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Stunning Paintings Of Stoats & Weasels: The Results of a 5-Year Garden Study
Stunning Paintings Of Stoats and Weasels
This remarkable collection is the result of a five-year intensive study
This summer I will exhibit my latest collection of paintings of stoats and weasels. The event, which runs from June 15th – July 7th at my gallery in Thixendale follows a five-year intensive study into the secret worlds of the miniature mustelids living in my garden.
My in-depth research into the lives of these common, but little-known, species involved a complex network of surveillance cameras hidden in the shrubbery. It was inspired by a desire to learn more about these secretive animals for my paintings. Scroll down to see an exclusive preview of the paintings completed so far and keep checking in for more as they come off the easel.
The Stoat Art Collection
Stoat paintings inspired by garden stoat study
I painted the above stoat picture after setting out a series of climbing and agility challenges for the stoats and weasels in my garden. I was amazed at how athletic they were and after watching a family of stoats scamper nimbly up a fence, balancing along the wire, I decided to test their skills further. The agility course I made included a climbing frame, a slalom and even a perspex maze to test their intelligence. I chose to pose the stoat in the above painting as it clambered up a log and paused to look back at me as if to say ‘there’s nothing I can’t do!’
I have built nest boxes and feeding boxes inside old tree stumps in order to provide attractive backdrops for my paintings. It means that when a stoat emerges from a nest box, I can photograph the scene. I then paint directly from my photographs. This was my first stoat painting and it features one of the first stoats to appear in my garden right at the start of my five-year-long research project.
The two stoat paintings above were developed from sketches of the stoats in the garden. I used acrylic paint and pencil, sketching the background in lightly. I wanted to capture the playful nature of the kits I had watched. These mammals have a reputation for sheer brutality and although they are undoubtedly ferocious, they can also be great fun and behave like excited puppies at times.
The stoat in the painting above was one of a second litter of eight kits born here in the garden in 2016. I was able to watch this litter as the individuals grew to maturity and I had names for them all. This male was called ‘Cough-ee’ because of a persistent cough. Like his siblings he was remarkably nimble and quick. I decided to portray him balanced nonchalantly on an impossibly slim stick.
Stoats are tenacious hunters. As a boy growing up on a farm on the Yorkshire Wolds, I’ve watched them take on rabbits twice their size. After studying the species up close in the garden Fotherdale Farm and again witnessing their fearlessness, I felt inspired to paint this scene above from memory.
I painted the stoat above leaping across a fresh fall of snow after being asked to come up with my vision of a fantastical animal or an animal of the future on BBC Springwatch: Unsprung in 2017. This was my vision: a ‘Super Stoat’ that could live in Antarctica to attack that rats that are threatening the future of the penguins there.
The Weasel Painting Collection
Paintings inspired by a garden study
This painting represents the start my garden mustelid studies in 2015. After spotting a small female weasel slip through a flower bed in the garden I set upon trying to follow her and photograph her for a painting. I built miniature design ‘sets’ in the garden borders, including dry stone walls and even small reflection pools to create attractive backdrops for my paintings. This painting comes from the moment the weasel appeared at the entrance of a dry stone wall behind which was a nest box.
On The Easel
More weasel and stoat painting studies
I’m still working on paintings of the stoats and weasels watched during this research project. Below are some of the paintings on my easel now.
Among the most fascinating behaviours I observed was the playfulness of weasels. And of course their incredibly ability to climb and balance. I am hoping this painting expresses how much fun they are to watch.
My sketch below reveals a tender moment between an adult female stoat and her kits. My surveillance study revealed an unexpected playfulness between mother and kits and this painting was inspired after watching them together on my own children’s garden trampoline.
Want to learn more about my stoat and weasel studies?
Click on the links below to find out how I researched these secret animals and what I learned.