Artist and farmer’s wife, Julie Gregory, is inspired by Northumberland’s dramatic North Sea coastline, with its wonderful light and ever-changing mood. Words: Caroline Wheater
My painting studio faces the sea and I look out over a hawthorn hedge onto the fields of corn and oil seed rape that lead down to the dunes, with the North Sea and the Farne Islands beyond. This has been my view for 35 years – I can see the weather coming over and the white horses on the waves. The still, calm days are lovely, but I prefer it when storms rage and the sea changes from grey to green to a beautiful aqua colour.
I’m a local girl, born into a Beadnell fishing family. Now I live at Springhill Farm with my husband Colin, our two children Sarah and Simon and their partners, and five grandchildren. We’re on the Northumberland Coast Path, half a mile’s walk down to a sandy beach and a mile to the fishing village of Seahouses.
I’ve been painting since childhood, learning from courses, art clubs and books. I go on beach walks most days with the dogs to seek inspiration. Sometimes I drive to Bamburgh Castle to sketch from the car. I take a flask of tea and my aqua pencils, scooping water from the rock pools and gluing sand onto my sketchbook. Sometimes I work digitally on my iPad.
I’ve been on many art holidays over the years – to the west coast of Scotland for example – but I’d always come home to this unique, rugged, historical area of coast from Craster to Bamburgh and think, ‘Why not here, too?’. Our first residential course was in May last year and we have put on six more this year, led by local and guest artists. I run one called, ‘Walk, Sketch and Paint My Coastline’. We go to a seaside location such as Budle Bay and I ask students to close their eyes for 10 minutes to listen, smell and feel what is around, which helps them see better – painting is a sensory experience.
Photograph: Tracey Bloxham/Inside Story Photography
Read more Coast Characters in our Living By The Sea section…