I’ve been wanting to get a very particular shot of the Abbey at Tintern, at the peak of the autumn colours, bathed in sunlight, with blue skies, for years now. This marks the fourth time of trying this year (first two were too early, third and fourth both with the wrong light/skies) and it’s perfect, so much that I almost want to cry about it. To have finally captured it how I’ve always wanted to is practically a weight lifted, achievement unlocked.
I got up this morning and saw the mix of stormy but bright skies and practically rushed out the door. As well as of the Abbey, I decided to take a little time out in the town too. It’s a beautiful place and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular in summer, but this is definitely my favourite season for it.
Tagged along for the dog’s walk this morning. It meant he didn’t get to go far (or as quickly as he’d have liked!) but I got to take my camera along and capture the trees in the early morning light.
I find something very calming in blending and clean lines. I don’t know what it is, but during times of struggles, especially with my mental health, little has a more positive impact on me than painting.
It’s not easy, my hands are pretty well knackered, the joints have trouble holding together without the assistance of tape when doing things like this, but the pay off for the positive calmness of creation is immense.
One of my favourite things to paint is particle trail-inspired tracks on space-like landscapes. Blended blues, blacks, whites into a deep and sombre emptiness.
Inspired by NASA’s Astrology Pics Of the Day, I’ll load up a canvas and ragroll and blend for hours. Working and reworking the paint until I find pause to go ‘that’s it!’
Over the blend goes chalk outlines; swirls and spirals, lines darting off in this direction and that. I don’t always follow them but it’s a good guide to have, showing me where the canvas should be loaded with activity and where it should be empty.
Over the chalk goes acrylic ink to set a clean outline and add some boldness, gently going over and over, layering and building it to stark white streaks.
Lastly comes the white acrylic. Using a fine brush I go over everything, making the contrast as high as I can, adding artefacts to emulate stars, planets, and debris.
While the end result may not always be true to the actions of observed particles, the process is a soothing blessing, if a challenge in itself.
Some additional paintings in this style
Dore Abbey is an amazing place. Incredibly bizarre too.
In the middle of nowhere, down a small lane and one of the few tells it’s there was an archway leading into it. As I walked in it looked almost abandoned, I expected it to be standing as a monument to the past rather than a running building of worship. There were old artificial flowers sat on a table in what looked like a limp attempt to make the place brighter or more inviting. Degraded images of scrolls and scripture adorn the walls, visibly scarred by time. Bits of building that have fallen here and there have been laid down around the perimeter inside. There’s pieces of A4 paper, yellowed from the light which explain what each parts of the building, neatly organised like a rock collection, are.
Then in the very centre, surrounded by corridors, you go through a wooden arch and there’s a running church. Electric lights, a perfectly kept alter and pews.
There were wicker chairs covered in dust dotted around, the same kind my Grandmother had in a dining table set in her thatched cottage as I was growing up. Along one corridor along the perimeter they were just sat there, empty, either side of an open tomb. It gave me the mental image of two elderly ladies sat knitting, as if waiting for something to emerge.
It’s probably one of the most mystifying places I’ve had the pleasure to go and photograph. I really can’t put into words just how surreal it felt to stumble across it.
You can find out more about the history of the Abbey at the Friends of Dore Abbey website here