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Autumn Light on Three Cliffs Bay

Blog about painting Three Cliffs Bay, Gower by Emma Cownie

We didn’t get an “Indian Summer” in September, which when we usually get one in Wales. What we have had, instead, is a series of sunny days in late October/early November. The sparkling autumn light is stunning. From a painter’s point of view is more interesting than summer light. So last week I drove down to Three Cliffs Bay to enjoy the light. I was surprised by the dark blue of the calm sea. It was  quite a different colour from the summer sea.

Painting of Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, Wales
Three Cliffs Autumn Light

I was hoping that there would be plenty of orange bracken and there was. Not on the slope of the the Three Cliffs, as they are covered in grass, but on the slopes of Cefn Bryn, in distance.

Painting of Pobbles Bay, Gower
Painting of Pobbles Bay, Three cliffs, Gower

These colours sum up the Welsh landscape for me. In fact, I think I like the Welsh landscape in autumn/winter best. The red and the green of the bracken and the grass also put me in mind of the red and the green of the Welsh flag.

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Welsh Flag (an interpretation)
Painting of Great Tor, Three Cliffs Bay Gower
Light on Great Tor (Gower)

 

I find it ironic that there’s less light around but its better quality, from an artists’ point of view. I still have not adjusted to the clocks going back last month, and I am still waking at 5 -5.30am! It does not seem to matter what time I go to bed, I awake in the dark feeling ready to rise. So I get up and here I am tapping away at my computer in the dark waiting for the sun to rise. Soon I will have to get my SAD lamp out to stop the slow slide in winter gloom. Before, you ask, yes, SAD lamps work for me.

Does anyone else suffer from this problem? Does anyone have any tips for sleeping in later?

Update: I sat with my SAD lamp on for 20 minutes around 7 pm last night and it seemed to help me go back to sleep when I awoke at 4.30 am, and I didn’t get that “wake up” surge of hormones til 6.30. A definite improvement.

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Summer daydreams in the dark winter.

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Last Swim of the Day (Port Eynon)

I always struggle in the winter. It creeps up on me. I start to feel down although nothing particularly bad has happened. I feel myself start sliding. Then the thing takes on an almost physical shape. I can feel the edges of the thing starting to weigh heavily on me. Then, in the back of my mind, a thought dimly appears; “You Need Light”.

I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter depression, although I can get it during really wet summers when the days are overcast, day after day. This year has been particularly tough. I am often thinking thoughts like “Why is it so dark?”, “Oh no, is it night already?” and “How long until the sun comes up?” It seems to get worse with each passing year. Maybe it just because this winter has been particularly cold?

Fortunately, I have a couple of SAD lamps and one of those alarm clocks that will mimic a sunrise. I just have to remember to switch them on and sit next to them. I don’t always do so. So, here I am now with a lamp on and I can feel it cheering me up getting the hypothalamus in my brain to work properly. Earlier, when there was some gloomy daylight I painted a couple of summer beach scenes. I felt very happy painting the people on the beach in the blinding summer sun. I thought about the day back in the summer we visited Port Eynon, on the South Gower Coast.  The sea was glassy. It was so warm that paddling was wonderful. We had chips for tea. It was lovely. It was a day when you didn’t feel the need to “do” anything. You were quite happy just sitting in the shade watching the people on the beach.

I have long suspected that my tendency towards SAD is one of the reasons why I paint so many sunny and bright scenes. I feel much better for thinking about this wonderful summer’s day and painting these two beach scenes.

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Family Outing to the Beach (Port Eynon)  Oil on Linen Canvas 46x38cm unframed

 

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