Going round the bend


Sketch of South Tin Crofty Mine by Stephen BedserYou know, one of the joys of painting can be the wealth of subjects just waiting to be immortalised on paper or canvas.

One of my painting passions, if you haven’t guessed from previous blogs, is capturing the remaining signs of Cornwall’s mining past. The fact is that I’m spoilt for choice really, so well built were the engine houses and surrounding buildings that even though in some cases a hundred years or more have passed they are still a dominate part of the Cornish landscape.

But for me this sometimes presents a dilemma. What do I draw? I grab any opportunity I can to do a sketch of what I see in front of me or draw a representation of an old photo but I don’t always have ample time to complete each piece. Given the time I’d just sit and draw until I could draw no more!

Just the other day I passed a view I had seen many a time on my local travels. South Tin Crofty Mine outside Redruth has both it’s Man Engine, which transported miners underground, and the Compressor House still standing. The latter sports some rather ornate brick arches which I had been meaning to draw for some time now. Having been presented with a short break between meetings I considered stopping off to capture the scene in my sketch book. But which building should I draw?

Whilst heading over the idea of a fisheye lens style piece popped into my head. On the relatively small space of a sketch book I could draw both buildings by bending the scene thus fitting the relatively wide view onto the page.

The sketch was brief, from pencil to ink took little more than 15 minutes and applying the ever changing mixes of watercolour perhaps another twenty. A storm had just passed giving more than a glimpse of blue skies, though standing still left me in no doubt that summer it was not as the bitterly cold wind whipped around and dried the paint at an alarming rate!

Sketching and painting whenever I can keeps me focused and keen. A week without producing something can result in an artist dark age that I sometimes find difficult to recover from. In this case a single piece of art has inspired me to do more, so that can’t be bad.

Click on the above image to see the full piece in its ink stage. You can also see the final colour version by visiting either my Twitter or Facebook page.


sketching the Flat Lode

It’s a fine day, big fluffy clouds are intermingled with patches of blue sky and I’m out continuing work on a new book featuring the Great Flat Lode in sketches and notes. I’m taking the highroad this time, though road would be somewhat incorrect as the path was in fact the old rail line used to transport ore from mines to the various processing areas that dotted the area. I say dotted, swarmed would be a better choice of words as even now the landscape shows numerous remains of these buildings of function and beauty.

As I walked alone the line whilst staring over the valley of Carnkie, across to Carn Brea and further still where the monument stood it was easy to envisage the scene a hundred years past. Thanks to the soundtrack of Steam Boy (Anime) pulsing through my iPod the atmosphere grew. Perhaps not something those old miners would have thought of but a welcome addition never-the-less. This protected industrial landscape is stunning, the mining cathedrals never cease to impress and I’ve painted scenes around the area many a time.

Finally I stopped at the remains of Wheal Bassett’s twin stamps engine. Having found a suitable stone free spot to sit and sketch from, hard to find in a mining landscape I know, I grabbed pencils, pens, paints and paper. This is what it’s all about! On location, recreating the scene that lies in front of you! I love the combination of stone ruins that still show the complexity and care that was undertaken during their construction. The wildness that recaptures mans efforts like the grand tree in Laputa pushing through the roof and beyond. All these things I try to include in my sketches. Hopefully, when gathered together, they will make an interesting companion to anyone who decides to take a stroll around the Great Flat Lode. For me it holds many more sketches and experiences, lets hope each one is as rewarding as this.

One of the sketches that make up the guide