Countryfile visit- Art inspired by nature
My day began with a walk along the seafront at Cricieth, joined by the presenter Margherita Taylor from BBC Countryfile, such an interesting and insightful opportunity to see behind the scenes of one of my favorite TV programmes. Outdoors the morning mist was fading leaving a picture-perfect soft-hued pastel toned seascape. The subtle outline of Harlech caste nestled below the silhouetted outlines of pink mountain peaks was a stunning reminder of what North Wales had to offer. I felt proud and privileged to show off this beautiful location on the shores of Tremadog Bay. The cast was awe-inspired and marveled at the beauty.
The main focus of their visit was to meet and discuss my Series Wales- Cyfres Cymru collection of illustrated designs, inspired by nature. The artwork also involves researching bilingual terms for commonly seen specimens of flora fauna, and specimens in Wales, so the Countryfile team were eager to find out more. My current design is an ink illustrative drawing of Seaweeds- Gwymonau Cymru. The research involved a few weeks of preparatory work, including photographs, and sketches, and a little book of inspiration.
Shortly after our trip down the seafront, we were joined by Twm Elias naturalist, lecturer, and author who has written a number of books on nature, the history of agriculture, folklore and weather signs. We gathered on the Quay; ”Y Lanfa”, a landmark protruding out to sea at Criccieth.
After the interesting discussions on the beach, onward to my workshop or "den" to discuss the methods, techniques, and processes involved in setting up an illustration. Criccieth attracts many artists inspired by nature, hence the numerous art and photography galleries located in the town. The Countryfile team notice a poster displayed outside the Memorial Hall, for the local craft fair, on that weekend, and continued with discussing the exciting opportunities for exhibiting and selling arts and crafts in the town.
The High Street was teeming with life, and a quick bite to eat set us up for an exciting afternoon filming.
The afternoon involved a discussion on sources of influence and contextual studies relating to my illustrative work. One of my interests is collection old illustrated books, one of which I shared with the filming crew. This book in particular; Tro Trwy'r Wig, 1906, by Richard Morgan has been very dear to me, in it's contents, layout and illustrated drawings. " Richard Morgan , was a naturalist and Sir Owen M. Edwards described him as ‘one of the greatest naturalists Wales has ever produced.’ He is also the author of the series; Llyfr Blodau; Llyfr Adar; Rhamant y Gog Lwydlas.
The title translates as " A walk through the woods", with the use of older Welsh words .....so " Wig" being a shorter term for "Coedwig", translated as woodland or woods. Interesting links can be made between this term and it's origins, where "Wig" referred to an early settlement, seeing that a clearing had to be created in the woods before dwellings could be erected. It is therefore also a term which was used for a village or settlement....- a glade, a clearing or pasture.
These books have been handed down to me; a special and precious collection. There are a few coloured plates within, and smaller black and white cameos, both beautiful. As well as imaginary, the contents include snippets of poetry, and terminology linked to species found in the woods, flora and fauna, animals and birds. The collection proved to be a valuable source of inspiration for other illustrative work within my "Series Wales" collection- Garden Birds, Wild Flowers and Autumn fruits and nuts.
In addition to water coloured illustrative paintings, I enjoy researching Victorian illustrative botanical drawings, although I believe that my work doesn't follow the guidelines associated with botanical illustrations, seeing that the emphasis of botanical illustration is on science rather than visual art.
Botanical illustration is seen as a true and lifelike representation of a plant, whereas I aim to create an impression...... using vibrant vivid colours, which are possible due to the use of acrylic ink pigment. The ink have super-fine pigments which are suspended in an acrylic emulsion, and can be used thinly as a transparent wash similar to watercolour, or applied thickly with numerous layers to create a solid opaque finish. Textures are replicated using smaller finer brushstrokes, white ink, and soluble ink pencils. My understanding of plant morphology has increased since investigating, but my collection so far places more emphasis on capturing a glimpse of the experiences gained during the research, the walks, and the journey of discovery along the way. I enjoy reminiscing and reliving the peaceful tranquillity of the locations visited whilst researching ........ Nature provides an abundance of inspiration....
I also enjoy the prospect of increasing my understanding of bilingual terms and identifying commonly seen species. My father helped kindle my love of nature as a child, believing in learning through doing and investigating. As a headmaster himself, he would often take children out of the classroom, and into nature; to experience, to look and appreciate their surroundings.
The intrigue would feed the imagination, and the soul, in such a natural and effortless way.
After a perfect cup of tea, and many lengthy discussions, the Countryfile crew left.......I will always remember the proud feeling I had whilst sharing the special peaceful scenic views across the bay, and also the joy of sharing with others my journey of discovery so far......such fond and special memories.
Thank you Countryfile
I loved every minute.