Events update & catalogue preview for THE NATURAL EYE 2015

The full schedule for this years talks and workshops can now be seen on the EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS page.
For the first time the FBA has published the catalogue online ahead of the exhibition and this can be seen via

Langford Press Field Sketches Award – open for entries!

SWLA is pleased to announce that the Langford Press Field Sketches Award is running again this year and artists are invited to submit their field work for this great prize NOW! The deadline for last entries will be 5.00pm Monday 19th October. The Award is given to any artist of any age who shows a fundamental understanding of the subject through their work in the field. The winner will have their winning field work displayed at this year’s The Natural Eye,  the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists.

The subject has to be of wildlife but this could encompass back garden nature just as much as exotic expedition work. The judges are looking for a body of work (maximum of eight pieces) that captures the essence of the subject which has been drawn from life. We are not looking for studio work. Open to any one who is inspired by the natural world, the work will be judged by Ian Langford and two senior members of the SWLA. The winner will be notified shortly after the closing date once judging has been completed and will be required to send their original field work immediately to the Mall Galleries for inclusion in the exhibition. The winner will be announced publically at the private view of The Natural Eye.

Please click on the link below to complete the form for the Langford Press Field Sketches Award.

Click here for the online application form.

The Natural Eye, Art Book One


To read reviews and learn more about this beautiful book published by Red Hare Publishing to raise funds for the SWLA Bursary Scheme and other projects please click here. To order a copy or copies of the book click here

Eric Ennion exhibition – Sunderland Museum

An exciting-looking exhibition of the work of Eric Ennion (1900 – 1981), founder member of the SWLA and an enormous influence on many wildlife artists painting today, is on at the Sunderland Museum, Tyne and Wear, until 13th December. image001

The exhibition is free to enter and is open 7 days a week. Details from the website;

Claire Williamson – Seabird Drawing Course bursary winner 2015

When I found out about the seabird drawing course through the Mall gallery website, I knew it was right up my street. I applied for the bursary and was very excited when I was told I had been awarded it.

Gannets of Bass Rock (640x483)
I always wanted to go onto Bass rock ( I had taken the boat around quite a few times but not been on it ) and I hardly slept the night before. Nothing can prepare you for Bass rock and its 170,000 gannets. It was their world, you were entering it and it blew my mind away. As soon as you arrive the smell and noise hit you – it was like all my senses were overtaken by gannet and I even fell asleep that night hearing them in my bedroom. It’s an experience I will never forget. I also enjoyed watching the birds flying alongside the boat we were on and watch how they moved in the air.Looking down (St.Abbs head) (640x501)

We visited other areas including St. Abbs head ( at the Scottish borders ) which has such a dramatic landscape shaped by volcanic activity. There were guillimots everywhere there.

Meeting place (640x473)
Sketching birds from life reaffirms and reminds me how much we can learn about them. Every birdwatcher should try this as they would be pleasantly surprised by how much more insight they gain. As a birdwatcher you think you know the bird until you try and draw it.

P1070594 (640x480) (633x229)
It was such a great week with friendly, like-minded people. It was good to work alongside other accomplished artists and tutors who were there to give advice on artwork and their work practice. It made me feel more confident on what I was doing and after the course I felt an urge to create more work outside the studio. I have also made some good contacts and friends.

photo (480x640)
It’s been a very positive experience and something I would love to do again.

Becky Thorley-Fox – Seabird Drawing Course bursary winner 2015

I love to spend as much time as possible outdoors, it is here I find endless sources of inspiration in both the landscape and wildlife. Over the last year or so I have tried to regularly draw birds from life in an attempt to learn to capture them as we see them and move away from the need to take photos. There seems to be no going back with this kind of pursuit, watching wildlife is captivating and I would love that ability to capture these moments in paint with life and energy.

I completed my second artist residency at RSPB reserve Ynys Hir this year where I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time in a diverse range of habitats along the Dyfi estuary observing wildlife patterns and behaviour.
I was very grateful to receive the 2015 SWLA bursary for the John Busby Seabird Drawing course based in East Lothian, Scotland. I had joined the course for a few days the previous year and had been so inspired by the enthusiasm of the group and the sheer intensity of the experience. I had never before witnessed seabird colonies on such a scale. The experience offered the opportunity to freely explore drawing from life with the encouragement and support of a dynamic group of artists and a seemingly endless supply of birds!

This year the week was led by four tutors, Greg Poole, Kitti Jones, Darren Woodhead and John Threlfall. Their support, guidance and tuition throughout the week helped us explore and experiment outside of our comfort zones, challenging our perception and understanding of the moving form. There were evening talks and demonstrations which set the wheels in motion for learning as the week progressed- these were hugely inspiring. The tutors led discussions on form, anatomy, movement, flight, balance, composition, colour, studio development and more. In the mornings we were trying out drawing exercises that revealed our weakest points and offered effective approaches to drawing and ‘feeling form’. We did blind drawings, memory drawings, two pencils taped together exercises and other mark making exercises to develop the way we see, feel and interpret our subject.11722162_918820588163802_7301989760915224016_o

It was the first time I’d visited Fidra Island on the Monday. John Steel led us to the best spot for watching Puffins as they came in from the sea, beaks fully loaded, before disappearing into their burrows. This was an exciting moment seeing my first puffin! The Gulls moved through the foliage guarding chicks, a set of eyes and beak ready to attack, we had to move slowly to avoid a noisy onslaught of dive bombings. There was a huge Shag colony set amongst amazing rock formations at the edge of the island, many of us set up here with sketch pads and optics to study these charismatic fuzzy looking young families. I watched a tug of war, two against one, the single Shag triumphed and carefully placed the length of nesting material behind it. The young shags often appeared to be tidying up and arranging their nests, it was very impressive.

We spent a very hot day at Bass Rock, this year thousands of Gannets were up in the air and the ground nesting Gannets had their heads stretched upwards, panting in the heat, I pitied the fluffier Gannet chicks that lay flopped outside the nests. St Abbs was equally spectacular, most of us spent three days here watching large numbers of Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Razorbills and even a family of Stoats were spotted, bounding across cliffs faces, defying gravity.

The Seabird drawing course has been a huge inspiration- an experience that stays with you. A big thank you to SWLA and everybody on the course!

Printmaking course details

3 printmaking courses will be taking place during this years Natural Eye exhibition. Click on the link for details.
Drypoint workshop_participants_7