You may have an image or two in your mind of what one has to suffer for one’s art. Nobody wants to paint pictures in the fog and drizzle of an English November (well not in my case), so there was nothing for it but to make the long haul up the M5 to a foggy Bristol Airport, endure a bumpy flight into Mallorca (the weather was so poor you couldn’t see the ground or the airport until we were almost in), and sitting here watching the rain poor down wondering why I had bothered. Fortunately, by the following day things had started to cheer up a bit.
So then the hard stuff starts. For anyone that doesn’t know Mallorca, there is a fabulous chain of mountains that runs along the North West coast, between Pollenca in the east and Andratx (where I am) in the west. These offer wonderful views of sea, rocks and pines to anyone prepared to walk through the mountain tracks and scramble over a few rocks. However, the hazards include crazed mountain bikers on what appear to be suicide missions, and the odd German walking party (easily identified by their use of what appear to be modified ski poles). These are the opposite of crazed, being very careful and methodical, and they are probably sitting down for dinner at this moment complaining about some seemingly insane Welsh artist bounding past them apparently trying to imitate a mountain goat.
Anyway, to the point. Getting away from this lot means taking a few less travelled paths and clambering over a few rocky bits, but the rewards are to be found in sitting on some remote rocks and getting the sketch book out. For some bizarre reason, I had remembered to pack only charcoal and a small watercolour set in my rucksack, and the latter required the sacrifice of some of my drinking water. Attached is my attempt at a collage of some of the sketches made, transposed on a view of Cala Egos, a lovely cove between Port D’Andratx and St Elm. It also happens to be the swimming beach Selina Scott describes in glowing terms in her book “A House in the High Hills”. It’s not much of a beach, in truth, being mainly stony, but it has some striking rock strata effects that catch sun and shadows in a compelling way.
By the way, if some eagle-eyed person wonders what the arrow is all about in the left hand sketch (which was done a few hundred yards past the place the camera shot was taken from), it’s the result of a tip from James Tatum about recording the direction that the light is coming from. The right hand sketch (just visible in the foreground of the actual view) involved a bit of a rock climb immediately behind the beach itself. The challenge now, of course, is to get some paintings from this little expedition.