Life does have its ups and downs, doesn’t it?! We’re all struggling under the pressure of tightening-belts as the global fiscal squeeze grips. There’s no doubt that when faced with the problems of paying bills and feeding the family, luxuries have to drop down the priority list. Unfortunately for us who work in the art world, that is only too evident. If the choice is food or art, inevitably art will lose out – that’s a fact. So for me, relying almost entirely on my work as an artist, the past couple of years have been particularly trying and the constant effort to survive is a challenge indeed. But we’re still hanging in there. In fact, if I can take the financial aspect out of the equation then I’ve never been more confident about the direction my work is heading. After many years of peering through mud, my vision is starting to clear and I’m now addressing my work with a purposefulness which had been only fleeting in the past.
There’s no doubt that writing the book (Drawing & Painting Birds) helped to crystallize my own ideas and the process also brought me into personal contact with many of my heroes in the genre and their support and enthusiasm for my project instilled a greater confidence in what I was doing. Following the publication of the book I went with other artists on two field trips.
2011 is proving to be an important year for me and I have spend more time than usual in the company of fellow artists. The trip to the uninhabited island of Swona with fellow Orkney artists Sheena Graham-George, Diana Leslie, Dominique Cameron, Anne Bignall and Mark Scadding was the first artists field trip I’d been on. I loved every minute of the trip and the collective creativity was tangible – I filled a couple of sketchbooks whilst there and painted almost solidly for three subsequent weeks. I was then invited to join the Artists for Nature Foundation (ANF) on their visit to the Channel Island of Sark. Spending a week with some of the World’s foremost wildlife artists was both an honour and an incredibly daunting prospect. Above all, however, it was fascinating and instructional to be able to watch artists of the calibre of Harriet Mead, Rosanne Guille, Mike Warren, Carry Akroyd and Vadim Gorbatov as they worked on various aspects of the landscape and wildlife of the Island. Being with these people was truly inspirational and I was keen to bring some of their approach and professionalism to my own scribbling.
Up here in Orkney it’s the end of the tourist season and the visitors have stopped coming to the gallery (not that I was ever swamped by people, you understand). The past couple of years I have shut the shop from the end of October til sometime in the spring because it was costing more in electricity than I would take in meagre sales. This winter I’m going to spend more time in the gallery mainly because I don’t have a studio at the cottage so it will be interesting to see if I make any sales at all.
Waxwings & Keys
Ink and watercolour, 20"x16"
Scottish Seabird Centre Exhibition, Oct 14" - Nov 16th, 2011
Meanwhile the year’s work is culminating in two important exhibitions; a one-man show at the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick and the Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. The Seabird Centre exhibition is seminal in that it is my first extensive one-man show outside of Orkney for over 20 years. Twenty-eight brand new paintings were made for the show.
The SWLA exhibition is also proving to be an important time for me. On the Preview day, Wednesday 26th October, I was awarded the BIRDWATCH / SWAROVSKI ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD, perhaps the ultimate prize in Birding Art in Britain. It seems like a long time since I was shortlisted for the SWAROVSKI Young European Bird Artist of the Year Award – back in 1991, at the SWLA. And now, exactly 20 years later, I feel I am at last coming of age as a painter. I was also elected as an Associate Member of the Society of Wildlife Artists by the SWLA committee on the same day. WOW!!!!!
Ups and Downs, eh? – What would life be without them . . .
North Haven Fair Isle; Light and Intermediate Phase Arctic Skuas
Tim Wootton ASWLA – Birdwatch / Swarovski Artist of the Year, 2011