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The Well-Travelled Painting: Hurst Point Lighthouse in Hampshire, England

For years I’ve collected art from my travels, in anticipation of one day lovingly filling a house with all the pieces I’ve carefully transported back to the UK. Since I got onto the property ladder though, I’ve realised that a home gallery formed of art across the world is trickier than I first imagined, as the disparate pieces aren’t easily curated into one cohesive collection. The colours, dimensions and styles are all completely different and don’t necessarily match the blue and white colour-scheme of the flat I share with my sister.

Do you find the same problem, or am I just been overly fussy?

I bought these pieces overseas partly because they contain memories, partly because art is so very much cheaper outside of the UK, and partly as I’ve never had enough time to dabble in painting myself. I did AS-level Art at school and I’m by no means a great talent, but during this pandemic I’ve re-discovered my old paintbrushes, palette, a few blank sketchpads and canvasses, and I’ve resumed painting with acrylics. Painting is incredibly mindful and distracting, as your focus is entirely on the work at hand. I personally also find immense satisfaction from finishing a physical product.

I’ve dabbled in painting over the past few months and I hope to continue dabbling over the year to come – one of my goals for 2021 is to spend at least 12 days painting. I love to paint landscapes, but I’m useless at portraying humans, and I have vast archives of 13 years’ worth of travel photos (mostly of human-free landscapes, which is lucky!) from which to draw inspiration for my paintings. I’m on a re-learning curve as I recall how to mix and choose the right colours, remember the brush strokes and tricks an artist uses, and generally refine as I go along. I’m an amateur but am hoping my long-lost artistic side will re-emerge if I dedicate enough time…

Today I launch a new mini-series under the umbrella of my blog, called The Well-Travelled Painting, where I’ll share my progress with re-learning to paint, draw out the memories of the places and travel destinations I paint, and also keep myself accountable to my goal. Each painting will be accompanied by a mini-guide to the place depicted – a taster to whet your appetite for when we can travel once again.

What does this painting depict?

Today’s very first Well-Travelled Painting is of Hurst Point Lighthouse, near Lymington, on the south coast of England. It’s a gorgeous part of the country, close to the New Forest National Park and littered with little beaches here and there. Views over the Solent look out onto the pretty Isle of Wight beyond, and these waters are a haven for sailors. To reach the lighthouse, you start at the little fishing hamlet of Keyhaven and walk for 2.5 km along a man-made spit of shingle, towards Hurst Castle.

The original Tudor part of the castle was built in 1544 under King Henry VIII, as part of a network of coastal defences, but was expanded and altered during the 19th and 20th centuries. These days (outside of the pandemic) it’s possible to visit as an English Heritage property. The 26m-high lighthouse is just next to the castle, and one of the main appeals of the place is the 75-minute round-trip walk required to reach it, which puts off a great deal of the crowds who would visit if it were right on the mainland. Given its proximity to the New Forest, it’s an ideal outing as part of a countryside break or weekend away, and well worth a visit to get out onto the Solent, without the need for a boat.

I’ve visited Hurst Point a few times before, and I took this particular photo on a gusty day on an May bank holiday in 2020, during UK lockdown no.1. I spent that entire lockdown at my mother’s house in Hampshire, and we took the chance to venture beyond our normal watching patch. It was my first glimpse of the sea in 2020 and I adored the battering of the wind and the salty scent in the air.

Here’s our route on Strava:

 

We got chatting to the owner of Hurst Castle who explained his connection to this bizarre manmade strip of land. His grandfather and great-uncle had lived out here operating the lighthouse manually, without electricity or fresh water supply, and the lighthouse still belonged to the family. While subsequent generations had transferred to the comfort of Keyhaven on the mainland, once the lighthouse was automated, it still held significance to his family’s history. In the days before GPS navigation at sea, a sailor or fisherman returning to harbour after a long cold day out, upon seeing that lighthouse’s beam would feel hope, safe passage and home. I wanted to represent all of those emotions in this painting, within my strict palette of blue, white and black.

What about the painting itself?

Clouds are notoriously difficult to paint but overall my eye is drawn foremost to the realist lighthouse itself in the foreground, distracting from my weaker skills in the clouds. Of course we all interpret art differently and I’d love to know what this painting evokes for you: is it the serene image that I see, or does the shadow prompt a sinister sensation? Does the contrast of the monochrome structure appeal or put you off? Do you like a realist style or do you prefer a more abstract and less precise interpretation?

Finally, I’m toying with the idea of selling some of my paintings if there’s interest. The places I paint hold memories for me but also no doubt for others who have visited or have a special connection to a place. If you’d like to discuss purchasing this piece, or any of the other Well-Travelled Paintings, then just just hit the ‘Enquire’ button below and I’ll be in touch.

This piece is acrylic on canvas board, 25.3 cm x 35.6 cm.

Sold for £150. Enquire if you’re interested in another painting of this scene.

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