Bideford Black.

In search of the elusive Bideford Black Pigment otherwise known as Biddie Black.  Running alongside seams of anthracite across North Devon is a black clay-like material that was mined for 200 years in Bideford for its uses as a strong black pigment. The unique ‘Mineral Black’, or ‘Biddiblack’ as it was known, was commercially produced for applications in the boat building industry, for colouring rubber products, for camouflage on tanks in WWII and was even bought by Max Factor for the production of mascara. The mines were closed in 1968 when the production of cheaper oil-based blacks and the depletion of the seam made the operation financially unviable, but many locals still remember the ‘Paint Mines’ and have tales to tell of using the paint or going into the now defunct mine shafts.  Today it’s revered by artists who love it’s inky black non reflective properties.  It first has to be dried, ground and then mixed with a medium such as PVA or Gum Arabic.  Looking forward to making my own now and seeing what images I can produce.  AL.

ps most of the information was from a website called The story of Bideford Black.



Combe Martin.

Well another foray out towards Watermouth and Broadsands although Broadsands Beach was closed due to the walk down pathway giving way. Today we remembered our flask of tea so decided to drive along the coast to Combe Martin. I must say I’ve never seen the tide out so far and there were a few women cold water swimming in the harbour. My wife and I decided to stay on our rock and drink our tea!

Blackpool Beach Hartland.

An enjoyable walk from the top of Hartland across the cliffs via the South West Coast Path to Blackpool Beach. The spring icy breeze was in our faces but the sights were wonderful. Now back at home we’ve decided to watch The Night Watchman again because one of the filming locations. The white cottage at Blackpool Beach. By the way loved that tree as we left Stoke Village this afternoon! Below is a painting I completed a few years ago of this very place. On the left the original acrylic on canvas on the right the print. Prints available on enquiry! Al

Bucks Mills.

A wonderful visit to Bucks Mills with my wife on a beautiful February morning. The surfers were making the most of the surf break off The Gore, a pebble ridge that leads out to sea. We could see Clovelly in the distance with the winter mist sliding down off the cliffs and after a brief chat with a local lady we discovered a lonely seal surfacing from time to time. I would love to have use of the Artist’s Cabin someday to use as a base to paint pictures here.


A stormy painting inspired by a walk back from Baggy Point in North Devon to Croyde Bay. I was quite struck by the awesome cloud formation over Croyde Beach so have made this a feature of the painting. Pleased with the way I’m going at the moment and staying far away from those fine brushes, a return to my more spontaneous work. Acrylic on gesso panel 750 x 610mm. Al

Cycle ride through the storms.

Today a cycle ride from Barnstaple to Braunton’s Sandy Lane, down the old American Road behind Saunton Sands to Crow Point then back along the Tarka Trail to home. Pleased to have taken my gloves today although when the sun did come out it certainly made the trip worth while. There has been a lot of flooding and I had to cycle through a couple of hail storms but on the whole more images to create inspiration to paint. Al