Friday, October 11, 2013

Setting the Scene

Like all portrait artists, I like my subjects to pose within an artfully arranged backdrop but since my foci are so very shy it can be tricky to get them to walk onto the set, let alone posture. 
Most of the time I concentrate on getting a good photograph out in the field and then work on my composition back in the studio.
But over the years I have begun to use the birds and animals that visit my garden and the fields around Thixendale as subjects and to design the backdrop for my paintings around them.
This acrylic painting of a tawny owl chick, for instance, took many years in the making. 

Although he doesn't know it, the chick is posing on a prop I made and put up for him long before he was born.

He is standing at the edge of a wizened old hole in an elm stump that I salvaged many years ago and then took back to my workshop to adapt as a nest box.

I had to hoist it up into a tree and then wait patiently to see if an adult pair would move in.
When they eventually did, I then waited with baited breath for the chicks to be born. He was one of a large clutch and this is one of the many photographs I took of them as they began to explore the world about them.
It was many years before I finally sat down to apply the first brush strokes.
But if you think I'm dedicated to my art this week I read this article in The Guardian about two Victorian pioneers of wildlife photography who went to some quite bizarre and dangerous extremes to get up close to their wild subjects. 
 I will reveal more about how I get my wild subjects to pose at a new exhibition of my work which runs here at the gallery in Thixendale from November 9-24th. Please visit my website for more details.


  1. Good work with the tawny owl chick Robert!,and also the nest box that you made in your workshop.

  2. thank you Marc, it is always a long process but satisfying when it comes together