"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.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

Malham Cove
Reduction Linocut (nine colours). 270mm x 180mm.
Edition of 5.

Well I didn't finish in time for Christmas but I have managed to finish it before the year end, just! And in the intended nine colours rather than the ten or eleven that I thought it might run to. There were one or two hicups along the way and I lost three prints due to sloppy registration.

This is Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales, a massive limestone crag from the base of which emerges Malham Beck. Described by the artist John Busby as looking like a giant butterfly pinned to the landscape. From the top of the crag a valley leads up onto the moor and eventually to Malham tarn. This valley is now dry, but eons back in the mists of time, it must once have carried a torrent that plunged over the lip of the cove in a waterfall higher than Niagara.

Happy New Year !

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Eighth colour down and nearly finished

Only one more colour to go now. A final dark for the shadows on the crag and to tie the whole image together.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Colours six and seven

Two shades of brown for the trees in the mid foreground. I had originally intended that these trees would be a dark green, but I decided that the image was becoming a little overpowered with cool greens and greys and needed a warmer tone as a contrast.
Only two more colours to go; a dark green and then a final dark for the shadowed areas on the crag. I didn't get it finished in time for Christmas, but it should be done over the next couple of days. Then just time to get one framed ready to submit to the East Coast Open Exhibition, at Scarborough Art Gallery in mid January.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Colours three and four

Got colours three and four printed, a light blue and then the first green. The image is now starting to take shape. For readers not familiar with the landscape of the Yorkshire dales this is Malham Cove.

and then the fifth colour, a mid grey in the shadows on the crag face.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Last job before Christmas

Two colours down on the next print run. A cream and then a pale blue grey. I want to get this finished before Christmas if possible, before my studio space becomes a temporary bedroom. The plan at this stage is for nine colours but will probably end up around ten or eleven.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Goldcrest and Barn Owl

Another pair of illustrations completed for the bird club report.
Pencil and Ink Wash. 130mm x190mm.

Barn Owl
Pencil and Ink Wash. 130mm x190mm.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

More Report Illustrations

Red Kite
Pencil and Ink Wash. 70mm x 170mm.

Marsh Harrier (female).
Pencil and Ink Wash. 70mm x 170mm.

Managed to finish two more illustrations this week and got another two roughed out. These should be finished and ready for posting over the next couple of days.

Good news came in the post a few days ago. One of my two submissions to the Royal Cambrian Academy has been selected for the forthcoming open exhibition. I'm not sure which one though, that will have to wait until I go over and pick up the unselected print. The exhibition opens on 9th January and runs until 7th February 2010. Further information can be found at www.rcaconwy.org

I've also started some preparatory drawings for a couple of new linocuts. I should have something to post from these during the next few weeks.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Back to the illustration project

Cormorant. Pencil and Ink Wash. 130mm x 120mm.

I 've been busy over the last week, mounting and framing my submissions for the Royal Cambrian Academy exhibition. And on saturday we drove over to Conwy in North Wales to deliver them to the gallery. It should have been a good day out and the weather held for the drive across to Wales. But as we arrived in Conwy it started raining heavily and didn't stop for the rest of the day. However, the artwork was safely delivered so its fingers crossed for good news in a week or so time after the selection committee has made its deliberations.

I have managed to complete some work, roughing out more drawings for the bird club report and getting the Cormorant above completed. The drawing is based on the pen sketch I posted recently of a bird drawn at Denaby Ings.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, Pembrokeshire.

Pentre Ifan.
5 Colour Reduction Linocut. 270mm x 180mm.
Edition of 6.

For once I had a plan and stuck to it. I try to limit my prints to around 5 or 6 colours, but usually get carried away and end up printing them in around 9 or 10. So with this print I deliberately stuck to my original scheme to complete the print in 5 colours. Two oranges, two greys and black. This is the second of my two proposed submissions to the Royal Cambrian Academy Open Exhibition.

One of the best known Prehistoric monuments in West Wales, this Neolithic burial chamber was one of the first archaeological sites to be protected by the earliest Ancient Monuments Act of 1882. The 16 feet long capstone is supported almost 8 feet above the ground on three upright stones.

This viewpoint looking towards the west shows the rocky crag of Carn Ingli framed by the tomb. On its summit is one of the largest stone built Iron Age hillforts in Wales. The name derives from the latin mons angelorum meaning 'mountain of angels.'

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Malham Cove

Autumn Sunlight, Malham Cove. Watercolour on 140lb Bockingford Paper. 196mm x 296mm.
This was never intended to be a finished work, I started it as a simple preparatory sketch for a larger acrylic painting. I was trying to plan out the areas of light and shade on the cliff face and I wasn't particularly concerned with the standard of finish. So I painted the first washes very quickly and with only a minimum of underlying drawing. Only the cliff top and the stream banks were delineated faintly with a 2b pencil. Unusually for me I also worked from dark to light, painting the large shadowed area of cliff and the wall on the left first, before washing in the areas of green, leaving random white spaces to represent the scattered rocks. Somewhere along the way the painting began to become a little bit more than a rough working study, so I worked it up. Painting very quickly trying to keep the initial spontaniety and freshness (I spent more time waiting for each wash to dry than I did painting them), although on reflection I overworked the foreground stream more than I intended.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Fungi on the lawn

Woke up this morning and found this cluster of fungi on the lawn beneath the Silver Birch. Not sure on the identification though, but it made for an interesting grouping.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

St Govans Chapel, Pembrokeshire

St Govans Chapel. 269mm x 180mm. Reduction Linocut.

This small chapel nestles, sheltered at the foot of the cliffs on a ledge above the sea (just off to the left of the picture). It is reached from the cliff top by a long flight of steps which wind down the cliff face. This is one of my favourite places along the Pembrokeshire Coast.

Although traditionally regarded as being of Dark Age origin, the existing building is unlikely to be earlier than the 13th Century. There is a little spring beside the entrance which is said never to flow over the chapel floor, from which the healing waters were scooped out and drunk from a limpet shell.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Snipe and Cormorants, Field Drawings.

Snipe. Pen and Ink.

Cormorants. Pen and Ink.

A trip to relatives in Doncaster yesterday, gave me the opportunity to have a walk around Denaby Ings for an hour or so. It was fairly quiet with not much around apart from good numbers of Gadwall and Mallard, and a solitary Speckled Wood Butterfly basking in the late autumn sunshine.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Next Project

Printing is well underway on my next Linocut, intended to be one of my submissions to the Open Exhibition at the Royal Cambrian Academy in January. The subject is St Govans Chapel in Pembrokeshire, an old sketching haunt from my student days. The print is based on a watercolour painting of the chapel that I posted about 12 months ago.

and printing assistant.........

There can't be many four year olds who know what a baren is and how to use one. She just doesn't have the strength to press down hard enough.

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Pencil and Ink Wash. 120mm x 105mm.

Peregrine Falcon Preening.
Pencil and Ink Wash. 100mm x 100mm.
After dithering around for the last couple of weeks, I've finally started on the set of illustrations for the 2008 Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club report. This is something of a labour of love as I've been illustrating the reports since I first joined the club, and this will be the 20th report I've done.
The Jackdaws were drawn as they tumbled on the breeze around the weather vane outside the doctors surgery in my home town. The Peregrine was sketched some ten years ago. I had been watching it for a couple of hours, trying to confirm that the pair were breeding. For the whole of that time it barely moved. Typically it flew off to the nest ledge at the moment that I took my eyes off it!

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Summer Meadow-Bishopdale
Reduction Linocut. 270mm x 180mm.

A typical view in the Yorkshire Dales. A buttercup filled field in dale floor with its attendant field barn. Backed by further fields climbing away up the valley sides to the higher moorland above.

Bishopdale is one of the smaller dales which runs north from its head on the northern flank of Buckden Pike to its meeting with Wensleydale at West Burton.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club Report

Common Buzzard. Pen and Ink Scraperboard.

Turnstone. Pen and Ink.

Kingfisher. Pen and Ink.

Grasshopper Warbler. Pen and Ink.

Wood Warbler. Pen and Ink.

The latest report (for 2006), of the Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club has now been published. With a cover design and some illustrations by me. A selection of which are shown above. The report is available from the Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club, details of which can be found by following the link in the Natural History Section on the right.

Monday, 31 August 2009

More Holiday Pictures

Robin singing from the cottage garden. Pencil.

Another quick two minute sketch in my small sketchbook. Landscape seen from a pub carpark just outside St Clears. Watercolour.

Dryslwyn Castle. Watercolour.

Red Kite mobbed by a Carrion Crow. Pen and Ink.

The view across the Towy Valley to Llanstephan Castle from Ferryside. Watercolour.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

More from the Towy Valley

Painted Lady Butterfly. Watercolour. A very worn and washed out looking individual with pale colouration.

This was a family holiday so drawing and birding had to be fitted in as opportunity allowed. Much of the work was done in the early mornings or evenings.

Buzzard. Pen and Ink.

Raven perched in the top of a dead tree in the field across the road from the cottage. Pen and Ink.

Immature Peregrine Falcon circling over Dryslwyn. Pen and Ink.

The road to Dryslwyn Castle. Watercolour and Pencil.
I keep a small A6 sized sketchbook in the car which is small enough to slip into my back pocket when we are out. It comes in handy when waiting around outside shops or sat waiting in carparks. This drawing was done in about two minutes and the watercolour put on later in pretty much the same time.

Dryslwyn and the Towy Valley

Paxtons Folly from Dryslwyn. Watercolour. Sketched in a light drizzle which accounts for the funny blotches in the sky.

We have just got back from a week long holiday in the Towy Valley near Carmarthen in West Wales. An area I know well as I spent my student days here. This was my first visit back in over ten years but the landscape is still very much as I remembered it. We travelled down through the hills and valleys of Mid Wales in glorious sunshine and then woke on the first morning to a day of rain.

The view from the kitchen window of our cottage. Drawn at 7pm in the evening after the day long rain finally stopped. Watercolour.

The second day broke with better weather and these Ravens tumbling a welcome in the sky over the cottage. Pen and Ink.

Red Kite. Pen and Ink.
Drawings of a bird watched sailing slowly over the village of Pontargothi.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Southerness Lighthouse - Linocut

Southerness Lighthouse. 6 Colour reduction Linocut. 257mm x 170mm. Edition of 5

Got the final colour printed, although lost three prints along the journey. Two of them through sloppiness on my part in positioning the paper in the registration marks before printing. With the third print I got distracted and left the paper on the inked block too long and ended up sticking it to the lino! I did cheat with the railings though and brushed them in afterwards with a No 1 watercolour brush.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Fourth and Fifth Colours

Managed to get the fourth and fifth colours down fairly quickly. Firstly a grey brown colour for the wet sand left by the waves and then a dark brown for the rocks below the Lighthouse. Only black to go now.

Friday, 14 August 2009

So Far So Good

Printed the third colour and I am now ready to cut the block for the next colour. Originally this was intended to be a dark brown followed by black. However, looking at this print, I want to more clearly define the area of wet sand left by the receding waves. So I will print an extra colour in this area before moving on to print the rocks on which the Lighthouse stands.

Tonight is the preview night for the Batley Open Show at Batley Art Gallery. I have had two prints accepted for this exhibition which runs from 15th August until 16th September.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Second Colour

Got the second colour printed, and the image is now begining to take shape. The third colour, a pale blue should follow fairly quickly as there isn't much of the block to carve away before I can print it.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Linocut Step by Step. First Colour.

I know it doesn't look much at the moment, but I thought it might be interesting to show the development of a linocut from the first to the last colour. Although if things start going pear-shaped half way through it might get a bit embarassing, anyway here goes.
Using the painting of Southerness Lighthouse posted earlier as a starting point. I've drawn out the design, reversed it on the Lino block and then cut away all the areas I want to remain white. I've then printed the first colour; a very pale cream. There are similarities in making a linocut with painting a watercolour. Both involve the simplification of colour and tonal masses, and both work from light to dark using the white of the paper for the highlights.
At this stage the plan is to use five colours; the cream already printed, a cool grey, blue, dark brown and finally black. Although this may change if I think the design needs additional colours or tones.
As I hand print using a baren I keep my editions fairly small, usually between 5 and 10 copies. The exact number being determined by how much of the first colour I mix up and how many prints I can get out of it. I find it hard to make up a second batch of colour exactly the same as the first so however many prints the first mix lasts for is the initial number of the edition. As things progress, if all goes well, all the prints will come out, but accidents happen, this isn't a mechanical process and usually the final edition is a few copies short of the number of prints in the first batch. So this cream colour lasted for 8 prints.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Following the Muse

Peregrine Falcon. Pen and Ink Scraperboard. 105mm x 145mm

Dipper. Pen and Ink Scraperboard. 63mm x 82mm.

Stoat. Pen and Ink Scraperboard. 95mm x 85mm

Hare. Pen and Ink Scraperboard. 150mm x 110mm.

While I am happy to follow my muse wherever she goes in terms of subject matter and medium. Looking back at my recent posts there is not a lot of wildlife content among them. So having got these drawings out to mount up and frame, I thought I would post them to go some way to restoring the wildlife balance.
The drawings were originally done for a variety of projects; the Dipper is the oldest having been done around ten years ago as my entry to a British Birds Bird Illustrator of the Year competition, the others are all more recent. The Peregrine and Stoat I did for a proposed book of my own on wildlife in the Yorkshire Dales which never got any further than the planning stage in my head.