Tavistock Canal Ghosts

A3 acrylic painting of the Tavistock Canal, with the ghosts of a bargeman and horse lingering.

I walked this way in early spring a couple of years ago and tried to take a picture of the white wood-anemones and yellow celandine flowers along the banks, but they didn’t really show up at all in the photo, so I thought I’d try painting them. Then I added a pair of ghosts, because I thought it would be interesting to reflect the past more graphically.

The canal was built in the early 19th century, to carry goods, and particularly the products of the mines, down to the Tamar River and on to Plymouth. As so often with mining projects, it ran into difficulty at the point where the builders had to drill a tunnel through some unexpectedly hard rock, and by the time the tunnel was completed, the price of the copper that it was designed to carry was already falling. It was built to have an unusually high flow rate, the idea being that this could power water wheels used by industry along the canal, creating further products for the canal-boats to carry, and also power the inclined plane rail to transport goods from the canal down to the river 72 feet below it.

The canal is still not just decorative even now. It powers a hydro-electric power station, and has done with quiet efficiency since 1933.

The railway that runs over the viaduct above was completed in 1859, and quickly killed off the canal as a working waterway. Now the railway is gone too: the line that ran above this canal is closed now, although there are apparently now plans afoot to re-open it.

Wið færstice

The Anglo-Saxon period of British history is really interesting, and I find one of the particularly interesting things about it is the few tantalising remnants of old beliefs that have now almost vanished.

I decided I’d like to practice a sort of portrait / still life type painting, and so* I painted an old lady preparing to practice the healing charm Wið færstice ‘against a sudden stabbing pain’. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of ideas : her clothes and beads and knife are from Anglo-saxon Wessex, I think, but the bottle, candle and the glass globe full of melted butter are clearly more or less modern. I think the cat could be from any period. There’s no dating cats. She also has feverfew, red deadnettle and some plantain plants, though you can’t see them very clearly through the steam.

*I’m aware this is a non sequitur but I’m hoping if I type it really fast you won’t notice

A Sighthound and a Cat-painting

One of the most beautiful things about sighthounds are their huge eyes, and my rescue lurcher Rosie is no exception. I was out walking her a couple of days ago, and wondered what she would think I should paint, if she understood the idea. The answer was obvious: Squirrels! Squirrels are very important! So I thought I’d try creating an image to show off both her eyes, and her love of squirrels.

Sighthound Eyes Squirrel

Here’s another of my animals, Gothmog Kitten. She’s about six months old now, and very playful: she loves to steal packing peanuts. They are just the right size and texture to be bopped with a paw, or carried around the house.

The Black Kitten

Not the easiest thing to paint black fur, but an interesting challenge.

Mists in Avalon

This picture is based on modern Glastonbury Tor and Burrow Mump (the foreground hill with the attached church) but I’ve changed things around a little. I thought I had added the water in the foreground for a more ancient and Arthurian feeling, but later I discovered that there actually is a water on the land under Burrow Mump after all, though I’m not sure you can see it all together like this from any one viewpoint now. Perhaps before the land was drained and the more recent church (now ruined) built on Burrow Mump?

This is an A3 sized painting in acrylics on artboard.

 

Painting Transparent Things.

I’ve been trying out painting things that are transparent or watery.  Here’s a leaf with water droplets that was a lot of fun to paint. 

I decided I’d extend the technique and make some bubbles over a landscape (I painted the landscape a few years ago, it’s a view looking out across the Tamar towards Dartmoor.  I felt it needed something to add interest!).

And finally, a still life, with a giant dice (a 20-sided one for roleplaying games). I was really pleased at how this came out!