Monday 29 August 2011

All the fun of the fair?

The British Birdwatching fair has come and gone for another year and afterwards I was left wondering if It had fulfilled my expectations or if the atmosphere was somewhat subdued this year? The entrance fee was 25% higher and everything seemed more expensive and the crowds seemed fewer than before? In a way I was glad, because this gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with some of the artists and to ask for a critique on some of my work! Cheeky I know but I thought 'what the heck?' 'why not?'. They were very gracious and brutally honest and although some opinions differed widely they were all very encouraging! I recieved sound advice and precious pearls of wisdom from some of the worlds top artists and I have taken it all on board, and for that, I am truly grateful!  It confirms the belief that art is so subjective and we all see things so very differently! I came away feeling that I could achieve something with my art and that one has to be true to oneself. 
I showed the following painting to Michael Warren and he suggested that I rework the eye of the bird and darken behind the head and also pay more attention to the leaves, (which I have done!)  His sage advice was to always pay attention to detail and sketch in the field and to practise from life as often as possible.  I think that this has definitely improved the painting.  What do you think?  
The painting shows a Spotted flycatcher in the old apple tree at the Lodge, Sandy. These birds raised a succesfull brood and were a treat for visitors to the RSPB during the summer.

 Strong opinions from Jane Leycester Paige on my butterflies and flowers and some eye watering comments that quite surprised me but not once was she condescending or patronising! I was so relieved that she recognized every flower and my butterflies (although a bit too flat?) passed the test! She really liked the next painting and coming from one of the top botanical artists, that really made my day! I do tend to get carried away when it comes to painting flowers and throw in everything including the kitchen sink! I just can't help myself! This watercolour is no figment of imagination but an image of what was on show at this rare site in Hertfordshire and where Chalkhill blues still breed in abundance! I hope it does justice?
My next painting is a study of a Ring Ouzel seen on migration this spring at Holme Dunes in North Norfolk. She was as bold as brass and we got terrific close up views as she danced among the tussocks. I would like to thank all the artists that were gracious enough to let me bend their ear at this years birdfair especially the society of wildlife artists and the artists for nature foundation, Jonathan Latimer for his encouraging comments and to Szabi(nice to meet you in the flesh at last). John Threlfall for giving up his chair to my wife! Ian Langford for the beautiful book and for signing it and to all the artists who signed it as well! It just goes to prove that art can make a difference and can enrich our lives? Now? Where did I put my pencil sharpener?

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Midsummer Musings.

Its been a strange month in many ways what with family circumstances (If you knew the whole truth you would not believe such things could happen all at once? Daughter(depression), Mother(alzhiemers),Aunt(died!),not to mention Lynn's chemo treatment!!!). One of the few things that keeps me sane is the chance to grab a few hours birdwatching and to sit with Lynn and finish my sketches! And then there's the wierd weather that can't seem to make up it's mind what to do? Has autumn arrived early? Wait a minute! Its stinking hot today with a chance of thunderstorms! Who knows what next week will bring? An early autumn does have it's compensations though? It means that migrant birds are arriving from the arctic breeding grounds still resplendent in their breeding plumage! Recently I had Wood sandpiper,Green and common sandpiper,Black-tailed Godwit and some gorgeous Black-necked grebes visit my local patch in the Lee valley. From the continent I had the pleasure of a Hummingbird-Hawk moth in my garden as well as a juicy selection of butterflies!

Check out my Black-Necked Grebe and Wood Sandpiper sketches following a recent visit to Rye Meads RSPB reserve on my local patch in Hertfordshire. Gorgeous!

There have been lots of families of warblers moving around my local patch recently including Willow warblers, Whitethroats and small groups of Blackcaps. The best time to see these is very early in the morning when the mist is heavy in the trees and the air is cool and still. I even had a fox run straight past me so close I could have touched it! Silence is golden! As the day warms up I can hear Turtle Doves and the first lark! Sometimes I don't want to leave!

I re-visited some old sketches and memories from earlier this year and came up with this watercolour of Yellow Wagtails seen at Titchwell in Norfolk from the new Parrinder hide. I seem to remember there were seven of these beauties on the brackish marsh. I hope you like this?

With a bit of luck I'm taking Lynn to the Birdfair at Rutland in August? I'm going to pick the brains of some of the artists there for any advice or tips and to drool over their work! I will try post my next ramblings at the end of the month? Best wishes to everyone.