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Online wildlife art gallery, sketches

My wildlife paintings begin outdoors with sketches in my subject's natural habitat. As well as the thrill of being close to wild animals and birds, I love the repeating patterns and shapes found in nature. In common with most wildlife artists I'll sometimes travel to see a particular species - but just as often I head outdoors and see what inspires. Interacting with wildlife in reality is far more interesting than anything my imagination could create indoors.

Next events:



Sketch of Blackcaps
Sketches of Great Grey Shrike
Winner Glos Society of Artists President's Cup
Sketch of Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher studies

                 Hold your mouse over the small pictures for a larger version 
Sketch of Bewick Swan Sketch of Great Grey Shrike Sketch of Kites Sketch of Otters
Bewick Swan Sold Great Grey Shrike Sold Red Kite Studies Sold Little Egrets Sold

Usually I sketch in watercolours and pencil, then work up the sketches in acrylic back in the studio. I prefer to choose one or two species per sketching session so I build up knowledge of the subject and sketch plenty of different poses. My wildlife sketchbook page may also show habitat, colour notes and perhaps written notes about anything that seems relevant or amusing at the time. Sometimes I take a few photos for extra reference, though my wildlife paintings are never just copies of a photo.

Field sketching is fundamental to my art, as my studio work arises from what I experienced outdoors. So in addition to my field sketching books, I also have other sketchbooks in the studio for testing out ideas, planning compositions and experimenting with techniques.

Wildlife artists are often asked what equipment to take out sketching, so here's a quick run down of my 'must haves':

To get a better view of my wild subjects I use fantastic Swarovski optics: 8.5x 42EL binoculars and an ATS80HD telescope with a 20-60 zoom eyepiece. Astoundingly good optics that I delight in using, whether I'm sketching wildlife or birdwatching. The angled eyepiece on the 'scope means I only have to move my gaze a fraction to focus on the wild animal or bird and my sketch. My old 'scope had a straight through eyepiece but I've recently swapped and now wish I'd made the switch years ago!

My rucksack contains sketchbook, pencils (3B-9B), oil and soft pastels, compressed charcoal and watercolours. The sketchbook is a hardback A4 with smooth but thick paper, heavy enough to take a watercolour wash without cockling. Watercolours are a mixture of makes, all artists' quality half pans. I carry a number of brushes, making sure there's a good selection of size and shape. I'm starting to work larger (A2) in the field, hence experimenting with charcoal and pastels. Arboreta cartridge is my preferred paper: the off-white colour has less glare in bright light than pure white.

And no wildlife sketching session would be complete without a flask of coffee and some emergency chocolate. It's amazing how often an emergency can occur!


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