Category Archives: Wildlife Art

Badger Study

Badger Art – practising coloured pencils

You may remember that I have been trying out coloured pencils – polychromos by Faber Castell to be exact.  These are oil-based coloured pencils and a huge selection of 120 beautiful colours. However for this latest picture I used a fairly limited pallette.  Although a badger is black and white, in fact I used a selection of browns and greys and even some blues to give the depth of colour I wanted.

Badger Study

Badger

The key to making fur look lifelike is to use very sharp pencils with a light touch.  With lots of layers and using slightly different colours this will build up a realistic looking fur which has depth. The cooler areas had blue included and in the warmer areas I used the browns. Warm greys and cool greys were used accordingly.

I have found that I enjoy using coloured pencils for fur as I can get more life into it.

Donkey mugs, coaster,key rings etc.

Artists printing on gift items

What do you do with all the paintings you finish!  In principle sell them, but that does not always happen quite as often as we like to believe from reading social media sites (they are so inspiring though!)   My older are stock is piling up because as I have progressed I no longer like them and I don’t see why anyone else would!

A lot of my paintings I print to make my greetings cards and notebooks, but I recently decided to try something new.  Images can go on many things these days can’t they.  I set about investigating possibilities.

I had to choose one image and have that printed on a variety of media for me to decide what I liked.  I only wanted a very small run so this was ideal.  I chose my donkey painting because I thought this could look good on the different articles.

Donkey

Donkey

This is the range of items I received back.  What an excitement and very pleasing to see him reproduced so well.

Donkey mugs, coaster,key rings etc.

Donkey printed items – bag, tea towel, mug, coaster, place mat. fridge magnet and key-ring

Key-Ring with the Donkey painting

Donkey Key-Ring

 

Donkey Coaster

Donkey Coaster

After that it was just a matter of deciding what I wanted to order and what other paintings I wanted to use…….. more later.

Field Mouse

Painting of a mouse – finishing

If you read my recent post Painting of a mouse – in progress you will remember I had been painting a mouse in watercolour.  He was left sitting on my desk whilst I wondered what to do with him.  I didn’t want to introduce any new colours into the painting as I wanted the emphasis to remain on him and his inquisitive expression.  For the same reason I couldn’t put anything too interesting to attract the eye away from him.

After several days of looking at him every time I passed by I decided upon a simple rocky area.  This was neither too bold nor too distracting.

Mouse painting nearly finished

Mouse in progress

This, I felt, worked.  Now just the finishing touches and some more definition and we were good to go!

Field Mouse

Mouse

Hope you like him!  He can be seen on a new card in my Etsy shop (see above for the link).   All he lacks now is a name – any ideas?

 

Painting of a mouse – in progress

Mouse in progress

This is my current work in progress.  A little mouse who is sitting watching me from the easel on my worktable.  He is patiently waiting for me to decide where he lives or what he is doing with his life.

Mouse Close up

I like to have more than one painting on the go at any one time, preferably in different stages of completion.  It helps keep me away from that dreadful time when I have NOTHING to paint.  That’s when procrastination sets in along with loss of confidence.  Not a nice place.  But when I am painting, ideas flow and I can’t wait to have a go at the next idea.

Back to the mouse though – he looks such a friendly fellow  (I’m starting to feel like Beatrix Potter!).  Shall I put him peeping out from behind a rock, a flowerpot or perhaps just vegetation?  It will come to me I know, but in the meantime I am just enjoying his company.

Pencil drawing of blackbird

Bird Art -my attempts at photographing them

This post is about my efforts to take photographs of birds.

To be a bird artist you need pictures of birds, ideally ones you have taken yourself.  I have occasionally managed to take a half decent photo, but wanted to do better.

Slightly fuzzy blackbird

First of all let me say it is not a simple thing to do. The experts make it look so easy!  My biggest problem is patience – it runs out very quickly when faced with a view from a hide with absolutely no birds in it.

I recently arrived at a hide to find no room to sit down with my camera.  I could however see
that there were birds a-plenty.  Looking good so far – chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, marsh tits, nuthatch and a greater spotted woodpecker.  I was already planning future paintings in my mind.  Yes – you guessed it – by the time I found a place to sit and set up all the birds were gone!

What have I learnt so far apart from “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”?  Well first of all to just sit, relax, appreciate your surroundings and listen to the birdsong.  Birds will not arrive to order, but that is the exciting thing – you never know what you will see.  Now when I look at a photo of a bird I think about the effort the photographer went to.  It does make you appreciate them more.

Slightly less fuzzy

Getting better

I have not painted a blackbird yet, just a preliminary sketch to get ideas.  They do seem more willing to pose for photos than most birds!

Preliminary sketch

Swallow

Spring Migration – the Cuckoo has arrived!

The swallows are here, the swifts have arrived this week and I heard my first cuckoo this morning.  I get shouted at every time I go to the shed by a Great Tit fiercely defending the offspring, and the baby blackbirds get in the way when I am moving compost out of the heap. It is an easy way for them to find food.  Oh what a lovely time of year it is!

Swallow

Swallow –
Hirundo rustica

Even the baby rabbits munching on the young hydrangea leaves within their, somewhat limited, reach are something to smile about.  Well they deserve it I think.  They have such a struggle with myxomatosis and the new RHD2 which is wiping out thousands of rabbits.  They are such lovely creatures  and get such a bad press because they eat what we are trying to grow.  

There are several nests around the garden, but I am concerned about upsetting them so I leave well alone.

Goldcrests

Goldcrests –
Regulus regulus

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Chrishaywoodart

Great Tit

My RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Count

I have been getting ready for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch for several weeks now.  I always like to feed the birds in the garden in the winter, mainly to help them, you understand, but it is wonderful to be able to watch them so closely.  As the Birdwatch date approaches I find myself watching that bit closer and finding tastier morsels to put out in the hope of being able to record something unusual.

This last week I have been fortunate to see a female siskin and two bramblings along with the usual visitors.  What excitement!  However I think it must have been the low temperatures we were experiencing then, because come Birdwatch time and higher temperatures there was no sign of them. Do they know we are trying to count them do you think?  Well that’s just how it is!

Here is just a selection of the birds I see in my garden:-

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Great Tit

Great Tit

Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tit

Coal Tits on a Cherry Tree

Coal Tits on a Cherry Tree

My aim is eventually to have a go at painting all my local birds.  There’s a long way to go but the research will be enjoyable!

 

Nuthatch

The nuthatch really stands out in the crowd!  Not only because of its beautiful colouring, but also because it is the only british bird that creeps down a tree.  The tree creeper and the woodpeckers all search for the insects they feed on under the bark by going up the tree, but the nuthatch will go up or down.

I am not fortunate enough to have seen a nuthatch where I live in Norfolk, although this does not mean they are not there. I do not have the patience to wait for birds to appear, although it is very exciting to see something new.   I can remember a few years ago, whilst walking in Derbyshire,  we stopped en route for a coffee.  There were several bird feeders hanging near the door to the pub, which were very much in use.  On one which contained peanuts was a nuthatch, completely oblivious to the comings and goings of the pub just a few feet away. Where birds accept and feel safe around humans it is so much easier to watch and appreciate them!

With its beautiful colours and markings it just cries out to be painted!  This time I have gone for a smaller piece – just 6″ x 6″ (15 x 15 cm).

Peregrine Falcon - SOLD

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon -Falco peregrinus

Oh what a beautiful bird is the peregrine falcon.  It is the fastest of our native falcons and can reach 120 mph when hunting.  During the last century numbers in this country fell to around 400 breeding pairs, thought to be caused by persistent pesticides.  Thankfully this trend has reversed and there are now around 1,500 breeding pairs.

One success began in 2011 when peregrines began to nest on Norwich Cathedral.  A platform had been put up by the Hawk and Owl Trust after peregrines had been sighted in 2009 and 2010.  In the wild peregrines nest in mountains and cliff ledges, so the Cathedral spire was thought to be ideal.  This proved to be the case and the public can now view them at a watchpoint in the Cathedral Close. http://upp.hawkandowl.org/

My peregrine watercolour was conceived whilst looking at the pictures of the Norwich peregrines.  I will be taking him and others to the Art and Craft Exhibiton at Wymondham Arts Centre in Norfolk, UK at the end of this month.