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‘From Hell’s Mouth To The Lizard’

A Book Illustrated & Written by Alan G Williamson (Al Cazu)
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Al

 

Published by 
Cazu Productions and Publishing mail@alcazu.com
Copyright © Alan Williamson
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright holder.
ISBN-9781796393927


Book Dedication:
I would like to dedicate this book to the champions that have recently quite literally saved my life. The first being Doctor Catherine Osborne, and secondly Surgeon Mr. Paul Lidder, along with Anesthetists Gary Matthews and Gill Saville, and additionally to all of the splendid supporting medical staff. The writing of these thanks is premature because as yet my surgery as not taken place. If you are now reading this dedication their efforts were successful, otherwise this book would never have been completed nor published (Please don’t screw up guys).

It is also imperative for me to dedicate these words and images to my very dear friend who sadly passed onto the spirit land this past year, he being Mr. Harry D’Silva. Harry’s death broke my heart but our very last conversations now seem most relevant. Only one day before H’s departure we agreed that ‘Young men learn how to paint in order to live, and old men paint so that they may learn how to die. Harry’s passing has hugely influenced many of the paintings in this book. “I salute you my old friend, and may your god’s go with you”. I also offer great thanks to all of those that have been so supportive during these dark times of my life.

Introduction:
This book is not just like some other of my past publications that focus on images and words that amount to little more than a visual tour guide or an edited review of my past life. Within this project my hope is to really convey the bare bones of where my creative efforts originate from. My intention is to show and talk about making art as far as I myself perceive it, and how I personally approach producing it.

It is my ambition that both the images along with the words together offer the reader an insight into the thoughts and feelings of the artist that I would like to believe I have become.

The project inclusions of precious metal and minerals are but metaphors of the origination and the cycle of life itself. ‘Hell’s Mouth To The Lizard’ is not just an excursion around the coast of Cornwall, it is a journey that sooner or later we all must take wherever we are.
Lapis Lazuli I adopt as the symbol of a beginning along with green serpentine and the wolf moon as a point of change.
Please look and think carefully about what you see and read.

Al Cazu

MIORAI (The Fates)
The story of the Miorai dates back to ancient times. It is in part legend, embraces mythology, and dovetails in to history, and who knows if it is not partly true?
Alongside the gods of ancient Greece were the Mioria (the three fates), these women were not gods but were said to be even more powerful than any god other than Zeus himself. The role of these females is believed to be to determine the life and destiny of all humans. The first being named ‘Clotho’ spun the thread of life, ‘Lachesis’ measured and dispensed the thread, and ‘Atropos’ cut it (thus determining the individuals moment of death).

My visual representation of the Miorai adopts a reverie of semiotics that include some symbols from the early periodic table and astrological signs, along with symbolic representations of the concepts of ‘reason’, ‘logic’, ‘probability’, ‘imagination’, and ‘creativity’.

Each of the three pictures also includes the
use of contemporary iconography. How to read and interoperate the intended messages held within these paintings is intentionally left to the viewer’s own intellect and power of imagination.

The use of gold within these pictures is genuine 23 carat. Although each individual painting within this trilogy stands alone, the three together form a set that should be displayed and viewed in the prescribed sequence.

For those of us who have been fortunate ‘Home’ represents a place of nurturing and safety. As we wander far and wide and much time passes, the option of following the homeward path is no longer possible. However, our memories and imagination can offer a route that leads to comfort and peace.

The colour palette of the month of autumn for myself evokes an emotion of pleasant reflection. It does however mark a time that heralds the coming of change. All too soon winter arrived and the ‘Beast From The East’ came and overnight my garden studio became frozen. The colours of bronze and gold transformed to being that of white, white, and white

Most people think of the snow
as being white or grey but to the observant painter although subtle, the colour palette of a snowscape is magical. It is in the shadows that those illusive tones and hues abide.

After all it is not colour that the human eye perceives, it is light. Beyond each end of the colour spectrum exists colours that we are unaware of. Ultra violet and infrared are two of these ghostlike colours. Although we think of them as being blue or grey the everyday skies above us always host those easily missed colours. However
The artist who is proficient at manipulating pigment can simulate violets and purples that are visible to our eyes.
This painting of the sun kissing the snow covered ground and silhouetting the trees marks a pertinent waypoint in this series of artworks.

And then the long awaited springtime arrived. The trees have ceased to slumber, and they again wear a canopy of fresh green leaves. The floor of the woodland became covered by wildflowers and bluebells. Creatures that had struggled to survive the long winter months or had hibernated began to scurry around and enjoy the more temperate climate. Life had not ceased during the months of winter. It was simply taking a necessary rest.

I personally adore this time of the year, and myself always feel rejuvenated when the spring comes. The colour palette of this time of year is music to the eyes. Everything appears fresh and clean. The light also seems to be new and crisp. Even the smells of spring are that of rebirth. To crown the whole event all birdlife joins in a chorus that celebrates this arrival.

Soon the sun returned to being closer, and when at it’s zenith offered more warmth. The flora began to mature and each day that passed the weather became more kind.
For myself this is the time of year to pack up paints and pencils, get out and explore. A time to find new locations and make art.

This is a time when the artist’s colour palette yet again needs to change. The colours of nature appear to be more vivid. Even the sky seems to become more blue. The contrast of each composition becomes more pronounced and starkly dramatic. Even the shadows appear to be more solid and intense. It is also a time where the scene before you seems to change more quickly, so for the plein air artist working fast is essential.

Many painters work from photographic studies. If it is impossible to visit the location that you desire to adopt for your picture, working from a photograph is permissible. Taking photographs in order to later transform into a painting is not a sin but this does not compare to seeing, experiencing, and capturing the scene while being on the spot.

Transporting large canvases, an easel, and boxes of oil paints is cumbersome and restrictive. So myself for the most part for my preferred medium I choose watercolours or pastels. These quickly dry and are easy to carry.

I often visit locations and make pencil sketches or colour studies to be used to produce large oil paintings at a later date. These studies themselves can also be improved upon in the studio and become finished artworks in their own right.

These are not rules set in stone. It is the act of making the picture that is the overriding reward.

Eventually full-blown summer blesses the land and all that surrounds us. Long balmy days with warm air seem to be endless. Nature’s reborn and new-born seem to be relaxing and drinking in the long lush lazy days.

The painter knows that this is the time when the colours of nature will very soon again begin to change. Just like the wildlife that are already harvesting supplies for the next winter months, this is a time for the artist to gather inspiration and studies for when the what may seem like the distant winter comes.

When inspiration comes let it find you with a pencil or paint brush in your hand and not just a cold beer.

To be an artist can sometimes seem like a curse. In summer it should be a luxurious blessing.

I think of the creation of a painting like it is a piece of music. The idea is not unlike the same as it would be for a song. The sketching would be as searching for a tune. The under-painting being choosing the key and the chords. The blocking-in is the rhythm and tempo. The overall painting could be compared to the arrangement. Then the final details and highlights being the lyrics.

The above picture I produced the night before my dear friend Harry died. This is where the underlying theme of this book begins.

My dear friend for many years Harry and myself were contemplating a painting excursion that would take
us around the southern peninsular of Cornwall. Before our art expedition occurred, to the braking of my heart ‘H’ as I always referred to him suffered a fatal heart attack while taking his usual daily swim in the ocean.
For some months I was unable to talk about the deep loss that H’s departure left me with, and myself stopped painting. However, I picked up and visited some of the places we had considered worthy of drawing and painting.

The following pictures are some of the artworks that I have produced this past year. The journey begins at ‘Hell’s Mouth’ which is located on the wild North Cornish Coast, it continues until is rounds ‘Land’s End’, and eventually arrives at the most southerly place where the rocks of England kiss the ocean, ‘Lizard Point’.

American guitarists often refer to going down to the ‘Crossroads’. This notion can be explained as a musician visiting a certain location at midnight, meeting with the devil and allowing him to tune their guitar. The belief is that after this encounter their musical ability would flourish. However ultimately, there is of course a price to pay.

While on my many painting expeditions I have often felt a presence by my side. I think that
the painting masters of old whom
I admire and who’s work has not
only influenced me but taught me
so much, sometimes look over my shoulder. They never speak but do on occasion frown or approvingly nod their heads.
They never touch the brush or offer advice. So it is my hope that there is no price to pay for their company.

Travelling westward towards St Ives the coastal path rises and falls. The route is lined with huge rock formations that majestically stand like the guardians of the cliff tops. From the high points along the path the view affords the traveller a view far out to sea. From this place magnificent sunrises and sunsets can be experienced. This winding path along the edge of the cliffs is a fine place to paint or meditate.

After descending down to sea level and arriving in St Ives it is like arriving in a subtropical land. The beaches are of clean sand and are backed by tall palm trees.
It is not difficult to understand why in the past so many artists from afar migrated to this place to live and work. During the early 1900s St Ives was still a thriving fishing port that also hosted an ever-expanding artist colony.

I myself in 1996 spent a lonely winter working while living in a small fisherman’s cottage that overlooked this coastal town.

Having left the Cornish North Coast the view is that of looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. The route in
this book at this point leads the painting traveller to the spectacular location of Cape Cornwall. Here I decided to stop off and do some serious artwork. While I was there the ghosts of those long gone painters that I have known for so long joined me, along with the spirit of my recently deceased friend Harry.

The adjacent painting is looking
out from ‘Preacher’s Cove’ at the ‘Brison Rocks’. As I sat looking out to sea the clouds opened up and shafts of rainbow-lined sunlight illuminated the Brisons. I began with the making of several pencil sketches and a few watercolour studies. During the following winter I produced the final oil painting. As always I began with a fine quality linen canvas stretched on a deep profile wooden frame. The canvas was then primed and under painted with a sepia wash. From the earlier studies the composition I sketched out and then blocked in with colour. Then the painting was produced, and eventually the final detail and highlights were applied. This is how I paint.

Be it with watercolours or oil paints, I find that rendering a rainbow in a realistic way to be extremely challenging. To copy them live is best but they occur rarely and when they do they quickly disappear. These are for sure one of nature’s finest miracles, and what every painter should attempt to capture.

We know that throughout their existence
humans have created art but we don’t really
know why. It is possible that we made pictures even before the development of language and oral communication? Early cultures worldwide produced artifacts and visual icons that pertained to gods and spirits. Animals also feature in much of the first artwork that we have discovered. So therefore we could explain away painting as being the first form of communication. When photography became available as a visual medium hand rendered images could have become redundant but they very much did not. Our appetite for drawings and paintings has prevailed. Even throughout the advent of print and mass media painting still holds it’s ground.

Myself I believe that there is something about picture making that is beyond our conscious understanding. It is essential
to our existence and wellbeing, as are all forms of art and creativity. A civilization without art would be a dead culture.

To many people abstract painting is a mystery. Yes it is, and what a wonderful thing that is. I personally think that all paintings should offer mystery. That great artist Renior once quoted “The important element of the picture can not be defined, can’t be explained”. Maybe viewing a painting should be as much a creative endeavor as is the creating of one, and possibly that is where the true value is.

Just like my reasons for adopting Lapis Lazuli and Serpentine as metaphors for this book, maybe paintings are just like crystals and semi precious stones, they have an energy and a purpose of their own for being in this world.

When standing on the seashore watching large rolling waves coming in and then suddenly the sun breaks through the clouds the scene is like a glimpse of heaven, a painters dream. The smell of the seaside and the taste of salt upon the lips is inspiration in itself
.
All morning light showers of rain had punctuated the sunshine. I stopped off at Sennen Cove to colour sketch the wildflowers.
I noticed a woman holding a bright red umbrella and standing alone and motionless. She gazed out to sea for what seemed like an eternity. I wondered who she was and what she was thinking. So I painted her.

I wonder how many artists have painted or photographed these cliffs. How many lovers have pledged their devotion? How many people have considered ending their lives by leaping from the high rocks? As I view the myriad of seabirds that circle their cliff-face nests I wonder if they are the returning souls of the afore mentioned.

It is here and places like it we must acknowledge that it is nature herself that the is true artist. Throughout the ages the tides and weather have sculpted these rocks. Witnessing the results of these wonders for me is a privilege. How could I not attempt to paint them?

As a boy the coming in and the going out of the tide always fascinated me. I remember once observing that if I held a half full glass of water and tipped it to one side, the water stayed where it was. Therefore I concluded that it was the seashore moving away from the ocean and not a case of the tide that receded.

Although years later I had become educated to the concept of the gravitational pull of the moon and it’s effects upon the ocean, it wasn’t until myself going aground in a sailboat did I fully comprehend how fast that old tide can disappear from under you.

The message being if you
think in terms of ‘High & Dry’ things seem daunting but call it ‘Resting Aground’ you will then have plenty of time to relax and think, even to paint or draw.

I am often asked how I achieve 
the vibrant blues that I use in my paintings. The answer is that I am never entirely satisfied with the various blue pigments that are commercially available, so when possible I mix my own. For this I use Lapis Lazuli. This can be mixed with gum Arabic to produce watercolours, or with linseed oil for the making of oil paint.

Lapis Lazuli comes from Afghanistan. It originally came to Europe via traders brining it from the east and delivering it in Venice, Italy. This mineral when crushed produced a blue so rich in colour that it was much sought after but the Catholic Church claimed divine ownership of it.
Not until many years later did artisans gain access to it and other than for paintings commissioned
by the Vatican it was unavailable. Painters until the 14th century used a muddy-blue-grey.

Yes! The church really did own the colour blue.

Upon reaching Porthcurno and looking out to Great and Little Goular the day was warm and with little wind. The sun shone brightly while the movement and colours of the sea and sky interacted in perfect harmony.
‘Time to paint’!

No artist can paint or photograph, even video a true facsimile of the ocean. There have been millions of superb attempts at doing so, and many are near to being very close to the real thing. However, to personally gaze upon the open sea is an experience to behold.

For the painter replicating
the ocean is a mammoth challenge but not one to be afraid of. Simply look hard enough that you begin to feel what is in front of you. Let
the rhythm of the sea-state entice and carry you. Then while meditating along with the ocean allow those phthalo blues and greens to dance from your palette onto the surface of your artwork.

The skies above us offer the would-be artist yet another challenge. The very first pictures created by small children often contain a representation of the sun and a cloudy sky (maybe the including of those two things is a sign of inner wisdom and an inherent knowledge of what awaits them) but they are not afraid to boldly draw and paint the sky.

Look, study, and paint the sky often enough and eventually you will develop the ability to choreograph one of your
own. So many arrangements of the changing light and the altering movements of the clouds I have seen that I thought if I were to copy them the result would be an impossible and unrealistic looking sky-state. I paint them regardless.

If you yourself paint the skies, be bold, be as free as the clouds themselves, and drift. The sky is ever changing and so should be the way that we perceive it.

Be it the first encounter or a returning visit to Kynance Cove
the experience is always the same. That place is another of nature’s masterpieces. It is although a child giant modeled the rock formations in play, painted in an emerald green and violet sea, and then breathed upon their creation a godly breath that made it real.

The artist should and must learn to replicate what ever is in front of them whether or not at first it may seem unbelievable.

This is a truly mystical and magical place. A place where my ghostly companions join me yet again, they just gaze and smile.

I pray that that land of Elysium will one day welcome me and afford me many such locations to gaze upon and hopefully sit and paint.

And then as all things in life does, everything changed. The weather became quite evil, violent winds and horizontal driving rain opened the new day. Visibility was minimum and my mood rolled down hill like a snowball heading for hell.

This is the problem with being easily seduced by what our changing environment presents, and it’s effect on our spirits and frame of mind.

Leaving yourself open to how your surroundings effects you creatively is a good thing to do for the artist. In contrast, for both physical and mental wellbeing, leaving ourselves so vulnerable can be hazardous.

My journey had began with a pain in my very soul but offered me weather that would bless my footfall, that lifted the level of my heart and mind’s pleasant state. Although we are all loathed to admit it, we are all of us very susceptible to so many things that are beyond our control, the weather being one of these.

If I dare to offer any advice within this book it would be: “Never be a fair-weather painter only, least of all someone who is only open to what has been planed or is expected. Life often presents golden opportunities that come to us in disguise”.
Yes! Let your artwork embrace everything that you see end experience. As if painting rainbows and sunsets is not difficult enough, try freezing a moment in time that captures ‘Wind’ and ‘Rain’.

As I neared Lizard Pont the sky darkened and thunder rumbled in the distance. I found shelter and sat back in readiness to witness the coming storm. Soon streaks of raw electrical energy whipped the sky.

Storms at sea can be terrifying but when experienced while being sheltered and safe they are exhilarating.

The fist humans who walked on this planet must have thought that these electrical storms signaled something of
great significance.

To me such occurrences in nature are an opportunity to observe, paint, experiment, and discover.

A metamorphic rock known as Serpentine can be found in abundance around the Lizard. It’s Chemical formula is Mg3(OH)4(Si3O5) and it
is of a green/yellow colour, not unlike that of Jade. Serpentine is a common name for the minerals antigorite, lizardite and chrysotile.

Many people believe that Serpentine is useful for identifying evil
and protecting against both bad luck and against dark magic. Other qualities are said to be that it aids the inner strength needed to follow your dreams, along with developing a distinct inner peace that makes you untouchable by negative energy.

Serpentine is easily harvested near and around Lizard Point, in fact it can readily be found along the shoreline just lying on the beach.

I myself picked up a small piece of this rock while on my painting trip, this I keep in my memory box alongside a piece of Lapis Lazuli.

For sure Lapis and Serpentine are closely related. After all both came into existence on this host planet of ours at the same time. Hence my offered metaphor ‘From Hell’s Mouth To The Lizard’.

As this artistic excursion and chapter of
my life concludes the recent event of the ‘Red Wolf Moon’ seems very relevant. We
as humans are so often limited in our understanding. It may be due to misguidance, persuasion, or the influence of faith that we think that everything has a beginning and an end but that concept is totally and utterly wrong.

I myself am not a formally religious man but
I do gravitate towards a belief in forces that
are far greater than the meager
 existence of humankind and the life that surrounds us. The true artist can’t help but to consider the possibility of a spiritual influence.

History tells us that the concept of life’s cycle being never ending has been at the core of human beliefs worldwide for thousands of years. So many faiths and persuasions refer to this as the ‘Tree Of Life’ it is impossible to not believe in the lost wisdom and knowledge that the ancients once possessed.

Our scientific knowledge now confirms that everything in the universe is not only interconnected but is a complex network of elements and entities that remain infinitely interactive.

From the evidence before me my own conclusion is that we ourselves and everything around us originates from stardust and will return to being the same. All of those elements that create life are constantly being recycled and reused again and again.

The big question is ‘Are all of our human endeavors, actions, ideas, and even love also indelible?

“Pictures that I Almost Forgot To Make”. What can that possibly mean? Well in this case it refers to many things. From a metaphysical stance it could be a metaphor that refers to one’s own life, for the artist it could be a reference to the creations and ideas that have not yet been rendered. From a philosophical stand point the phrase might be a simple reference to personal aims and ambitions that need to be made real before time runs out and it is too late to do so. In the case of this project, the title, and content encompasses all of these things.

This project and book of mine I hope dovetails into the concepts of life’s endless cycle. The artist’s ongoing journey I hope to have underlined. If there is a message within these pictures and words be it for both living this life or being an artist it is all so easy to comprehend:



‘Easy? Yes! It is just like putting roller skates on a big black bear.’