Category Archives: Uncategorized

arctic terns shetland

Towards the end of our time on Shetland we got 2 days of sun. Great to have pitched up at a bay where there was an arctic tern colony.  They were sitting on young chicks and eggs both down on the beach and in the boulder field above.
One of the great things from the trip was having the air full of seabird sound… here the electric sore throat fizzings of the terns (Shetland name apparently ‘Tirrick’, which does a much better job of conjuring the bird than its English name). The thoughtful ‘poo-weet’ of ringed plover (don’t know what the Shetlanders do for that one).  I think the plover were all with well grown young.
Manic ‘kleeping’ of oystercatchers chasing each other around in parties and nearly tripping over their bills in head down piping contests. We saw a bonxie strike one down from one of the groups as they flew round the bay. Clobbering it to the ground, didn’t see how and then bludgeoning it with its bill with the other oystercatchers mobbing it for another 20 minutes or so whilst it plucked and ate a good portion of the bird.

arctic terns - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5686 – arctic terns – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

arctic terns - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5685 – arctic terns – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

arctic tern & ringed plover - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5684 – arctic tern & ringed plover – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

arctic tern, ringed plover & oystercatchers - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5683 – arctic tern, ringed plover & oystercatchers – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

arctic terns - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5682 – arctic terns – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

arctic terns - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5680 – arctic terns – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

arctic terns - shetland - ink pen -  A4 sketchbook

5679 – arctic terns – shetland – ink pen – A4 sketchbook

otters – shetland

We had 2 days with good viewings of otters. The first looking for them on the falling tide on Fetlar. My sketching falling apart with the excitement of seeing them. There is a shape shifting aspect to the otter, changing personality rapidly. So the initial struggle to hang a four legged creature on the page using an ink line is challenge enough in itself…let alone trying to capture this change in character.
With time for the images to settle I seem to then do a little better…otter - shetland - ink pen -  A4 sketchbook

5670 – otter – shetland – ink pen – A4 sketchbook
I think I draw this journal type page in the campervan in the evening… and the following morning there was a new otter to practise on & by this time we were on Yell….. swimming across the bay where we’d spent the night.

otter - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5669 – otter – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

otter - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5668 – otter – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

otter - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5671 – otter – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

otter - shetland - ink pen -  A5 sketchbook

5674 – otter – shetland – ink pen – A5 sketchbook

My last view was of on on the west mainland, again from the campervan as it was starting to get dark. Susan wondered what the Arctic terns were all making such a fuss about, hovering over the mouth of the burn. I looked down and there was the broad backside of an otter shambling down into the sea. Disappearing and then a bobbing slicked head appearing a few yards out… free of the, clicking call, bickering bills.

gannets – bass rock

gannets - bass rock - ink pen & gouache -  38 x 56 cms

5600 – gannets – bass rock – ink pen & gouache – 38 x 56 cms

Back from 3 weeks in Scotland. First the ‘John Busby seabird drawing course’, the 25th year it has run and the first one without John. I think he would have been happy to look down on us. It felt like the group of ‘students’ gelled quickly and we four ‘tutors’ were more actively leading activities… warm up exercises, Betty Edwards type things like continuous line, blind drawing, left hand etc. All seemed really healthy.

Then on to the Shetland isles for 2 weeks.
I’ll try and get to a series of posts about the trip….
Starting with gannets on the Bass.

gannets - bass rock - gouache -  38 x 56 cms

5599 – gannets – bass rock – gouache – 38 x 56 cms

300615- Bass
hanging. braced fore-wing. unders shaded. diving mask tapered-goggles. arched rump. saw tailed fan flails down. flanked by paddling black marigolds. shorter inners.
deep bruised sea as wind gets up. volcano law another world.
black thumb, bulbous yellow, flailing hand, wiped moustache.
cloud masses rise out from land to cielo blue. above rock ledges teeming, feathers ruffling, mad making guttural growling honk.

gannets - bass rock - gouache -  38 x 56 cms

5604 – gannets – bass rock – gouache – 38 x 56 cms

gannets - bass rock - gouache -  38 x 56 cms

5605 – gannets – bass rock – gouache – 38 x 56 cms

 

Wallasea Island RSPB/SWLA project – short-eared owl printing

short-eared owl & earth movers - wallasea island - monotype -  50 x 38 cms

5582 – short-eared owl & earth movers – wallasea island – monotype – 50 x 38 cms

More owl printing, jumping up in size for this one.

 

 

 

short-eared owl monoprinting

short=eared owl & digger - wallasea island - monotype -  28 x 35 cms

5576 – short=eared owl & digger – wallasea island – monotype – 28 x 35 cms

Unusual day where I managed to persist with the same ingredients for 3 monoprints… usually ink misbehaves, or the press does something untoward…. but today free to just try different things. Using small rollers, brushing and playing with the balance of the three colours.
Somehow replicating the freedom that I might have when scribbling in the sketchbook, except that in the studio there is a sense of time standing still and the moment morphs.

short=eared owl & digger - wallasea island - monotype -  28 x 35 cms

5577 – short=eared owl & digger – wallasea island – monotype – 28 x 35 cms

short=eared owl & digger - wallasea island - monotype -  28 x 35 cms

5578 – short=eared owl & digger – wallasea island – monotype – 28 x 35 cms

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
darrenreesart@btinternet.com

Monoprints
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
darrenreesart@btinternet.com

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.

Scan001205

 

Scan001206

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.