Friday, 15 May 2015

Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian and Black-tailed Godwits, Meare Heath, 26/4/2015. Detail of (unfinished) pencil and chalk A4 original.

   I feel I must appologise for the "sketch" above! It isn't strictly finished anyway as it is one of those pieces I will keep picking at and fiddling with until it is virtually low-relief sculpture with the ever building layers of graphite, chalk and fixative. It is like an itch I can't stop scratching- unless someone does me the favour of buying it. There are several reasons for this obsessive compulsive behaviour, but ultimately I still hope it will result in a better picture!
    The biggest problem was that I did no field-sketches. I did not even have a note-book with me when I went into the field on the 26th as I had given up on getting a lift to the Godwit, and was  resigned to a day of seeing very little and perhaps cheering myself up by swearing at dog-walkers at Stanwick Lakes! However, through twitter I as offered a lift by Andrew Tongue, and after running 2 miles to meet him  on the A45 we made good time, getting to Meare about an hour before the bird "left" (I was never convinced it had gone given the weather conditions, and anyone familiar with my twitching-history, and the application of "sod's-law" would know that if I ever see a bird on it's "first" day it promptly decides to remain for at least a week, removing any "grip-value"). I managed to take a few photographs, mostly of the bird in flight, and I drew up sketches as soon as I got home. I had seen more of the bird's "left profile", and tried to note where the complex mix of summer and retained winter plumage fell in the wing-coverts and scapulars.
    At this point I inevitably had to look on-line to see if there were any decent images- and this is where the moral dilemma occurs. I wanted to produce pictures of the bird for sale but I clearly had not got good enough pictures of my own (of the bird on the ground) to use. Any bird illustrator would freely admit to having to use photographs as reference, but this is a far cry from copying a single image. This becomes tricky when a single individual is the subject- the resulting "portrait" will only be 100% accurate if images of the same bird are used. Personally I have always been uncomfortable with this, so in the case of the Godwit I made the decision early on to only depict the bird's "right profile" as there were- at the time- no decent images I had seen to unduly influence the way I drew it. The result is there are almost certainly errors in the "finished" article, but what concerns me more is the water and shading- I am trying to capture how I remember seeing the bird, not count how many summer median coverts it had etc!
        This means I will probably limit myself to depicting the bird from the same side on "the deck", but will have far more freedom to paint it in flight. To me this was the most striking aspect of the bird, and the wheeling flock of accompanying islandica Black-tailed Godwits make for a far more exciting and dynamic picture- I just need to knuckle down and get the oils out!
    So having made all the above excuses I still hope to produce more pictures of what was a genuinely handsome bird, and- needless to say- I will be happy to undertake commissions. It only remains to thank A.T. for the lift, and congratulate all those involved over the years in making the "Levels" into a fantastic area for birds!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Pterodrmas, Great and Sooty Shearwaters. Guache .
    The only reason I have created this blog and gone against my almost pathological hatred of the internet (my only reason- my daughter and others would say something along the lines of being an incompetent /miserable dinosaur!) is that I need a shop-window to display-and hopefully sell my artwork! The "social-media" side I just can't  be doing with. What I am trying to say is that a shop-window is ALL this is, I won't be replying to comments, and if people want to "chat" that is what people do face to face, on the 'phone, or as a last resort via e-mail! It's not just that I'm a miserable bugger- it's as much that I am no good at this stuff- I don't know how to use it, I take too long doing what little I manage, and I don't know the etiquette. This is no excuse for incompetence though, so I am sorry if this is less than professional- hopefully I will improve with practice!
    So having already alienated most of my potential
customers, and shown myself to be a shameful
hypocrite welcome to "Last resort bird art"! The
title is "officially" a massively witty play on the
fact that I live in Penzance, but I think now you
have read this far, you will realise that isn't strict-
ly true- it's far more literal!

   Before posting copies of the "art" in question I must explain that I am doing so without full possession of the facts in some cases- namely the pieces that are currently at BIRDscapes Gallery, Glandford, Norfolk. I will update details when I have them confirmed e.g. gallery price, framed size etc.
   Finally, and most important - I need to thank Tim Worfolk for endless patience, encouragement, and teaching me my rudimentary internet skills, "without whom none of this would have been possible!"- yes folks- it's all his fault!


  If you are interested in any of the following, or need to know more please contact me by e-mail at


Trindade Petrels.. Gouache original, 15x22cm un-framed- £100. This and following 5 plates are original artwork from "North Atlantic Seabirds- Pterodromas".

Kermadec and dark phase Soft-plumaged Petrels, gouache original, 16x22cm un-framed- £100. SOLD

Fea's, Zino's, and Soft-plumaged Petrels., gouache original. SOLD

Atlantic and Great-winged Petrels, gouache original. SOLD

Bermuda, Black-capped, Fea's and Zino's Petrels, gouache original, 36x29cm un-framed- £400. SOLD

Great and Sooty Shearwaters, Black-capped, Bermuda, Fea's, Zino's, Soft-plumaged, Trindade, Kermadec, Great-winged, and Atlantic Petrels, gouache original, 28x22cm un-framed- £300.

    The following 3 pieces are original artwork from "A reference guide to the Gulls of the Americas" by Steve N.G. Howell and Jon Dunn, Peterson Reference Guides 2007

Juvenile Ross's Gulls, gouache original, 15.5x23 cm -£90.

Juvenile Red-legged Kittiwake, gouache original, 19x14.5 cm- £55.

Juvenile Red-legged Kittiwake, gouache original, 15.5x13 cm- £30.

Bonxie, Foula, oil on canvas. SOLD

Great Shearwater and European Storm Petrels, oil on canvas-board, private commission.

Glaucous and Great Black-backed Gulls Newlyn, oil-sketch on canvas-board, BIRDscapes

Great Black-backed Gulls, oil on paper, BIRDscapes

Lapwings and Greenland Wheatear, Sennen, oil on canvas-board, BIRDscapes

Bonxie, Foula, oil sketch on paper, BIRDscapes

Eider, male, Mount's Bay, oil "sketch" on ply, 20x15 cm- £45.

Black Redstart , male, Penzance Harbour, oil on ply, 20x 15 cm- £55.