Category Archives: members news

Wynona Legg – bursary winner 2017

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Receiving the news that I had won a bursary with the SWLA, I was so incredibly over the moon. The news was especially welcome having had to turn down a place on the seabird drawing course the previous year because I could simply not afford to go. Receiving a bursary was fuel to keep me focused and I was so ready to fully embrace it.
I am not new to drawing birds but I am very much someone who has put my artistic career on the backburner to make room for other focuses. My recent years have been spent working within nature conservation in warden roles at some pretty special reserves around the UK. I have been privileged to have had close encounters with many breeding birds and would take the opportunity where I could to make sketches in the field between periods of intense monitoring. But I had gotten rusty and felt that I was not yet where I wanted to be in my artistic career. I wasn’t new to the concept of drawing moving subjects or working in the elements and I was ready to get stuck into a focused week of drawing. I was perhaps more than a little naïve in thinking that it would be easy…

Guillemot studies using chinagraph lead, wax crayon and graphite.

Guillemot studies using chinagraph lead, wax crayon and graphite.

This week has pulled me in every direction a person can be pulled! At times, I felt as brittle as the charcoal I was holding in my hand! To have eyes cast over your progress each day was originally a daunting prospect but it was incredibly motivating to have people notice things in your work that you have missed and will you to try new things to lift your work. There were overwhelming moments amongst all the mini revelations where it felt like I had forgotten how to draw! I think to be fully committed to this week you have to be someone who is okay with baring your soul and I definitely did that! I came here to push myself as an artist and I think in order to fully embrace something as unique as this, there is an element of stripping everything back and forgetting momentarily what you already know.
Similarly, I have become very used to being by myself when I am sketching. Coming into a group of other working artists suddenly felt like a lot of pressure. At first it took all my focus not to compare my work to others’. As the week moved forward, this feeling fell away. Being surrounded by other artists working was exciting. Watching other ways of working taught me so much about myself and the way I work.

Razorbill studies using chinagraph lead. Fellow coursemate Andy lent me some lead of a black chinagraph marker to try. The buttery soft wax left some really interesting marks on the smooth cartridge paper and I ended up filling several pages of my sketchbook that day using that tiny length of lead. Laying it flat and pushing it around the paper I could sculpt out the shapes that the razorbills made as they jostled on their ledges. Pressing harder on the tip of the flat lead left a sharper outline that mimicked the stark contrast of the rock and the razorbills ink black plumage. Switching to use the point of the lead allowed a more delicate line for the bright white chest or the detail on the face. For me this was the perfect example of how the introduction of a new and unfamiliar tool can revive perspective or help to grasp a particular technique.

Razorbill studies using chinagraph lead. Fellow coursemate Andy lent me some lead of a black chinagraph marker to try. The buttery soft wax left some really interesting marks on the smooth cartridge paper and I ended up filling several pages of my sketchbook that day using that tiny length of lead. Laying it flat and pushing it around the paper I could sculpt out the shapes that the razorbills made as they jostled on their ledges. Pressing harder on the tip of the flat lead left a sharper outline that mimicked the stark contrast of the rock and the razorbills ink black plumage. Switching to use the point of the lead allowed a more delicate line for the bright white chest or the detail on the face. For me this was the perfect example of how the introduction of a new and unfamiliar tool can revive perspective or help to grasp a particular technique.

Watching the way others choose their palette, hold their brush or push their pencil around the paper. We were all sitting within the same landscape observing the same subjects but the marks on our pages were often unrecognisably different. It was so refreshing to me.

Kittiwake study using graphite and charcoal over blocks of soft pastel.

Kittiwake study using graphite and charcoal over blocks of soft pastel.

The tutors were incredible all week. The investment they gave to each person in turn was inspiring. To see their happiness as people made realisations and revelations in their work throughout the week was in itself a motivation to keep growing. The guidance given by working artists was so invaluable and isn’t something I have ever been lucky enough to get before now.
Coming away from this week I have learnt to embrace the struggles of drawing in the field. To be able to step back and change something about how you are working is an important thing to remember when things aren’t going right. I have learnt to be unafraid of using different mediums to express texture, energy or light. I have always loved the simplicity of line and can get too focussed on continuity but adding something different or changing the way you use your tools can introduce something unexpected. The thing that gives me the biggest smile is the connections I have made from being around other artists working in the field. It has been heartening to be carried along on tough days by the positive words of others.

More razorbill studies with chinagraph lead to explore shape and movement in flight.

More razorbill studies with chinagraph lead to explore shape and movement in flight.

Learn to draw birds in 30 seconds – The John Busby seabird drawing course 2017

Another great week long drawing course on the Firth of Forth. Our joint exercises getting more and more challenging with guest tutor Kim Atkinson inviting us to use sound drawing (clamour of kittiwake and gargle of guillemots in sound foreground) as a way of explore our toolboxes. What might make an equivalent for each sound we could identify.

Kim Atkinson setting up the sound drawing exercise above the cliffs at St Abbs

Kim Atkinson setting up the sound drawing exercise above the cliffs at St Abbs

Darren Woodhead got us all working with clay on the cliff tops on day 5 to feel out in 3D the forms we’d been exploring in 2. The shared activities right there next to the seabirds, sharing the same drizzle, a potent recipe.
On wednesday, day 4 we had a very brief landing on the Bass, only one hour, but the quantity and quality of work was outstanding. The time pressure seeming to force everyone into bolder, more vigorous drawing.
So gathered back on the cliffs of St Abbs we did timed drawing, a bit like a short pose session at a life drawing class. Crazy that we’d never thought to do it before. Ben Woodhams sheet below seems almost superhuman…he had to find and draw the kittiwakes…first in 2 x 2 minute slots, then 2 x 1 minutes and finally 8 x 30 second drawings.

Timed kittiwake drawings by Ben Woodhams on the 2017 John Busby seabird drawing course

Timed kittiwake drawings by Ben Woodhams on the 2017 John Busby seabird drawing course

 

 

30 second timed guillemot drawings by SWLA bursary winner Wynona Legg

30 second timed guillemot drawings by SWLA bursary winner Wynona Legg

2 & 1 minute timed guillemot drawings by SWLA bursary winner Wynona Legg

2 & 1 minute timed guillemot drawings by SWLA bursary winner Wynona Legg

 

SWLA bursary winner Wynona Legg’s drawings are equally impressive… Fantastic to see her development during the week.

This is only a small part of what the course is about and maybe invidious to pick out individual work but the phenomenon of the discipline of quick timed sketches seemed worth sharing asap.

I think John Busby and David Measures would be very happy looking down on the evolution of the course.

SWLA at British Bird Watching Fair 2017

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The world famous British Bird Watching Fair attracts over 20,000 visitors over the three day event and the Society of Wildlife Artists is proud to be part of the experience. The impressive Art Marquee offers visitors the chance to buy art and talk to the artists themselves and the large SWLA stand is a key part of the display showing a wide range of work from member artists using wildlife, not just birds, as the theme.

Birdfair – 18th – 20th August Egleton, Rutland

18th – 20th August Egleton, Rutland

Source: birdfair.org.uk/

The exciting new book ‘Flight Lines’, celebrating the BTO/SWLA Flight Lines project, which brought together SWLA member artists, BTO researchers and volunteers to document migrant birds and those who study them will be launched at the Fair. This unique collaboration has produced some stunning art, supported by an authoritative and accessible narrative written by the BTO’s Mike Toms.

Flight Lines – Engaging with the wonders of migration | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Source: www.bto.org/science/migration/flight-lines

The SWLA holds the hugely popular Original A5 Artwork Draw on Friday and Saturday. Each ticket holder is guaranteed a piece of original art by a member artist and the money raised helps the Society to continue to offer bursaries to young and emerging artists.
This year the artists on the stand include Harriet Mead, Darren Rees, Esther Tyson, Nick Derry, Brin Edwards and Richard Jarvis. Other SWLA artists with stands in the marquee include Carry Akroyd, Nik Pollard, Chris Rose, John Threlfall, Mike Warren and Darren Woodhead.

Details for The Natural Eye – SWLA Exhibition 2017 on the Mall galleries website

The Mall Galleries have updated their website with information on dates and how to submit to The Natural Eye –  SWLA Exhibition 2017

Society of Wildlife Open Exhibition Call for Entries

Submissions are invited to the Society of Wildlife Artists 54th Annual Exhibition 2017 at Mall Galleries. How to Submit ALL work must be submitted online.

The Natural Eye 2016

The annual exhibition of the Society runs from 26th October to 6th November. There are over 350 artworks by more than 100 different artists (both members and non members) and includes displays from collaborative projects. There will be a major display of unframed work from the DKM/SWLA Turkish Sweetgum Project that took place earlier this year. Four SWLA artists spent time in Turkey working alongside 25 Turkish artists and students in the unique habitat of the Turkish sweetgum forests. Their guidance in showing new approaches and methods, such as working outside in situ inspired the students and proved to be a a rich and rewarding experience for all involved. Other unframed project displays include the RSPB/SWLA Wallasea Island Project and paintings by Darren Woodhead SWLA as part of his diving adventure as recipient of the Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art award who invented his own equipment to enable him to use watercolours underwater.

Hares and Goldfinches by Andrew Haslen SWLA

Hares and Goldfinches by Andrew Haslen SWLA

An online gallery of selected works can be found here.

Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art Award

Past winners of the Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art Award, Chris Rose SWLA and Harriet Mead PSWLA, will give an informal illustrated talk about their diving experiences.

First established in 2007 the Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art Award is a fantastic opportunity for an established artist to learn to dive and use their experiences and resulting art to publicise the plight of our marine habitats and the need for protected areas. The award is open to any artist with a passion for nature who wants to find out more about the astonishingly varied submerged landscapes around UK shores that are hidden beneath the waves. Chris Rose spent time exploring kelp beds off the Northumberland coast and Harriet Mead dived the chalk shoals in North Norfolk. This talk will give an insight into the challenges of drawing underwater and shows how they were inspired by the whole new world that they encountered.harriet-mead-diving

The talk is on Wednesday 26th October at 2pm in the Learning Centre at Mall Galleries and is free. No booking is necessary but as places are limited, please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

RSPB/SWLA Wallasea Island Project

SWLA artist Brin Edwards and Jeff Kew, Operations Manager Eastern Region RSPB will be giving an illustrated talk about the third SWLA/RSPB collaborative artist residency project at the Wallasea Island Reserve, which took place in October 2016.

The talk is at 3pm on Thursday 27th October in the Learning Centre at Mall Galleries and is free. No booking is necessary but as places are limited, please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Six artists spent three days on the site observing and drawing wildlife in the newly landscaped habitat at this major new Essex reserve. The aim of the Wallasea Island Reserve is to combat the threats from climate change and coastal flooding by recreating the ancient wetland landscape of mudflats and saltmarsh, lagoons and pasture. It will also help to compensate for the loss of such tidal habitats elsewhere in England.

The artists involved are: Kittie Jones SWLA, Brin Edwards SWLA, Ben Woodhams SWLA, Richard Allen ASWLA, Nik Pollard SWLA, Greg Poole SWLA

 

Seabird drawing course bursaries – deadline approaching

Application for this years seabird drawing bursaries closes at the end of next week  (7th October).  If you are a keen field sketcher why not apply?
About the bursaries
2016 course blogs
Application form
Or if you would  like to attend the course as a paying student, please contact Mark Boyd, details below.

Enjoy a week long field based drawing & painting course.  Learn alongside our team of experienced tutors Darren Woodhead, Greg Poole, Kittie Jones and guest tutor Kim Atkinson. Be inspired by the energetic frenzy of the seabird colonies around the Firth of Forth at the height of the breeding season. We welcome enthusiastic sketchers of all levels.more details from – mark.boyd@zen.co.uk  –  01767 650904seabird-drawing-f