Sunday, June 28, 2009

That's all Folks!

It's the last day of my exhibition today and I'm really pleased how it's gone. We've had nearly 3000 visitors to this remote spot on the Yorkshire Wolds and it's so nice to think these visitors have come specially to see my work, as we don't get much passing trade here!

Some of the originals will be collected today and the others that have sold will need to be taken down and prepared for hanging in someone's home. It's brilliant that they've sold. But it's always a bit of a mixed feeling when you take them off the walls.

I do miss them when they've gone, as often I never see them again. Actually although it may sound a bit sad, if I get the chance I prefer to deliver them in person and then I get to see where they're going to and where they're going to be hung.

But when I get back to the gallery, having delivered all the originals and see a blank wall it doesn't half spur me on to get my paintbrushes out again. So I'll be back at the easel by the end of next week, working on the originals for my next show in November!

And the gallery will be open Mon-Sat 11 till 4 in between of course, I've got some particularly nice bespokely framed limited edition prints which will fill in the spaces, so if you fancy a visit over Summer I'll look forward to seeing you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sparrowhawk Attack

It's always interesting at an exhibition to see which original painting causes the biggest stir. This year I was suprised to see that it was this one of a Sparrowhawk and Woodpecker. I painted this in Spring following an unusual sighting in my garden. I was photographing birds from a hide when I heard the garden birds alarm calling. I knew straightaway it was a Sparrowhawk attack! I looked out and to my horror saw it had my beloved woodpecker pinned to the floor. I know you shouldn't intervene but I before I knew it I'd leapt off my seat to chase this sparrowhawk away. The woodpecker was relatively unscathed apart from a few feathers plucked from its side and flew to a nearby post to recover. To the woodpecker's (and my) horror the sparrowhawk came back to see what had happened to its meal. Seeing it gone, it flew to the top of the post where the woodpecker was resting. But it hadn't spotted its victim as the Sparrowhawk's vision is mainly attuned to movement. The woodpecker flattened it's body to the post with it's beak facing upward to hide its profile. Before too long the unknowing sparrowhawk got bored and flew off. And the woodpecker went on to live another day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's the difference?

I had an interesting comment about the difference between the song of the corn bunting and the yellowhammer. This chap's Beverley cornbunting had got a bit mixed up! See the comment on my last corn bunting blog. So I thought I'd put a video (for the very first time it has taken me ages) of both so you can hear the different songs.

Here's the corn bunting:

and here's the yellowhammer:

It's amazing just how similar they are. Happy birding!

I/Eye is alright

A few blogs ago you may remember that the male tawny owl that visits my bird table each night had acquired a serious injury to his eye. Just to let you know that I photographed him last night and he is now well on the way to recovery. It looks like he's got a bit of scarring around the eye itself, so it will be interesting to see if any feathers grow back there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


So far the exhibition has been a great success. I have sold seven out of the eight new original pictures that I painted especially for the exhibition and every day the gallery has been buzzing. Despite the recession it seems people are still buying art!
For a look at my latest original paintings follow this link.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A rare sight on the Wolds

On a walk this morning I saw a Corn Bunting singing his socks off on the top of a hawthorn tree. His song is a bit like a yellow hammer's song but with a twist. They've become quite endangered and are on the 'red' list for conservation status. Click here to see a video on the RSPB website of them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day was a busy one!

I put down my pallette yesterday to pull pints in the gallery for Father's Day! It was quite a hoot actually. (Once I'd mastered pulling the perfect pint that is..) Visitors seemed to find a cool glass of Wolds Way ale rather a welcome change from the more sophisticated offerings at other art soirees! And of course this could only happen in Yorkshire. Cheers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Birds of Prey

The falconry displays in the car park outside the gallery have been a real hit with visitors. Run by Minster Falconry, there is a barn owl, Rock Eagle Owl, Saker and even a baby peregrine! Visitors have told us they've loved being able to handle these magnificent birds of prey and handle them. And of course, they like it all the more when they come in the gallery and see which ones I've painted!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Goldfinch Bonanza

Goldfinch on Thistle, by Robert Fuller

Just spotted a charm of up to 50 goldfinches all feeding on a patch of groundsel in a field margin at the bottom of my road. It really is so important that native wild flowers, like this groundsel, also known as may weed, have somewhere to thrive.

For more information on how important wildflowers are in boosting biodiversity follow this link.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beer's 'Ere - Dad Alert!

The beer arrived today ready to serve to visitors to the exhibition on Father's Day on Sunday. I've joined up with Wold Top Brewery, which brews a fine, low alcohol ale from barley grown on its own limestone hills on the Yorkshire Wolds. Hopefully it will be a bit of a treat for the dads that come on Sunday. Of course, I may have to sample the beer first! (being a new dad) Or perhaps I would be better off practising pulling pints, I don't want to spill any on the day...! To find out a bit more about Wold Top Brewery click here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oi Gerr Off My Land!

Tension has been mounting between the two kestrels that feed from my bird table. Kes One has been a regular at the table up until a year ago. But after leaving the patch for a few months, he returned earlier this year to find his position had been usurped by Kes Two.
For the last few months relations between the two kestrels have been civil, but now both have young chicks and since both are feeding their chicks with morsels that I leave out for them, the formalities have begun to wane.
They often arrive at the table at the same time and this week Kes One, who still hasn't developed his blue plumage and is pictured on the right, decided it was time for a bit of plain talking!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's a bird's life

It's been a dry Spring and all the conditions have been right for a successful breeding season for our birds. But yesterday I was reminded of the daily trials they encounter - even when things are looking good.

I was walking my dogs - getting a little bit of fresh air after a day in the gallery - and had headed off to see if I could find a long-tailed tit's nest. I had spotted a long-tailed tit flitting in and out of a bush the day before. Their nests are notoriously difficult to find, but I thought I'd take a closer look.

When I arrived at the spot where I thought the nest might be, there was trail of broken eggs, including this red-legged partridge egg above and a pheasant egg. Looked like the work of crows to me - they tend to raid and carry eggs to a particular spot before they break into them and gorge.

To make matters worse, when I did eventually find the long tailed tit's nest, not far from this scene of carnage, it had been pulled out and the top had been ripped off. This was more likely the work of magpies.

If this wasn't enough, this morning a red start nest that I'd been anxiously watching the development of, had also been ripped apart.

Luckily there is still time for the birds to try again for a successful brood before the season comes to a close.
Bits of the red start nest on the ground.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Phew! The first weekend of the exhibition has been a busy one. Luckily there were no hiccups and everything went as planned. The falconry display was a big hit with visitors and I managed to escape for a few moments to take some flying shots of the birds in action. Minster Falconry who organise the displays had brought a barn owl, ferruginous buzzard, peregrine falcon, baby long eared owl and a lanner falcon. They're going to be at the gallery every weekend and also for two days during the week. One customer got particularly close to the ferruginous buzzard...

Friday, June 12, 2009

All Set!

Have just been in the gallery to add the finishing touches - I particularly like the wildflowers that my wife has arranged as they complement the theme of gardening for wildlife which is the focus of this year's exhibition. The pictures are straight, the boards are up, the signs are out. I think we're ready at last! Click here for more info on gardening for wildlife.

Putting up Signs!

The gallery is quite isolated so I have been busy putting up signs on all the surrounding roads to direct traffic to the exhibition. Hopefully they will also attract anyone who doesn't already know about the exhibition. It's been quite nice to get out into the fresh air after so much preparation work indoors. Click here if you too need directions.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Exhibition Opens on Saturday

Time to put my paintbrushes down and tidy up before my exhibition opens on Saturday. I've painted a total of eight pictures especially for it and have been hard at work in my studio since December. There really is nothing more I can do except sit back and hope everybody enjoys the show! I'm going to be blogging everyday throughout to let you know how I'm getting on. Click here for a preview of the original paintings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tawny's Modelling Career is Over!

A blow to the eye has brought an end to the modelling career of one of my favourite subjects. It took me three-and-a-half years to get this wild tawny owl to the point where he will now feed from my bird table and perch obligingly on artfully arranged branches in the garden. The picture below is one I painted when he was at the height of his career.

I don't know quite what he's been up to, perhaps he was knocked by a car or he may have been in a scuffle, but it looks like I'm going to have to start looking for another model now.
For tips on how I go about 'training' my wild models, take a look at the latest issue of The Journal, where I have 'bared all' Click here to link to The Journal

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Occupied - At Last

This week I discovered a barn owl has laid four eggs for the first time in a nesting box that I put up 18 years ago! It doesn't normally take this long for them to use the boxes I put up for them.
This is one of the first of many nest boxes I have erected over the years. It went up in farm buildings close to a spot where I had watched barn owls as a teenager. The elm tree that they nested in at the time fell down and I wanted to provide them with somewhere new - but they didn't appreciate my efforts. At least until now.
It just goes to show how unpredictable wildlife is. Some nest boxes are occupied within a year, but this really is the longest I've ever had to wait.
I've been involved in a charity, The Wolds Barn Owl Group, which erects barn owl nesting boxes on farmland across North Yorkshire for some years now. Two years ago my efforts were featured on Look North. To find out more take a look at this link:

The Puffins are Back

Its that time of year again. The puffins are coming back. I like to go up to my nearest colony at Bempton Cliffs at this time of year to watch their arrival. It really is spectacular: first you see small dots on the horizon; these rapidly increase into small whirring wings and then a splash of colour. With their striped bills, which include shades of blue, grey, red, orange, yellow and cream, these birds really do ask to be painted. I used oils to capture the group pictured after spotting them in the Farne Isles.

Click here to read more