Bardsey Island Art Residency September 2019

In Autumn 2019 I returned to Bardsey Island for a third artist residency granted by the Bardsey Island Trust. I was very excited to be visiting the island for the third year running. The weather was set to be wild, wet and windy which meant the boat was delayed one day for getting onto the island which was disappointing but then it was delayed for two days for the return journey, which was wonderful! A week is such a short length of time to draw inspiration from a whole island rich in wildlife, stunning views and so many hidden corners to explore! Once again there were many parts of the island I didn't see over the week, I mostly stayed on the lower rocky end sometimes sheltered from the wind and other times facing it head on to embrace the drama!

First study of the week in progress, on the first evening on the island.

I did a number of studies of the dawn view from the cottage, Carreg Bach that my partner Will and I stayed in. I often woke up to the Wren in the garden singing at first light and so would step out of the door and get in a study or two in before breakfast!

8'',6'' Morning Light studies from Carreg Bach

More view studies from the cottage done first thing in the morning. There were a number of grey/ wet days and these first brief moments of light provided some colour/ contrast excitement to start the day  before the sea and sky faded and flattened to grey again.

Seal pair cuddled up asleep, oil sketch on primed paper. 

Will in the rain. 

Painting in the wind and rain early in the week... At least trying to! I discovered Ultramarine oil paint is not water proof, the blue pigment ran out and mixed with the rain water and the of oil paint in my palette turned into a gloopy mush that was no longer usable. The others pigments were fine and completely unaffected. Worth knowing!

After getting soaked through by the wind driven rain, we retreated to the cottage to light a fire to dry everything off!

Seal pup sleeping behind a rock (top). Morning light study with Cormorants on a rock (bottom).

Seal pup and mum sleeping after a feed. 

I found this scene a challenge, capturing Redshanks through the scope and then continuing to get down as much 'info' as possible of a distant and rapidly changing scene..!

Beautiful moment of soft glowing yellow light on the water, the crashing waves blue in shadow.

Very rapid oil sketches in a last burst of evening light, the seals glowed like velvet as their coats had dried out.

Seals sometimes have a way of making rocks look super comfy. Other times there is a lot of shifting about!

Pup scratching its paws together as it settled for a long nap.

I didn't spend much time sketching on this residency compared to the last one. I was mostly occupied with sea studies and enjoying the wild weather.

Evening light studies, rapid succession of 5 X 6'',8'' canvas's. This small size seemed to be my favourite size over the week, it was perfect for getting down a quick statement of the colours/ light and atmosphere before it shifted.

I painted another larger study this time on a larger canvas, 10'',12''

Another sea/ rock study before the tide came up with intimidating large waves.

8'',6'' Wave break study

The waves breaking and pouring over rocks created beautiful cascades of foamy white water.

I anticipated bad weather for the week so my plein air solution was tent pegs which Will fastened on with a couple of jubilee clips,- worked a treat! Up to 40 odd mph winds and this super light weight easel stayed firmly rooted!

The wild far tip of the island boasted the biggest waves. Incoming weather made very short work of my umbrella as I attempted to keep dry! I loved this moody view with Gannets constantly gliding by. I had to abandon this painting later on as I was chilled and soaked and the light completely changed after the sky fell down!

Waves studies in rapid succession. The waves were very large and rolling with a beautiful emerald/ jade green glow to them.

Inspiration overload...! Here I attempted to work on two paintings at once!... which compromised both really but it was worth a try!

Rapid study of the large rolling wave below the beautiful glowing pink sky as the sun was setting, need to straighten out that horizon line... blaming the wind!

Seal pup sleeping on the path, completely unperturbed by us watching, he scratched his head and rubbed his eyes and went back to sleep. This one had clearly had enough of the wild sea!

Spot the odd one out! The Sheep seemed very wary of it and ran past.

Mid morning light study, looking towards the lower tip of Bardsey.

Rock and wave study.

Rock and wave study.

Small sea study looking from the North side where flocks of young seabirds were streaming by as well as Gannets, Cormorants and Gulls.

Quick colour notes study in the gale force winds at sunset. Brr. 

The last day we were on the island ended with a beautiful sunny clear evening, similar to the light and weather we'd been fortunate to have on the same week last year when we visited. Up until then it had felt like a very different experience! 

Evening Light over Rocks study, 8'',6''

The boat arriving to take us off the island :( The sea looked suspiciously calm... as soon as we set off a couple of 10ft waves rolled into the bay as a sign of what was to come! :S

A photo of the crossing at a relatively calmer point before I decided to stop watching as it was too scary!

We made it back to land...!

The beginnings of my studio development work:

Seals Resting, Evening Light

Turnstones and Crashing Wave- map out stage. 

Redshanks and Crashing Wave- map out stage. 


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