Friday, 22 July 2016

More Wild Island pictures.

Here are some more images from the book, "Wild Island. A Year in the Hebrides." I will be at the British Bird Fair at this year, on the Society of Wildlife Artists' stand. This will be from 19th-21st August at Rutland Water. I will have copies of the book, and some of the artwork too. If you want to find out more about the Hebrides or the RSPB's work on Oronsay, come along for a chat.

Nesting eider duck in bracken.

Corncrake calling (screen print).


Lapwing on its nest.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Wild Island

I've just returned from the Isle of Colonsay, where I gave a talk about Wild Island. The book seems to be going down well, with good sales. It was great to try the talk out on a sympathetic audience, as on Saturday 21st May at 11.30am I'll be talking at Scotland's Big Nature Festival near Edinburgh.  

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

A busy year

Lapwing Display

2015 was a busy year for me, and 2016 looks to be just as exciting. Last October at the Society of Wildlife Artists' Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London I was presented with the Birdwatch Wildlife Artist of the Year award, which comes with a lovely new pair of Swarovski binoculars. I was also elected as a full member of the Society.

I have finished all the artwork and text for my book "Wild Island," which is about the work of the RSPB on the Hebridean island of Oronsay. If you like the words and images in this blog, you may be interested in buying a copy when it becomes available in March 2016.

All the illustrations from the book, including the lapwing picture above, are now being framed up for an exhibition at the Scottish Ornithologists' Club gallery at Aberlady, near Edinburgh. This will open on 20th February 2016 and run until 6th April.

I will be giving a talk and selling the Wild Island book at Scotland's Big Nature Festival in May, and also giving workshops at the Colonsay Spring Festival in April.

Meanwhile, I will be kept busy by my new job for Scottish Natural Heritage as Artist in Residence at their Taynish National Nature Reserve. I'm looking forward to it all.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Gannets fishing

Gannets fishing, screenprint, ed. of 4
The Easter holidays are here, and in the next few weeks everyone will be putting their boats back in the water after the winter. Here on the west coast of Scotland, we are sheltered from the full force of the Atlantic by the scattered islands of the Hebrides. Even a small rowing boat can go out into the Sound of Jura in search of mackerel. As we haul on our lines, we enjoy watching the gannets, who are also fishing for their supper.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Wild Argyll

There is such a variety of landscape in Argyll. From the hill above our village we can look inland over long sea-lochs, oak-clad hillsides and high mountains. In the other direction, the intricate coastline is scattered with rocky islets and sandy beaches. Out to the west, the open sea is sheltered by the larger islands of the inner Hebrides.

Recently we made a 3 minute video to publicise this landscape for the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance. You can find it by looking for "Inspired by the Heart of Argyll - YouTube".

While making the video we put out lobster pots and caught this beautiful animal. It really did seem like a creature from another world. As the video shows, in Argyll there's always something new to provide inspiration.

Lobster, screen print, ed. of 25

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Corncrake Chess

Screenprint made in the studio - edition of 4.

Black and white players are moving across the flat chequerboard of fields on Oronsay. They are pawns in a large-as-life game of biodiversity, played out on the land. The Barnacle Geese look out of place on these fields. The black and white markings which camouflage them against the rocky screes of their nesting cliffs in Greenland look incongruous here.  They are seeking refuge from the frozen weather of the North and, alongside the black Hebridean Sheep, they are grazing the winter grass short.
It may be the RSPB who are controlling the game by offering rich, undisturbed grazing on the in-by fields, but on this island at least, it is the wildlife who are the winners. Once the geese have been cleared from the board by the southerly winds of spring, the star players will move in. The clues are to be seen around the winter field margins. The woody remains of knapweed, cow parsely, dock and nettle show how the game will develop. The vegetation will grow in the Spring sunshine to provide cover for Corncrakes as they return from sub-Saharan Africa to breed. These are the kings and queens of the island. With the field cleared by the winter workers, new growth will be open, allowing these shy  rails to pass easily through it.
Corncrakes have disappeared from most of mainland Britain, and so management here concentrates on sustaining these birds, the vulnerable key pieces of the chess board. They may have reached check-mate elsewhere, but with 24 calling males in these few fields, the game is still on.

Sketch made in the field.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Winter Starlings

Screenprint made in the studio, edition of 6.

The first job of a winter's morning on Oronsay is to put out silage as extra food for the cows. There's not a lot a nutrient left in the gale-battered fields, as there's been no strength in the sun for months. Normally a bale-shredder chops and spreads the silage, but when the machine breaks down, the RSPB volunteers have to set to and fork out two massive bales by hand. Nathalie, the assistant warden, looks skinny, but she's much stronger than I am. Her golden hair flies in the wind, the same colour as the silage. I point out this artistic detail to her, but strangely I don't think she's flattered by the comparison.
The spread line of silage avoids jostling, so that even the younger beasts can get to the food. Their feet poach up the ground, knocking out bracken shoots, and allowing any wildflower seeds from the silage to germinate. That's if there are any seeds left over. A flock of starlings descend, squawking and squabbling over the food. Its not just the cows who are being sustained through the winter months.

Sketch made in the field.