Monday, 27 January 2014

Mini murmuration...... and more

A murmuration of Starlings (RSPB)
At this time of year and somewhat earlier from the Autumn onwards, you often hear of a murmuration of Starlings being talked about.  But what is a murmuration ?
A murmuration is a collective term to describe a massive group of starlings that come together just before they are about to roost at the end of the day.  The time when it happens can be very regular and the number of starlings in a murmuration can be in the 1000's.  It must be a spectacular sight to see and can occur over a variety of habitats - over reedbeds, woodland areas, even over the shore as the birds come into roost under a pier.
At the rear of our house in a neighbour's garden is a line of extra tall Leylandii trees, and we had noticed that at around 4pm (in the Autumn last year) the noise of birds from the trees was overwhelming if you stood nearby.  Overwhelming in a nice way you understand.
When playing outside with our nieces at this time of day over the Christmas period, I watched as small groups of starlings and some individual stragglers, would fly around in beautiful sweeping movements over the realtively built up area where we live.  As the smaller groups of 10 or so birds came together in a larger group, I became mesmerised as they continued to glide around and collect individuals in.  It was honestly like watching a ballet in the sky !  As the sky got darker the main group and a couple of smaller groups swooped down onto the Leylandii trees chattering away to each other.  So I considered that I had seen my own mini-murmuration.
After a couple of difficult days this week I have arrived home when the birds are swooping together and I have found it very relaxing just to sit in the car and watch them as they perform their aerial ballet.
If you would like to see what a true murmuration looks like, have a look at this wonderful video I found on YouTube.
Back to the painting.  This year has got off to a good start with a painting completed over the holiday period, ready to join a couple of others that follow the theme of the Oak tree.  The latest painting I have called 'Quercus robur - Autumn Trio' - see below.
One of the other paintings is of the galls that can be found on species of Oak.  Watch this space for more progress on this painting.
Teaching this year has got off to a flying start.  With two workshops in January already -  'Fabulous Feathers' and a print-making workshop with a lovely group of artists in Newbury.
There will many other workshops this year, with a return visit to Cambridgeshire planned for the Autumn and a print-making workshops at The Rums Eg Gallery in Romsey in the Spring.  If you would like to keep up to date with what workshops are available have a look at Natures Details
I am also involved with a very exciting and dynamic sketchbook exchange project.  Artists from across the globe will be sending each other sketchbooks and at the end of the exchange period (about 16 months), I will have my sketchbook returned to me with a collection of beautiful drawings in it.  It is not just about the drawings and paintings though, it is about sharing our passion and decreasing those distances between each of us.
You would have seen the above image to the right of this post.  If you click on this it will take you to the project blog where you will have the chance to view some of the artwork going into these travelling sketchbooks.  Why not follow the blog over the forthcoming 16 months ?
These are the first two sketches in my sketchbook, before it goes off on its travels
Happy Painting !