Sunday, 29 November 2009

Exhibition and Auction December 4th - 12th

I have just delivered all my paintings to the Martin's Gallery in Cheltenham for The Natural World Exhibition . See my last post below for details.

This painting of Warthogs , entitled 'Curiosity' will be in the exhibition. I painted it after a safari to Botswana when we had seen two family groups of Warthogs at a waterhole in Savuti. They are the most comical characters and such fun to watch as they trot about around the edge of the elephant herds. I love their shape and the energy in their movements and the way they carry their tails straight up in the air when scooting away from danger!

Often you see Warthogs and Guinea Fowl at a waterhole together and it is the interactions between all the different creatures as they wait to drink which really sticks in my memory from these hours spent watching the wildlife. The little pencil drawing (above) captures one such memory. This is being donated for auction to raise funds for The Butterfly Garden. The auction will be held on December 12th at The Martin's Gallery, Cheltenham.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Natural World Exhibition - December

I am currently preparing work for an exhibition in December.
Details are:
'The Natural World Exhibition'
4th - 12th December
in aid of The Butterfly Garden charity
a project for students with learning difficulties
opening preview Friday 4th December 6.30 - 8pm
at Martin's Gallery
Imperial House, Montpellier Parade,
Cheltenham, GL50 1UA

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Barn Owl

I don't think there is a more popular bird than the Barn Owl. I painted this study and wanted to get that feeling of late summer evening light which casts such deep blue shadows. Sometimes in the summer, when I am leaving the stables, I see a Barn Owl, quartering a field or flying in to perch on a fence post. They are so instantly recognisable because they appear so white in flight. It is easy to see why they were once believed to be the restless spirits of the dead wandering the woodland edges. It is a real treat to see these owls and to know that the farmer whose land the bird is nesting on has had the foresight and interest in wildlife to leave some areas of wild meadow and headland undisturbed where they can hunt. Maybe with such care these beautiful owls will flourish in our countryside and become a more common sight.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Riding in West Sussex

My favourite way to get out into the countryside is on horseback and it is a great way to watch wildlife, especially deer and birds of prey. This weekend I have been riding Zennobia ( pictured) a beautiful and gentle grey Arab mare. When I am not painting I often take people hacking in the wonderful West Sussex countryside for a company called Rural Rides. West Sussex is such a pretty county of rolling Weald, graceful beech Hangers and wonderful panoramas from the chalk downland. In September the golds and reds of Autumn are slowly spreading across the landscape, hedges are heavy with fruit and the dusty tracks littered with chestnut and beech husks. It is hard to find a better way to spend the day! Fantastic horses, wonderful riding and great company. I am not sure what I love the most......... painting or riding!

Kayaking and Curlews

Paddling down the Beaulieu River last sunday in a kayak proved to be the perfect way to watch Curlews! I have only rarely seen these pretty waders with their haunting calls which are so reminiscent of windswept marshland, and here they were right on my doorstep. Drifting silently past the muddy banks and their scores of wading birds in a kayak was a wonderful experience. I will definately be trying this again but I think carrying a sketchpad or a camera might prove tricky! Like horse riding this might be one activity you just have to enjoy and remember the wildlife you encounter on the way.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Whale watching in the Bay of Biscay

After a summer of exhibitions it was great to get away for a few days and a trip down to Spain to look for whales sounded perfect. Travelling with The Company of Whales we were assured a wealth of expert advice on both cetaceans and sea birds. Unfortunately, the weather was against us. We set sail from Portsmouth in torrential rain and gusting winds and then endured two days of force 9 gales and heaving seas! It was exactly how I had envisaged the Bay of Biscay! Fighting sea sickness our group of determined whale watchers scanned the seas for a sign of a spout, whilst struggling to stand against the wind and shifting deck! No whales but dolphins in the English Channel and plenty of wonderful sea birds. Gannets and Shearwaters, Fulmars, Storm petrels and Skuas soared past on the wind, skimming the wave tops and totally at home in the environment. How amazing to think that these incredible birds spend most of their lives at sea, only coming to land to breed and raise their young. Many thanks to Dave and Judd for working so hard to find us some whales....Maybe next time!!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Society of Equestrian Artists Award

This painting of the Zebra - which was such fun to paint - won an award at the Society of Equestrian Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London a couple of weeks ago. I was really delighted and surprised as this is the first year I have submitted work with the society. The award was the Society of All Artists Award for the best work by a Friend and is a crystal goblet. I loved painting this picture. Experimenting with colour and the dramatic pose of the Zebra made it a really absorbing piece to work on.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Talk at Marwell Wildlife Park Hampshire.

On Wednesday 15th July I will be giving an illustrated talk about my travels in Botswana at Marwell Wildlife Park, Hampshire. This will be similar to the talk I gave at Nature in Art back in February. Each year Marwell Zoo chooses a different conservation project and dedicates all its efforts to raise money for that cause. This year it has the SPRINT Cheetah Campaign and a goal of £225,000 to reach for various projects in Zimbabwe, Northern Kenya, Niger as well as a new home for the zoos own Cheetahs. With only 10,000 of these beautiful cats left in the wild it is critical that every effort is made to halt the decline in numbers. I will be joining fellow wildlife artist, Pip Mc Garry, who will be giving a painting demonstration prior to my talk. Other artists from the Art society have donated prints to be sold on the evening. We hope that the event will be well attended and plenty of money will be raised to help this great conservation project. Cheetahs are my favourite big cat and there is something so thrilling about watching them in the wild, For a start they are very hard to spot in their favoured hunting ground of vast, grassy savannah. I took this photo at Nxai Pan on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana as the sun was beginning to set. for more information.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Zebra painting

I was dog sitting for one of my friends at the beginning of May and decided to paint this Zebra while I was away from my studio. This painting is a bit different to most of my other work because of the colour choice. I wanted to create a very moody, dark background to this Zebra which has so much purple and blue in the shadows on its body. I loved the juxtaposition of the rich reds and purple and this absorbed my attention as much as the position of the Zebra.
Zebras are the most fantastic animals to observe in the wild. They are so alert to danger but bicker and nip and kick eachother all the time. It is fascinating to watch the same equine behaviour that you notice in fields of horses. The position of the Zebra in my painting is so typical for all equines when they are nervous; head up, ears pricked, eyes focused on whatever is the cause for concern and body tensed and ready to flee from danger. I have often been sat on top of a horse when it adopts this attitude and you know that at any minute you could be spinning round and galloping off in the opposite direction!
The dogs all loved sitting with me while I painted this picture. I had four laying on my feet or my lap as I worked!

Sumatran Tiger

I have finally finished the Sumatran Tiger, which has been on and off the easel for about six weeks. I will probably still fiddle with the fur detail for a bit longer before I am satisfied (if you ever are satisfied!) I had been thinking about painting this picture for a couple of years. There is something very intense in the gaze of a Tiger and the strong, black markings around the face really help to accentuate that stare. Such beautiful cats and the Sumatran is probably one of the most handsome of all the Tigers. I have called this painting 'Sumatran Beauty' and it will be exhibited at the Marwell Wildlife Art Show at Marwell Wildlife Park , Hampshire in August.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

BPCT Auction Success

The auction to raise funds for the Botswana predator Conservation Trust was a big success with some very generous bids for the lots. Both my painting of the Serval and the Earth Ark book sold so that was very good news. There was a fantastic atmosphere at the event and it was great to meet up with Tico and Leslet McNutt again.

Now I must turn my attention to commissions and preparing work for exhibitions through the summer. I am back working with acrylics again and enjoying the fast drying time after using oils. Just have to put some whiskers on a Tiger and I will be off to the framers. I will hopefully have a pictire of this latest piece soon.

I was horse riding through bluebell woods at the base of the South Downs on the weekend. Fabulous spring weather and I caught sight of a beautiful Roe Deer watching me from a sea of bluebells. Impossible to use either a sketch pad or camera on horseback especially on the horse I usually ride who is a terrible fidget- and I have tried - so I will have to remember this perfect scene for a possible future painting. At least I have plenty of photos of the Bluebells.......and horses.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Botswana Predator Conservation Trust Auction

I have just finished this little painting of a Serval in acrylic. The painting will be donated to an auction to be held on 23rd April '09 at the Royal Geographical Society in London to raise funds for the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust in association with Tusk Trust.
This portait was great fun to paint. Having been working on a big painting of a herd of elephants for a few weeks now it was a nice change to have some cat fur to paint. Fingers crossed that the auction goes well and plenty of money is raised for a very worthy cause in Botswana. Visit for more information.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Earth Ark

While I was at Nature in Art I gave a talk on the Thursday evening. Last year I illustrated a book for a wildlife photographer and professional safari guide called Steven Stockhall. He is based in Botswana and we met while on safari in 2004 when he asked me if I would illustrate a book of his photographs. In May 2008 we published a book called 'Earth Ark a photographic safari through northern Botswana' and embarked on a six week promotional tour and book launch across South Africa and up to Botswana. It was an epic journey! The talk at Nature in Art was about the book and the region of Northern Botswana which inspired its creation. I hope it proved an interesting and inspiring evening for all who attended. I know there were a lot of keen photographers and well travelled wildlife enthusiasts in the audience. This was my first attempt at using power point to present a slide show. Great fun to assemble all the images. Good job I enjoy talking about Botswana and its fantastic wildlife!

Nature in Art

I have just returned form a week as Artist in Residence at Nature in Art, Wallsworth Hall, Gloucester, UK. This is an amazing museum/wildlife art centre, run by Simon Trapnell, which is quite unique in the world. Any wildlife artists and enthusiasts should make the effort to visit. The museum runs a rolling program of artists in residence so there is somene new each week. Visitors have included Simon Combes, David Shepherd, Mathew Hillier and Anthony Gibbs.

For artists who usually lead a fairly solitary existence, a week at Nature in Art gives you the chance to meet people and share your painting passion with others. Many people who do not paint love to watch the process so an ability to work with an audience and answer lots of questions is required!