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.
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.
We went for another walk, this time near to Pevensey, close to where the Normans landed to invade England – but that was a while ago and they had moved on. My planned circular route was scotched by a group of heifers which had gathered around the gate we needed to negotiate which caused my wife to refuse to enter the field. So we had to go back the same way. On the walk I sat down and did a sketch of the flat marshlands. As I worked a bull strolled into view. Now that is a field even I might refuse to enter.
I did this second painting of Litlington and its 12th century church, in East Sussex on the same day as I painted the sketch of the walk in the woods posted on my last blog. It got delayed as I had to finish it at home. I ran out of time on the day, because I had arranged to meet my wife at Alfriston Church at 4pm and didnt want to keep her waiting – I didnt want to to risk walking home.
We Walked along the Bexhill Beach in Sussex after an Autumn storm and had lunch at a bar in Cooden. On returning the waves still pounded the shoreline, scouring the shingle as they returned to the sea and the bright sunshine illuminated the scene. A little way further along some kite skiers made use of the stiff wind, racing over the swelling waves as if they were just flat ice.
Another view of the Brede valley. I’m not sure why I find the subject so captivating – perhaps the tiers of vegetation and woodland as they rise in the distance and the way the light catches glimpses of distant pasture.
Another painting from the Brede Valley. It was a couple of days before the first painting I did on 6th Jan. We were going to dinner with some friends and were a bit early, so we stopped at Brede Church as the sun was about to go down behind the hills. As I got to get a decent view I scared the sheep.
Our hosts told us of a good walk from this point so a few days later, on another sunny day, we set off down waterworks lane from where I did the other painting.
Back to daylight working and safer ground. Whilst on the south coast we had a walk along he Brede Valley. It was a sparkling winter’s day and I loved this view into the Brede Valley with the old oak trees standing alongside the road. My great grandparents ran a sanatorium on the hill to the right. It has long been demolished and I now cannot even find the remains in the field.Back up the road on the left, one of my relatives lies in the graveyard, overlooking this scene. Not that it will do him any good, but rather a nice final resting place.
I have often walked in this direction in the evening on the Bexhill promenade in Sussex, England. The shapes of the buildings and the masts of the boats in the sailing club make intriguing shapes in the late afternoon light. I tried painting this but the large open space of foreground made it a little lifeless, even with the lead-in of the railings and beach huts on the left. In the end I added some figures. To some extent they seem to have taken over the scene, but I have tried to space them out so that the mass of buildings, masts and reflected light still make for a dynamic painting.
This painting is on my website grahammcquadefineart.com. Take a look.