Monday, February 28, 2011


I completed this study during the middle of winter, which over here has been particularly severe! The idea was the show the cold winter landscape contrasting with some of the warmer grasses which in the reserve nearby take on a lovely golden color at the end of the year. Light snow aids as something of a contrast to the grasses and the darkening sky is perhaps a sign of more cold weather to come. Of course now it is almost spring and I for one are more than happy about that! There are American Robins patrolling my lawn and woodpeckers drumming in the woods. The first snowdrops have flowered and I can see the beginnings of many daffs and tulips poking through the mulch around my home. Can't wait to see the flowers!
Cold Morning study is 5" X 7" - oil on canvas. $150 unframed, $180 framed inc shipping within the USA.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


This painting is the second in the series of flying birds in a landscape. The scene here is on the outskirts of Bude in Cornwall where I was brought up. Looking up the valley between the river and the canal, we can see the sun breaking through a misty sky and gently lighting up the distant hills leading up to the moors. I had spent a lot of time here as a boy looking for birds and rowing the canal in a rented boat. Buzzards were often seen and I also found a nest. Checking back through the breeding season, I watched as the eggs were laid and brooded, (later one disappeared - perhaps taken by an egg collector) then the chick hatched, fledged then finally left the nest. All in all quite a wonderful experience!
After doing an earlier painting of the same valley, I did this one slightly differently and kept the bird small as this is so often the way that you see birds (especially birds of prey as they have been so heavily persecuted in the past and so are wary). The field was built up with many washes of color alternating mostly between yellow and green. I also wanted some similarities between this painting and the earlier Rough-legged Buzzard in Minnesota that was in my last post - both show the landscape in early winter but in the south of England as shown here, the weather is so much milder and grass is still green at this time. Both painting show similar birds at home in the landscape they occupy and it is interesting how when travelling all over the world like I do, that I find so often these self same similarities. The watercolor is 7.5" X 11". SOLD.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


A few years ago I went to Minnesota in the hope of seeing Rough-legged Buzzards and Golden Eagles - both of which had escaped me for years. Fortunately I was able to add them to my life list and now feel free to paint them in any way I wish. The adult Rough-legged seen here was just a bird in a landscape as I didn't have my scope with me at the time so it simply became a passing moment in time. Still it was a significant one all the same and this is what I tried to capture in this painting. The time is early winter with snow already on the ground and another snow cloud just beginning to drop moisture heading in from the right. At this point it is just verga but this will be the first of many snowstorms of what is normally a long and hard winter.
Birds in flight are the hardest to do well and there are not many artist in the past who have done it. Thornburn was a typical example, as although his perched birds are quite fabulous, the ones he did in flight just don't look quite right. George Lodge was better but still not quite there. My favorite has to be Bruno Liljefors with Lars Jonsson a close second. Liljefors' eagles in flight are masterpieces with all the careful observation of not only the correct details but more importantly, the correct wing and body positions. I have long been an admirer of his and Lars Jonsson paintings who has also done some amazing work - a quick look through his 'Birds of Europe' field guide (especially the raptors section) - shows equally careful observation with completely natural looking birds in flight. So much so in fact that when I am looking at flying raptors myself, I am often reminded of him!
Now a days we have the benefit of high-speed photography which does help a lot in creating paintings but I have still seen some very strange poses! Really there is no better way than just getting out there and observing birds in their natural surroundings. I find it helpful to follow the bird through my binoculars then put down my impressions from memory. Often a certain pose will stick in my mind and that's the one I'll try and develop to a finished drawing. At this point, I'm not worried about details as photos can usually help with that, I'm just trying to get down the most accurate drawings that I can. To this end, I have started a series of birds in flight in the hope of reaching two goals; 1, getting better at painting flying birds and 2, creating some different and hopefully more interesting paintings. This most recent watercolor is 7.5" X 11". SOLD.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I found this Asian pear at a local Asian market and liked its slightly odd shape. So I bought it (and a few others) then took them home to paint. Oil or watercolor??? Hmm....... In the end, I decided to do it in watercolor using smooth Arches paper as a support. With a careful under drawing pencilled in, I laid on some warm background washes first then when that had dried started on the pear. I used mostly lemon yellow plus raw and burnt sienna slowly building up the correct depth of color. It took some time to get the true colors and tones (especially the shadow area) but eventually it was done. After some thought I decided to leave it just as it was - a simple representation of a delicious fruit. Size is 7.5" X 11".