Wednesday, May 31, 2023



I had been sketching this barn from the roadside for a while before I noticed the bull standing there soaking up the morning sunshine. Initially I was attracted by the dilapidated state of the barn and the surrounding buildings contrasting with the freshly fallen snow but I realized that bull might make a fine addition to the scene. Mostly it is hidden by the fencing and being black, almost disappears against the darker shadowed background but I think that makes it all the more interesting. In this study, I was mostly trying to bring together some of the different elements of the scene and hoping for some truth - with all the light and shadow, things are a little confusing. I kept this one smallish for now as I am planning a larger version sometime soon. Size is 12 x 9 inches, watercolor on Grumbacher paper.

Friday, May 26, 2023



I painted this lily slightly larger than the previous study. The petals have continued to open creating a quite different shape from the previous one. I also chose a slightly different view but otherwise kept most of the painting similar although I used a different background color (a very deep brownish-purple - which is not that obvious in this image). I think I'll continue to explore the idea of using different flowers against a darker background as now that spring has arrived, there are quite a few in bloom. This oil is 10 x 8 inches.

Thursday, May 18, 2023



Whenever I am working on a new idea, I never know where it will take me. A lot of my paintings are conceived in a relatively short time - others go through a number of smaller drawings (thumbnails) and watercolor studies etc before the final work is completed - this work seems to be of the latter. Anyway, since I was enjoying re-visiting some of my previous observations with young eagles, I couldn't help doing more studies of them. 

The lower drawings of these two sketchbook pages are of a sub-adult Bald Eagle I saw in Canada. I think the bird was at a wildlife demonstration so I was able to walk right up to it and gather a lot of information. Apart from the sketches I did, I also took down some color notes and also info about the structure etc. Due to its large size, I guessed this one was a female and it was incredibly impressive close up. I was really taken by its eyes, large bill and very thick talons! Wish I could have spent more time with the bird. Fortunately a nearby visitors center had an adult eagle in a large cage (along with some other birds)  that was easily accessible so I often went there to sketch and to paint. These drawings are both 12 x 9 inches.

Saturday, May 13, 2023



I have been planning another eagle painting for some time now so I started off by doing this study as a way of working out exactly how I wanted to approach it. I was lucky to find this sub-adult eagle a while ago and did a few studies straight into my sketchbook. I grabbed the nearest marker I could (a blue ballpoint pen) and began drawing as I wasn't sure how much time I would have. I painted this study referring to those sketches and my memory of this magnificent bird. I estimate this is a 2nd or 3rd year bird as the bill is getting some yellow in it along with the slightly lighter iris. There seems to be a quite a lot of lighter crown feathers too which would indicate that it would perhaps get some white head feathers next year. I also remember this bird to be really big so I'm presuming a female. I have more studies of this bird to get to next so I'll see where they take me. Size is 8 x 10 inches, watercolor and acrylic.

Thursday, May 4, 2023



I did this small study while observing a lily slowly opening its petals. Since this took place over a few hours, I had enough time to complete a study. I did this smaller one first more as a hopeful experiment as I hadn't done anything like this before. I wasn't sure if I would have enough time to finish it so I kept the idea and composition simple. I am happy with the results though and am already working on a slightly larger painting of the same lily but after it had opened a little more. Size is 7 x 5 inches, oil on board.

Sunday, April 30, 2023



From out on our balcony looking down, I could see this scene just to the right of me so I was able to work directly from life. The ambient light from inside the apartment was enough to paint with although there was a slight period for my eyes to adjust slightly each time I looked out - it certainly helped that the board already had a black acrylic coat on it before I started! Slowly building up the paint in layers, I was able to capture a somewhat impressionistic feeling of this small corner of downtown Wilmington and creating this one was a rewarding experience. I think it would have been easier to do this kind of painting in oil instead of acrylic as I struggled to blend some areas as I would have liked. Still, I now have this work that captures in many ways the time, experiences and emotion that I felt when staying there. Size is 8 x 10 inches, acrylic on panel.

Thursday, April 27, 2023



Another in my city nocturne series. As in the one posted before, this is an evening view looking across the harbor. I was primarily concentrating on creating a certain mood keeping my tones in the background a deep bluish color with the smaller lights used as a kind of musical scale spread across the work with differing intensities. A faint highlight reflecting below the building indicates water and was an important inclusion. Size is 7 x 5 inches, acrylic on board.

Monday, April 24, 2023



At a nearby lake, we were very happy to find a resting Osprey overlooking the water. Probably shouldn't have been that much of a surprise as these birds turn up allover during migration. It sat in a tall dead tree so I was able to get some great views and did this watercolor in my sketchbook.

The bird was still there a few days later although perched a bit further away from the lake and as we were walked by, it flew a little further into the nearby woodland. I did manage another drawing from when I saw it the first time then also did a few in-flight watercolors. All of these studies are about 12 x 9 inches.

Saturday, April 15, 2023



Most of winter I have been watching and hearing White-throated Sparrows, usually found with other birds in and around the nearby woodland. Now that spring has arrived, many are passing through heading north and the earliest ones have been splendid males in their sharp breeding plumage. I love hearing their cheery and up-lifting song which sounds like 'Oh Sweet Canada Canada Canada'. I found this male scratching through some fallen leaves. Sometimes they are quite tame and allow you to get close - I managed quite a few quick pencil sketches but this study was done in watercolor. Size is about 6 x 7 inches.

Friday, April 7, 2023



During most of winter, I had been following roving flocks of small birds whenever I have found them. Mostly these flocks consist of tits, nuthatches, woodpeckers and occasionally Brown Creepers. Chickadees seem to feature most of the time and being more easily approachable (especially when feeding or searching for food - which in winter, seems to be almost always!), I can occasionally make a few sketches of them before they move on. Later, I can add to some of the better ones with a few more details from some of my photos. This way, I can hopefully build up a more accurate representation of the species. And this is what I have been trying to do with this study - I think I am almost there although the legs and feet are always a little tricky for me. Size is 12 x 9 inches - watercolor on Grumbacher paper.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023



While living in Baltimore and looking across the harbor, I saw many scenes like this one and have managed quite a few small paintings so far. As I work my way through this series, I am re-discovering the delight of painting a subject that I once tackled many years ago while living in St Albans, UK, and also for a short while, in Amsterdam. I would go out with a sketchbook, a small folder of tinted paper, a pack of watercolors and a range of black fine-line pens to draw or paint buildings as the fancy took me. This kind of work was a fine introduction into the art of plein air painting and drawing, which I think has helped me a lot over the years - especially when drawing and painting birds. This small work is 7 x 5 inches, acrylic on gessoed panel.

Saturday, March 25, 2023



In this small painting, I wanted to capture the spirit of a cool clear early morning sky before the sunrise. I sat out on the nearby boat dock looking across the almost perfectly calm water to get studies for this one and marveled at the birth of another perfect day. I used acrylic paint here which I am a bit out of practice with - I found it a little difficult to judge the correct tones especially as the paint dries to a lighter tone than when you mix it. Still, I was happy with the finished study. Size is 7 x 5 inches, acrylic on canvas panel.

Thursday, March 16, 2023



These quick watercolor sketches of a Great Blue Heron fishing were done from a bird we often see when walking down at a nearby lake. The bird held this pose for a long time but we never saw it catch anything (this time). The water has been a little brown and muddy recently due to runoff from a nearby construction site - this has meant that the heron hasn't always been present. I guess that if it can't see fish in the murky water, it would make catching them very difficult so probably goes elsewhere.

In these series of pencil sketches, I tried to capture the play of light and shadow on this preening bird. This is probably the same bird as the one I painted above since it is usually seen in the exact same places. I'll try to do more sketches in watercolor but using a better quality paper. The top watercolors were done as an experiment on Crelando paper. I found this quite good for quick light sketches but not so good when using heaver washes since it is quite thin and has a delicate surface. Sizes of both of these are about 12 x 9 inches.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023



 Like a lot of my paintings, this one was started some time ago and I only recently finished it. Red-tails are probably one of my favorite raptors to paint - mostly due to their many plumage variations which excites me as an artist. I have done many studies like this over the years and as I find more varied birds, I'm sure I will do more. One of the most interesting red-tails I have seen was a falconer's bird - almost completely pure white with only a few darker feathers. The bird was also incredibly tame and allowed me to handle her without any bother. This allowed me to gather a lot of information on its feather structure and the formation of its muscles etc just by gently feeling her with my fingers. All this was translated into sketchbooks and many watercolor studies - an experience I am highly grateful for. This oil on board is 8 x 10 inches.

Saturday, February 25, 2023



This is a painting I did some time ago - a favorite of mine, both because of the time of day, and because of the winter snow. Sometimes I think I could just paint scenes like this and be satisfied! And now that we have actually had some snow around here, I'll be working on more paintings like this one. Size is 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas.

Sunday, February 5, 2023



Some time ago, I painted a small study of the area looking east near Guard Shore Beach along the Chesapeake and while I felt that I did capture the feeling of a bright but cold morning, I decided to re-work the painting as it did look a little plain. I started with the sky as I wanted to capture the feeling of some showers that I had seen nearby and after finishing it, did a little more to the distant treeline and also the foreground grasses. After the re-paint, I'm much happier with this little one now and I'll probably paint a larger version sometime soon. With this work, I have once again gone back to painting the Eastern Shore which I have grown to love over the many years I have been exploring the area around the Chesapeake. Size is 5 x 7 inches, oil on canvas panel.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023



I am working on this Blue-footed Booby commission and am nearly finished with it. Since I am not that familiar with this species (I have seen brown and red-footed boobies) I went for a resting pose trying to capture the character and markings of the bird. Size is 14 x 11 inches, oil on canvas board.

Saturday, January 28, 2023



After moving from Deleware back to Maryland, we are now staying in the Greenbelt area and this is the view we see looking out over a small pond with willows in the foreground, and a well-wooded lot beyond. Birds are attracted to the small flooded area beyond the pond where beavers have made their home, and we have had a few Bald Eagle flyovers as well as plenty of Red-shouldered Hawk sightings - there is a resident pair nearby (along with Barred Owls which we hear calling most evenings). I'm doing a series of paintings based on this view - mostly concentrating on the time when the leaves began to turn shortly after we arrived. This oil was painted on canvas board, size is 8 x 10 inches.

Friday, January 20, 2023



When we lived near the reserve, I would quickly go down to the lake whenever misty conditions arose. These kind of scenes always quickened my heart and I often wondered if I could capture the mood of what I was seeing and experiencing. Deciding to try such a scene in watercolor, I started with a wet sheet of paper then laid on washes of color while it was still damp. So many things can go wrong when one is working in this manner but for once, things seemed to go my way. When everything had dried for a while, I carefully added the mallard and the foreground grasses to complete the painting. Size is 11 x 15 inches, watercolor on Arches paper.

Saturday, January 14, 2023




I think I forgot to post this painting that I did back in 2021. During early spring, we found some terns feeding near the access road to the beach and as we parked, this bird sat for awhile on a nearby post where I managed to do a few drawings and watercolor sketches. Size is about 14 x 11 inches.

Friday, January 6, 2023



I have been procrastinating over this painting but it is about finished now. I took a little more time with the plumage of this bird as I have always loved the smart black and white trim of this species - the touch of red on the head of the male is really like the cherry-on-the-top. I hope to be getting away from these more simplified illustrations this year and working on some slightly different and interesting compositions - I have a few on the go right now. This watercolor is on a 12 x 9 inch sheet of Grumbacher paper.