Finding Artistic Inspiration from the Cornish Coast

When I consider of all the things I offer and share online, it really does reflect how inspiring the wonderful Cornish coast is. There’s photos on my Instagram and The Great Cornish Outdoors Facebook page, offering insight into what it’s like to live in Cornwall, and my writing here. There’s also my penchant for taking photos of Cornwall as well as just wanting to explore every inch of glorious Kernow.

If you’ve been to The Great Cornish Outdoors before, you would’ve seen an add-on to all the Cornish lifestyle content. I learnt how to paint a few years ago and now sell my work. It’s a direction I didn’t plan or see coming either but I’m enjoying exploring and expressing my creativity.

This is a relatively recent development, and it’s got me thinking about how Cornwall feeds my creativity and leaves me wanting more.

I also wonder if it’s the same for you?

round smooth rocks and the sea on the cornish coast

Creating a Sense of Calm

So far, quiet Cornwall has been the focus of my contemporary paintings, reflecting a sense of escape and calm. These seem to be the landscapes and parts of Cornwall that capture my attention. When tranquil and serene, I find Cornwall to be quite romantic, and definitely wilder and more free in the shoulder months. It feels like the old, traditional Cornwall once again.

Cornwall also has a timeless quality, and I don’t know if this can be found in other places. I’ve lived away of Cornwall and missed it. The places I lived certainly didn’t have the same vibe. Cornwall’s remote, with the coastal villages and destinations retaining much of their traditional charm. This is certainly something to capture, along with the unspoilt and protected coastline. In my view, there’s nowhere quite like it.

Cornish Coast and Landscape

Whether I’m running along the Cornish coast, or soaking up the shoreline on a day out or stroll, I can’t drink in the scenery enough. It’s like I need a daily dose of sea air and coastal views. There’s no doubt it lifts my soul and rejuvenates me. It’s not just the view either. There’s the energy that comes with coastal views. the silence and the freedom, even when I haven’t ventured far.

One thing I truly love is how the energy and ambience changes and shifts with different moods, seasons, and conditions. When the coast is windswept and wild, it holds its own unrivalled beauty. I’m equally hypnotised in the winter months as I am in the summer when the light brings clarity, and turns the Cornish coast a delightful mix of blues, mints and greens.

As I amble along the coastline I’ve got into the habit thinking in terms of my colour palette. How would I mix the colours before me? I deliberately don’t have loads of different paint colours. Less is more in my view. Plus. it’s always satisfying when a painting is completed with a limited colour palette, like The Moorings After The Night Before. Only 4 colours used here!

A Personal Connection with the Cornish Coast

Many of the subjects and landscapes of my paintings have been seen and discovered on my runs or adventures on the Cornish coast. Some are very familiar places from my childhood, like the view of Portloe harbour as shown in Jasmine and the Buoys.

Knowing I’ve been to a place, makes painting it easier in some way. It’s like I’ve already got a personal connection with the place or moment I’m painting. I’ve seen and experienced it for myself. There’s some knowing and familiarity, and a memory of what it was like that day.

sunrise over the cornish coast on the roseland peninsula

Harbourside Details

It’s quite apparent that I’m drawn to boats. While luxury yachts look the business, give me an old fishing boat to paint anyday! I think this reflects familiar scenery and details that I’ve been around for most of my life. Yet, as a child I didn’t really notice or appreciate it (because you don’t, do you?).

a huddle of boats in Mevagissey on the Cornish coast

It’s not just the wider landscape that captivates me, draws me in and entices me to paint. As I explore ideas and my creativity, I find I’m seeking out macro details. This is mostly associated with details found along the Cornish coast mainly in our little harbours and fishing villages, like Mousehole and Port Isaac.

Abstracting Boats and Reflections

More recently, thanks to photographer @lucie_averill, I’ve been taking more abstract photos of boats. It’s the split between the bow and where the boat meets the water, and of course, the reflection. I like how there’s an emphasis on shapes and form, and the suggestion of gentle movement. I don’t know about you, but these photos make me stop, look and think. Because the photo doesn’t show the whole boat or landscape, it’s like my brain has to work out what I’m looking at.

the top of a yellow hire boat with a safety ring on the roof

For me, these sort of photos and paintings offer a deeper level of intimacy. A closeness or intensity that comes with macro details. Maybe it evokes a different feeling too; an sense of unfamiliarity with a healthy does of curiosity.

Details from Cornwall’s Fishing Heritage

I’m not just drawn to boats, it’s other tropes associated with fishing villages and coastal living. Years ago on a day out in Padstow, I saw framed prints of tangled and matted fishing nets. Nothing else, just a close up of the ropes, nets, and possibly other fishing regalia. Even then I thought it was a beautiful subject for a painting. An unusual subject and a refreshing change. I suspect I’ll explore and experiment with this idea soon.

Since learning to paint and playing with different subjects, my perception of places and things has changed. I’m definitely becoming more observant of my surroundings, of shapes, light and shadow.

The exciting thing as a new and developing artist is, my interests and inspiration from the Cornish coast is endless. Who knows? Maybe surfers and busy beaches will pique my interest, or traditional cottages perched near the water. When it comes to artistic inspiration, the Cornish coast and its surroundings has it by the bucket load.

I simply can’t wait for the next chapter.

Author: plbedford

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