This is where I translate my photographs, observations in the field, and films, into artwork. Read on to follow my process.
I paint in a variety of media, but I mainly favour oils, acrylics. Occasionally I will touch up an acrylic painting with coloured pencils. Over the years I have developed my use of media to create a very detailed style – in order to portray my wild subjects as accurately as possible.
Sketching & Observation
I gave up sketching in the field many years ago and instead took up photography. This is because wild creatures are so elusive – and fast. Every time I looked down at my sketchbook, I missed the action.
Now I paint directly from my photographs.
Sometimes I take the perfect photograph and then paint it, as I explain below. But mostly I cut up my photographs and arrange the cut-outs onto a board until I am happy with a scene.
In recent years many of paintings have been portraits of the animals that live in my garden. Since these creatures are on my doorstep, I can design my composition outdoors, before I take a photograph from which to paint.
I’ve built props in my garden to get the perfect photograph to paint from. These can take months to realise. I begin by building habitats for different species and then position my props into these spaces.
Set Design in the Wild
I build miniature drystone walls, position hollow logs or leave artfully twisted branches in my animal habitats and then wait for my subjects to wander on ‘set’. I’ve even been known to nail autumn leaves to the entrance of a hollow log so that when an animal emerges the leaves are arranged ‘just so’.
Once I have the perfect shot, it is time to sit down at my easel and paint.
Read the Stories Behind Each Artwork
Below is a collection of stories describing my process for each painting. Click on a link to learn more.
As a wildlife artist, I spend my time watching and photographing animals in their natural habitat to gain a thorough understanding of their individual characters. Each new composition begins outdoors as I follow an animal in the wild to learn its unique story and ends in my studio where I apply a detailed, precise painting style to create my life-like portraits. In this blog post, I hope to share my painting process for different artworks […]
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. Setting the Scene: Gaining Trust But over the years I have begun […]
I absolutely love wildflower meadows and have planted them throughout my garden. These meadows link the different areas of my garden and create corridors for the wildlife that I paint. My living room looks out onto a wildflower meadow instead of a lawn. The project began many years ago with a wildflower meadow I planted along the banks of my gallery car park. This turned out to be so beautiful I decided to also plant […]
A Rare, Living Elm On the wooded slope of a valley that sweeps away from my home and gallery in Thixendale, grows one of England’s rarest species: a magnificent old elm tree. This big, beautiful, tree is one of just a handful of living elms left in the country. At one time these elms dominated the English landscape. But more than 60 million were killed in an epidemic of Dutch Elm Disease that all but […]
Sleeping Badgers | Inspired by Watching Badgers Underground I have watched badgers for years but it wasn’t until I built an underground sett rigged with hidden cameras that I learned what happens when these mammals disappear below ground. Click here to read more about how I built a badger sett in my garden I offered to help rehabilitate three rescued badger cubs in this sett and this gave me the opportunity to study their behaviour […]
This painting of a kingfisher is the result of a secret study of these brilliant birds inside their dark underground nest. I built a bespoke nest chamber and installed hidden cameras inside so that I could watch what happens when these brightly-coloured birds disappear underground to bring up their young in the dark. Filming Kingfishers Underground And I discovered an extraordinary world under there. For a start, who knew that the chicks looked like aliens? […]
I like to think there is a reciprocal relationship between my conservation work and my paintings – I do a creature a good turn and it helps me out by posing for its portrait. Never was this truer than with the painting of a hedgehog. I have never painted this prickly creature up until now as it’s a subject that I’ve always considered a bit ‘twee.’ In fact I have to confess to habitually letting out […]