It hasn't even been two weeks since I moved to Cornwall to start uni here. It feels like so much longer. The friends I've made, the things I've seen, the lessons I've learnt, the Freshers-induced alcohol I've somehow managed to plough through, the vinegar drenched chips I've eaten... I'm yet to have a Cornish pasty, which is outrageous, given that I've been here more than long enough. That's on the to-do list for next week.
I've also been spending a lot of the time down on the beach, which is a mere 5 minute walk away from my studio space in the Fox Rosehill Gardens. As well as exploring with my new-found friends, sometimes I've taken walks down there on my own before getting the bus back to campus, just to listen to the sound of the waves before heading home for the evening. I was warned that my art practice would most likely be swayed by the incredible change of living environment from the slightly drab and grey Bedfordshire to the beautiful Cornwall. I fully expected it myself, but not to such an intense degree. My surroundings; the sea, the docks, the beach, the sand, the salty air, the palm trees - Cornwall life is giving me this intense desire to make art about these things.
My practice has always been focused on nature and the natural environment - my last project in A Level focused on pollution and the detrimental effects of man on the Earth - but never before have I felt such a pull towards reflecting the nature actually around me in my work. The past couple of days in the studio I had time for self-instructed practice, so I decided it was an opportune time to finally respond to this intense need to re-create my surrounds and took a trip to the beach this morning with Steph to do a quick watercolour sketch and snap some source photographs to take back to the studio with me for reference.
Sea foam. Sand ripples. Textures upon textures. Sand grains. Seaweed. Sea mist in the air. Pebbles washed up, embedded in the shore, embellished with marine-made motifs. Inspiration, everywhere.
My mum recently made me aware of the Welsh artist Osi Rhys Osmond, who was interested in portraying the mystery, romance and beauty in landscapes, in particular costal scenes. This graphic psychogeography, as Osmond referred to in his work, places an emphasis on the human-like behaviour of the environment and the playful, dream-like qualities of the coast. His work provokes deep feelings of nostalgia and presents the idea of a more intense exploration of our surroundings.
On discussion of his practice, Osmond said "I paint on paper with one large sable hair brush and watercolour, there is no preliminary drawing, what happens is an intuitive response to what is before me". I tried to mimic this way of working, incredibly naturally and without pencil lines to define how the paint decides to work.
Inspired by this new way of working I headed back to the studio, armed with my masking tape, paints, ink, brushes and pastels and got to work. I felt that the disjointed jigsaw reassembly of my last piece was successful and something I may look to re-create again, albeit in a more subtle way, to mimic the shapes of the pebbles and rocks I discovered on the beach. Also, I'm looking to use more greens, blues, muted greys and ochres to echo the sand, sea and sky that influences my practice. I want to re-create the movement of the sea, both the calm and savage sides of it all at once, and the textures of the costal landscape as a whole. Where this new direction of work will take me I do not know, but I'm taking this time to be inspired; to uncover exactly what works for me as an artist.