Thursday, December 15, 2011

From gravel pits to wildlife haven.

Congratulations to the North Cave Wetlands centre which has won an award for transforming old sand and gravel quarries into a magnificent wetland area. I saw avocets like the ones in this painting when I last visited.
At one time I drove all the way to Exmouth to see these birds and now we have them here in Yorkshire!
Click on the text in blue to read how the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust team won an award for transforming this former industrial landscape into a haven for wildlife.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Will Hockney Trail stop at Fotherdale?

I read in the papers this week that David Hockney, the godfather of modern art, is to endorse a new tourist trail to the sites from which he painted his latest series on the Yorkshire Wolds.

Warter, Woldgate Woods and Thixendale are among the beauty spots visitors will be encouraged to visit on the trail. I wonder if the painting above - which actually has my gallery in it - will be chosen for the trail?
Painted from the hillside opposite, you can see the gallery in the distance just to the right of centre.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

P-p-p pick on someone your own size!

Beaches in South Georgia can get a little crowded at times. During my trip to Antarctica I witnessed an incident of 'beach rage' in which a penguin slapped an elephant seal with his flipper as he tried to get to the water's edge.

It was a brave move, as the penguin discovered when the seal rounded on him with a fierce bark.
Despite the fact that South Georgia hosts the largest penguin colony in the world, this unique habitat is under threat.
Rats, introduced by sealers in the 19th century, are killing young chicks at an alarming rate. 
Please click on the text underlined to read my column in the Malton Gazette & Herald this week on the South Georgia Heritage Trust 's ambitious plans to eradicate rats from the Antarctic island.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time to Buy Your Christmas Cards

There's still time to buy your Christmas cards online, but hurry up because we can't guarantee we'll get them to you by post after December 21st.
Here are a few from my greeting card range.
This one remind you of the BBC's fantastic Frozen Planet series?
Waxwings always make me think of Christmas.
And of course Robins say it all.

Don't worry if you miss the posting deadline since you can always come in to the gallery to buy them. We are open all every day until Christmas now.
Click on the words greeting card range to order your cards.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Short Eared Owls by the Humber

I finally got some shots of short eared owls that are good enough to paint from.
Over the years I have managed to get some good photographs of barn owls, tawny owls and little owls, but short eared - and long eared - owls have been missing from my portfolio.
So last week I set off to a spot just south of the Humber River where the birdwatchers on our guided walks with Michael Flowers had recently spotted 15 short eared owls. I spent two afternoons there waiting and watching.
As I watched a buzzard, a hen harrier and this marsh harrier flew by.
And then five short eared owls appeared and set upon the buzzard. They mobbed him systematically until he gave up and left their territory. Unfortunately the action was too far away to photograph.
It proved a long, cold wait but it was worth it because then the five owls began to hunt.

I had put up a branch for them while I had been waiting in the hope that one of them would perch on it and after four hours of watching this one spotted it and landed on it for a few minutes.
I snapped away as fast as I could. This will make the perfect pose for a painting.
It shook itself, and then set off again to chase away a rival.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fern's Girl

We are building a new studio where the aviary in which I used to keep my pet barn owl, Fern, was.
The work hasn't gone unnoticed. This owl used to visit Fern here nightly.
Last week I noticed some owl droppings and so I waited up one night to see who was visiting - I was delighted to see it was Fern's old girlfriend. I hadn't seen her since the spring.
She seems to have made the old haunt her home and so I've been putting mice out on the beams for her.
Trouble is now I'll feel guilty putting the new windows in!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Raffle Winner

This is Mr & Mrs Watkins who won this picture of Hare Today Gone Tomorrow in our exhibition raffle.
Mr Watkins had been having a bad week when he got the news that he was the winner. "I am having chemotherapy treatment and on the way to the treatment yesterday the car broke down and then I heard that my daughter wasn't well.
"But today I found out that the car was alright and then I got home and heard that I had won this prize. So I think now my luck is turning!"
So glad to be involved in the upturn!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sold Out!

Sold the last edition of this print of my painting, Goldfinch on Thistle, today.
That's the 850th of an 850 print run. I'll miss seeing it in the gallery, it's always sad when they go.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pheasants' Un-seasonal Spar

Birds and animals often confuse Autumn with Spring, simply because the days are roughly the same length. But this month has been so mild there have been more than the usual mistakes.
The toads in my pond have begun croaking and I've heard plenty of small birds singing. The most conspicuous confusion, however, has been among the pheasants who have been sparring out in the fields.
I watched a pair last week. They began by walking up and down along invisible boundary lines.

They then turned and faced one another.
And, since neither backed down, began to spar.
Interestingly, when a sparrowhawk flashed overhead, they both pulled up short.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little Owls on the School Run

As our new baby settles in it's been my job to take on the school run in the morning and I've enjoyed the outings. This morning I spotted a little owl on the way back.
Now that the leaves have started to fall from the trees more difficult birds to spot like little owls become more conspicuous.
Look out for their dumpy silhouettes in the bare branches. Little owls hunt in daylight and can be spotted looking for beetles or earth worms.
This one played hide and seek when it saw me reach for my camera.
 But it soon came out for a good look at me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Otter hunt

Visitors on our safari through Tophill Low wildlife reserve had a superb day on Sunday. They saw an otter hunting for duck.
Otter are so diffiuclt to get close to. I had a very tricky time trying to photograph one last winter for this painting.
The exhibition is going well and we've been very busy both inside and outside the gallery.
The short-eared owl safaris this week were a success with marsh harriers also spotted, despite the poor weather. Still to come are a second Tophill Low safari, a walk to find red kites and a final foray into the countryside to spot winter migrants. All are now fully booked.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bonfire Fun

Everyone always worries about their pets on bonfire night, but spare a thought for the wildlife living near you. 
We have our red kite walk taking place this afternoon between 2pm - 4pm - I'm hoping the fireworks won't have kicked off by then otherwise the roost could be affected.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Exhibition Sales

I've sold four out of the six new pictures that I painted for the exhibition.

 The red kite paintings are still to go, however.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A New Arrival

Our daughter Ruby Wren Fuller was born yesterday, a healthy 8.4lbs. A sister for Lily. And already very patient. She waited until the opening weekend of the exhibition was over, at least!

I've been writing about new arrivals such as the waxwings in my painting below for the Malton Gazette & Herald too. Click here to read my column on winter migrants in today's issue.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Exhibition Success!

It's been a great opening weekend to my Winter Exhibition - no thanks in part to the four page spread devoted to it in the Yorkshire Post! Click here to read it and don't forget you've got until November 13th to come and see all my latest original paintings.

Yesterday's walk to see the red kite roost on the Wolds was well received too - a five year old boy who attended confessed that it was the 'best day of his life'. Michael Flowers, who led the walk, says they saw at least six kites, some of them chasing each other through the skies like these two, pictured, was well as kestrels, a green woodpecker and more than 200 field fares. Click here to read his blog about the event.
The short-eared owl safari on Saturday went well too as did Mike Pannett's entertaining talk on policing wildlife in North Yorkshire. There are still places left on the November 5th short-eared safari, click here if you're interested.

Friday, October 28, 2011

All set for the exhibition!

Just put the finishing touches to this cheetah and cubs original painting. I haven't painted a cheetah before so this oil painting is a first! It's just in time as my exhibition opens tomorrow.

I've now got to sort out my studio - I've been so busy painting it's got a bit 'neglected'. But by tomorrow it'll look great. I've done some big banners with all sorts of facts and information about red kites which visitors will enjoy, as well as some posters about my latest trip to the Masai Mara.

My friend Michael Flowers is leading a Short Eared Owl safari on Saturday afternoon on the banks of the Humber which is sold out & then he's back at the gallery on Sunday to take visitors out to spot the winter migrants that have arrived on the Wolds. There are a few spaces left on this if you want to join him (book online by clicking here)

I've got a talk organised for Saturday night by Mike Pannett - who used to be a wildlife police officer - see blog post below, which will be great fun. I think there are a few places still available if you fancy a night out click here

& then can you believe it I'm waiting for my new baby girl to be born on Sunday (or thereabouts). Busy times!

Hope you can come to the exhibition.

PS Sorry for not replying to any comments of late. For some reason I don't seem to be able to login to my own account to reply - has any one else had this problem?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Frozen Planet

I really enjoyed watching BBC's frozen planet last night. It reminded me of when I went to Antarctica in 2009 and painted these gorgeous King Penguins. I called this painting 'We Three Kings' which sums their posturing up! However, it is actually a female at the front of the line with two males behind vying for her affections.

Documentary on a wildlife artist - me!

Some very nice students from York University did this short documentary on me. I've been struggling to get it on You Tube (and then onto this blog) for some reason. Anyway finally managed it so hope you enjoy watching it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just the Job Lad

It's amazing who lives on your doorstep isn't it? This guy, Mike Pannett, lives in the next village along from me and is a former wildlife police officer turned author. He's written several best selling books all about his policing adventures and those he's met on his way. He's giving a talk in the gallery on Saturday 29th at 7pm. The books are hilarious and just sum up the lovely characters around here. I thought you might like to read a snippet.

"Walter, on the other hand, was one of those people you still meet from time to time who has never, in his entire life, been outside of Yorkshire. Never has, and doubtless never will. In fact, he claims to only to have left North Yorkshire on one occasion and that was many many years ago, as a youngster, when he had to undergo surgery at Leeds General Hospital. And, as he always says, it was against his better judgement and it caused him a lot of pain in a tender spot - so he made up his mind there and then that he wouldn’t be going back. What this meant was that in order to see the finest cricket team on the planet he always had to make a note of the Scarborough dates as soon as the fixtures were announced, and keep them clear of social engagements. “Course,” he said, as he sat there on my log, tea in one hand, flat cap in the other, his nose twitching as the smell of smoked bacon wafted through the back door, “if you go back a few years we used to play at Middlesbrough.” He thought for a moment, then sighed. “Aye, I went there a time or two.”

“But that’s in blinking Cleveland,” I said.

Walt shook his head. “Didn’t used to be. Used to be part of us, till them blooming politicians decided to change t’map thirty forty years ago.”

“Oh, right. Like they got rid of Hull and so on.”

Walt sniffed. “I dare say we can manage without Hull,” he said. “And to tell you the truth I’m not sorry we parted with Middlesbrough. I’ve some bad memories of that place. Shocking.” Walt’s face took on a mournful look, as if he were about to relate the sad death of an old friend. “It were early season,” he said. “May time, 1965. I took a day off work and went up on the bus with me Dad. We was playing Hampshire - and they were quite a force in them days. Len Shackleton. Now he was a bowler. Fast and accurate. Too fast, too accurate. Skittled us out for 120-odd. Then when it were their turn to bat we turned t’tables on `em. Got `em out for” - he scratched his head, trying to remember - “any way, let’s say it were close. I think they led us by a handful. T’point is I thought we were topside of `em by now. When our lot come out to bat again we settled back to watch the slaughter. I mean, we were a team chock-full of England players back then, y’know.”

Walt looked suddenly older, as if the gravity of his memory was weighing him down. “D’you know,” he said, “I was at Muriel’s house the other night and we were watching that there History Channel. They were on about Pearl Harbour, and there was President Roosevelt saying, ‘This day will live in infamy’.” Walt snorted, and seemed to snap back to the present. “Why, he should’ve been at Acklam Park that day. Then he’d know what infamy was. One of their bowlers - probably that lad Shackleton - he took six wickets for ten runs. Six for ten. Against t’finest team in t’land.” Walt clutched his brow and closed his eyes. The memory - and the pain - was still very much alive. “Twenty-three all out. The lowest score in the history of our county. They went on to win by ten wickets.”

If you fancy coming and listening to Mike's talk, click here to book he's going to be personally signing books on the night! Should be a great laugh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Great Feedback

I'm really chuffed. I got a really nice email last night from a customer who ordered the first red kite at deepdale print.
"I opened it and cried for there was my picture exactly as it had always been in my head and from exactly the right artist. I got so excited that my husband decided to buy the print as a Christmas/ moving in present to ourselves. It arrived today JUST PERFECT. Thank you so much I can't begin to explain just how special this is. It will take pride of place in our living room."
Isn't that nice?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Winter Migrants

Wasn't it exciting to see Spurn Point on Autumn Watch?The east coast is such a fantastic place to watch migrating birds as some arrive and others leave our shores to escape the approaching winter. I painted the above picture of a fieldfare feeding on apples last winter.

Professional birdwatcher Michael Flowers who leads our two exhibition walks to find winter migrants on the Yorkshire Wolds spotted about 300 fieldfares at Stone Creek on the River Humber this week. Red wings, such as this one I photographed last year at Spurn Point, were also seen, whilst more than 3,000 goldfinches were spotted there this week on their way off to warmer climes.

Don't miss out on the chance to join Michael Flowers on his next two walks taking place near the gallery. Click here to link to our booking forms.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Red Kite Painting Finished

I've just finished this painting of two red kites engaged in an aerial combat - good job too because the exhibition opens on October 29th! I used acrylics this time and I'm pleased with the effect.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

White Rhino Double

I had a sense of deja vu when BBC Wildlife Magazine dropped through the letter box this week. On the front cover was this photograph of a white rhino by Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 finalist Wim Van Den Heever. Aside from the thorny twig adorning its horn, it looked very like the picture below which I took of a white rhino in Kenya in 2004.
To achieve the effect of white against black I set my camera on manual and set the exposure on the brightest part of the animal, this threw the darker parts deeper into shadow. I took my photograph at midday, which is when most people recommend that you don't take a photograph, but I believe you just have to take the opportunity when you get it.