Friday, 7 November 2008

Alas female pheasants

Correction to that previous post, sadly I saw a dead female pheasant on the road today, same perilous (for wildlife) stretch of A30 in Cornwall. On the upside however also saw several hunting kestrels over the verges plus buzzards and also numerous opportunist magpies and crows hoovering up the unfortunate victims of speeding motorists. Circle of life and all that...

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Alas pheasants

Driving up the A30 from Cornwall to Exeter the other day I was dismayed to see the sheer number of male pheasants lying dead either on or by the side of the carriageway. I counted at least seven on one two-mile stretch, pretty grim viewing. Autumn is the time of year for agressive male birds to go rampaging out and about so I guess it's inevitable that many would venture onto the tarmac, plus there are a large number of wide sweeping fields and patches of moorland along this piece of road. The number of dead birds I've seen lately are a miniscule drop in the ocean however compared with the (conservative) estimate of at least 10 million birds and animals killed on british roads every year, with poor old pheasants outnumbering every other species by six times.
Yet to see a dead female pheasant on the road though, which is a little strange.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Top Dog

My trusty canine sidekick poses dramatically on top of Kilmar Tor. He has just paused from running and jumping to scan the surroundings for unwary wildlife and also to audition for a part in the latest remake of Lassie.

Friday, 31 October 2008

King of the Spiders

Interesting visitor to our cottage the other night. It was dark and we'd just arrived home, switched on the lights and started making a cup of tea when I happened to turn around and spot sat on the wall above our fireplace quite simply the largest spider I have ever seen living wild in any part of the good old British Isles. It was obviously a member of the harmless house spider clan but an individual of the most incredible hulk proportions that I stood open-mouthed for a minute or two marvelling at it's legs and mandibles. Unfortunately my better half is terrified of spiders so with the help of a large mug and a postcard I scooped the chap up before she had a chance to see it and moved to deposit it out-of-doors. However it was such a large spider that the mug could barely contain all of it's mighty arachnid power and I am sorry to say I accidently severed one of it's eight legs in the ensuing struggle. I finally released it in the lane outside and I'm sure I heard it mutter "I'll be back" before vanishing into the darkness...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Dawn of the Polar Bear

Latest painting in the making is forming on my easel - a polar bear trudging across a frozen lake with snow drifting in the background. I'm in the early stages at the moment, initial composition sketching and monochrome acrylic underpainting is done, and the canvas now awaits the arrival of oil paint to bring some colour and life to the proceedings. I favour an acrylic underpainting as a foundation to the oils themselves, as it's a good, stable and quick-drying way of laying down a base colour(in this instance a vibrant yellow ochre which works as a good ground for both snow and bear alike) and for blocking in some light and shade before the real heavyweight painting gets going.

Anyway, back to the easel, keep checking this space, photos to come....

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The Summoning - Timber Wolf

Oils on board 10 x 8 inches
I've been working on a number of large pieces lately so for a bit of a change of pace last week I decided to produce this little painting of a timber wolf. This is a familiar image to any wildlife fan, a timber wolf summoning the pack by doing what he does oh so very well - howling. It's a simple composition, one which I'm sure has been done by many artists over the years, but powerful all the same. I might explore the wolf theme further in a much larger scale soon, with more animals and big scenery, so watch this space.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Painting published in Art of Conservation book

Good news! My oil painting The Buzzard Rock has just been published in a new hardcover book entitled The Art of Conservation 2008 - An International Exhibit of Nature in Art

The book has been published in conjunction with the Artists for Conservations inaugral annual juried exhibition which opened at the Hiram Blauvelt Museum of Art, New Jersey on September 28th. According to the AFC website -

"The show companion book, as it is being called, merits much more than being labeled merely as a show catalog. It is a true coffee-table book – 10-1/4” square, 188 pages, hardbound, and in printed in full color. The stock used for printing was from an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) –certified and sustainably managed source. The contents feature not only every single artwork from the show, but also several additional chapters that provide context and information about the show itself, The AFC, the Blauvelt Museum, WCS, the AFC Flag Expeditions program and the Simon Combes Conservation Award. The book sets a new standard in quality as a show companion and is testament to the quality of the show and the dedication of the organizations involved. Proceeds from the sale of the book support the AFC. It is very reasonably priced, at $US 39.95, plus shipping and applicable taxes. A limited number of copies of the book are available for order, directly from the AFC by emailing"

To view more details of the book and Art of Conservation exhibit visit the AFC website here -

Monday, 6 October 2008

It's in the trees....

Out walking with my trusty jack russell sidekick Jake this evening. It was just getting beginning to get dark and the woods near my house had taken a suitably atmospheric Hammer House of Horror look with a grey mist filtering through the treetops and lots of shadowy shapes among the undergrowth. We were on our way back and had just passed an old stone gate post by the side of the path when said pup suddenly flew into a rage and focussed a volley of barks and snarls at some invisible point off into the trees. Aha...another one of those pesky squirrels! Luckily this time my little furry mate was on his lead or he'd be off and running, galloping around the woods half the night and being a general hooligan. Hmm...bit weird though, there's no squirrel in these parts who would be stupid enough to stand still whilst Jake bared his teeth and yelled at him - but whatever this was it wasn't moving.

We stayed there for a minute or two, Jake growling away and me peering into the dark trying to see what was hiding there. Likely candidates flickered through my mind. Mad backwoodsman? Mouse? Rabbit?(hardly likely) Badger?(possible but unlikely) Leopard? Well, there are folks around here who believe in the Beast of Bodmin Moor, big cats living wild etc, but I am firmly not one of them... Roe deer? Yes, that was my best bet, a roe deer spooked by us passing and stood stock still in the shadows and hoping we would clear off.

Which after a little while longer we did, Jake protesting all the way home.

Friday, 3 October 2008

New wildlife art pencil drawing

" Red Kangaroo"
18 inches x 20 inches
Here's another new piece of art for sale, an original pencil drawing on paper of a red kangaroo. I don't do that many larger pencil drawings but I thought the unusual shape and powerful legs and tail of this animal lent itself very well to a simple black and white image.
You can purchase this picture online from my website by clicking here
Or you can buy direct from me by emailing me at

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Brand New Wildlife Art

"Afternoon Sunlight - Fallow Deer Buck"
Oils on canvas
18 x 24 inches
I've just finished this oil painting depicting a fallow deer buck resting in the sun during the Autumn rut. I found this one interesting to paint especially the contours and texture of the fallen tree behind . If you are interested in purchasing this painting you can do so online from my website by clicking here
Or you can purchase directly from me by emailing me at

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Latest Painting 2

"Ravens Over Gordale Scar"
Last year I visIted Gordale Scar near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales and was struck by the dramatic shape of this huge ravine cutting through the limestone of the surrounding fells. It was summer so the river was low and ravens wheeled about high above, their calls echoing off the cliffs. I have been working on this painting on and off for the last few months, and the composition has changed a little through this time but now I am very happy with the results.
If you are interested in purchasing this painting you can do so online at my website here
Or you can purchase directly from me by contacting me at

New Painting 1

"Among The Ruins - Short-Eared Owl"

Bodmin Moor in Cornwall is littered with the remains of ancient buildings inhabited when the land was more heavily wooded than today. On top of a ridge in the East Moor area is a ruined Iron Age hut circle. Here a Short Eared Owl flies low over the stones at dusk. This is the second time I have explored this theme and this location. I was never totally satisfied with my original painting so took the opportunity this summer to go back and create a new composition which I am much more pleased with.
If you are interested in purchasing this painting you can do so online at my website here

Alternatively you can purchase directly from me by contacting me at

Landscape Artists International

"Loch Garry Sunset"

In August I was very pleased to be selected as a new member of the Landscape Artists International. LAI is a collective effort by member artists from around the globe to increase the appreciation of landscape-oriented art by people of all walks of life, and to promote the careers of the member artists. The organization debuted online on June 1, 2006 with 12 original charter members representing seven countries. The collective now boasts a number of talented artists from across the globe. You can visit the LAI at their website -

Friday, 15 August 2008

Cornish summer in full swing

The Lyhner Valley typical August 2008 view
Well, two weeks into August and the weather has been horrendous, at the most two or three properly dry summer days in the last month. The woods are streaming with water, almost akin to autumn or winter, and up on the moor there have been very few clear days. Still, the wildlife is out and about, namely a pair of roe deer bucks which I've been lucky enough to be able to watch through my telescope from the back garden, dark overcast days on the moor look good in oil paintings...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Out of Africa Exhibition

"At the Waterhole"
Oils on board

I will be exhibiting several paintings at the Out of Africa exhibition to be held at the Heron Gallery in Weston-Super-Mare from Thursday July 17th until Thursday July 31st. The gallery holds an exhibition roughly every six weeks, with a percentage of sales donated to a wildlife or conservation project. Beneficiary of the Out of Africa exhibit will be the Luhimba Project in Tanzania.

Later in the year come the Autumn Colours exhibition (Sept 25th - Oct 9th) and the British Wildlife exhibtion (December), both of which I hope to exhibit at.

To contact the Heron Gallery email Emma Fraser at -

Friday, 16 May 2008

Vanishing Wildlife

Well there I was the other day, out the garden taking reference shots of leaves and branches for a little owl commission I'm currently working on, when an unexpected wildlife close-up presented itself. I had all the images I needed (there's only so many angles you can frame a leaf from), with just one pic left on the memory card, and was on my way down the garden path to the front door when the one of the local male blackbirds flew past my head, landed literally no more than three feet away from me in the crook of a willow tree, and posed there collins bird guide style ready for painting.

Never one to pass up a chance of a nice composition - especially one with no need of a zoom lens - I carefuly removed the camera from it's case, and moving silently like a ninja slowly assembeld the tripod, all the while keeping a beady eye on the blackbird. Then with SAS-style stealth I flicked the camera on, waited for what appeared like hours while the damn thing powered up, carefully muffled the beeping with my hand, focussed the viewfinder, and

The blackbird emptied his bowels, and within a second vanished laughing into the trees, leaving me with a lovely close up of another branch.

Still, it is a very nice branch.

Insert blackbird here

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Death wish squirrels

Well, it's spring and sure enough the grey squirrels of the Lyhner Valley here in Cornwall are hurling themselves from the safety of the trees straight into the path of my Jack Russell terrier, seemingly intent on mass suicide. Naturally, he has been enthusiastically returning the compliment by chasing them through the woods to within an inch of their lives.

A squirrel, in happier days

Art of Conservation 2008

First post..hmm.. bit of a tricky one, how to kick off the blog and all that. Well, as luck would have it I've just had some good news art-wise, so this seems as good a place as any to start...

My oil painting "The Buzzard Rock" has been selected for inclusion in the Artists for Conservation Foundation inaugral exhibtion The Art of Conservation to be held at the Hiram Blauvelt Museum of Wildlife Art in New York in September. I've had my fingers crossed about this one for several months ever since I was selected for the AFC in January, so am very pleased and quite proud that a small piece of Bodmin Moor(where the painting is set) will be sailing across the pond to fly the flag for Cornish moorland-lovers everywhere! The pic will also be featured in the hardcover book to be published in conjunction with the exhibit, plus there is also the further possibilty of it being chosen for a year-long touring exhibit to be held at various venues across the United States in 2009.

For more details on the exhibition, and it's official beneficiary the Wildlife Conservation Society check out the AFC website here

Now all I need to do is get working on the frame, and a very large box to pack the thing in...