Monday, 24 April 2017

Pencil Sketching!

Sometimes I like to simplify things and cut back to the bare minimum of materials in order to create more pure images? To re-connect with the subject and to concentrate on shape and form and tone! The only thing I have in order to express my thoughts and feelings are a carbon pencil and a sheet of clean white paper!
I can work quickly if necessary if the subject is fleeting or the light is inconsistent? Rapid marks and instant scribbles letting the pencil dance across the paper to it's own rhythm! Alternatively, I can take more time and try to build up layers of tone creating light and shade and detail! I mainly use two types of pencil. An 'F' and an '8B' made by 'Faber-Castell. I find I can get a wide range of tones and detail from these by varying the amount of pressure and by alternating the direction of pencil strokes! I prefer to use good quality heavy weight cartridge paper with a fine tooth whenever possible? I will be demonstrating some of my techniques at RSPB Rye Meads on Sat April 29th from 10.00 am till 5.00 pm and the following week Sunday 7th May from 11.00 am till 3.00 pm. Check out the posters below!

Friday, 24 February 2017


Another March, another stormy spring season and the Brown Hares are chasing each other across the wide expanse of the upper Bean valley! Buzzards and Red Kites are on the wing, mewing, eyes transfixed on the action below. There is a hint of spring in the air and the snowdrops and aconites are bursting forth in the churchyard straining desperately to catch the sun. Winter visitors such as Redwings and Fieldfares are gathering in vast flocks along the hedgerows gleaning the last of the hawes and berries that still cling to gnarled branches. Better hurry! The flail is coming! Ripping its way along the road in a whirl of noise and dust. Far better to forage the freshly exposed earth for worms along with the Partridge and Woodpigeons! In a quieter corner I can hear the skylarks singing? It reminds me of things to come and gives me heart.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

BIRDS OF PREY. Top of the food chain!

Peregrine Falcon.
They are fabulous, awesome and deadly! Top of the food chain and masters of their element. No wonder mankind has held them in such high regard and utmost contempt in equal measure for so long! Is there anything more majestic than a Golden Eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains or more awe inspiring than the stoop of a Peregrine Falcon striking at its quarry from a clear blue sky? I have been fortunate enough to witness these events and many more besides and I take every opportunity to sketch, paint and photograph these beautiful creatures wherever and whenever I can. The following studies were captured using both wild and captive birds over the last year or so and I hope I have managed to describe some of their majestic form and sheer beauty in pencil and paint?
Common Buzzard.

Juvenile Marsh Harriers,

Common Buzzard.

Male Sparrowhawk.

Peregrine Falcon.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Under the surface. A Fishes Tale.

Many moons ago when I was a keen angler I used to keep a diary of the various angling adventures and escapades I indulged in. I would illustrate the pages with all manner of watery creatures, various flies and lures, bits of tackle and equipment, baits used and so on and so forth! My favourite subjects though were the fish themselves. Some quick sketches but mainly painted in pen and ink from photographs taken at the time. It was a very enjoyable way of reflecting on a favourite pastime. I haven't done any fishing for a long time but I still like to observe what lies beneath the surface of a river, lake or pond at every opportunity. Visiting freshwater aquariums is a brilliant way to study how fish move in a near natural environment and I have stared into many over the years. I recently made some sketches and watercolours of some of my favourite fish which I take great pleasure in sharing on my blog.



Monday, 4 April 2016

Small birds with big personalities!

At this time of the year I always look forward to the onset of the breeding season and accompanying birdsong that lightens the mornings and evenings in our gardens and hedgerows? Suddenly there is an eruption of activity among the feathered community as nest building and courtship gets under way. New visitors arrive and add their song to the spring soundtrack and familiar memories are re-kindled to gladden the heart! I have been sketching some of my favourite songsters from last autumn and through the winter and added one or two spring songbirds with freshly emerging buds and flowers in a series dedicated to some of these iconic creatures! My first exhibition of the season is coming up this weekend on Sunday April 10th at RSPB THE LODGE, SANDY, BEDFORDSHIRE and I will have these works on display. I will also be at RSPB RYE MEADS SPRING FAIR on Saturday April 16th in HODDESDEN, HERTS.
Stonechats and gorse.
Chiffchaff and tree fruits.
Common Whitethroat.
Willow Warbler.
Reed Bunting and Billberries.
Skylark among Pasque Flowers.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Beautiful Butterflies and Artists that have Influenced me.


   As a wildlife artist I have always looked to nature for my main source of inspiration and as a child one artist in particular had a great influence on me, 'Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe' was a prolific artist and illustrator who lived and worked during the first half of the 20th century and I came across his work through collecting tea cards as a child. My mother and grandmother always bought 'Brooke Bond' tea and I would excitedly anticipate the opening of each fresh packet of PG Tips so as to add a new card to my growing collection!
Tunnicliffe's birds and animals were so beautifully painted that for many children, not only were they wonderful to look at but they were a great educational tool as well! Later I discovered Archibald Thorburn and Peter Scott and the beautiful bird paintings of Roland Green. When studying art at school I became aware of the landscapes of the French impressionists and the masterpieces of  English artists such as Turner, Girtin and Constable. Marine painters such as Edward Seago and John Wilson Carmichael and the watercolours of John Sell Cottman have always filled me with awe and amazement. Latterly I have been very much inspired and influenced by modern wildlife artists such as Lars Jonsson, Tim Wootton, Nick Derry, John Threlfall and the brilliant Scottish artist Keith Brockie. I am fortunate enough to know some of these artists personally and have met and had critique of my work from some of them and much encouragement and sound advice! The Society of Wildlife Artists have also been a great source of inspiration. When I paint butterflies and insects and also botanical subjects I am mindful of the work of lesser known Hertfordshire artist Gordon Beningfield whose style is so delightful and skill so accomplished that the insects seem to fly off the paper. There are many talented artists working today who constantly amaze me but are too numerous to mention here. One only has to look on Facebook or surf the web to understand what I mean!
Common Blues and Small Copper butterflies with Forget me nots.
I have been out and about with pencil gouache and watercolour during the summer months and the results are seen in these paintings of some of my favourite butterflies and wild flowers. Most were painted on my local patch in Hertfordshire except for the Purple Hairstreaks which I found on an Oak tree at The Lodge in Bedfordshire. I have been giving regular art demonstrations at the RSPB headquarters at THE LODGE, Sandy in Bedfordshire throughout the spring and summer and I hope to be taking an art class there on Sunday September 20th. It hasn't been a particularly favourable year for butterflies with persistent wet weather most of the time however, I did manage to catch a few dry days sketching and painting and also taking photographs to use at home!
Small Coppers and Harebells.

Common Blue and Clouded Yellow.

Purple Hairstreaks on English Oak.

Green-Veined Whites and Small Copper.

My up coming demo this month.

 Come paint with me!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A New Spring is sprung.

 I can't believe its been a whole year since my last post! I guess I've been somewhat preoccupied with personal and family events? Hopefully things will start to settle down and I can get back into a regular routine? I thought I'd start off by updating my blog and publishing some of my recent paintings some of which I made while exhibiting at the RSPB headquarters at 'THE LODGE' near Sandy in Bedfordshire. I have also been sketching birds of prey with particular attention to a pair of Common Buzzards that have a nest not far from where I live in Hertfordshire. Buzzards and Red Kites have been doing exceptionally well here recently and I see them quite frequently. So far, I have also seen Short Eared Owl, Rough Legged Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Little Owl, Sparrow Hawk, Tawny Owl and Kestrel all on my regular local birding trips. Last year a pair of Hobbies nested at 'THE LODGE' alongside a pair of Ravens and both pairs successfully raised young! Everyone is hoping that the same thing happens again this year?
Female Merlin at Therfield Heath.

Peregrine. Regularly seen in Stevenage over the winter.

Red Kites on my patch in Hertfordshire.

Hobby at the Visitor Centre, THE LODGE.

Greater Pecker at THE LODGE.

Ravens at THE LODGE.

Little Owl, Knebworth Estate.


Spotted Flycatchers at THE LODGE.

Linnets and Thrift on the Norfolk Coast.

Greenfinches on feeders at THE LODGE.

Pied Wagtails on my patch last year.

Chaffinches in the garden.

Tree Creeper at THE LODGE.