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!

Monday, June 22, 2020


I found this Zabulon Skipper in the reserve resting on Blackberry blossom. I am slowly learning about and identifying American butterflies and moths to further my work on fauna and flora in the nearby reserve. This male sat for some time without moving so I was able to do some quick sketches and take a few phone pics which I could hopefully use later for details. Usually small butterflies don't settle for long so I was lucky to have so much time with this one. For butterflies, I have found it best to just hang around a favorite nectar feeding site and see what arrives rather than actively looking all over the place. Below are the various stages of the painting.

Size of this watercolor is about 11" x 7.5".

Thursday, June 18, 2020


Walking the nearby reserve almost daily through spring into early summer has revealed the incessant march of nature. With so much rain early this year, plants have grown quickly despite the cooler weather. The once bare field are now awash in grasses, brambles and flowers. This continued observation and note taking has allowed me to better understand the growth cycles of plants as well as which birds, animals and insects are seen in each month. Some of these I have drawn and painted in my sketchbooks as the mood takes me and I'll post some of them here on my blog. I'm trying to cover a wide range of fauna as well as flora to better understand this small area of land that I visit so often.