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Valentine Art Exhibition | Animals in Love | The Paintings
AN EXHIBITION OF PAINTINGS ON THE THEME OF WILDLIFE COURTSHIP
ANIMALS IN LOVE
BY WILDLIFE ARTIST ROBERT E FULLER
This new exhibition of paintings is a focus on animal courtship. Each painting is the result of of extensive field research into animal behaviour and was inspired by elaborate courtship displays of both British wildlife and animals worldwide. I have chosen to execute each artwork with intricate detail using both oil and acrylic paint to record each wild subject as faithfully as possible. I have divided the exhibition into different sections and invite you to scroll down to explore British birds and mammals as well as wildlife courtship from around the world.
I hope you enjoy this virtual event
Robert E Fuller
VALENTINE ART EXHIBITION
BIRDS IN LOVE
Birds have adapted some of the most elaborate courtship displays. For these paintings, I was inspired the enormous effort some species invest in attracting a mate.
Inspired by Gannet Courtship
The elaborate courting display adopted by gannets is beautiful to watch. This ritual begins with a bow as the pair lower their heads to each other. They then raise their beaks skywards, their bodies forming a perfect point, before they settle down to preen each other tenderly.
Inspired by Puffin Courtship
Puffins have a very endearing, if somewhat public and noisy courtship display. They pair offer one another gifts of grass pulled from the cliff banks before rubbing their beaks together. Known as ‘billing’ the this often attracts a rowdy crowd of puffin ‘onlookers’ and invariably fights break out amongst jealous males.
Inspired by Avocet Courtship
Avocet perform a very elegant courtship ritual. Both birds preen, then the female lowers her head, stretches it over the water, and stands motionless. The male lifts sideways onto her back with wings spread and bill open whilst she swings her head from side to side. Afterwards, the pair run forward with bills crossed, the male with one wing over the females back. Finally they run away from each other in a hunched posture.
Inspired by Great Crested Grebe Courtship
The dance of the great crested grebe is the most elaborate of any courting bird on the British Isles. Multi-staged, it unfolds over a number of weeks and involves carefully choreographed displays of head shaking, diving, the offering of fish as gifts as well as a finale of the well-known but seldom seen ‘reed dance’ in which both birds lift themselves out of the water and spread their wings in unison.
Inspired by Oystercatcher Courtship
Oystercatcher courtship is very noisy. Known as ‘piping’ or the ‘piping ceremony, it begins with the birds walking parallel, their necks stretched out, uttering a single pipe note. They then run side-by-side, with heads bobbing up and down and the piping becomes louder and more insistent. Abruptly, the pair change direction before taking flight when they are joined by more pairs.
Inspired by Mallard Courtship
In mallard courtship displays, the drake will let out a loud whistle before briefly lifting himself out of the water and spreading his wings and tail to show off his purple-blue secondary feathers. If interested, a female will swim rapidly with her head held low as if grazing the surface of the water. Then the pair bob their heads rhythmically.
Inspired by Kingfisher Courtship
Kingfishers make curiously awkward lovers. Essentially solitary birds, they come together once a year to breed and in the beginning their courtship seems almost aggressive. Once they have overcome this natural aversion, the male will catch a fish for the female. If she accepts the gift, they will go on to mate.
Inspired by Goldcrest Courtship
Goldcrests primarily use song to attract the attention of a mate. The pairs usually bond for life. During courtship, the male fluffs out the bright feathers on his crest.
Inspired by longtailed tit courtship
Longtail tits go about in large flocks throughout the winter and also whilst bringing up their young . But when courting, you see the large sociable flocks of these delicate birds break up into pairs.
Inspired by pheasant courtship
Pheasants are fiercely territorial. The cocks perform aggressive displays in which they crow loudly, fan their tails and strut about in order to defend their harem of hens. This performance can be quite comical to watch, but, as these paintings show, at times the resulting bond between male and females can appear quite tender.
Inspired by Grouse Courtship
A black grouse display, or lek, is spellbinding, if at times a little comical. The males charge around with their tails fanned, wings spread and drooped, whilst making a loud continuous bubbling sound. Every now and then, they jump in the air and call out before they resume circling again like a remote-controlled toys on the blink. Meanwhile the females look on indifferently.
VALENTINE ART EXHIBITION
MAMMALS IN LOVE
When researching the different courtship rituals adopted by mammals, I discovered that these are no less intricate than bird displays. Below are paintings inspired by my favourite.
Inspired by Hare Courtship
Normally solitary animals, hares congregate in large groups when trying to win a mate – and this can happen at any time of year. I have watched them courting on bitterly cold winter days. The process involves the female racing a group of suitors and then boxing with the winner. She only chooses the strongest and fittest mate.
Inspired by Otter Courtship
Female otters show their interest is by rolling around with the male. This type of playful activity increases levels of ‘love’ hormones. A male often responds by biting the female’s nose as a way to say he is interested.
Inspired by Roe Deer Courtship
The roe deer rut is possibly one of the most romantic wildlife spectacles performed by a UK mammal. It takes place over a number of days and involves a roe buck following a doe diligently throughout. Eventually the pair enter a trance-like state in which the doe lowers her head and walks in repetitive figures of eight. The circular paths they trample into the grass are known as ‘roe rings’.
VALENTINE ART EXHIBITION
ANIMALS IN LOVE WORLDWIDE
I have travelled extensively to watch wildlife in its natural habitat for my paintings. Below are paintings inspired by the varied and fascinating courtships of the animal kingdom abroad.
Inspired by Courtships of King Penguins in Antarctica
The slow motion courtship displays of king penguins unfold over several days. Performing in perfect synchronisation, couples will strike one pose, then slowly morph together into a new pose, and then a new one in a sort of prolonged dance.
Inspired by the Courtship Rituals of Galapagos Magnificent Frigate Bird
Unique to the Galapagos Islands, magnificent frigate birds are normally relatively plain, black birds. But during the mating season the males puff out, usually tiny, red sacks at their throats until they swell like bright red balloons. This females find these bright red inflated chests irresistible and will snuggle up against them.
Inspired by the Courtship Rituals of Galapagos Waved Albatross
Also unique to the Galapagos Islands, waved albatross pair for life but only meet once a year to breed. When they do they seem genuinely pleased to see each other and will tenderly rub bills when they greet and clack their beaks. Before mating both birds stand bolt upright, point their beaks to the sky and emit a strange wailing sound. Then, abruptly, they stop and begin preening over their shoulders, or moving their heads fluidly from side to side as though dancing.
MORE FROM MY VALENTINE ART EXHIBITION
Author: Robert E Fuller