarian Crisis and the influx of refugees into Europe (and even little Bornholm).

The main premise is this: I live in an incredibly safe war-free zone, surrounded by wonderful nature far from the dangers of bombardment and starvation , or the need to flee for my life. I take a walk  in the daytime, maybe sketch some birds. In the evening on one or other screen (or , more probably, several) I am served images of dead or dying children – ‘viral’ images that awaken the conscience, tug on the heart-strings and cause pangs of guilt – until they are swiftly forgotten and life moves on…  Until that is, the next time I sit in a bus with some confused Syrian refugees, or my child talks about the new kid in their class ‘Mohamed’. My seaweed drawing on the beach, see here, was part of my response to this situation.

14389044_10154459114611698_1035604838_n‘Brud i Gennem’ came about when I was invited to have an exhibition during Bornholms Kulturuge (‘Culture Week’) in September 2016, by Galleri Rasch in Rønne Bornholm. The theme for 2016 was ‘Brud’, an interesting word in Danish that has multiple meanings and idiomatic uses. In Spring of this year I did an art week with some students from a school in Nexø that explored some of these themes, and some ideas relating to the refugee crisis and the use of the anamorphic technique began to fly around in my mind.

Being very busy this summer, I didn’t really have time to move things on much. When the images and films of Omran Daqneesh ‘the boy in the ambulance’ surfaced on the News and online, I was shocked and appalled. The helplessness and shock on his face reflected the whole situation in Syria, and I couldn’t get the image off my mind. It is precisely the of the image that makes it so powerful. Omran looks lost, helpless – both young and vulnerable, but somehow ossified and ancient at the same time. War photographers from Syria see worse – children with their limbs and heads blown off – but the image of Omran was somehow shocking enough – without crossing the line into gore. He could have been anyone’s kid. Could have been my kid.

Going for a walk in Vang stenbrud (an old granite quarry here on Bornholm) looking for some recently fledged peregrine falcons a few days later, I was still thinking of the image, or rather, it was still preying on my mind. The deep shadows in the rocks hid a multitude of faces and figures and seemed to echo the statue like-figure of Omran, covered in grey dust, shocked into catanonia. It was then I realised how the anamorphic technique (where an image is seen as three-dimensional from a point in space, rather than a flat plane) would be the perfect vehicle to reflect the way in which the image drifted in and out of my mind.14371864_10154459113141698_864581040_n

I started the installation on the monday, and opened on the saturday – all in the incredible heat of an indian summer (the gallery is like a greenhouse). As the week went on, the exhibition began to change into something – what it is now. ‘Break Through’ works as a ‘normal’ exhibition, with pictures hanging on walls. Then there is the anamorphic composite image of Omran seen from a specific point in the gallery. Nearly hidden on the pictures themselves are also quotes taken from news report from the time relating to Omran in particular, and viral images of war in general. Lastly there is a painting where visitors to the gallery are encouraged to write their feelings and thoughts directly, like graffiti on the rocks.

I tried to change our relationship to these images – to reinvigorate them and make our relationship to them active rather than passive. To re-infect the virus.

I was helped by my family (Alma painted the amazingly small quotes with a brush), by the Gallery, and by some students from Bornholm Billedskole. The film I made with the help of Verner Kjærsgaard – a local photographer who dropped everything to lend his expertise and equipment free of charge.


A local radio station P4 Bornholm made a film of the installation which can be seen here (scroll down to 17th Sept)

TV2 Bornholm, a local TV station made a short piece about the installation here (20.09.16).

My film of the exhibition is above.


Seabirds in Scotland

Drawing at St Abbs…. (photo: Bruce Pearson)

Straight after my trip to Turkey, it was off to Scotland for the Seabird Drawing course. Formerly led by the late John Busby, the Seabird Course is now headed by Darren Woodhead, along with Greg Poole, John Threfall and Kitty Jones. This year Bruce Pearson was the invited guest tutor. Bloomin’ brilliant.

Having arrived pretty much straight from Turkey with Greg, we were both ‘battle hardened’ and eager to get out in the field again. The drawing conditions in Turkey had been very pleasant, but the wildlife and birds were sporadic at best and we spent most of our time drawing in quite a ‘static’ environment. The seabird course could not have been more different. The weather was cold, windy, changeable, windy, showery and downright challenging and the seabirds were anything but static.IMG_2593

St Abbs proved to be the most popular venue and there is really no place like it. The constant din of seabirds, vertiginous cliff and rocks, crashing waves – a kaleidoscope of colour and form. You can sit anywhere in St Abbs and find amazing stuff to look at. There is simply no end of things to see and draw, and I could gladly spend the rest of my life just walking up and down the paths over the cliffs, drawing and painting. And through time, of course, everything changes. Each weather front brings its own colours and shades, and the tides and the movement of the sun create a dynamic backdrop to the even more dynamic movements of the birds.IMG_2591

I spent most of my time working on ‘time-based’ work – following the flights of the seabirds with brush strokes and creating a long exposure of their flight lines. IMG_2595Landscapes split into different sections throughout the day, some under the sun, others rained upon. Row upon row of 10 second, 20 second sketches of the same bird. I really feel as though I am going somewhere with this sort of stuff, and I look forward to mining this more and more – I think it is a rich seam.IMG_2589

A boat trip to the Bass was another highlight of the trip – unfortunately I was not able to get on the rock this time. 13659176_10153848783012476_5109416418414769198_nIn the lee of the wind, we made countless small circles in the shadow of the gigantic cliff, drawing and painting a moving – but returning – target. An incredible and moving (ahem) moment, as tutors and students alike scribbled away in total concentration, wordlessly, under the din of the squabbling gannets. Unforgettable.13631487_10153848783017476_760253169356710020_n

As this was my second trip I felt I was able to hit the ground running. I knew what to expect and what I wanted to do.  This year, the tutors had a more ‘hands on’ approach, in that the day started with warm up drawing exercises and finished with evening talks from the tutors. This was a really positive development that opened a whole new element to the course, without detracting from the democratic and non-prescriptive atmosphere that made the seabird course so iconic in the first place. The dynamic of a residential course, where everyone is in the same boat, is a wonderful thing to behold and experience, and I look forward to the next time I can come. The SWLA has a bursary – see here….Go if you can!IMG_2596