Friday 1 March 2013

Slow Start to the Blogging Year

Long-tailed ducks at Yesnaby, charcoal, 40"x22"
Things have been fairly quiet on the birdwatching/art front for a while.  My art activities have been constrained to the studio due to the extremely short daylight hours and frenetic preparations for my upcoming show at Waterston House, the home of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club.
Here’s a small selection of recent work destined for the show;

Desert Wheatear, watercolour, 17"x11"

Eiders, watercolour, 22"x17"

Hares and Snipes, Conte and watercolour, 37"x22"

Ringles Tangles, Sharpie and wash, 18"x14"
Snow Buntings, Sharpie and wash, 16"x14"
However, both my birding and painting had a major boost on February 1st during the morning school run to Stromness. Whilst making a detour to hopefully catch sight of a family of otters I’d seen the previous morning. There was no sign of the otters, but Edie and I were more than compensated when we spotted a white-phase gyr falcon sitting on a hay-bale. Although it disappeared for the rest of the day, it returned on Saturday, giving terrific views to many local and visiting birders. On occasion it would hop around among the local hares – both species seemingly as bemused by the event as each other. I returned to the studio and made an impression of the event immediately, and subsequently a more considered rendition of the bird a few days later.

The White Gyr, watercolour, 22"x17"
Although winter deprives me from fieldwork, it does allow time for a few commissions. One of my favourite views around Orkney is that from Outertown towards Hoy, over Scapa Flow. I’ve painted the Hoy Hills a couple of times, and I really enjoyed making this oil painting for a friend. The seascape at Birsay was a self-initiated piece and I think I learned quite a lot during the making of the piece. 

Scapa Flow and The Kame of Hoy, Oil, 30"x20"

Birsay, Oil, 30"x20"
Recent encounters with waxwings have been artistically fruitful, with pages and pages of sketches documenting the winter influx. I have made several pieces of work using these, my winter-muse, culminating in a huge 40”x30” oil painting. This piece is unique for me; being almost exactly the image I had in mind at the offset. Most works end up drifting way off line, but this one behaved itself from start to finish!
Wings of the North, oil, 40"x30"