Garden bird commission

I received a commission to produce a series of watercolour sketches of garden birds. The client specified the types of bird and because I live in a rural location my garden is regularly visited by a rich cross section of birds, this is no doubt partly because I keep my bird feeders well stocked. Consequently the five birds requested by my client are regular visitors. It was a lovely commission to have and I thoroughly enjoyed completing it, happily the client was also very satisfied.

Sparrow

Sparrow

Long Tailed Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Robin

Robin

Great Tit

Great Tit

Hen Harrier Day

I was asked to gift a print of a Hen Harrier to be raffled at a Hen Harrier Day in The Forest of Bowland by Terry Pickford, the organiser of this annual event.

The purpose of the demo is to protest against the persecution of Hen Harriers by the Grouse shooting fraternity. Unfortunately despite all the efforts of Terry and his group, there are now no Hen Harriers in this region. This has nothing to do with natural selection or environmental factors but simply the shooting and poisoning of these beautiful birds by gamekeepers. Some of the accounts of the persecution of individual harriers and collusion between police and landowners sounds like a conspiracy theory but is sadly what happens when pressure groups go up against the establishment. When you know the amount of money at stake, with shooters flying in from abroad and paying mind boggling sums of money for a days shoot, you realise that the welfare of any wildlife is considered irrelevant.

On a more pleasant note, the lady who won my print, herself a very active advocate for raptors,  was absolutely thrilled with the print and contacted me afterwards to thank me. It was most gratifying.

Hen Harrier painting

Peregrine Falcon

This painting of a Peregrine Falcon was produced in watercolour. In recent years my wildlife paintings have most often been either acrylic or gouache. Both these mediums lend themselves to the photo-realist approach and the vast majority of my wildlife paintings have been produced using acrylic paints.

It is clear that most people are captivated by an artist’s ability to reproduce detailed images, particularly when it comes to wildlife and the more ‘photographic’ it looks the better. I have always enjoyed painting detailed paintings of wildlife and have had a bit of success in doing so. There are some fine artists who produce very detailed paintings in watercolour but I wanted to use it to paint in a more expressive way, perhaps focusing a little less on detail but striving for a more ‘painterly’ result by letting watercolour’s natural qualities  play there part .

My first efforts using this method have been very enjoyable and the paintings are completed in one or two sittings. Consequently the finished result is spontaneous, and in my eyes,  more exciting.

I hope you share my enthusiasm for watercolor, I have no doubt I shall in the future return to photo realism as it will always have an appeal for me, but for now I am just enjoying the magic of watercolour.

winter peregrine 2 001

 

American Kestrel Final Stage

The dilemma I faced with a reference for a cactus plant for this painting was surprisingly easy to solve. I remembered, actually my wife remembered, Ripley Castle which is only a few miles from where I live, has a walled garden with hot houses which feature, surprise surprise, cactus plants.

A quick scoot down there with the  camera and I had all the raw material I needed for my American Kestrel painting. The cactus was surprisingly great fun to paint with it’s waxy texture and spikes. So below you can see the final result, one which I am pleased with. A beautiful little falcon perched on a cactus plant. Enjoy!

 

American Kestrel - Copy

 

American Kestrel continued

The painting of an American Kestrel has now reached a stage where the plumage is developed, detail is added but it is important to give a sense of the form of the bird. I am reasonably confident that the painting of the little falcon will ‘work’ but I am already thinking about the cactus plant on which the bird is perched. I chose a cactus because I wanted to include something appropriate to the falcon’s natural habitat. My problem will be finding a reference for said cactus! Not surprisingly they are a bit thin on the ground in North Yorkshire.

 

stage 3stage 4

American Kestrel work in progress

I photographed this falcon at a flying display at the Yorkshire Show and always intended to paint him. He was such a petite but beautiful bird I was determined to try and capture him. My only dilemma was to come up with an appropriate, ie American looking, background.

I have photographed the painting at various stages and you can see how it developed. I chose my favoured combination of acrylic and illustration board to be able to portray the level of detail I wanted to achieve.

The first picture shows the drawing with the initial background work.

The work on the bird began with the eye or eyes of my subject as they somehow set the tone for the rest.

stage 1stage 2

More to follow.

Society of Wildlife Art

Three of my paintings have been selected for possible inclusion in the annual exhibition at the Mall Gallery. I will not find out if any or all are successful until September 19th but fingers crossed. Two of the paintings were of birds flown in a demonstration at the Great Yorkshire Show, a Sea Eagle and a Barn Owl. I photographed Sea Eagles when I visited Norway earlier this year but could not get close enough to capture the level of detail I need for a painting. Despite that I was so blown away by these magnificent birds I was determined to try to do them justice in a painting. As for the Barn Owl, well you can never tire of painting these charismatic owls and they are always popular with everyone.

I recently joined facebook and have found it great fun, I do not have very many ‘friends’ (Johnny no mates, that’s me) but have really enjoyed getting feedback from all sorts of people, some artists some not but please check out my Facebook page and drop me a line.

Silent FlightSplash and Grab

National Exhibition of Wildlife Art

Sold at NEWA

Sold at NEWA

The NEWA exhibition in Gordale Cheshire is an annual exhibition featuring both the top names and newcomers in wildlife art. The exhibition is considered to be a very prestigious annual exhibition and to have work accepted is extremely satisfying. Forgive the element of self promotion but I am so pleased to have had all three of my paintings accepted, especially as my Jaguar painting, which reached the finals of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year, was not selected as a catagory winner. However it was one of the three selected by NEWA.

The exhibition runs until 4th August and well worth a visit if you can. I visited the preview night on Thursday 18th July and was blown away by the quality of the work on display. The evening was ‘made’ for me when one of my paintings sold in the first hour. Peregrine on the Moor has found a new home.

Please check out my facebook page to see the latest paintings and what I am currently working on.

Greetings!

Greetings-cards

I have just received my first greeting cards from my printer and I am thrilled to bits with them. The fact is in these difficult financial times not everyone can justify spending hard earned cash on original art, it’s great if you can because prices in art are depressed like everything else but if you like my artwork you can at least have a very good reproduction of some of my paintings and share them with family and friends! Please contact me on facebook or through the web site for prices.

Yorkshire Show

It’s almost time for the Great Yorkshire Show again and after last year’s rained off affair I am hoping for better this year. Got a lot of new stuff for my exhibition in the Art Pavilion so if you are visiting please come in and say hello. The other big thing in my life is I am now on Facebook! What about me doing social networking? Bit spooky I know but I have really enjoyed it and get a lot of feedback which I just love. Please visit my page and if you feel you can ‘like’ my page.

beachpatrol_600pxl

Just returned from visiting Aberdeen where I have a great time at the RSPB sites up there, recently done a large painting of Oystercatchers on a beach on the Moray Firth, tried to capture the wonderful colours and atmosphere as well as the birds.

Don’t know if I mentioned I had a painting selected for the finals of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year, sadly it did not win but when you see the standard of the paintings selected for final judging it is not too disappointing to come up short. Just have to try harder next year.

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