"The artist...is also a born adventurer. His explorations, unlike those of a tourist, are rewarded by the discovery of beauty spots unmentioned in the guide books, and with tireless curiosity and an exceptional proneness to wonderment, he will come upon objects of remarkable interest overlooked or even shunned by more disciplined observers."

Augustus John, R.A.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A new take on an old subject

St Govans Chapel, Pembrokeshire.
Watercolour. 240mm x 150mm.

One of the most atmospheric of all welsh chapels. Nestling at the foot of the cliffs on a platform above the sea. Although traditionally regarded as the cell of a dark age holy man, the existing building is unlikely to be earlier than the 13th century.
There are various legends concerning the identity of Govan but very little historical documentation regarding the site. Said by some sources to be the arthurian knight Gawain or alternatively St Gofan, wife of a celtic chief. Perhaps a more likely candidate is Gobhan, the Irish Abbot of Dairinis Monastery in Wexford, a contemporary of St David himself.
The image was drawn using a 6B Graphite pencil onto a sheet of white cartridge paper which was then soaked in water and stretched onto the drawing board. The portrait format emphasising the viewpoint down onto the little building from the cliffs above. Loose washes of colour were then laid down, working from light to dark gradually strengthening the tones in the painting, relying on the strength of the underlying drawing to hold the image together. As usual with my paintings, in order to maintain colour harmony only a limited palette was used; Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre, Light Red, Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson.
Ornithologically the area is very good with Peregrine, Chough and Ravens on the cliffs, Gannets, Cormorants and Manx Shearwaters offshore and only a short distance away from the Elegug Stacks with their Guillemot Colonies.

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