March 2011

 

Thursday 3rd March  

Brimstones and Primroses

Well here we are definitely into spring now I was a few days early last week!. I see signs of the growing season everywhere when out and about in the countryside. Primroses are just starting to bloom in our sheltered valleys with wild daffodils now in full colour, their beautiful golden yellow flowers brightening up the woodland floor. Frogs-spawn in all our ponds and water courses, much later this year as we often see it in January here in Cornwall. This is the season of firsts, first swallows, first sound of the cuckoo, all long awaited harbingers of spring which brings me nicely to the first butterfly which is usually seen on the wing, the brimstone. This can be out and about as early as late January or early February in my part of the world if we have some sunny weather although we haven't seen much sun or any brimstones this year so far. The painting shows two darker coloured male butterflies in pursuit of the paler female, another springtime ritual for most animals.


 

 

Thursday 10th 

Weeze’ the Weasel

This portrait of a weasel is taken from one of the many sketches I did of one that we hand reared, or rather my wife Ann did, which was rescued from a cat by a neighbour. 'Weeze', as he became known, did not even have his eyes open when he first came to us and was no bigger than my thumb. We really did not think he would survive, however he did, but as so often happens in these situations became very tame and thought the house was his territory and we his parents. He lived in my studio for several years treating my floor to ceiling book shelves as a substitute hedgerow, popping out now and again, much to the consternation of some of our visitors. This was many years ago now and during a recent major sort-out of my reference books I was amused to find some 'fossilised' weasel droppings on one of the shelves!




 

Thursday 17th 

Hedgehog and Primroses

This burst of warmer weather, which is the sign for many birds to start nest building, is also a time for some creatures to emerge from their winter quarters. In this painting we have one such animal. With a great deal of grunting and snorting the 'hedgepig', 'urchin' or 'hedgehog' as it is now generally known, blinks to remove four months sleep from his bright button-like eyes.  As the evening sunlight penetrates his snug winter home in the base of a stone wall, he pushes his black sensitive nose outside his nest, sniffing and testing the still evening air. He has one thought on his mind: food. All fat reserves have been used up during the winter months so he now turns his attention to the task of searching out some juicy slugs, snails or other ground invertebrates to build up his strength for the coming mating season.  Hedgehogs are most welcome residents of the garden, not only for their roll as 'pest controllers' but simply by being such delightful characters.



 

Thursday 24th

 

WOODMICE

Whereas many wildlife artists, probably the majority, love painting Africa's big game, lions, elephants and the like, as regular readers will know most of my favourite subjects are the tiny creatures that are to be found in our local woods and hedgerows, far removed from the plains of Africa.

For this type of artwork I do I find it is essential to have as much information as possible about a particular subject, to actually get down into and amongst the to be featured habitat, such as the woodland floor in this painting. I find this way you develop a real feel for the subjects, it is not just a portrait of mice, it shows where they live, the time of year and sometimes what they feed on.

Woodmice are quite common small mammals. They are to be found in many types of habitat including our houses, sheds and garages during the winter months, should they find available access. We always have several living in one of our garden sheds from where they regularly make a dash across to the bird table to take advantage of the food on offer.



 


 



 

Thursday 31st 

Tawny Owl Family

For this week's featured painting of tawny owls I have had to go back nearly 20 years to when I worked exclusively in watercolour. The reason for this is, this coming Sunday the 3rd of April I shall be helping my good friends Tom and Carolyn Screech celebrate 20 years of The Screech Owl Sanctuary here in Cornwall. They are having an open day and all are welcome with free entry to everyone. If you love wildlife, especially owls, you can see them flying and even get 'close up' to handle them, a great experience for both young and old. I shall be giving painting demonstrations thoughout the day and have a small display of my wildlife artwork on show. I am really looking forward to my day out amongst the owls and meeting others who share my passion for our wildlife and countryside. The Sanctuary is open from 10am till 4pm. For more information phone; 01726 860182