A selection of recent work including field painting, woodcuts & monoprints on show from Sat.31st Oct – Sat.28th Nov 2015. I’ll be at the gallery from 11-4 on the opening Saturday. All are welcome.
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A week (19th-26th sept) on Bardsey with Kim Atkinson & Darren Woodhead as part of the BTO/SWLA flight lines project, sketching activities around the bird observatory.
Very low key bird wise which may have been for the best… forcing us to look more at the surroundings and the people at work.
Pretty low numbers of birds being caught, mainly young goldcrests and chiffchaffs.
Tail end of the surveying of the manx shearwater burrows, most of them had gone to see but we stalked Mark, one of the assistant wardens as he went about his work. Shoving his arm down lots of burrows and coming out with 2 well feathered young, nearly ready to go, but also two very fluffy youngsters who had a way to go.
The seals have become much more approachable since I spent time on the island in the 80’s and it was great to watch them with their pups. There were also Risso’s dolphins around the island, first time I’ve had prolonged looks at those.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
More owl printing, jumping up in size for this one.
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.
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.
Plenty of natural history interest despite the noisy industrial processes… lots of singing corn & reed buntings.
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.
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.
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.
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