Thursday, 12 December 2013

Character building . . .

The run-up to Christmas is nearing an end now, busy doing my final commission then I can relax (if you can call it that).
I'm grateful to fellow blogger Johnnykinson who apart from putting a very humbling post on his blog ( re: the recent exhibition in Newcastle, also sent me some info on a commission for some cartoon characters being offered by Northumberland National Park.

The brief was for a young girl with an animal side-kick, I somehow managed to fit it in while still stressing over the portrait commissions I still had to do, and though I would have liked the time to 'tweak' certain aspects of the characters a bit more I was quite happy with my submission on deadline day.
So meet Shirley and Curly :

Unfortunately I heard today they didn't 'get the job' but am chuffed to hear they made the shortlist and I'm informed will be submitted for a different opportunity with the park at a later date, and may yet lead to the offer of other illustration work in the future. So all in all not a bad result, thanks again to John for putting me onto it, much appreciated.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Show is over . . . .

The curtain finally came down on our display in Newcastle City Library at 5pm yesterday. A late rush ensured both myself and Bob ended the fortnight with good sales, with 25 pictures sold between us and a couple of follow-ups may yet increase the tally.

In the end I accounted for exactly 50% of my exhibits, very happy with that, and meant I could get them all home in one hike rather than the two it took to get them there :) the only disappointment was the buyer for one item (which I had to make up especially) didn't bother picking it up. Not appreciated as I wasted both time and money on Sunday getting a frame. They "completely forgot" apparently, but 'wished me well'. Hmmmm . . . the words time and waster spring to mind, but every cloud has a silver-lining and I may have found a buyer for it anyway.

All in all the run up to xmas has been quite good for yours truly, with a few on-line sales from my Folksy shop as well as commissions in pencil and watercolour. And some more nice comments from satisfied customers :

"I've picked up the print and it looks fantastic. . .  My mum is going to absolutely love it!"
Stephanie T. (Newcastle)

"The picture arrived this morning and it looks great so thank you."
Bob W. (Clydebank)

"The coasters arrived safe and sound yesterday. Thanks so much, they're lovely."
Katie R. (Tynemouth)

I'm beginning to like Christmas after all.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Show of Two Halves

First week of the Newcastle City Library Show has passed with some success with Bob and I making well over a dozen sales between us.
Strangely all my sales came from one side of the screen, meaning on Tuesday I had to go down and re-stock as it was looking pretty bare, not that I'm complaining. It seems to be appealing to the Xmas gift market with the small watercolours and prints priced at £25 or under being the top sellers.

Side 1 - selling like hot cakes
(More pictures now installed)

Side 2 - selling like cold cakes
(but attracting more comment)

I received this email last night from one happy visitor :

"Just wanted to say how much my mum and I enjoyed looking at your exhibition in City Library yesterday. My mum lives in west Yorkshire and loves to spot red kites, so she was particularly taken with these images, although we thought everything was great - such an interesting mix of styles and media."

Stephanie T. (Newcastle)

Thanks very much Stephanie, glad you enjoyed it.

And there's still plenty of time to get down for a look as the show is on until next Wednesday evening. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Up and Running . . .

Well it took two days, but finished putting up the Newcastle Library Show this morning, and as has happened at my last four shows now, I sold my first picture before they were all up on the wall. :)

A good first full day all round in fact as both me and Bob sold two small pics each, and a third one of mine has been reserved. Here are a few photos of our display, not great due to the reflective nature of the site and today's bright sunshine. 
One part of my display

Oh Dear, gaps appearing already

One part of Bob's display

I won't be back floor-walking 'til Tuesday at the earliest, but Bob will be on hand Sat and Mon (10-5pm) for sales and enquiries.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Countdown to the Show, 1 day to go . . .

Preparations all done, show starts tomorrow :

Anyone wanting to visit the show we're at Newcastle City Library from tomorrow afternoon (by the time the hanging is done) til December 4th.
The display screens are situated just inside the Northumberland Street Entrance, or up the first flight of stairs from the Laing Gallery side.
It looks like I'll be hanging half my display tomorrow and half on Friday due to the number of pictures to transport and the weather forecast. We're aiming to finish hanging by mid-day so I'll be on site from then until 2pm tomorrow and at least 11 - 2pm Friday. I'm afraid I won't be able to get down at the weekend, but my co-artist Bob will be 'walking the floor' and sell or reserve any pictures.

It's a selling show for Christmas so all pictures are at good value prices and may be taken from the display on day of purchase if the buyer cannot return. However I wish to keep the display intact for a few days at least so if any interest is shown before Monday I will do my best to just 'red-spot' the picture and arrange a collection date. I will re-stock at the end of next week if there are too many gaps (wishful thinking) so anyone wishing to see the full display I'd advise to have a look this weekend or as soon as poss thereafter (just going off last year's event when our show proved very popular, though you never know and this one might be a big flop).

Fingers crossed ;)


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Countdown to the Show, 2 days to go . . .

Finally picked up the remainder of my frames this morning so now have the complete display framed, bagged and tagged, and scattered all over the house. No doubt my better half will be only too pleased when they disappear at the end of the week and no doubt (like me) she hopes they don't come back (but for a different reason).

So the final pictures, six individual 'birds in character', original watercolours framed in white 26 x 20cms. Hope they prove as popular here as they did at Washington Wildfowl Centre in the summer.

The Garden bird selection (clockwise top left) : Blackbird, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch.
Great Christmas gifts for lovers of garden birds. That's all my images, can't wait to get them all up on display, roll on Thursday :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Countdown to the Show, 3 days to go . . .

Still haven't been for my last half-dozen frames as forgot about a meeting at the school today (must get tomorrow or I'll start to panic)
So in the time I had available I laminated a few posters, artist statements and labels for the show.

Since I started out I've tried many styles and media as (like most interests) art is one long learning process, and though I'm narrowing it down now I still try to put a good mix whenever I have an exhibition. So added to the mix of traditional and contemporary works are a few images adapted from the Twisted Nature cartoon series which ran in BBC Wildlife magazine from 2008-2011.

Wotter Surprise - 16 x 16cms

Badger and Snail - 35 x 35cms (unframed)

Apondcalypse Now - 35 x 35cms (unframed)

And a set of cartoon watercolour ducks which would make a nice update for Hilda Ogden's wall :)

Goldeneye, Teal and Goosander - all 16.5 x 16.5 cms

Aye there's something to suit all tastes that's for sure :)


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Countdown to the Show, 4 days to go . . .

Wildlife has always been my inspiration for making art, and since my interest in dragonflies came to the fore I've been looking for different ways of getting them down on paper. I've been photographing the local species over the last three summers and have a bucketfull of references and ideas through observations which I hope one day soon will transfer to a whole exhibition of dragonfly related artworks.

Meantime I've started pretty safe, made a few small and simply-composed damselfly pics which sold at craft fairs and have another similar work at the Library show,  Azure damselfly (23 x 23cms) :

I've also recently posted some illustrations I made in ink and watercolour of some of my favourite local species, and if I say so myself each one improved on the previous as I fine-tuned the technique. They're all A4 size and from top left (clockwise) are Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Ruddy Darter, Black Darter (outer dimensions 33.5 x 23.5cms).

The added splash of colour and contemporary-style black frames transforms them from 'mere' illustrations to give a more arty look and feel. I'm looking forward to seeing them all displayed together and finding out how they go down with the punters.
Getting my final frames tomorrow for my 'character' bird watercolours (I hope) otherwise I'm gonna be cutting it a bit fine :O  

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Countdown to the Show, 5 days to go . . .

The long and the tall (not the short) . . .

A few pictures in the Newcastle Library show (Nov 21-Dec 4) veer from the traditional square or fat rectangle shapes, being long and thin or tall and thin, offering a different dynamic in composition and funnily enough they've all been changed from their original look.

The first is an ink and watercolour of a brown trout, an experiment in loose line and quick worked washes which turned out quite well I thought though the photo here isn't the best.

Originally the background was cobalt blue which on reflection was a bit 'loud' so I toned it down with white gouache.

 The frame measures 25 x 53 cms so is one of the larger pictures in the exhibition.

Next a digital print entitled Night Owl, from a cracking photograph taken locally by Steven Fryer ( A tweak of composition, a bit of tonal contrast and photoshop did the rest.

It's a good composition but to be honest I think the original photograph captures the atmospherics of the night even better.

original photo by Steven Fryer

Night Owl (framed) measures 23 x 42 cms.

The third and final 'stretchy piece' is a watercolour again from an original photograph by Steven Fryer of a swallow dipping in to drink from Shibdon Pond.

original photo by Steven Fryer
 Steven caught the moment perfectly in his photo but by changing the shape of the picture by cropping it dramatically and homing in on the bird I gave it a more arty composition in watercolours.

This picture is actually one of my favourites, has the imaginitive title of Swallow at Shibdon Pond and measures 25 x 53cms 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Countdown to the show, 6 days to go . . .

Spent most of the day stringing my pictures for the Newcastle Library show, forgot how fiddly and time-consuming this is, but not as bad as trying to remove the last piece of dirt from behind the glass of the frame when putting the picture in.
Just when you think you've got rid of it all, put the backing on and have another look, as if by magic another piece of grit/hair/random miniscule muck has appeared somewhere else in the picture. It's always just one piece, and so obvious you can't leave it, so have to take the back off again, remove the picture, carefully locate and remove the offending dirt and replace the picture, look from the front, all clear so put the back on the frame, have another look . . . and find another miniscule piece of muck has somehow sneaked in behind the glass,  . . . . (repeat process for a further 10 - 20 times) . . . . and when you're on a roll the process of framing one picture can take literally hours (at least it seems like it), it becomes a personal battle and I turn from cool dude artist to a sweary Basil Fawlty type.
Anyway I still have another six frames to get yet so will have to sample the delights of framing all over again come Monday.
Meantime here is another selection of pictures for the show, a more contemporary bunch of the small gift type for the special person in your life.

Clockwise from top left :
Luvbirds - 18 x 24cms archival print taken from original watercolour depicting a pair of bullfinches in 'character' style.
Lovey Dovey - 18 x 24cms archival print, a pair of collared doves again taken from an original watercolour in 'character' style.
Square Hare - 25 x 25cms original watercolour of a hare in a square (hence the title)
Garden birds medley II - 25 x 25cms archival print of 8 assorted garden 'character' birds and a feeder arranged in a cute and colourful composition.
Tawny Owl  - 24 x 18cms original watercolour in 'character' style (everybody loves owls)

More tomorrow . . .

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Countdown to the Show, 7 days to go . . .

Only one week to go to the Xmas selling show at Newcastle Central Library. Two artists, 60+ pictures, nowt over £70, some as little as a fiver. Be original this Christmas, treat someone to a fine art gift, or just treat yourself ;)

That's the advert over with, and with over 30 pictures to get ready I've been framing like mad, here are a few of the more traditional pieces I'll be putting on show :

Top left : Stonechat (outer dimensions 16 x 20cms) original bird-on-a-stick type watercolour.
Top right : Phoenix of the Lakes (39 x 49cms) original watercolour made a few years ago to celebrate the return of the Osprey to England.
Middle left : Liberty (32 x 39cms) archival print of a soaring red kite scene with Gibside's column to British Liberty in the background.
Middle right : Kingfisher Portrait (31 x 39cms) original watercolour of our most colourful bird perched on a rush.
Bottom left : Eagle Sunset (28 x 37cms) archival print of a golden eagle silhouetted against the setting sun.
Bottom middle : Waxwing 'Impression' (20 x 26cms) original watercolour. An experimental piece made from a personal observation, with strong contrasting colours due to the low winter sun behind the bird.
Bottom right : Derwent Valley Kites II (31 x 39cms) archival print of two soaring kites in reverse perspective making an intriguing composition.

More tomorrow . . . .

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Shop Re-stocked for Xmas !!!

I've recently re-stocked my on-line Folksy shop with some great value 'Wildlife in Character' gifts in time for Christmas. Original art, fridge magnets, coasters and xmas cards; all original designs and reasonably priced.

Follow the link :

Here's a sample of some of the items on sale, with more to come :

Monday, 28 October 2013

Show Poster

Just put the finishing touches to the poster for my forthcoming show at Newcastle Central Library in November with my good mate Bob Laine.

If your favourite subject is local landscapes and/or wildlife then I'm sure there will be something in our range of styles, sizes, subject and prices to suit every taste and every pocket. Our affordable art policy means there'll be bargains galore. Come along and see for yourself.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dragonfly Season - Gone but not Forgotten

Now that the summer is at an end my favourite summer pastime of dragonfly watching is mainly just fond memories, so have put my illustration training to use and made a couple of ink and watercolour studies of two of my favourites :

Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

Ruddy Darter (male)

Will probably display them at Newcastle City Library from Nov 22nd when I have a two week show with my good mate Bob Laine ( getting the plug in early :)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Latest Commission - Fond Memories

Have recently completed another private commission for Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
They required a portrait of an Andean Goose as a gift for a couple who volunteer there who were very fond of the old female which sadly died earlier this year. I was only too happy to oblige and produced this small watercolour study in a traditional style from photographs.

It was delivered on Tuesday and I've been informed the couple were 'over the moon' with it, already having it adorning a wall in their home.
Happy to be of service for such a lovely gesture.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Long Overdue Update

School holidays putting the pressure on but no excuse for neglecting the old blogsite.

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust exhibition went really well. A dozen pictures sold and much positive comment, so I've booked another spot for next August.

I try to display a good range of styles to give wide-ranging appeal but by far the most popular pictures were my 'character' birds which sold out (twice) during the month (wish I had a few more done) and I was also asked to do a blackbird in that style as a commission for a present to a staff member, which by all accounts was very well received.

With that in mind I've been busy (when time allows) painting a few more character birds which I'll soon be launching in a number of formats, on-line for starters. Will keep you posted.     

Friday, 7 June 2013

Going, going . . . .

The first week at Washington Wildfowl Trust has gone really well, got a phone call on Thursday to say they'd sold 3 pictures in the first few days. I was out at the time and by time I got home I'd received an email to say they'd now sold 5 and could I bring some more down! Seems to be my character birds which are proving most popular :

Luckily I still had a couple up at Thornley Woodlands Centre and today I painted a couple more, then rushed out and bought some frames, so will be going over tomorrow to hang another four pics up. Have had a host of nice comments from the Centre staff and a further commission as well. Great for the confidence when things haven't been going so well.



Sunday, 2 June 2013

New Show begins . . .

Put my new show up at Washington Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Centre today. Actually sold one before I'd finished putting them all up so not a bad start.

24 pictures, (well 23 now) a mix of old and new, mainly simple birdlife compositions in watercolour with the occasional dragonfly and token fish. All very affordable, nothing over £100 and many well below.

The Wildfowl Centre is a great family day out so pop along for a look, here's some photos of what to expect :

Exhibition runs until June 29th. For directions follow the link on the previous post.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

New Exhibition, Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust . . . .

From June 2nd to 29th I'll be exhibiting a show of work at WashingtonWildfowl and Wetlands Centre. All wildlife (mainly bird) based, a collection of around 20 pictures, old and new work (indeed some of it so new I haven't even done it yet :O) in an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary styles as I forever look for different ways of portraying my favourite birds and animals.
Red kites will feature heavily as I revisit some of my favourite images in both original and print form, and all at very reasonable prices in keeping with my affordable art ethic.
Anyway here's the poster I've just put the finishing touches to :

So if you're in the area pop in for a look, you won't be able to miss it as it's right next to the toilets. And please let me know if you've been (no pun intended).
Here's a link for directions :


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Spring Exhibition

The week-long Exhibition at Newcastle City Library in early March didn't turn out too bad, I thought it might be a bit soon after our successful Christmas Show and as the first quarter is traditionally the slack period for art sales we weren't predicting massive sales this time around, but we sold two watercolours each, and I also sold five prints, making it a worthwhile exercise. Must say a big thanks to Bob who manned the show for the most part.

From Humble Beginnings . . . .

My life in the arts began in the autumn of 2000, when (as a mature student) I enrolled on an Access course to Art and Design at Sunderland College, studying modules in Art in 2D, 3D, Photography, Life Drawing, History of Art and an introduction to Photoshop.
It was a great course, setting me and my colleagues on the way to the University of Sunderland, for another three brilliant years, studying Fine Art, Illustration, Hot Glass, Computer Imaging and History of Art, completing my studies in the summer of 2004 and graduating with a BA Hons. in Illustration and Design.
A six month break followed, then at the beginning of 2005 I registered as self-employed and embarked on becoming an artist/illustrator. I was still a mad keen birdwatcher and all I wanted to do then was draw and paint the birds I observed and fortunately for me I was gifted a great opportunity when the RSPB began a reintroduction project for that most spectacular bird of prey, the Red Kite, right on my doorstep in the lower Derwent Valley, releasing 94 birds over four years from the summer of 2004.
I was enchanted by these birds from the first time I saw them soaring over our village and just wanted to paint them over and over.
Then tragedy as one of the first birds released was found poisoned on grouse moors in Northumberland just months later, a wake up call to the reality of human nature when birds of prey come into conflict with commercial gain, no matter how little threat they pose.
I did a large scale painting entitled Flash (for that was the bird’s name given by the school which had adopted him) and together with other red kite and bird paintings I had completed I exhibited at the local Thornley Woodlands Centre, and received press coverage due to the tragic story of Flash.

From the Journal 26th June 2005
(click on image to read article)

From the Network Artists Newsletter July 2005
(click on image to read article)

After the exhibition I decided to donate the portrait of Flash to the woodlands centre, where it still adorns the walls today, with a personal statement about the sad episode as a reminder that illegal poisoning still goes on today, and the more people that become outraged about it, the better chance we have of stamping it out.

This exhibition set me on my way, I soon got involved with the Northern Kites Project and subsequently completed high profile commissions for Gateshead Council, the RSPB and Tesco. At the other end of the scale I also had a successful run of wildlife cartoons published in the prestigious BBC Wildlife magazine.

To find out more about aspects of my work and individual projects click on the headed links at the top of the page.