Wednesday 2 November 2011


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
Charcoal, 34"x22"
Tim Wootton ASWLA – Birdwatch / Swarovski Artist of the Year, 2011


Fran A.H. Alvarado said...

Congratulations on the awards you have received. In Spain, the economic crisis is affecting the income of artists a lot. The art market doesn´t work.

Paschalis Dougalis said...

Congratulations for both Tim!
As many artists previously commented in BF I wouldn't imagine an other artist who deserves this prize most!
Working as a full time artist mainly as an illustrator I can feel with you knowing very well the up and down in life of a freelance artist!
I'm sure that this recognition will be a very important step forwards to your artistic career giving you
a well deserved place among the elite of wildlife artists living today!

Best wishes


Unknown said...

many congratulations Tim,with the consistently inspiring nature of your work i cant think of anyone more deserving of the prize and of the recognition of SWLA for the dedication involved in producing it.

Susan said...

Many, many congratulations, Tim - not only on your stellar awards but on your new found confidence. As you know, I love your work and hope that the off season will bring more surprises and many sales your way.

beast said...

More congrats from me too Tim...just for being a 'top bloke'...[i would insert a thumbs up icon here if on BF]....!

Sharon Williamson said...

Congratulations Tim, well-deserved recognition! Sounds like you have had a great year, even if the belts have been tightened... But what a great platform for 2012 - I'm looking forward to seeing what you do :-)

Ken Januski said...

Congratulations again Tim. I just now realized that you were also voted a member of SWLA, exactly where you belong, along with the society of top blokes as mentioned in another comment.

Hope the gallery is hopping with visitors this fall and winter. All these accomplishments should help with that.

Peter Mathios said...

Congratulations Tim!!! You are an amaing and inspiring artist and deserve the honors - keep up the great work!

Måns Sjöberg said...

Congratulations to everything! You really deserve it! Those ups and downs - especially the downs - forced me to start working full time in a school a while ago. I like it there but at the same time I miss the freedom I had as a full time painter. We'll see what happens next. Take care! /Måns

Jack Ashton-Booth said...

You never fail to inspire! All of your Skua work is outstanding! I have said it before and it needs repeating but I could sit and stare at your Skua pieces for ages as its the next closest thing to being sat with them! Your work is like being teleported back to my skua breeding census work on Fair Isle! I would say keep up the good work but its inevitable given the standard of your work....AWE can still hear the scooty allans primary tips cutting through the air