Sunday 24 April 2011

Week 16

We have had such lovely sunny weather all week and I have had several walks on the shore.  On Tuesday we were aware that it was near tide time but what we witnessed was a complete surprise.  We heard a sudden sound of rushing water,  the water was coming up the tidal river with such speed and it just took seconds for it to spread and fill the river to the sides of the sandy banks.  It was a tidal bore.  We watched at the frightening speed of the incoming water,  we stood by the railway bridge and watched the water rise up, counting the bricks on the  bridge support,  as our shore was soon covered in water.  As we walked back close to the fence at the edge of the shore,  huge pools which were empty were now filling up as the water tipped over the banks.   It was here I found my fish, stranded in a pool but dead.  I was sorry for the fish but thrilled to be able to draw it, a great find for my page.  I quickly sketched it in pencil and captured some colours in crayons. There is no way I can tell you how much this fish started to smell on this hot evening as I sat outside drawing it, but it was a lovely find and fun to draw.  We had heard fish jumping last week,  it is a young salmon, they swim in the estuary and in the river which runs into the sea.
The shore has many crabs, see the photograph of a few we found, different colours and sizes.  The bigger crabs are found with the backs opened and ended up as tea for the birds. The two crabs I chose,  the green one with the dark markings and a pinky orangey one were rather smelly too.  The snail shells were two I found but I did see some climbing up plants.   And my feather was definitely  from an oyster catcher.   I keep adding the oak leaves because they are always on the sand,  now showing signs of aging.  I hope you like the page, it is a mixture of things I found and makes me realise what lovely colours and interesting natural objects can be found here.

My collecting day is usually Saturday, so I kept my rule and went for a walk at 6pm.  The noises were different today, a farmer has put his flock of white sheep and many lambs to graze on the fast growing green grass. A notice to owners to keep dogs on leads meant the shore was empty, with just a couple of people walking.  It was getting a little cool but we were rewarded with the sight of a heron ,  it landed and we sat and watched it slowly step through the shallow waters left after the tide.  As the sun was getting low it made such a beautiful silhouette against the sky. We saw the first two swallows dipping and swooping in front of us as they flew around and circled in the sky.  The oyster catchers in pairs and so were the shell ducks, all calling out their own bird calls.  A pied wagtail was sitting on the railway bridge supports and kept disappearing under the bridge, perhaps nesting.  I must confess I have all these bird names and calls given to me by the expert, thank you,  I am always grateful.   Of course I know the seagulls but I had a lesson on the herring gulls and the black backed gulls,  lets hope I can remember them all.  No sign of the swan tonight but we saw her through the week gliding on the water covering the shore at high tide, see photograph.   I just love walking along listening to all the bird calls,  and hearing them drift through my windows at night.
All too soon the sun went down and we left the shore to the sounds of  crying lambs looking for mothers.  I collected some soft curly lambs wool caught on the fence,  to stuff a pin cushion.  I bet you do he said.  Well I bet I do,  so now another job for my list,  just to prove him wrong!
Thank you for the lovely comments, I  love to read them,  so do stop and let me know how you are enjoying my shore finds.     Millyx

Sunday 17 April 2011

Week 15

                                  Me and my little friend today searching for crabs.
Here is my week 15 page with drawings of the crabs and seaweed collected  last week.  You can enlarge to see the details of the crab and the colours and a pencil drawing of a leg.   Today just as I was photographing the  picture above,   I had a little  visitor. He was so interested and curious about the crabs.  I gave him a magnifying glass so he could see the details,  and then he wanted to know where I had found them.   So we went for a walk this afternoon and found a whole plastic box full of crabs for him,  ranging from a big long legged beast to lots of smaller less frightening specimens.   So many questions from a 4 year old,  is it moving?  is it dead,? where are the eyes?  After I reassured him they were all dead,  can we find one alive?    I love the way young children are so interested, and he made me smile the way he said, "do you think we have found all the family? "   It reminded me of when I was teaching.   We got home, rather muddy,  with his very precious  box of  crabs.  I washed them and then my little friend examined them all,  decided which he was taking home and which I could keep.   Somewhere in this transaction he managed to "choose" my crab off the page and it mysteriously ended up going home with him...good job I had finished drawing it.   To capture the details I painted with my coloured acrylic ink,  a fine black ink pen for the stippling and a pencil study of the leg.

I had my usual Saturday walk collecting for week 16.  It has been a bit of a damp week,  but yesterday was fine and sunny.   I went with my husband around 5pm and we left the shore at nearly 7.   There was a cold breeze from the west,  but we were prepared and well wrapped up.   It was a lovely bright and sunny evening,  birds singing and we had the shore to ourselves.  The full moon means the tides are quite high, we could see the water line by the brown bubbly foam,  a frothy scum which floats on top of the incoming tide.  Lots of tiny shells, crabs, shrimp bodies, feathers and bits and pieces of broken sea creatures were mixed up in this brown wavy line on the shore.  The grass looks so green after heavy morning dews and the new fresh growth.   I noticed dandelions and yellow gorse  flowering, bothgrowing against the railway fence. A tiny white flowering plant sprinkled amongst the grass.   Several bees buzzed past,  my husband pointed out a freshly dug rabbit hole.  A group of black headed gulls pick in the wet sand searching for food.  We saw a dead gull,  it had been attacked at the throat and left on its back feet in the air,  soft tufts of white feathers blowing around.  The bird expert pointed out a curlews call, the air was full of bird sounds.  The two ducks, the green headed male and the brown female swam close together.   Poor swan, she looks so lonely sitting on the muddy bank in her usual place.  As we walked by and stopped a little fish jumped from the water.  I collected objects and ideas for next weeks page, things I have seen  and would like to record.
On Friday evening we saw a  bright light,  drifting across the dark sky.  We guessed it was a lantern and the answer was there caught in the fence, a large white paper structure still intact.  I held it up to the breeze and it billowed up as it became full of air. I couldn't resist bringing it home,  maybe I will paint on it. 

We sat on the boulders and enjoyed the stillness, the views and last hours of this lovely day, the sun dropping low ready to disappear behind the hills. Making our way home  over the railway bridge,  we glance back at the hills and watch the mist  creeping over the hilltops.  My head was already planning next weeks page.
Thank you for the comments, I enjoy finding them,  and it is always lovely to read them.  
Hope you like the picture.                 Millyx      

Sunday 10 April 2011

Week 14

Another week and how lucky we have been to have had long sunny days to enjoy.  We have had times to sit in  the garden and look across the shore and to the hills and known that summer is on the way.  My page started as I tipped the contents out of my bag into the sink.  I sort and wash the items,  it cleans them and also makes the colours glow.   I had a real tangle of seaweed and as I began to separate it, it reminded me of being a little girl and playing with a chocolate box filled with strings of beads, some of my mums necklaces.  I thought the bubbly seaweed looked like a string of  beads and then I found the twisted piece which could be a bracelet.  This thought influenced my choice of what is on the page, a matching necklace and bracelet, and with some imagination, a charm bracelet and two little charms in the form of the well worn sycamore seeds.   And finally a little broken twisted piece of black seaweed.  I always try to capture true colours, it amazes me how many shades are found in one piece of seaweed when you really look.  I worked in acrylic inks, yellow ochre, red, blue, green and brown,  and my number 1 sable brush.
 I have photographed them with my beautiful sea inspired necklace which I was wearing.  It was handmade by Delila,  go and see her beautiful blog.  The little shell says "sound of waves".   In a few weeks time she in coming from Finland to spent a week with me,  and I will take her  a walk across the shore and visit some other beaches and beauty spots.  My  page could have had more little charms of crabs, shells and mermaids purses,  but I am leaving it.
Yesterday I did my beach walk around 6pm,  it was still so warm and I could feel the heat and smell the salty sea air.   It was busy with dog walkers,  I counted eight dogs.  There were two dogs splashing around in the water whilst their owners sat on the edge and threw balls for them.  I saw dog prints everywhere in the sand and human footprints,  all the birds must have been scared away.   The shore was also crowded with the flock of sheep which were put out to graze during the week,  now that the high tides are over.  A breed of black sheep with pale faces, Herdwick, which are more commonly seen on the fells.   They were hot and some came down to the water to drink.  It seemed strange seeing so many sheep and people,   the swan didn't seem too happy either.  She was on the water and then settled on the bank digging at the grass.  She looked at me and clacked her beak, then got up and seemed annoyed at the line of sheep walking along her bank just above her.   Two ducks flew up from the water and two oyster catchers moved around together on the sand.   A large black rook scratched about in the grass.  I was thrilled to see two butterflies dancing along.  I came across them as they were sunning  themselves on the limestone boulders.  My hand was overflowing with the little bits and pieces I had gathered.  I carefully carried the little white crabs because they are so fragile and nestled together with some pretty feathers I managed to get them home in one piece. I noticed how the pools of water had all dried up and returned to grass,  how the sand in places has baked and crackled  like crazy paving with the heat of these hot days.   Some huge pieces of the banking had collapsed and caused more erosion.   It was a lovely walk,  a joy to feel the sun and a warm breeze and be able to see the blue sky and the views of pale blue hills, no wonder so many people chose to take a walk today.  I think I know what will be featuring in week 15,  next week    It is so nice  to read the comments and know people are enjoying the weekly pages of my shore finds.  Thank you for the comments, welcome to the new followers.    Millyx    

Sunday 3 April 2011

Week 13

It has been a busy week for me, lots of things achieved.   I had a late start on the seashore page and I still have some finishing I would like to do.  It is a mixture of the objects I found  last week.   The huge crabs claw was washed up on this shore,  we would never see anything that size here but they do exist in the sea.  We  do see hundreds of  the tiny white crabs  mostly  through the summer  in pools of water. You can see  just how tiny it is,   just as I found it clinging onto the huge oak leaf.   An equally tiny and delicate find was this little shrimp case or body,  another creature, yet so fragile in this vast sea.   All  no doubt food for the birds.  I have been meaning to draw the whelks egg case which are often washed up on to the shore,  it seems appropriate as it is springtime,  so like frogspawn only solid and not a jelly.  Whelks are snails, not sure which snail would hatch  from this,  but I found a snail shell that same day to put in the drawing.  The two grey and white feathers lost from a bird probably whilst looking for food on the ground.   And finally the seaweed,  twisted and dry and brittle as it ends its life on the shore completes the page.
It is strange how these objects come together on the page.  I love the grey faded colours and the shape of the oak leaf when I found it on the sand with the little crab like a brooch pinned to it.
They are painted with the acrylic inks,   I need to buy some new ones as they are nearly used up.  The real objects are there to see and a little surprise, as I was  photographing  the sunlight caught a mirror and cast the rainbow across the page.

I walked the shore yesterday to collect for week 14 and shivered with the cold westerly wind and realised why I had the place to myself.  I had been working on this painting  and it was well  after six and getting near sunset.  This week has been cold and windy and although  the tides were not huge they have been quite rough.  A new tideline was visible in places  and it was still wet and slippery.  I walked for over an hour and saw how the new blades of grass are appearing through the sand.  It is a grass covered shore, in the past  the fine sea-washed turf was cut for gardens and cricket pitches or the like.  It always seemed to me more like vandalism to see all the lines of dirt as the land was stripped bare of the green grass,  but it does grows back so quickly and it was someones business selling it.    I noticed the acid yellow lichen on the lime stone  boulders,  used as a sea defence to prevent erosion and flooding,  were glowing in their circular patterns.  Perhaps it was the sun light, or is too starting to grow and glow with the springtime.  I remember I read this lichen  grows in places where the air is oxygen rich,  that suits me to know this as I see it growing here on the rocks on our shores.
My lonely swan disappeared from my  sight, to be found cuddled up under the banking safe from the cruel wind. She had chosen her place protected from the cold as she settled in for the night.  I saw bird foot prints but not another bird.  Just as I left  three loud sea gulls flew over the railway lines and onto the shore.  The sun was fading, as I too hurried home to the warmth, my bag of finds to be revealed next week.
Thank you for the lovely comments, as always it is a pleasure to read every comment and I appreciate your time spent doing so.   Hope you like the  drawings.