Monday, November 23, 2020



White wagtails were common winter visitors on Lamma Island, Hong Kong when I lived there so I took the opportunity to do a number of field studies of them. Shown here are a few that I did.

All these studies were done in sketchbooks, the color ones using watercolor which I found easiest to use in the field.

These studies represent the various races seen during that time, I also saw a Japanese Wagtail (rare in HK) but didn't do any studies of it - pity!

I'm on the Eastern Shore at the moment staying in a house that is well off the beaten track with spotty internet access so posting has been limited. I'll be able to do more when we move closer to town.

Friday, October 30, 2020



These studies were done at Mai Po nature reserve in Hong Kong quite a few years ago. Mostly I sketched and painted the few Saunders Gulls that were about but also some Black-headed Gulls.

I did a few watercolor studies too trying all the while to capture their unique characteristics.

These smaller gulls have a certain amount of charm that totally captivated me and I wanted to spend days just working on them!

Later in another part of the reserve, I came across some sleeping Shelducks. This is one of the watercolor studies I did of them.

Saturday, October 17, 2020



Looking through some of my sketchbooks recently, I came across a few studies that I thought interesting enough to share here. The female peregrine falcon shown above was moulting into adult plumage. A falconer friend was looking after it for a few days so I sat close by and made these studies. She was initially quite nervous and shivered for awhile until settling down. I added watercolor to some of the drawings which helped show the stage of the moult.

This page was dedicated to starlings in winter when they came down to roost in trees just outside my studio window. Some of them didn't make it through the colder nights so I drew and painted studies of them the next morning while in my hand.

I always enjoy drawing and painting black walnuts. The nut forms inside a green hard outer layer that gradually turns blackish-brown. They usually fall around this time too and I am always picking them up and breaking them open to see inside. When split in half, there is a wonderful shape of an owls head inside!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020



First off, I decided to darken the background slightly with another wash. This had the effect of lifting the breast slightly off the paper, then I began adding details to the head. As usual, this process took some time as I slowly built up colors and tones. I mostly used a medium brush with a fine point but there was enough body in the brush to allow washes as well. A slightly larger brush was used on the back and wing, panting carefully around all the white markings. The breast was washed over a few times being very subtle with the details and only using the lightest tones to define the edges of some of the feathers. Finally shaping and darkening the tip of the bill finished off this one. Size is 7.5" x 11", watercolor on Arches hot-pressed paper.

Monday, September 28, 2020



I have been neglecting my blog for some time now but finally have some time to my own. I started a small study this week of a male Augur Buzzard as a way of getting back to painting - it had been quite some time since I held a watercolor brush in my hand! Not that I felt rusty or anything, just ready to start painting again. Usually I have no problem picking up where I had left off so I began this study as I usually do with a detailed drawing overlaid with watercolor washes. Augur Buzzards don't have a lot of color (apart from their reddish tails) unlike their close cousin, the Jackal Buzzard (we saw quite a few of those in South Africa), so I mainly used shades of grey with a little blue and yellow around the beak. Other details were dropped in here and there slowly building up the marking of this spectacular male. The eyes had a deep base color of burnt umber put down first then that was overlaid with black to darken and form the eyes properly.

Friday, July 31, 2020


Working on our extensive home project makeover this month has left me with little time for painting but I did manage to work on this small oil. This study was re-worked a little, darkening some areas and adding smaller details here and there. I think it's closer to the image I had in my head when I started the work some time ago. The image came from an early morning walk in the nearby reserve as I watched the sun come up on a cool and slightly cloudy day. Size is 7" x 5", oil on canvas.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


I saw this female Ebony Jewelwing near the upper lake in the nearby reserve. As damselflies go, they are quite large and striking! Especially the female which has small white marks on the fore-tips of each wing. A male was spotted nearby. He is dressed all in black without the white spots but makes up for it by having an incredibly vivid body, head and thorax. Mostly the shiny color is a metallic green but also seems blueish at times - looks magnificent in direct sunlight (I'll paint him next). Ebony Jewelwings have also seen in our garden - perhaps they hatch from our pond along with the other species of damsel and dragonflies there. The female painted above had only 4 legs!