Holkham Beach famously stood in for the coast of Virginia in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’. It is one of those surreal landscapes in which the line between earth, water and the air is often ambiguous. The curious line of dark pine trees was originally planted in the 19th century by the 3rd Earl of Leicester to protect reclaimed farmland from wind-blown sand. Wells-next-the-Sea is the nearest town.
The coastline as a whole is enormously important for wildlife. Thousands of migrating birds – geese, ducks and waders – rely on the food of the mudflats. There are multiple environments to explore: dunes, saltmarsh, scrub, grazing marsh. On the right of the painting, you can see dune formation.
Any low marshy or sandy area has a tendency to look bleak when the weather is overcast. Acres of Annual Seablight and Glasswort add to the desolate look. Fine weather utterly transforms Holkham Beach. I was pleased with the blue I mixed for the sky. It has a really vivid look to it, similar to the blue of medieval illustrations. Rather like this spring meadow painting, there are strong geometric bands of colour, but the clouds break up the monotony of the bands.