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Countdown to my Christmas Exhibition: Finishing off the artwork

I still have some paintings to finish off for my exhibition, which opens on November 4th and runs until 26th. I work mainly in oils and it is necessary to leave each coat of paint to dry before I can add the next, so what I tend to do whilst I’m waiting for a coat of paint to dry on one painting is work on the next. Interestingly different pigments take differing amounts of time to dry and whites, which I used a lot for the snow and frost in this new collection of winter scenes literally takes weeks to dry. Even after I have finished an oil painting it takes up to six months for the painting to be completely dry!

Many of the paintings for the new exhibition feature my subjects posed against frosted or snowy backdrops. I’ve just put the finishing touches to the picture above. As you can see there is a lot of white snow but thankfully I started with the background and slowly added the detail and colour so I’m not delayed now that the opening day of the exhibition is almost upon me. The blues and greens on the drakes’ heads took two days to dry between coats, but its not an exact science since it depends on how thickly you apply the paint. You do need to be careful though because if it isn’t dry when you add the next layer the paint can crack. If you are interested in drying times of oils Windsor & Newton, who I buy most of my oils from, have a really easy guide to how long to leave each pigment here.

The painting of a red stag above still has quite a lot of detail to add to it. Again I began with the background and after each coat dried added another layer of detail. You can read more about the development of this painting here where I photographed its progress from the first strokes up to now. There is a wonderful story about the red stag featured in this painting. I watched it during the red deer rut two years ago. It really was a magnificent beast and I followed it with my camera across tough mountainous terrain in the Scottish Highlands. Read the full story here.

Not all of my paintings are oils. I also use acrylics, but again even with this faster-drying paint I tend to need a break when working in such fine detail so it’s quite nice to switch to another picture. Below are a few of the new ones I’m working on for the exhibition.

This long-tail tit now needs more detail adding.
The action framed in this composition of a sparrowhawk chasing a woodpecker is actually something I watched here in my garden at Thixendale, North Yorkshire. The woodpecker did eventually escape this lightening-fast bird of prey by flying onto a post and keeping completely still so that the sparrowhawk could not detect its presence. The drama also inspired a second painting featuring this clever tactic. See it here: 

This stoat is also painted in acrylic paint, which means I didn’t have to wait quite as long for the white snow in the background to dry. This picture follows a year I spent studying stoats here in my garden. Read about my findings here

This kingfisher was also painted in acrylics. It is finished now and I’ve used it on the front cover of my invitation. I hope you saw my blog post about it? If not, click here to see it.

For some of the paintings in the new collection I used both acrylic and pencil. I use Berol Verithin and Derwent Studio pencils for projects like these, which I find give the composition definition.


The grebe above still needs a lot more detail to add to it.
Whereas I’m almost done on this pine marten. Its so exciting that pine martens are making a comeback here in the UK. Read about the time I watched this particular animal in Scotland, and see the other painting I made of it here.

So, here they all are, my new collection in various stages of completion, drying out on the sideboard in my studio.

To find out more about my exhibition click this link. I’ll be posting more about the countdown to opening day over the next few weeks so look out for my new posts and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by scrolling down to the email subscription box below this post to make sure you don’t miss my news.


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