Painting with Peat

Today I’ve been out sketching and painting with peat on Bache Hill Trig Point in Radnorshire

With a spring in my step and the need for climbing the hills today, I headed up to Bache Hill Trig Point, seeing as I know the landowner very well. On my walk up the hill I passed the ancient Barrow Mound on my left, which I admired the view from. I noticed the barrow is in line with Stanlow Tump Mound. I wonder if this is also a Barrow? There are many ancient monuments in this valley. It does make me think about who has walked the land before me.

I collected some peat soil on my way up the hill and put it in a small plastic container until I made it to the a Trig Point.

I was keen to create today for #momentsketchers and also to try painting with peat following being inspired by the paintings created by Martin McCormack, who uses raw peat from Irish bogs. He combines the peat with acrylic paint and I tried mixing the peat soil with my watercolour paints. It was inspiring to connect with the land in this way and to capture the essence of it in my sketchbook. Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation. It takes thousands of years for peatlands to develop. They can tell a story of the past and what was living at certain times, providing clues through pollen. We can learn lots from these clues, creating a picture of how people were managing the land at times in the past. The peatland ecosystem is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet, because peatlands capture CO2. Most peat bogs formed 12,000 years ago in high latitudes after the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age. Peat accumulates at a slow rate, about a millimetre per year. (Reference: Peat Wikipedia).

It was cold and blustery as I stood on the Trig point facing South to paint my view. I outlined the land in front of me with the barrow mound on the right hand side. I added in the Trig Point and the hills in the distance. Using my watercolours I coloured the red for the Heather and added in the path in a mustard colour, the path I had walked up. I added in the green for the background hills and mixed some of the peat with water, to see if I could create a paint. I found mixing the peat with my watercolours enabled it to create a colour on the sketch which is more likely to stay. If you just adde£ water to peat and add to the painting, when it dried it would easily brush off the page. I coloured the Trig Point on my sketch with peat, grey watercolour abd water and added it to areas on the sketch, to highlight lines. It was a very immersive experience. I really love the textured effect the peat produces and can’t wait to experiment further. This ancient form is now creating an ancient page in my sketchbook.

The black of the peat in my sketchbook
Sketch with a view

Creating a sense of place though walking, seeing, listening, feeling and smelling is a sensory experiences which allows you to refresh and most importantly, connect with the landscape. I find through sketching my view using materials I find around me, I form a deeper connection to the land. I hope my adventure has inspired you to head for the hills with your sketchbook. If you do, have fun!

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