"The artist...is also a born adventurer. His explorations, unlike those of a tourist, are rewarded by the discovery of beauty spots unmentioned in the guide books, and with tireless curiosity and an exceptional proneness to wonderment, he will come upon objects of remarkable interest overlooked or even shunned by more disciplined observers."

Augustus John, R.A.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas Shopping

A grey day yesterday spent Christmas shopping in Bolton, made memorable by this Peregrine Falcon chasing the town centre Feral Pigeons.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Water Rail

Water Rail. Pencil and Ink Wash. 105mm x 155mm.

The last drawing of my set of 13 illustrations for the 2007 Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club Report. Based on a sketch I did over 20 years ago.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Littondale Barn. Linocut and Watercolour. 150mm x 210m. Artists Proof.

A typical dales barn. This one in Littondale is situated beside the road just down the dale from the village of Litton. For three summers I lived in the dale whilst working for the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union studying Peregrine Falcons. This was an important time artistically, falling as it did straight after I left college. Surrounded by an abundance of subject matter and away from the sometimes distracting creative influences of art college I was free to begin developing and exploring my own 'style' and way of working. It was around this time that I began to draw and sketch directly with pen and ink, although I had been advised to use a pen whilst at college. At that time with the arrogance of youth I had ignored the advice, something I now regret as it was probably the best advice I was given. Had I taken heed whilst at college my work would probably have developed much faster. So to Barry Raynor thank you, I did eventually listen, I just wish I had done so sooner.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Black Redstart

Male Black Redstart. Pencil and Ink Wash.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Lesser Black Backed Gull preening. Pencil and Ink Wash. 110mm x 110mm

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Male Stonechat

Male Stonechat. Pencil and Ink Wash. 160mm x 130mm.

Another drawing for the Huddersfield Bird Report.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wheatear and Kingfisher

Male Wheatear. Pencil and Ink Wash. 150mm x 110mm
Kingfisher. Pencil and Ink Wash. 150mm x 110mm.
Two different images, the quiet attitude of the Kingfisher contrasting with the action of the scolding Wheatear. Another pair of drawings intended for the 2007 Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club Report.
I first drew the images using a 6B Progresso graphite pencil on Winsor and Newton Cartridge paper. The paper was then soaked and stretched onto the drawing board and allowed to dry. The drawings were then tinted using gradually darker washes of Winsor and Newton Indian Ink.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Britains smallest bird. This one sketched as it foraged in the Silver Birch tree in the garden this morning. The first time I've recorded the species in the garden in the 11 years we have lived here.

Saturday, 15 November 2008


A pair of Blackbirds on the gate post this morning whilst I was having breakfast. Just time for a quick drawing before they flew off.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A Different Approach

Natural Forms 1. Landscape in a Silver Birch. Acrylic on Canvas. 19.5'' x 15.5''

As much of my work is essentially representational it makes a change to paint something more abstract. Albeit based on close observation of a natural object. In this case a small fragment of Silver Birch bark. Painted with a palette of; Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Ivory Black and Titanium White

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Red Fox

Red Fox. Linocut and Watercolour. 150m x 210mm.

One of three Linocut prints, hand coloured with watercolour. The image is based on a sketch drawn a few years ago late one evening at Elland Gravel Pits. As the fox slowly worked its way through the woodland, oblivious of my presence on the opposite bank of the River Calder.

After cutting the block, the image was printed in black and then coloured using mixes of Paynes Grey, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna. The same combination of colours was used for the other two prints although subtle differences in the strengths of the mixes gave each one a slightly different atmosphere.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Work in progress

No completed work to post this week as I have been working on a number of pieces, none of which are finished yet. The two drawings above are roughs for a lino cut print, based on the Pen and Ink field drawing below. I've been experimenting with slightly different perspective points, trying to get a satisfying balance of black and white. In the second drawing, the barn appears slightly further back into the picture giving the illusion of greater depth, much closer in character to the original sketch.

Roadside Barn near Litton in Littondale. Pen and Ink. 148mm x 210m.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Dipper. Watercolour (with Chinese white) on Ingres Paper. 225mm x 160mm.

Another interpretation of the previous post. Using the watercolour (with Chinese White added to make it more opaque) sparingly, allowing the dark toned paper to show through in parts of the picture. The opposite of my usual style as I normally prefer to work on white paper leaving unpainted areas for the highlights, rather than painting them in.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Dipper Song

Dipper. Pen and Ink Scraperboard.145mm x 125mm.

A drawing inspired by the imagery in a collection of poetry that I recently received from an old college friend.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Autumn in the garden

I've been struggling with a watercolour landscape for the last few days, which for a variety of reasons just didn't seem to be going right. It eventually became an acrylic painting as I stopped trying to rescue the watercolour and began overpainting it. Sometime this afternoon I gave up on it altogether and went outside to mow the lawn. Having finished that I spent an hour or so outside in the garden sketching these images of autumn.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Threatening weather

An opportunist sketch . Whilst driving home this afternoon along a moorland road the sun suddenly shone across the landscape against a brooding sky. Above the moorland it also lit a small cloud making it shine almost pure white infront of the darker stormclouds. As quickly as it happened the moment passed and the light darkened. With no place or time to pull over I made this sketch from memory as soon as I reached home. An attempt to fix the abstract patterns of light and dark tones and colours with no real concern for topographical accuracy.

Sunday, 5 October 2008


More drawings from yesterdays walk round Denaby Ings. In good weather there are usually a couple of Buzzards soaring over the woodland. Yesterday the weather was hardly suitable for a large soaring raptor, so I wasn't sure I would see them. Walking around the edge of the reserve I found two birds feeding (presumably on earthworms) in a newly sown field. Surrounded by the fresh green of the young shoots.

Denaby Ings

Lesser Black Backed Gull preening. The bird flew off soon after I started drawing so I only had time to complete these two drawings.

Immature Cormorant. Perched on a fallen tree trunk against a background of reeds and brambles.

Immature Cormorant. A different individual to the one above, this bird having much darker underparts.

Fungi studies.

Landscape near Denaby Ings.

Saturday 4th October 2008. Field Sketching at Denaby Ings.

Not a particularly good day, cool and overcast with the constant threat of rain and a strong south westerly breeze. These drawings are the result of a three and a half hour walk round in the afternoon. I spend a lot of time at this small Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve. Its quietness appeals to me more than the crowded hides at the nearby Old Moor Wetland reserve. Here I can settle to concentrate on drawing without too much disturbance. It may not attract the range of species that can be found at Old Moor but there is always something worthwhile to draw, and even the most humble of species is worthy of closer attention.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Patterns in the landscape

After the Hay Crop. Acrylic on canvas. 10"x12"

This painting is based on a watercolour sketch made earlier this summer in Wharfedale, not far from Bolton Abbey. Whilst perhaps not an obvious subject for a picture, my interest was sparked by the tones and colours of the cut grass contrasting with the uncut areas around the field headlands. The overcast sky 'flattened' the landscape adding to the abstract pattern.
I started by painting in the sky, using a mixture of cobalt blue and titanium white with a little burnt sienna. Gradually darkening the mix towards the skyline. The hillside was painted using this same mix with the addition of cadmium yellow pale. Varying the amount of yellow to alter the shades of green, gradually intensifying the colour mix towards the foreground. The marshy uncut meadow in the centre added a warmer tone of colour as a contrast to the cool pastel greens, and was painted with a mix of burnt sienna and cadmium yellow. The foreground hillside, an area of grazing pasture was painted last using a mix of french ultramarine and cadmium yellow dark with a little titanium white.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

More Pencil and Wash Drawings

Green Woodpecker. Pencil and Ink Wash. 140mm x 100mm.

Young Ravens wing exercising. Pencil and Ink Wash. 125mm x 150mm.

Two more wash drawings drawn for the Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club report.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Frenchlands Tower, Moffat

A watercolour study based on the pen and ink sketch posted earlier. Intended as a rough for a larger painting and very quickly painted in simple flat washes of colour.
Standing beside the steep gully of the Frenchland Burn, below the conifer clad Hunterheck Hill and founded by the French family. This 16th Century stone rectangular Tower house was extended in the 17th Century to form an L-plan.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Weekend in the Scottish Borders

Saturday 13th September 08.
A day of constant drizzle which finally eased off in the evening, giving just enough time to quickly capture the sunset in the rapidly fading light.

Sunday 14th September 08.

Better weather on Sunday and the chance to do a couple of quick landscape pen and ink sketches, drawn directly with a Rotring Art Pen. This drawing shows the view north from the Selkirk road to the hills around Moffat Well.

This view, again from the Moffat to Selkirk road, shows the ruins of Frenchland Tower.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Grey Seal

Grey Seal off Flamborough
Watercolour. 390mm x 290mm.

I missed posting last week, mainly due to the fact that I had intended to post some field drawings from the Scottish Borders. However, the planned weekend in Moffat turned out to be a pleasant drive as far as Tebay services on the M6 and then a return back home courtesy of the AA. So no work done!
This painting of a Grey Seal was done on a sheet of cream tinted Bockingford Watercolour paper. I don't often work on tinted paper and whenever I do, I'm never completely satisfied with the result. The cream toned paper never gives the crispness to the watercolour that can be achieved when working on pure white paper.
The painting is based on a pen sketch drawn a few years ago, whilst sheltering from a buffeting gale behind the wall by the fog horn at Flamborough Head.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A new take on an old subject

St Govans Chapel, Pembrokeshire.
Watercolour. 240mm x 150mm.

One of the most atmospheric of all welsh chapels. Nestling at the foot of the cliffs on a platform above the sea. Although traditionally regarded as the cell of a dark age holy man, the existing building is unlikely to be earlier than the 13th century.
There are various legends concerning the identity of Govan but very little historical documentation regarding the site. Said by some sources to be the arthurian knight Gawain or alternatively St Gofan, wife of a celtic chief. Perhaps a more likely candidate is Gobhan, the Irish Abbot of Dairinis Monastery in Wexford, a contemporary of St David himself.
The image was drawn using a 6B Graphite pencil onto a sheet of white cartridge paper which was then soaked in water and stretched onto the drawing board. The portrait format emphasising the viewpoint down onto the little building from the cliffs above. Loose washes of colour were then laid down, working from light to dark gradually strengthening the tones in the painting, relying on the strength of the underlying drawing to hold the image together. As usual with my paintings, in order to maintain colour harmony only a limited palette was used; Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre, Light Red, Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson.
Ornithologically the area is very good with Peregrine, Chough and Ravens on the cliffs, Gannets, Cormorants and Manx Shearwaters offshore and only a short distance away from the Elegug Stacks with their Guillemot Colonies.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Storm Clouds

Gathering storm on the Wolds
Pastel. 285mm x 220mm.

Looking west as the storm clouds gather across the evening sky.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Gannets and Kittiwakes

Late summer at Bempton.
Watercolour. 180mm x 240mm.

A studio painting based on the field drawing posted earlier, although with some compositional reorganisation. Painted with a limited palette of only six colours; cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, light red, ultramarine, prussian blue and burnt umber.
At this time of the year the cliffs are empty of auks, their young having already fledged. Only a few late fledging Kittiwakes and young Gannets remain on the cliffs.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Pencil and Wash Drawings

Female Merlin. Pencil and Wash. 90mm x 120mm.

Great Crested Grebe feeding young. Pencil and Wash. 100mm x 180mm.

More illustrations for the bird club report.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Filey Bay

We spent the last week on the east coast at Filey. For the first three days the bay was fog bound with sea frett. The drawing above was done early one morning looking down through the mist onto the beach at Reighton Sands. Just as the tide was starting to flood.
Another view down onto the beach this time on an ebb tide.
Cloud shadows on the sea. A wider variety of media on this than normal; pen and ink, pencil, watercolour and pencil crayon.
An hour spent at Bempton Cliffs produced this drawing of an immature Gannet preening. The bird was in almost complete adult plumage apart from the two dark central tail feathers.
This Porpoise was fishing just offshore, remaining faithfull to a discrete area of water. As far as it goes this was as good a view as it gets with this species. I've seen them before in Filey Bay off the Brigg, usually in early autumn with rougher seas. This time the light was better with a calm, clear sea and providing it didn't dive too deep the animal was clearly visible beneath the surface.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Report Illustrations

Great Northern Diver
Pencil and Ink Wash. 130mm x 150mm.

Started work this week on illustrations for the 2007 Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club Report. After some deliberation I decided to have a change from my usual Pen line drawings and tried some monochrome wash drawings which hopefully should reproduce quite well. These are the first three completed drawings.

Male Red backed Shrike.

Pencil and Ink Wash. 130mm x 110mm.

Pencil and Ink Wash. 130mm x 170mm.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Ash Tree

Shaped by the wind.
Pastel. 12'' x 9''

A pastel painting, worked up from the small pen sketch posted earlier and intended as a study for a possible larger work.

Saturday, 12 July 2008


Low Tide at Laugharne (detail).
Acrylic on gesso primed board. 335mm x 245mm.

This small West Wales town was my home for almost three years from September 1982 until April 1985. For an artist and naturalist it was ideal, with wide open views across the estuary of the River Taf south across Carmarthen Bay to Rhossili Down and Worms Head on Gower.
Inland the woodlands held breeding Buzzards, Ravens Badgers and Foxes. In winter Black Redstarts could be found on the castle ruins and all manner of wildfowl and waders on the estuary. I saw my first Hen Harriers here, hunting the saltmarshes during the winters and once came across a Grey Phalarope feeding on the mud flats.
Originally a Norman fortress, the castle passed through a variety of owners including The Lord Rhys. It was destroyed and rebuilt twice during the thirteenth century. In the late sixteenth century Sir John Perrot turned it into a mansion house with a formal garden but like many castles it was finally vandalised by Parliamentary cannon fire during the Civil War.