Sunday 30 October 2011

Welsh Week

I'm feeling well and truly recharged creatively after a week's holiday on the North Wales coast. It's the first time we've had a holiday in two years, and I'd forgotten how much we need a break sometimes. We came to stay at a cottage belonging to a family friend - I used to come here as a child, but it's been 25 years since I last visited. It hasn't changed much.

We revisited old favourites - slate mines and castles , and sites from myth and legend. This is Caernarfon castle, even more impressive than I remembered it to be. It took all day to explore.

And this was perhaps the most impressive site of all. Tre'r Ceiri, an iron age hillfort, perched high on top of a mountain, a hard climb. Inside this huge site,hanging on the edge of the peak, and bounded by impenetrable stone ramparts, 5 o r 6 foot high, and wider still, are the remains of nearly 150 iron age roundhouses. These are in far better condition than the ones I am used to seeing here on Dartmoor, many have almost complete walls. You can see from the picture below how they are built almost in a flower pattern - a circle of little one roomed huts around an open space, looking just like petals on a flower. Some of the later ones are divided into two or even three rooms. It's hard to imagine living here, in such a bleak, and frankly fairly hostile environment. However, before the cloud descended and made seeing beyond the end of our noses difficult, the views were spectacular. I could see holyhead in one direction, the end of the Llyn peninsular in another, looking for all the world like a toy map, and, in a brief moment of golden light and clarity, the hills of South Wales and Fishguard.

But most of the time was spent mooching on the beach. Small toothy son spent every daylight hour on the beach, building sandcastles, running with the dogs, and asking endless questions of the fishermen.

We were all inspired to get creative on the beach. The owl-daughter made a mermaid.

While the boys helped me to shape a giant dragon. The owl daughter made it's legs and claws, while the fey daughter collected fiery stones to make it's belly glow.

We watched dolphins playing in the bay from our bedroom window, and I spent hours being amazed by the changing light show outside.

Frustration at being unable to capture the quality of light properly on camera led me to drag out my paintbox, but the first attempts, on poor paper, were terrible! My father came to my rescue, bringing me good watercolour paper and Indian ink from Porthmadog, and I stepped outside of my comfort zone and painted like a woman possessed. The early paintings are poor, but these later ones are just beginning to capture the colours I was looking for. I don't pretend to be a landscape painter in any way, and these are simplistic paintings, attempting to capture accurate colours rather than details, but I really enjoyed myself!

It was very liberating, and as I got more and more confident, the colours became more and more lurid!

And now it's back to reality, and the grim search for a new car, within our tiny budget, as ours finally gave up the ghost two days before we left for Wales. I'm hoping though, that I can retain a little bit of this freedom in my work, if not in my life!


Valerianna said...

What great sculptures on the beach! And Tre'r Ceiri is quite amazing, what views. I think I would have endless inspiration for my work there! Good luck finding the perfect, inexpensive car, and freedom, yes, lots of freedom.

skatej said...

Just wanted to say your blog makes me sigh. Living a world away in Austin, Texas, a city I love, I can't but think about what it might be like to live where you do. Thank you for keeping this blog up!

MorningAJ said...

Gorgeous sand dragon and wonderful bright landscapes.

Good luck with finding a reliable and cheap car.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Oh Danielle, I was so enchanted by your post! I have a number of Welsh relatives but have never been to Wales. Your photos and wonderful watercolors were a delight for me! Thank you!

Kath said...

Great artwork, I love the colours you used to capture the glow over the hills.

Rima Staines said...

What a wonderful post: wonderful watercolours, lovely photos of you and your younguns and hounds and altogether hurrah for freedoms in work and life!

Gwen Buchanan said...

I love the style of your paintings and you have captured the quality of the light wonderfully!!

bright star said...

You certianly got inspiration from your holiday! Smashing photos and I love the mermaid.

Elderberry-Rob said...

Your paintings are really beautiful, particularly the last one. The beach dragon made me smile, I suddenly remembered singing 'puff the magic dragon' as a child!

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

Love the sand dragon and the mermaid... I'm sure you must know the 'can you catch a mermaid' book illustrated by Jane Ray?
I'm so glad you all had a good break, I love Wales and we try and go every year, but haven't been right up north in several years... There are so many great castles too!
I particularly like the painting with the huge clouds, and I love the colours you have captured, so vibrant...
Take care
Carrie... :)

Amy Bogard said...

Such inspiration here!! Thank you thank you thank you for bringing your gorgeous paintings & magical sand-sculptures to light on this nebulous inter-webby world of ours. This blog is a such a gift! May you find the perfect budget-fitting car.... :)
All the best from Ohio, USA


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