Monday, 5 January 2015

Drawing & Painting Nature (iii) - with all good intentions !

Wishing everyone a very happy and creative new year !

The change of routine over the Christmas break was a welcome respite from the intensity of last term and the lead up to Christmas.

I didn't abandon my creativity completely, and spent some time trying to finish a couple of paintings for the SBA exhibition coming up in April.  Still a bit more to go until I can reveal them in their entirety.  One thing I did want to do was to get outside and do some sketching at Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve.

I have spoken of this wonderful place before on this blog.  One end of the reserve overlooks the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and you have the reserve on one side of the road and the beach on the other.  At low tide I love exploring the shallow pools and scavenging for treasures to sketch along the strandline.

We had planned the day of our trip carefully, ensuring that we would go at low tide when some of the wintering birds may have been feeding on the scrapes area of the reserve.  The weather was icy cold and in the morning the reserve and surrounding area were covered in a mystical mist, that soon disappeared once the sun tried to push through.

Ice topped reeds on the reserve

Rather than take my full sketching field kit I had just packed an A4 cartridge pad and an F pencil.  I soon realised that I wouldn't be brave enough to sketch in the icy cold conditions, and I soon became mesmerised by looking through the camera lens and capturing what I saw in that way !  Nevertheless I came away with several images that I can incorporate into artwork.  

Wrapped up warm against the chill

Frozen lichen

A very distant view of a Kingfisher.  We watched it from one of the hides for about 5 mins, fishing from the 'bendy' reeds

Defrosting seeds and 'fluff' on a majestic Bullrush

The absolute highlight of the day was seeing a flock on Bearded tits move around the reserve.  These are birds that I have always wanted to see, I certainly wasn't disappointed !  

The first more distant image of the Bearded tits.  Despite not getting close-up images at this stage, it is always a delight to just stand and watch them and observe their feeding and communication behaviour.

I was in for a surprise after having a warming cup of tea in the cafe.  As we came out the Bearded tits had moved round to a point where you could really observe them closely, and the images below are the results.

If you would like to find out more about these stunning birds the RSPB has a good information page on the species.

Male (left) Female (right)

So the moral of this story, is not to become too bothered if field-sketching does not occur.  Just enjoy your time watching and observing the wildlife.

Meanwhile, in the studio I have had two visitors over the Christmas break.  Two Little owls on loan from the museum service.  My aim was not to complete a finished painting of them, but use them as reference for a study page in my natural history illustration sketchbook.

Little owl - work in progress.
Graphite pencil on cartridge paper.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the first post of 2015.

Soon I will posting information about the courses and workshops that I will be teaching in 2015, along with exhibition dates too.

Can I just politely remind blog visitors, that all images on this blog are protected by copyright and may not be copied or reproduced in anyway.  I do not allow any images to be used on Pinterest.

Many thanks, happy painting !  Sarah


  1. The bearded tits are stunning and I've never seen them before. I've only ever seen a kingfisher twice I think! I'll keep looking though ! happy new year xxxx

  2. You look like you had the most wonderful day out, Sarah! Sometimes sketching is not meant to be. As for your studio guests, I have owl envy! I'd be tempted to keep them.


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