As the summer is here I thought I would busy myself in getting down to the sea side and paint a few of our traditional sea side towns. I have always loved Lyme Regis so I checked the weather and visited on one of our recent hot days.
Lyme Regis is a small, ancient Dorset Seaside town built on what is known as ‘The Jurassic coast’ and is famous for its fossil laden cliffs which are a ‘World Heritage Site’. It makes most of its money through tourism, though there still is a modest fishing fleet which plies its trade in the Channel beyond the harbour walls. It’s a lovely place in any season and cannot ever get too big as it is surrounded by cliffs.
Prior to any work in an British seaside town, the artist needs to begin with fish and chips. I always plumb for the Cob Gate Fish bar right on the seafront.
The queues (and customers) are always pretty big though the wait is worth it. I made my purchase, and with bag in hand I wandered down the beach stuffing chips in my mouth as I went, and looking around to figure out a painting.
Even though I paint architecture it is often the people that take my mind first. I love spying on my fellow countrymen on holiday. The British love the seaside, though find it impossible to look ‘cool’ on the beach. There is something we just don’t get about ‘beach life’ in the way the Mediterranean nations or those from the USA do, it’s just not our way.
Maybe aboard the beach is the place to romance and show off your bronze body? Whereas in the UK, many of us don’t tan well and it’s more of a family thing anyway, an extension of being out in your own back garden complete with all the cumbersome kit that comes with it. I love our approach to life by the sea.
Families genuinely have a great time unselfconsciously lounging about all pink and smiles and gingerly paddling in the chilly water. I drew them as I went!
I decided to draw and watercolour the houses on the sea front. They are fine examples of architecture that seem to be pre planning permission.
The style and feel of each is totally at odds with the other. They have been built wholly in line with the personality of the owner, completely ignoring both sides, and indeed that they are situated on an English sea front. It’s not easy on the eye but I think they look wonderful.
From left to right we have a sort of 1930’s mock Tudor city hotel, then we have a slither of a Scottish russet stone built (semi-detached) baronial castle complete with ancient sundial. Then, naturally you have a traditional English country cottage which is rather oversized and painted pink.
Lastly we have something that appears English in its windows and tiling though has been converted with a balcony to give the distinct impression of the Italian villa about it. What’s not to like?
I know nothing of the history of these buildings though my personal thoughts on why I feel they look so madly wonderful together is that they were built on a ‘buy to live’ ticket rather than a ‘buy to sell’ ticket. The owners wanted either a home or a business they could be proud of and pass on once they are not here. Splendid.
Lyme Regis has the added bonus of there being no busy road between the houses and beach. This adds to a quiet, leisurely intimacy about the whole sea front. There is much more to say about Lyme Regis than I have put here so do take time to visit if you are in the area, and don’t forget the fish and chips.
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