Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wallasea Island RSPB/SWLA project

dumper, bulldozer & digger - wallasea island - gouache -  36 x 48 cms

dumper, bulldozer & digger – wallasea island – gouache – 36 x 48 cms

Not long back from Wallasea Island RSPB/SWLA project. Earth dug out from under London has been shipped to the Essex coast not far from Southend. It is being used to raise the level of the ‘island’ A huge area raised by between 3 and 5 metres. Sculpted to create lagoons, pans, ditches etc this should provide a home for lots of natural history as well as alleviating flood risk.
The major earth moving has already been done. It would have been interesting to watch the earth being taken off the barges via massive cranes and a sophisticated conveyer belt system but that stage was over.  We did watch massive earth moving vehicles roving around, mainly digging ditches where I watched and then taking that earth up to the raised area and levelled by bulldozers. Took quite a bit of time to get the head around the nature of the various machines and what their tasks were.

digger & dumper - wallasea island - ink pen & gouache -  36 x 48 cms

digger & dumper – wallasea island – ink pen & gouache – 36 x 48 cms

earth movers & digger - wallasea island - gouache -  36 x 48 cms

earth movers & digger – wallasea island – gouache – 36 x 48 cms

Plenty of natural history interest despite the noisy industrial processes… lots of singing corn & reed buntings.

digger crane, gulls & rape - wallasea island - acrylic -  48 x 36 cms

digger crane, gulls & rape – wallasea island – acrylic – 48 x 36 cms

Gulls milling around the machines, avocets occasionally going over already occupying existing scrapes. Yellow wagtails not long in. Down on the saltings alongside, the pew’ing of redshanks, migrant whimbrel 7 note call, a summer plumage bar-tailed godwit. Hen & Marsh harrier, a very distant rough legged buzzard hovering.

short-eared owl & digger - wallasea island - acrylic -  48 x 36 cms

short-eared owl & digger – wallasea island – acrylic – 48 x 36 cms

The real nature highlight though was a succession of great viewings of short-eared owls. At least 2 birds still around.  We also watched a very tawny barn owl one evening.

short-eared owl  - wallasea island - acrylic -  48 x 36 cms

short-eared owl – wallasea island – acrylic – 48 x 36 cms

Artistically I knew I wanted to spend time trying to understand how to distill the machinery so that I might be able to draw it alongside the nature with some kind of fluency… that accounted for the first day (2 & 1/2 days was our allotted time).
Then deciding to try out a stencil and foam roller approach to making imagery… not easy with a brisk easterly snatching at the stencils…. not sure about the results but the process of cutting blocks outside was interesting and quickly broke up the picture space in ways I wouldn’t have achieved with regular painting.

short-eared owl - wallasea island - ink pen -  A6 sketchbook

short-eared owl – wallasea island – ink pen – A6 sketchbook

short-eared owl - wallasea island - ink pen -  A6 sketchbook

short-eared owl – wallasea island – ink pen – A6 sketchbook

Drypoint & Monoprint workshops

I’m doing a couple of workshops during the annual Society of Wildlife Artists exhibition at the Mall galleries, London.  The first will be assisting Bruce Pearson on a Drypoint course on the 2nd November.
Then on the 9th November a Monoprint course with Kim Atkinson.

drypoint_1Drypoint – With Bruce Pearson and Greg Poole
Sunday 2nd November 2014 10.30 am to 4.30 pm
Drypoint is an intaglio printmaking technique where lines and a variety of other marks are incised (scratched) into the surface of a printing plate which is then inked and wiped and an impression taken on dampened paper
Using sharp steel points, sandpaper, glue and carborundum powder to create a range of soft subtle lines, deeper more velvety burred-edged lines, and roughening and changing the texture of the thin plastic plate surface to add tonal variety, we will explore as much as we can of this expressive and exciting drawing medium.
Please bring an idea, a sketchy thought or a drawing to start the creative process on the day, and wearing an apron or old clothes is advisable.  Materials will be supplied, (plates, ink, scrim, paper, drypoint tools).
Cost £60 (including a £10 charge for materials)
8 places available
To book a place please mail

with Greg Poole & Kim Atkinson
Sunday 9th November 2014 10.30 am to 4.30 pm
Monoprinting has the essence of most other forms of printmaking. It is about different ways of applying and removing ink from a block (we’ll be using perspex) which is then printed onto paper. We’ll be playing with as many approaches as we can manage in a day. This is hands on and is likely to be a bit messy. An apron, or old clothes advisable.
Limited to only 8 participants. Materials provided. Cost £50.

Workshops are sponsored by Intaglio printmaker of London

To book a place please mail

Muchelney pottery exhibition

Muchelney pottery have produced a nice looking invitation for upcoming exhibition. If you’d like a hard copy please contact the gallery or me directly … otherwise it would be good to see you there.




garden & pond

214‐6892 pond frogs    

Not wanting to deviate from focus on Senegal studio work but I do want to get better at posting nature notes… especially once my mini meadow gets going. First UK butterfly for me last w/e. A comma sunning at the end of the garden on Sunday.
Pipistrelle bats were out on tuesday evening… saw something flit by at last light that didn’t look like a bird and went out to check with bat detector…
Frogs started to appear in the pond at the w/e and were up to at least 10 yesterday. Today the first patches of spawn.
Lots of bird song at extremes of day, wren, song thrush (these usually disappear before doing any nesting) and slightly subdued blackbird. A male blackcap has been a regular at the bird table for a few weeks, haven’t noticed him singing yet. Last winter there was a brown headed bird around for months. They seem much more catholic in their tastes nowadays…taking chunks of bread off to a bush to chew on.
Turned colder again now but definitely feels springy.

To view all SENEGAL FIELDWORK consecutively please click on this link. I’ll start another ‘category’ for studio work… choose from ‘categories in sidebar.

Djoudj Gainthe pond

afternoon here after morning by roadside with turtle doves …  warthogs up to their shoulders in water grazing on lotus. Night Herons hidden away in fringe of tararisks and acacias.Squaccos emerging. Purple heron, great white and little egret gathering around hog.
Black rail clambering over submerged roots. red legs , yellow bill. laat seen in South Africa under splattering hippo.

Djoudj National Park – Grand Lac

Drive to Grand Lac. Less divers birds than yesterday but huge numbers. mostly pintail and whistling duck. Marsh harriers putting up massive flocks. Later a peregrine plunging into them . Sand martins accumulating as sun lowered. Honeyed… flickering of their wings seeming to take on the rhythm of the whistling duck calls. Huge flock of flamingos coming in , several thousand.
Waders along the edge, ones and twos of odd species, ruff, marsh & wood sandpiper, ringed plover, spotted redshank, not sure of calidrids. Over the flamingos whiskered type terns. Looking away from the water the wind making mini sandstorms, yellow wagtails and ringed plover hiding behind bushes or micro dunes.

St Louis/Langue de Barbarie

Not far outside St Louis on the road to Langue de Barbarie. The bridge that we stopped at less than 2 days ago. This morning a huge throng of pelicans on the other side of the road, close in. Opting to sketch the wealth of species and the boat on the other side.
The mud with puddles wriggling over it. mass of wading birds.  A chequerboard of young ringed plovers.  little stint, curlew sandpiper, sanderling, greenshank and grey plover .whimbrel.
the shrine man and koran chanter…..
warm sand cement of houses. big arc of warm mauve/brown mud. pocks of soft blue water filling with the rising tide.
2 men wait in boat for water to rise. sacky canvas patched sail.
Gull billed tern, long tailed cormorants, grey heron, dark reef herons, white egrets, spoonbills, pelicans…


St Louis

End of long day viewing the senegal river from hotel balcony… Starting to be able to better articulate the people after picking from the stream of models crossing the Pont Faidherbe.
Birds gathering on the mud as tide drops. not masses of activity on the rise or fall but seemed like pelicans came in when rising and later there were spirals of them over the other side.
gulls mixed the majority black headed and then slender-billed and grey-headed in smaller numbers.

somerset levels flooding

134‐6751 lapwings & golden plover somerset levels ink pen A5 sketchbook 
After dropping my niece off at her new house in Wells I spent the end of the afternoon at Greylake … knowing that it was mostly under water but thought it might be interesting. . just the tops of bunds above water (often only lines of straw coloured vegetation marking them).. gates and fences and odd trees rising above the flood.

On the grassy higher bunds masses of lapwing and golden plover huddled.. flighty, and at the edges starlings and winter thrushes looking for creatures forced to the margins  or maybe chaff washed up.
My sketches  are cyphers for the 100’s and thousands of birds that were actually on these islets. I reckon around a 1000 golden plover across the marshes… not sure about lapwing. Towards last light the ground became covered with a writhing carpet of starlings, covering what ground there was. Seemed like some last minute, wash & brushup, come snack, come drink before bedtime.  The lapwings like face painted pebbles amongst a sea of chittering starlings.

134‐6750 lapwings & golden plover somerset levels ink pen A5 sketchbook 

134‐6749 lapwings, golden plover & starlings somerset levels ink pen A5 sketchbook