I have had a full house the past few months and I haven't found space to paint. I think that the break has done some magic, the reservoir has had some time to refill and I have been immersed in painting after some beautiful walks.
There is a walk on The Downs in Herne Bay towards Reculver. It is from here when you are on top of the cliff looking out to sea, among the grasses and the seed heads, with the sea as the backdrop, and so many butterflies fluttering around.
The imagery that finds its way onto the canvas is often hanging about in my mind waiting to be exposed. When I am drawing out the canvas I often just let my imagination play out and the memories, these are from long walks with friends or on my own, they flood in to my mind with the drawing.
"Summer's End" was painted at a time when nature is hanging on to the last drops of summer, the last bit of warm sunshine, as the weather turns the colours of the summer are left in my mind.
The Sand Martins have accompanied me on many walks this year, I have noticed them and felt their presence more than in previous years. This view from The Downs in Herne Bay was painted close to the yearly departure of the Sand Martins. At the end of summer it feels far too premature for them to leave, so they will continue to feature in my seascapes and linocut prints to keep them close.
In May this year I cut and printed "The Sand Martins", watching them soar, flying in and out of their nests in the sandy cliffs of Reculver, this is one of my favourite things to do. Summer will end and I will look forward to the Sand Martins returning in the Spring.
Up to 225,000 pairs of these small swallows arrive in the UK to breed in the summer, mostly from tropical West Africa. They are one of the earliest summer migrants and also the most water-loving. We are fortunate to have them arrive in Reculver at the end of Spring where they tunnel in the cliffs along the shoreline.
Thou hermit haunter of the lonely glen
And common wild and heath – the desolate face
Of rude waste landscapes far away from men
Where frequent quarries give thee dwelling place
With strangest taste and labour undeterred
Drilling small holes along the quarry’s side
More like the haunts of vermin than a bird
And seldom by the nesting boy descried
I’ve seen thee far away from all thy tribe
Flirting about the unfrequented sky
And felt a feeling that I can’t describe
Of lone seclusion and a hermit joy
To see thee circle round nor go beyond
That lone heath and its melancholy pond.
The Sand Martin, John Clare