Saturday, 10 June 2017

Seabird City. A visit to Bempton Cliffs.

As you approach the nearest viewpoint you hear the faint cries and distant mewings of the birds and you glimpse vague shapes breaking the horizon above the cliffs! A feeling of excitement and anticipation makes your heart quicken and you fiddle with your camera and binoculars trying not to seem too eager to the passing strangers who smirk at the fact that they know this is your first time? Smug satisfaction is etched on their faces and the adrenalin is still pumping by the time you reach the platform! Nothing can prepare you for what you are about to witness! The sheer scale of those massive cliffs rising four hundred feet vertically from a turquoise sea, covered in a seething mass of over a quarter of a million birds! The vast flocks auks, kittiwakes and gannets hugging the wind and swirling above and below simply take your breath away! The sound is suddenly deafening and the smell hits you full on like a gale of fish stench! Someone suddenly shouts 'Puffin!' and everybody scrambles to one side in order to get a better view, cameras clicking furiously. A hundred lenses pointing and zooming and a battery of telescopes are lined up along the cliff tops! This is nature in the raw and at its most spectacular? Life and death at close quarters and behaviour that we are privileged to witness. Thanks to the work of conservation bodies such as the RSPB the birds that come here to breed are doing very well and for most species it has been a success story and we are granted access to a very special place indeed! I left with sketches and photos and memories that I will treasure for all time and I hope my paintings can convey at least some of the atmosphere of this very special place and the remarkable birds that breed here?
Puffin Pair.

Wing stretching.

Peak a boo!

Bridled Guillemots.

Mating Razorbills.



Herring Gull.

Shags at Flamborough Head.

Gannets hanging in the wind.

Gannet sketches.

Gannet flight sketches.

Puffin sketches.

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.