Open Submission for The Natural Eye 2019

Ptarmigan    pastel by John Threlfall SWLA

Submissions for our annual exhibition close at noon on Friday 26th July. The selection committee are looking for outstanding and exciting works inspired by the natural world that capture the essence of the subject. Works can be drawings, paintings, original prints, mixed media including digital paintings (see submission rules for more details) and sculpture.

The Natural Eye showcases over 400 works in the prestigious Mall Galleries in central London in October each year. There are several valuable awards and prizes for accepted works and the exhibition attracts a wide range of visitors and collectors.

The selection committee have created some guidelines to help with the submissions procedure, please click here to view them and find out more about how to submit.

Wild Wings over Lonely Shores exhibition of Robert Greenhalf works 7-29 June 2019

“In this exhibition, “Wild Wings over Lonely Shores”, I have brought together paintings and original prints of the birds and landscapes that I have encountered on my frequent visits to our coastline. There are the wild flat expanses of shore and marshes abounding with wildfowl and waders, then there are the sea cliffs and islands teeming with nesting seabirds and even a few forays into the hills and moors, though never far from the coast. It is in these wildly beautiful and often lonely places that I most often find my inspiration.” writes Robert Greenhalf of his forthcoming exhibition at the Castle Gallery, Inverness.

Razorbills      Woodcut by Robert Greenhalf

For Robert, drawing in his sketchbook is the essential prelude to the finished work. This is about information gathering and getting to know the subject and its habitat intimately and for him there is no substitute for spending time observing and drawing. He says “Spend a couple of hours or so with your subject and you will certainly know a lot more about it than if you had merely “snapped” it with your camera and moved on. As a result his paintings and woodcuts have a lively spontaneity and authenticity.

The Castle Gallery is open Monday- Saturday 9.00 –5.00

For further information and high resolutions images please contact:

Denise Collins, Director, Castle Gallery, 43 Castle Street, Inverness  IV2 3DU.   Te.l  01463 729512          E.


Puffin Pair     Oil by Robert Greenhalf

Over Land and Sea

This exhibition at the Donald Watson Gallery ,Scottish Ornithologists’ Club Aberlady shows work from four SWLA artists- Danial Cole, Simon Griffiths, Darren Rees and Tim Wootton. It runs from 25th May to 3rd July.

Tawny Owl by Simon Griffiths

Simon Griffiths will be doing a sculpture demonstartion between 2 and 4 on May 25th.

Daniel Cole

Tim Wootton

Darren Rees

Donations in memory of Greg Poole

Greg Poole was an inspirational artist and member of the Society. His passion for the natural world shone out in his work but he also used his skills and energy to help other artists. He was a key tutor on the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course where he helped many artists, young and old, to connect with working directly from life.  His family have asked for donations in his name to go towards the John Busby Seabird Course SWLA Bursaries or other opportunities that the Society can offer to encourage artists to work in the field and expand their practice.

To make a donation please click here

or send a cheque made out to The Society of Wildlife Artists to

SWLA Treasurer, c/o 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1 5BD


Leopard and Carmine Bee-eaters

Greg Poole 1960-2018

The Society of Wildlife Artists is deeply saddened to share the news of the untimely death of artist and SWLA member Greg Poole.

Greg was a distinctive artist and a unique character. He epitomised what it is to be a wildlife artist in the world today – an exceptional naturalist who was able to find equal interest and inspiration from the big game of the African plains and the local insects watched and recorded on his Bristol allotment. Most importantly he translated these experiences into unique works that combined a strong sense of composition and drawing, with a playful approach to the paper edge and a strong sense of rhythm across the surface. Anyone who had the privilege of witnessing Greg work will have seen him sitting and looking for a long time before making swift, calligraphic marks on paper often turned away from the subject matter but ‘with senses still full of the place, hearing birds, smelling the vegetation, feeling the wind or sun and starting to paint’. His field sketches combine a deep understanding of the creatures he is depicting with evocative, sparse descriptions of their habitat and occasional scribbled notes about behaviour. They are often works in their own right as well as serving as starting points for the relief prints and monotypes for which he is best known.

Leopard and Carmine Bee-eaters

Greg originally studied Zoology at Cardiff University and it was on a field trip soon after graduating that he had an experience which changed his priorities and turned him towards becoming an artist.

‘I was with one other ornithologist, in a tent on a beach ridge hundreds of miles from the nearest people. Icebergs offshore, caribou migrating, arctic fox on the neighbouring ridge and all kinds of exotic birds in this near 24 hour clear light. It was a sensory overload and I didn’t know what to do with it. Some of the time having to retreat into the tent. I made the resolution to find a way of expressing what I was seeing as soon as I returned to Britain.’


After this he sought out a year on a Foundation course at Manchester Polytechnic which gave him the tools to begin to establish himself as an artist and illustrator with a strong focus on the natural world.

Greg first exhibited with the Society in 1991 and was elected a member two years later in 1993 – he served on the Council a number of times and was an active member. Greg took part in many of the projects and residencies over the years, including Aig an Oir and BTO Flight Lines in Senegal and more recently the Turkish Sweet Gum project, Wallasea Island and Kingcombe projects. Among other accolades Greg received the RSPB Art Award for a piece he made in response the Wallasea Project in Essex and was awarded the Birdscapes Gallery Printmaker’s prize.

Short-eared Owl Flying near Diggers

RSPB Award 2015       Greg Poole Short-eared Owl Flying near Diggers

Greg was a natural teacher, he was generous with his energy and had a reputation for his insightful and honest feedback. He joined the John Busby Seabird Drawing course as a tutor in 1996, working alongside his good friend and long-time collaborator David Measures amongst others. Through this he was able to introduce a number of new field artists to the Society who he has championed and mentored in recent years.

Gannets, Bass Rock

A committed conservationist, Greg gained enormous pleasure in transforming his garden and adjoining allotment into a wild flower meadow which he dedicated much of his time to in the last few years.

Gatekeepers and Bees on Scabious

He had a wonderful capacity for knowledge and could also ‘see’ the relationships between plants, birds, animals, insects and human activity in landscapes – these elements were frequently combined in his creative output.

Women Walking & Turacos

Greg was born in Bristol in 1960 and died on 28th December 2018 after complications from a heart attack.

The SWLA will be collecting funds in Greg’s name for suitable bursaries such as places on the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course. Details of how to donate will are at the top of this page.

Oystercatchers, Starlings & Dunlin

Emily Ingrey-Counter – bursary winner 2018

As an artist who regularly draws in the field I was so delighted to be accepted onto the seabird drawing course. My primary aim for the week was to learn from others who love to draw and spend time observing and recording the natural world. The seabird drawing week was challenging and intense, and pushed me in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. We met each day at 8.30/9am and then travelled to our destination for the day; Dunbar, St Abb’s or the harbour where we could meet the boat to take us to the islands of Fidra or Bass Rock. Each evening we met again at the hotel for dinner, which was followed by an informal chat, looking at each other’s work and planning out who was going where the following day, often finishing around 10pm.

One of the highlights for me was getting to know other artists within the group and sharing our experiences and our work at the end of each day. Naturally, I discovered that in the emotional highs and lows of a good/bad day, I was certainly not alone. Although the prospect of sharing our work each day with the whole group was quite daunting I actually found the feedback surprisingly encouraging.

Another highlight of the week was of course visiting the Bass Rock. The weather, winds and swells were in the right alignment for us this year as both groups were able to get access to the gannet colony for a whole day. A huge privilege. It was noisy, smelly, dirty and quite fantastic!
I felt like I’d landed on another planet, with 150,000 inhabitants tolerating our presence. Due to the wind there birds were constantly in flight around us hovering, landing and taking flight. We all drew with intensity and focus for about 7 hours. Amazing! The following day the swells were too strong to land on the island so we sketched from the boat for an hour – which was a great way to develop fast sketches, but challenging in terms of motion sickness!

St Abb’s Head was another location that was incredibly inspiring. Although I have drawn here before, this time I really wanted to capture the sheer and exposed cliff faces on which the birds nest and how small (but many) they are in such an immense landscape. The days we spent there were very windy creating large swells and crashing waves with thousands of guillemots on cliff edges, in flight and at sea.

The informal one to one tutor guidance throughout the week was really helpful. I was reminded of some key elements that had been creeping out of my drawings “Keep a breathing space in your picture”, “What excites you about your chosen subject matter? Keep this in mind throughout your drawing.” Also, “Keep your work fresh, try not to overwork your pictures” “Think about keeping the energy in your work”. Seeing examples of the tutors work and hearing about their practice and individual approach to working was also something I really enjoyed and would like to hear more of.

Through many discussions with the tutors and artists on the course I was encouraged to value what I do, something that’s easy to lose sight of.

I am really grateful to the SWLA for making this week possible. I hope the things I have learnt will continue to echo through my work.It was such a privilege to meet so many people on this unique journey of making art inspired by our natural world.