It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a blog and I’ve got plenty of progress to report. The second year of the Jurassic coast art project is progressing very well with many of the major paintings well under way in the studio.
I spent the early part of the year exploring the west Dorset coastline, sometimes walking, running or kayaking. Some of the areas were familiar but most of the coastline was new ground for me. I can distinctly remember, early in the year, walking to the top of Thorncombe Beacon in the fog and thinking that my photographing trip was a waste of time, when suddenly the fog started to burn off and revealed a coastal landscape that staggered me. This location is one of my favourites so far, and the photographs from that day are already being worked into two paintings that, I feel will be starts of the show. The Dorset coastline so far has proven to be visually staggering, a coastline that has a much different feel to Devon’s Triassic cliffs.
One of my top days out was with Martyn Allen, a Jurassic coast volunteer ambassador. We walked around West Bay and along the cliffs to Burton Bradstock. It was one of the first warm days of early spring and it made us feel like we were on holiday. We talked about geology and some of the local history, then ended our sunny jaunt along the coast path with a pint in the pub and a pasty. My ideal day out.
I spend a lot of time driving from my home in Devon, over the border to Dorset, and it always staggers me how much the landscapes changes. Dorset feels much older, not the geology, as we know the Triassic section of coast is much older that Dorset’s, but the human interaction, the hill forts, the settlements. The landscape seems a little bit wilder than the well-farmed, hedgerow-lined fields of Devon. I also feel that there’s a light that draws shadows across the Dorset landscape which you don’t see in Devon. I’m definitely enjoying my time photographing and painting here.
The studio at the moment is looking very busy with paintings in progress hanging on the walls from floor to ceiling. Whenever I have friends around the studio, they always start naming the locations and inventively, start talking about walks and holidays they’ve had. It’s good to know that the paintings evoke an emotion in the viewer and people can gain so much joy from them.
Sometimes it’s hard work in the studio with very long days and a vast amount of work waiting to get finished, but I still wake up in the morning eager to paint. It’s a job that sometimes can exhaust you, but it’s a job that will always reward you. As the paintings progress in the studio and start to come to life, I’m getting more and more excited about the October exhibition (read more here). So, put the date in your diary and I’ll see you in October looking a little bit exhausted and very excited.
In the meantime, I am exhibiting some paintings – both landscapes and portraits – at Lyme Regis Museum until the end of August. Pop in and check them out if you’re in Lyme over the summer!
Jurassic Coast artist Colin Bentley is working on a three-year art project in collaboration with the Jurassic Coast Trust. Following the success of Colin’s first Jurassic Coast art exhibition in Sidmouth, Colin is turning to Dorset for 2018’s exhibition.