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John James Audubon remembered

April 26, 2011

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Google’s image of birds is too small, especially when compared to the size of the reputation of the bird artist they are celebrating. Audubon the french american naturalist and artist born this day in 1785. So here is just one of his memorable works of art for you to appreciate his outstanding artistic rendition of birds.  

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The composition is truly awesome as he attracts you in to the picture, then with  an elevated wing leads you through to the next subject, such a clever artist. You can define an underlying circular path as he takes you on a journey of discovery through his art. There is certainly a lot one can learn from studying the old masters.

Bird Art and Photography by Nigel Tinlin

April 16, 2011

Nigel Tinlin is the photographer behind this truly inspiring image. The composition is  artistic and endearing and worthy of praise. Nigel was definitely in the right place at the right time, and the pale blue sky for the background just accentuates the details of the Arctic Terns.

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One can only try to imagine the conversation between these two birds, Nigel took this picture whilst visiting an arctic tern colony at Low Newton by the Sea. I wish I had Nigel’s skills and patience in composing such excellent photographs.If you take a visit to his blog you will see a red squirrel and fox in the snow, both of these pictures are truly noteworthy and if you are a collector of nature photos then here  is a place to visit.  You can also get these images as greeting cards…so here is the link to Nigel Tinlin’s site.


NT Nature Photos

Bald Eagle cams British Columbia, No1 viewing material.

April 15, 2011

If there is ever a page to bookmark for eagle lovers, then this must be one.With eight web cams filming every move there is a lot of reference material for birders and artists alike. I had my first sighting of these beautiful eagles as I was driving towards Arisaig on route 245 between New Glasgow and Pictou, in Nova Scotia some ten years ago, but I will bring you more about that in a later article. Here is a couple of screen shots to wet your appetites…

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This is only a screenshot of a nesting bald eagle, I think its pretty good. I think I will be tuned into these nesting eagles and get some real insight into their behaviour whilst on the nest. Thanks to the guys who put up the eagle webcams they have done us all a great service. The picture below ia a wide angled shot and the tree was gently swaying from side to side, so for those of you who suffer motion sickness,…you’ve been warned!

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Relevant posts 

Drawing Bald Eagles an Ideal Subject for Artists


British Columbia Eagle Cams Do share this with your friends, they would love to get this link.

Curlew Lake

April 14, 2011

To hear the haunting curlew’s cry just adds to the atmosphere of the day. Stimulating the creative process, this is just like an alarm bell for me to start drawing, to gather the field sketches. This  is the this latest work that I’ve produced in my little studio. Again the venue for this picture was taken from my local lakes at Kingsbury, Warwickshire.

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It can be a  struggle to get to the point where I think the composition is right. This was certainly true for this painting, there must be at least half a dozen drawings on the canvas and as many amendments  to the acrylic painting underneath this final rendition. Because if it doesn’t feel right, I have to keep going until those “feelings” go away.

I decided to go for a close up of the Curlew to allow  for a tight design in the water surrounding the subject. I have also tried to keep a limited colour palette. In doing so, I have omitted such  items such as the reflections of clouds, sun, etc therefore concentrating on the design of the overall picture.

 I am working on a much larger painting, in which I have incorporated the elements of the sun into the artwork, and I will put it on the “Work in Progress” page in a little while.

I do have the habit of “resting” my pictures and then coming back to them several days later. This enables me to make alterations and add any finishing touches. Though I have known the time period to be months rather than days. But eventually they are all completed…simply because they have a story to tell.

Wasps…may help us.

April 12, 2011

I didn’t think I would say that, as like most people I would avoid them as much as possible, and I will put my hand up to squashing a few over the years. It may surely be a coincidence that I had just finish reading a press release about the latest research on wasps by Dr Kaltenpoth. Well, apparently, wasps (and I must add the doc was referring to the beewolf  digger wasps)  can cultivate bacteria on their antennae to ward of fungal threats. The “doc” states that it could bring novel ways of securing new human treatments. You never know our own wasps may be able to produce “antibiotic cocktails” that might be useful for our ever increasing resistance to antibiotics.

Male Vespula vulgaris

So, this little beggar that came into my room whilst I was painting this morning and it didn’t get squished, and was released to the wild, who knows, it may save someones life one day.

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My wasp has Internal GPS antenna…that’s what it says on the box !!

Bacteria in wasp antennae produce antibiotic cocktails. Dr Martin Kaltenpoth, Max Planck
Institute for Chemical Ecology, Research Group Insect Symbiosis

Naked Penguins, cause for concern

April 11, 2011

Penguin chicks arent growing their feathers, which for some has proved fatal. Scientist believe this is a new disorder of unknown origin.

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Magellanic chick

Without their feathers they will become victims of the extreme environments in which they live. Scientists have found suffers of feather loss disorder in African and Argentinian penguin colonies, they state,” So far the possible culprits include pathogens, thyroid problems, nutrient imbalances, or genetic disorders. African and Magellanic penguins are close relatives. On both continents, the scientists have found that chicks with feather-loss disorder grow more slowly than their downy counterparts. Eventually, the chicks that survive grow new feathers”.

Points of interest

  • The penguins of Punta Tombo great little video of more penguins in need
  • The Magellanic penguin was named after explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.
  • Magellanic penguins can dive more than 250 feet beneath the water’s surface.
  • Magellanic penguins are monogamous. WCS knows of one penguin pair that stayed together for 16 years.


Wildlife Conservation Society. “‘Naked’ penguins baffle experts.” ScienceDaily 9 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011

Ved Nayar

April 10, 2011

 I do love to read other artist’s biographies, and I’m sure many of us do. I try to find what sparks off the interest and what keeps it going. Time and time again i find that it is based within nature, whether it may be a bird or a butterfly that has captured their thoughts. This process begins to ignite the spark of creativity and urges them to reproduce an element of art. A process that ranges from the complex realistic interpretation through to expressionism, impressionism or a basic naive image.

This month sees the work of Ved Nayar at the Vadehra art gallery, he is also releasing a book…Drawings:Evolving Human Form. Ved appreciated his rural upbringing , in fact he was living on the edge of a jungle. He states he would “listen to the conversations and the music of the birds” …” Somewhere, sometime during this relationship with the jungle, I think, the desire to express was born in me”. One particular picture that Ved has drawn  caught my eye, it is un-titled, but as Ved’s drawings are about  man evolving, I can only draw to the conclusion that here  man is turning into a bird. Lets be honest, how many of you have dreamed of being able to fly like the birds, well, I will be the first to put my hand up to that.

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Simplicity in its execution, yet none the less intriguing. What do you make of this piece of art?

Treecreeper on Silver

April 8, 2011

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has mistaken the thought of seeing a mouse run up a tree to take that second look and realise it’s a Treecreeper.  This Treecreeper, was near to the silver birch trees, and for reference I took a small piece of the paper like bark. It holds the essence of the structure which I have incorporated into the picture. I didn’t want to do a photographic representation of the bark, but to concentrate on its key elements and lines which make up this picture.

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To add the detail I used a fine liner graphic pen to pick out the key bark lines, which has proved to work well in the overall composition, and by using multiple layers of white acrylic paint I’ve produced a good bark texture as well.I left the central areas of the pattern with a limited number of coats to allow the darker  under painting to shine through a little, giving the viewer a sense of depth.

Sheila Hancock brushes up: The art of watercolours

February 20, 2011

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I followed with interest the latest art programme from the BBC, “Sheila Hancock brushes up: The art of watercolours”. It’s a delight to see some good art programmes on, and long may they continue.  She gives a pleasant walk through the last century or two of how watercolour painting has influenced not only the act of creating art, but its greater impact on influencing our ever increasing pastime of taking foreign holidays. Here is a clip of  Nicola Tenderini emulating Turner.

It was Sheila’s comment near the end of the programme which is highly relevant for us in this digital age, when immediate gratification, or results are a necessity….

Sheila Hancock….” what I like most about water colours is their ability to show emotion,… I think we should treasure watercolours.because they .anything but a throw away image they take thought and effort and they show us the value of taking our time to observe the beauty and pain of the world. And art can have no higher ambition than that.

Its is time, with each of my art works each one captures its own value of time, even paintings of the same size, differ in time, some more some less. To me each as value, and not just the financial value, but the value of angst and pleasure which occupy either end of the emotions scale. As to beauty, I leave that to the eye of the beholder, my aim is to deliver a balance of design in my utopia, and that is with all artists a selfish act that attributes itself to all acts of art.

I also love seeing Turner’s portable leather watercolour palette, just check out the video at the Tate Britain website.

Winter Solice… a magpies’ story

November 1, 2010

January 2010 was some winter and I’m going to predict the end of this year and certainly the beginning of 2011 will be just as snowy. So I’ve started to stock up on a few supplies to see us over the worst of the weather. “Frightfully British” I know… talking about the weather, but it is something we are good at and it is often the “ice breaker” to most conversations which we have…that’s British life for you! Though I’m more interested in bird life as opposed to any other and as we speak the birds are making the best of the ripening berries.

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Winter solice depicts a very cold and bleak winter scene with more than a hint of desperation for food. Though there are many magpie pictures about I have tried to capture the scene as a theatre of winter, rather than the theme often portrayed as a thieving magpie. These three  feeding magpies are searching every nook and cranny  for the smallest of rewards, I am aware, especially as a result of my Mother disliking these birds I find then enthralling. Just take a few minutes or better still a little longer and delight in the antics that they get up too, they are real characters and not just the english magpie, it is across the genus, so wherever you live you should be able to find one.

I have made the distant flying magpie quiet symbolic as it merges into the background, deliberately to juxtapose the similarity with the geometrical background and to differentiate with the pair of birds in the foreground.

I hope you enjoy the picture…all the best,