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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Prints and Cards Now Available

I have four new limited edition prints and two new Christmas cards now available.
They include the limited edition collection taken from my latest original paintings of a red kite in flight and a red stag with hinds.
For prices or to order direct please click here to link to my new catalogue.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bee Keeping is Over

My wife Victoria and I have kept bees for a few years now and last year we had almost 100lbs of honey from our hive.

But last week my bee-keeping days were brought to an abrupt end when I discovered that I have a serious allergy to bee stings.

I had driven the hive and 12 others belong to a friend of mine back from the moors, where they had spent the summer feeding on heather.
I got back quite late and my friend Nick and I began working quickly in the growing dark to unload the trailer when we discovered that one of the hives had slipped in transit and was spilling bees. In my hurry I hadn't zipped my protective suit on properly and some of the bees crawled into my gloves whilst others got into my neck and ankles. I was stung about 10 times.
Within minutes I began to feel a numbness and tingling in my throat. I was itching everywhere and then began to feel nauseous. I tried to carry on as normal and set off to drive home but after 200 yards my vision began to go blurry and I felt very sick and disorientated.

Nick thankfully took the wheel and rushed me to York Hospital. Unfortunately the doctors advised that I ought not to take too many chances and so sadly I shall have to say goodbye to my bees - and all that free honey!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A sparrowhawk with a casual hunting technique

I spent a few days watching this a young sparrowhawk feed her chicks and discovered that she had adopted a very casual hunting techniqueShe had taken to raiding wood pigeon nests and bringing the chicks home for her own.Normally sparrowhawks are formidable hunters and rely on their incredible speed to surprise their prey, so this was a very lazy approach.

For more on the story click here to read my latest column in the Malton Gazette & Herald.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Winter Exhibition

My Winter Exhibition opens on October 29th and you are all invited of course! I've been putting the finishing touches to a new series of paintings of red kites to accompany the walks we will be offering and of course I shall be warming the mulled wine and preparing some mince pies for my guests!
Please do print out the featured invitation for your free entry.