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Reflections: Becca Hall

A heaving sketchbook alive with joyful studies of canines and their humans, and a marriage proposal to top it off… Illustrator Becca Hall’s Artistic Residency in autumn 2023 embraced the lively rhythms of Watergate over her four-day stay. 

As autumn replaced summer sunbathers and the smell of suncream with dog walkers and cold water enthusiasts, we invited Newquay based illustrator Becca Hall to capture Watergate’s characters – of both the two and four-legged variety. 

Becca Hall

Stepping out of the studio, and into a whole new way of working, opened up new perspectives and fresh dimensions for Becca. 

“The residency was so different from how I usually work, and I really enjoyed the experience. Staying and working in a location for a few days allowed me to settle into my surroundings.

“I normally work with my computer and iPad at hand, but I loved tucking them away and working solely in my sketchbook with my pencils. I felt so much more connected to my surroundings. I'm usually at home in my studio, with my two Border Terriers, working away quietly. This was so different as there’s always something happening, or people moving around, and the sound of chatter.”

Becca Hall in The Living Space of the hotel

I'd often get a few drawings done before I even got dressed.

— Becca Hall

Pencil and sketch book in hand, Becca carved out some time to work in Watergate Bay’s bustling spaces, interacting with guests, talking through her process and sharing stories. 

“Guests could come and chat to me or watch me work. It was great talking to people, as many of them had some sort of relationship with drawing.

“The gentle buzz of the hotel, along with its stunning interiors and massive windows with those uninterrupted views all combined to inspire me. I also loved finding a cosy corner with a view of the restaurant, or sitting by a window so I could see people and dogs playing on the beach. It meant I had a 360˚ view of things to draw and inspire me.”

Staying in a beach loft room meant overlooking a stage of sand and sea… 

“I loved waking up just as it was starting to get light, opening my curtains and watching the waves crash right in front of my window while I sat and enjoyed a cuppa and a pastry. It filled me with a sense of calm but also so much inspiration for the day. I’d watch people doing an early morning dog walk, or battling the waves on their surfboard, and I’d just want to draw them. I'd often get a few drawings done during that time, before I even got dressed.

“People watching above the beach has to be one of the most relaxing things you can do. I loved the challenge of drawing because everything moves so quickly…including the tide.”

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Becca Hall Drink And Draw (9) Becca Hall Drink And Draw (9)

As part of her residency, Becca hosted a Drink and Draw session, guiding people through the process of putting pen to paper, and helping hone their skills. 

“A few people said at the beginning they ‘couldn't draw’ or ‘didn't think they would be able to create anything good’ but wanted to have a go – then they left with some gorgeous pieces of artwork, that they were really proud of. It filled me with so much joy.”

Drink and Draw

With time to immerse herself in the ebb and flow of tides, people and energy across Watergate Bay’s spaces, the inspiration came thick and fast. 

“I filled a whole bunch of pages in my sketchbook – mostly of the dogs I saw around the hotel and beach, but also people on the beach and in the sea. I’ve made it into a sketchbook zine which you can buy from my website or from the hotel front desk.

Dogs of Watergate Bay

The Dogs of Watergate zine is like buying a section of my sketchbook, which you can look through whenever you like and see my drawings

“The Dogs of Watergate zine is like buying a section of my sketchbook, which you can look through whenever you like and see my drawings, notes, and how I work. In a way, it’s much more authentic than my final pieces as you see my workings out, quick and slow drawings, colour testing etc., which all goes into my sketchbooks before I can create my final pieces for the walls.”

Tutorial

To inspire budding artists, during Becca’s stay, she created this snappy tutorial for us on How to Draw Dogs. We now screen Becca’s step-by-step drawing lesson as part of our supervised sessions in the Kids’ Zone, helping young artists capture the canine characters they see about the Bay. But, believe us when we say it’ll captivate, and surprise, you whatever your age or drawing talents.

So,  what’s next for Becca? 

“Alongside illustrating books for various publishers, I’m currently illustrating a book about sharks which will hopefully help kids and adults alike to learn that they aren’t as scary as we think. They’re such beautiful creatures. I’m also continuing to create tutorials and insights into my work on my Patreon which people can subscribe to, wherever they are in the world.” 

Rounding off her stay in the most romantic way possible, Becca’s boyfriend Ben found the perfect moment to ask her a life-changing question. 

“We have a bit of a tradition on Watergate where we choose whether we’ll walk left or right, and then when we reach the end of the beach, we step on a rock before we can turn around. 

We went left, down to the end near Whipsiderry, touched a rock, and when we turned around, Ben got down on one knee. Watergate is our favourite beach to walk the dogs, and surf, and we have so many special memories there. Now we want to top them all, by getting married on the cliffs just behind Watergate.”

Becca Hall

Becca has pulled together her characterful sketchbook canine creations to make a Dogs of Watergate zine, available to buy.  

Discover more

Explore our previous residencies with ocean-painter Nina Brooke and abstract artist Jethro Jackson.

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