Monday, 14 November 2011

Heron lino-cut - No.2

Since the exhitbition I have loved having the opportunity to concentrate on more print-making.  The final print for the poetry anthology is now finished, so I am really pleased with how they have gone and am looking forward to seeing them in the book.

My new lino-cutting tools are great and so comfortable in the hand.  When the lino is at a suitable temperature they cut beautifully, almost like cutting through butter.  I am able to cut much finer detail now, so hopefully I will be able to produce some botanical themed prints in the near future.
I have been a member of the Society of Floral Painters for over 10 years now and have now started to get more involved with them again from a support perspective.  On Saturday they had an open day, so it was good to get to see some new faces and catch up with friends that I haven't seen for a while.  There was a great feeling of support and motivation from and to all that attended.  The critique session was invaluable in discussing many aspects of artwork, such as composition, painting skills and especially drawing skills.

For further information on the society their website address is:

As for artwork, things may slow down a little bit now as we prepare to move house.  I don't know where to start with packing the studio up!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Great-crested Grebe Lino-cut

Whilst at the recent art exhibition (during a rare quiet time!), I managed to carve my design for the Great-crested Grebe lino-cut which is due to be published in a poetry anthology of poems about freshwater birds later in the year.  I have already completed the Kingfisher and still have another Heron design to carve and print.  As the designs have to be in portrait format, I cannot use my previous Heron design.

I have just treated myself to a set of Pfeil carving tools to use for my lino-cuts and I am soon going to have a go at woodblock printing using Japanese plywood, so we shall see how that goes and I will keep you all up to date with the progress !

My new art project idea in conjunction with the Hants and IOW Wildlife Trust is taking shape, but you will have to wait a while to hear the full story.

I had fun with my graphics package creating the montage below.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Art Exhibition Latest

The art exhibition is proving to be an amazing success and is also introducing lots of new visitors the wonderful nature reserve of Swanwick Lakes.

The preview evening was very well attended. During the evening the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Fareham enjoyed viewing the artwork and Christina Hart-Davies (Botanical Artist and Illustrator) formally opened the exhibition.

Dawn and Jess - the two wonderful Education Officers at the reserve

Sarah presenting Christina with some flowers
The artwork that has been completed during the artist in residence year was displayed on boards according to the different habitat types found on the reserve. There were also displays of Sarah's sketches of rare and vulnerable plants as well as sketches of wildlife from her trips to New Hampshire and Maine.
The exhibition is on until 5pm tomorrow Sunday 30th October, so why not come along and see the exhibition for yourself ? We look forward to seeing you there !

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Exhibition here we come !

I have just written the last posting for the Swanwick Lakes Art Project blog, so rather than re-write a posting for here, I have copied it across - happy reading !

On Sunday the last 'Meet the Artist' session took place at the reserve and it was lovely to see people and chat about the project.

The time is racing by now to the exhibition from the 28th to 30th October. The invites for the preview evening have all been sent out and the final framed pictures will be collected from my framer in Devon this weekend.

A small article about the project was in Hampshire Life magazine this week and it was interesting to see what their graphics person had done with the image of the Fly Agaric painting. Not too sure about it - but at least it has impact!

As for more artwork, this is coming to an end. I have started to experiment with acrylics on natural linen canvas, which has been great fun so a couple of the last paintings will be in this format. I have been using Daler Rowney Cryla artist's acrylics which are very creamy and seem to blend very well. So many people have said to me that acrylics dry too quickly, but Jonathan Latimer (who illustrated and wrote 'Orchards' published by Langford Press), recommended using a slow-drying medium which is added to the paints on your palette.
The two acrylic paintings that I have completed so far are shown below. The Lesser Water-boatmen canvas only measures 10 x 10 cms and the other canvas is 20 x 20 cms.

One of the paintings that I used for demonstrating at a local art group is also now finished and framed. Those of you that know me, know that I love drawing and painting fungi, and the colours in this bracket fungi were just too rich to ignore !

As well as framed paintings at the exhibition, there will also be some unframed but mounted and pages from my sketchbooks that I have started and not finished over the years.

As autumn is now here (all be it for a week's Indian summer this week), I thought that you would like to see another study of fungi. It is a sketch of an Orange Birch Bolete, drawn in Scotland in 2002. A more detailed painting was developed from this study and both will be on show during the exhibition.

I hope to upload another posting before the exhibition, but if I don't get time, I would like to thank everyone that has followed my blog on here and from Flickr. It has been very exciting having people from all over the world interested in my artwork and the project. I look forward to keeping in touch with some of you as we spread news of the highs and lows of being natural history artists and the joy we get from illustrating the many aspects of our natural world !

Sunday, 4 September 2011

This was the sight that awaited me when I visited the reserve last week. There were berries and hips everywhere ! I particularly like the Guelder Rose (above) and the Dogwood berries, but at the moment there just doesn't seem to be enough time to paint everything !

The preparation for the exhibition is really going at a pace now, with what I keep thinking will be the final lot of framing, but more pictures seem to be evolving. We are really grateful to Ecological Planning & Research Ltd who are lending us the screens for the exhibition in the study centre and today the fabric arrived to cover them - all 11 metres of it.

As well as working on the project I have also been exhibiting with the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society at Marwell Zoological Park near Colden Common. My painting of a Hazel Dormouse seemed a little overwhelmed being surrounded by pictures of big cats and other exotic creatures ! Never the less several other artists also exhibited paintings of native wildlife.

Alongside the exhibition there was an Art Market in an adjoining marquee over last weekend and I had a small pitch, showing some additonal work, selling prints and cards and also spreading the word about the Swanwick Lakes Art Project. Alas, there were not many sales, but it was great chatting to visitors about the project and I really look forward to seeing some of them at the forthcoming exhibition.
Whilst running my stand I also had the opportunity to 'demonstrate', and decided to work on one of the final pictures that I will painting for the project - that of a White Admiral butterfly and two Jay feathers, there is still one more feather to do !

The other medium that I have begun to explore is acrylic paint, which I am finding very exciting and different to use than watercolours. I am hoping that there will be some completed canvases ready for the exhibition, all be it small ones - watch this space !

Pictures of the art market stand follow:

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Heron Lino-print

As part of the art project at Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve I had previously painted a pen and wash illustration of a Heron.  I loved the photo it was based on and have been itching to design a lino-print of the Heron too.  The full story and creation process can be seen on the art project blog:

Montage of the various stages of completing the print.

The first print-run.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

I was lucky enough to see a male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in a garden in north New Hampshire.  They were feeding on a flowering shrub and presumably returning to a nearby nest site on the edge of the woodland bordering the garden.

The sketches were completed from photographs that I took at the time, and due to the intense heat over here I declined to use watercolours and used coloured pencils instead.  I think I may have said before, but I really like the way that the pencils lend themselves to sketches of birds.

More details of the Hummingbirds and other species that I have sketched, can be found on the Swanwick Lakes Art Project blog at:

Lobster Buoys

Whilst travelling along the coast of Maine it is quite common to see old lobster buoys hung up outside houses.  There is something appealing about the aged ones that you see, the variety of colours is what appeals to me along with the imperfections.

In gift shops in some of the towns you come across hand decorated painted buoys offered as household ornaments, these just do not do it for me !

Their main purpose is to be tied to the rope that is then attached to the lobster pot when it is dropped into the sea.  The buoy, as like other buoys floats on the surface and each fisherman generally has their own colour buoys to identify their lobster pots.  The modern buoys are now made out of plastic.

Whilst in Maine I started to paint several buoys taken from the image above.  I used Daniel Smith watercolour paints along with some from my normal palette, that consist of Winsor and Newton and Old Holland Artist watercolours.  The painting was completed on Strathmore 400 cold-pressed watercolour paper, which I loved using.  It was a welcome change after using hot-pressed paper for a long period of time.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cedar Waxwings

Our kayaking trips on the lake are proving to be very fruitful to observe the variety of bird life around.
A particular highlight was watching a group of Cedar Waxwings move from one small island to the next and feeding on the resident evergreen trees as well as taking flies and other insects on the wing.

Due to being in a kayak we were not quite confident enough to take our Canon camera so made do with our small 'point and shoot', despite this the photos will still be good enough to do sketches from.

I've never been lucky enough to see the visiting Waxwings at home (they normally appear around the corner from where we live!), but I come all this way and hey presto !

Friday, 27 May 2011

The 'Other Hampshire' - New Hampshire Wk 1

We have returned to New Hampshire as part of our honeymoon and have enjoyed the first week relaxing at Pawtuckaway Lake, exploring the adjoining state park and kayaking daily on the lake.

Exlporing the area by kayak has huge advantages and means that we get to creep up on the birds roosting and flying between trees.  One delight has been watching several pairs of Baltimore Orioles flyinng between the islands on the lake and we were lucky enough to see one close up in front of the cottage.
A Flycatcher of some sort is also nesting in the overhang of the cottage and it has been great watching the pair out looking for food, twisting and twirling in the air catching flies.  The nest is very small and is composed of moss and small pieces of vegetation.  Inside there are two small white eggs which hopefully will survive this year, as last year the chicks were taken from the nest.
 Baltimore Oriole                                                                       
One of the things that I wanted to do this year was to look for Slipper Orchids.  Previously we have always visited in the Autumn.  We have come out at just the right time, and as we ventured into the State Park on Wednesday, within two minutes we were seeing the orchids dotted around the edge of the woodland and in open glades.
The walk to see more ended up with us suffering for our cause and we are now covered in mozzy bites, despite having plenty of insect repellant on.  Anyway one of my dreams has been fulfilled and we managed to get some great images, although sketching was impossible because of the mosquitos.

As for sketching, I have started to get a few pieces of work done, which will make an interesting addition to the exhibition at Swanwick Lakes in October.

One piece of work I am particularly pleased with is a painting of some stones and a maple seed found on the shore at North Hampton State Beach.  There were not many other scraps to be found on the strandline, but I know further up coast there can be an array of treasures to be found.

I have started to use some of my Daniel Smith watercolours and the effects they can give are very good.  Some of those made from completely natural minerals have really good qualities, such as granulation, with other colours appearing as the paint granulates on the paper.

Other sketches have included a collection of bits found out on our first kayak and a sketch of the Slipper Orchid (Moccassin Flower) completed from photographs.

My sketching table is set up on the veranda of the cottage on the edge of lake and luckily is covered in mesh so the mozzies can't get me!!  The best time to be out here is at 5am watching the sunrise and listening to the Pileated Woodpecker making its way around the trees bordering the lake.

I'll sign off for now.  Next week we are travelling along the coast of Maine, so there may not be a posting until we return to New Hampshire the week after.  Cheerio !