This is a view from the East Hill in Hastings, over the West Hill and town, and out towards Beachy Head in the distance. A view of my youth, and one I always try to see when I am in the area. As I walk over this sandstone butte, which marks the eastern end of the town, I have John Martyn’s song ‘Over the Hill’ ( from his Solid Air album which contains the song May You Never that Clapton later recorded) in my head. Martyn lived at the foot of this hill and he is referring to the walk over the West hill – seen with the houses in the middle distance, which he had to negotiate getting from the railway station to his home.
Martyn had a reputation for altercations with the local fishermen who frequented the many pubs at the foot of the hill in the Old Town of Hastings.
I recall an instance of him, in the mid seventies, taking over the local folk club to try out one of his albums – probably One World, before going out on the road with it. The club featured quite a lot of traditional A Capella, hand to the ear, singers and to walk in to see Martyn with his amplifiers and synthesisers was a pleasant surprise. I had an enjoyable evening at least.
This is a scene from my hometown of Hastings, on the south coast of England. Here the fishing boats are hauled up the shingle beach and then launched into the sea by tractors. Even the local Lifeboat is treated similarly. There is a harbour arm, but I dont think it would afford much protection. So you can walk amongst the beached boats with all the paraphernalia of a fishing port strewn across the shingle. I saw this fellow sitting out of the wind behind two boats eating his lunch and there was one gull jealously eyeing his fish dinner.
So I added a few more – to up the tension – for as you know, there aren`t many things hungrier than a gull, unless, that is, it`s a man who has just lost his lunch.
There are some small sandstone cliffs at the East end of Bexill in East Sussex from where you can view St Leonards and Hastings. I used to run along here when I was staying at my parents and in the morning light, the view can be enchanting.
In this painting it is the evening, when the light comes from behind he viewer and illuminates the edges of the low cliffs as well as the masses of wild flowers that grip the windy top. I originally painted the scene one evening when I was there last year, but without the flowers.
I wondered whether the flowers would enrich the view and thought that I would give it a go as part of a series of painting that I have done of the area.
This is a view of my step-brother and his wife’s cafe in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex (on the south coast of the UK). I once posted a sketch I had done of it and decided to give them a more finished version.
The orange awning on the outside gives a great counterpoint to the cooler colours of the interior. Also the art deco decorations of the window and door make a great subject matter in themselves, though they are a bugger to draw.
The shop was once a dairy and has a decorated plaster ceiling and black and white chequered floor tiles on the outside along with other features.
John, my step brother, is stood talking to a customer by the doorway replete in his pork-pie hat.
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I had a bit of time to get out and do some sketches in the last few days. This one is a view from Bexhill to Hastings, in the distance, on a bright summer’s evening after the dark clouds had passed.
This is one from Hastings of an old lighthouse ( built around 1850 to replace an earlier one) which stands on the West Hill over the beach where they pull the fishing boats up on. There is also another light below it on the beach. The idea is returning boats line the upper and lower lights up as they approach the beach which means they have a safe passage past the submerged rocks. Now they beach on a different location and this lighthouse is redundant.
Here is one of the fishing boats on the beach waiting for the tide or fish quotas to reset before setting off again.
Another plein air painting I was forced to complete at home. It was nearly done when my stool started making strange noises underneath me so I stood up and it fell apart at my feet. As the place was covered in sheep droppings I decided to pack up and continue our walk up the hill and on to Cooden.
The day before I had gone to Hastings and walked to Fairlight where this row of coastguard cottages stand on top of the cliff at the highest point. I left out the radio and communications mast and hid the large radar behind the bushes on the right. I certainly wouldnt like to live there with the houses being continually bombarded by large doses of radio waves even though they are relatively low frequency.
Here are a couple of sketches I am less happy with. The one above is of Ecclesbourne Glen a deep ravine on the sandstone cliffs east of Hastings. The hillside is covered in a mass of amorphous vegetation which I knew was a bad thing to try to paint but I have a long affinity with the topography, having run it many times in my youth before heading off on the run along the cliff-top path to the next ravine and another lung-bursting descent and climb.
This last one is of a newly mown field in a valley on the edge of Friston Forest. I was taken by the illumination on the row of trees at the foot of the slope. Behind is the deep valley in shade beneath the forest. I didnt do the contrast justice, but sitting in the afternoon sunshine in isolation amid the birdsong was a pleasant way of passing the afternoon.
I was cycling into Hastings, my home town, and I saw this fishing boat coming along the coast with me. I arrived at the harbour before the boat. I had my painting gear, but decided that trying to get this fast moving scene down would be too much, so instead I took some pictures, as they hauled the boat up the beach with the winch. I then walked over to the other side of the beach and painted some fishermen setting up their boat and nets. At least they stayed almost in one spot for the duration.
It was a lovely morning and I cycled back to where my dad now lives feeling I had done a bit and it still wasn’t ten o’clock.