more walking and painting and prairie gardening

on Saturday mornings I drive to Bowhouse near St Monan’s to pick up a local veg and other foodstuffs order, so I have been looking for walks nearby. last week’s was one of those. this week I did a circuit of part of the coastal path and inland around the Balcaskie estate.

first along the coastal path above those rocky beaches with all their geology laid out

and the sloping cliffs covered in gorse with linnets singing in the sunshine on the top twigs

I think the footpath may follow a raised beach, where the land has been rising through the Holocene, due to the release of pressure from the weight of ice sheets.

and a clump of alexanders, so familiar in Norfolk, which knocked me back as I haven’t noticed it anywhere else here yet, this spring. it looked like the frosts has browned it off a bit.

the hedgerow plants really have not got going yet inland, though I did see a stand of jack-in-the-hedge at Kemback on Sunday.

Pittenweem and St Monan’s both have sea-filled swimming pools cut out of the rocky foreshore. all year round swimming has really become a thing over the last year, everyone seems to be doing it.

the pretty little East Neuk (Neuk being the Scottish for nook, or corner) fishing harbours all look a bit the same. this is St Monan’s. I avoided the Pittenweem one because of the steep steps down to it which my knee finds difficult at the moment. it is the most active commercially apparently, a small number of boats remain, nowadays mainly fishing for shellfish. several fish vans from Pittenweem deliver inland, blasting their horns as they roll up – one outside this house – but their fish will be coming from a central market I’d guess.

from St Monan’s there’s a not very exciting stretch along the road to Abercrombie and then across a couple of fields to the ruined church. Abercrombie, recorded in 1157-60 as Abercrumbin, means ‘mouth of the river Crombie’. The first element is the Pictish word aber ‘river mouth’. Crombie is a stream-name derived from the Gaelic word crombadh ‘bending, winding’.

with old gravestones to read and ponder over. a new plaque in the wall celebrates the lives of Tom and Ingrid Pevsner, he born in Dresden in 1926 … what story lies behind that I wonder. I completely missed five sculptured stones, showing Celtic ornament, in the walls, mention found online.

so why was this medieval church abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin, some time in the seventeenth century? something to do with the presbyterian movement? the graveyard is still consecrated, presumably, as it has more recent memorials, including the Pevsners.

walking on round the estate in the marvellous sunshine

over a formal bridge

past redpoll cattle with two young calves

and the very restrained house, no mad gothic stuff there …

the madness reserved for the lime trees, all pruned of their whiskers and skirts

and two clumps of snakeshead fritillaries rather isolated along the verge.

the button-push gates and the lodge with its matching doocots (dovecote in Scottish)

are quite fancy. from the right hand doocot you can just see Kelly Castle, under Kelly Law, another walk I must do.

I am taking my four winds sketch books on all my walks, I just started the sixth one.

very quick drawings, done on varied papers, some already drawn on, or patterned, bring a life and intensity to painting.

I also have a new tool, a brush pen, designed for calligraphic writing, specifically Japanese and Chinese scripts. it brings a broader more intuitive attitude.

the new book has some different papers

from envelopes (a Mina Perhonen invite card envelope, which is an art object in itself) and birthday present wrapping.

it already has some hints inserted

the first one only took me a few days to get through, but now it’s a couple of weeks. they are thicker, though, more signatures (book-binding term for the packets of folded paper in sections that form a book) sewn in.

meanwhile the new painting has been taking shape, a lot of green brush-drawing

then a coat of translucent yellows,

and something else started to happen, which will have to wait for the next blog

meanwhile ALL my little prairie plants are outside in the growshed, wrapped in wool liners to keep the night cold (and frost) off.









  1. Jane,
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog from another part of the world. What I particularly enjoy (apart from the scenery), is your process of making art.

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