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.

The Natural Eye, 55th annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists

The exhibition is held at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London and runs from Thursday 25th October to Sunday 4th November and includes over 350 catalogued works plus unframed project work in the Out of the Frame room. The catalogue and selected works are available to view here.

On 25th October at 12.30 there will be an informal talk by Jill Moger SWLA about her extraordinary ceramic sculpture of a hydrothermal vent. Jill will chat about what Hydrothermal vents are and the life forms that thrive on and around them and give an insight into how she went about creating the piece.

Harriet Mead PSWLA will give a short informal tour of the show on Thursday 25th October at 2.30 pm.

Kittie Jones SWLA will be happy to discuss artist’s portfolios on Friday 26th October.

Meet the Artists

There will be a member artist available most days to answer questions.

Thursday 25 October – Julia Manning and Jane Smith

Friday 26 October – Kittie Jones

Monday 29 October – Robert Greenhalf

Wednesday 31 October – Chris Wallbank and Richard Allen

Friday 2 November – Max Angus

Sat 3 November – Peter Partington

Leopard and Carmine Bee-eaters by Greg Poole SWLA

Ian Langford Field Sketches Award – Extended Deadline for Entries

The award is named in memory of the ornithologist, conservationist and publisher Ian Langford (1956-2017). Ian was passionate in his support of wildlife art and of the SWLA and particularly keen to encourage those artists working directly from nature.

Artists are invited to submit work for consideration for the £500 prize which will include displaying a selection of field sketches at The Natural Eye, Mall Galleries London in October. Overseas applications are accepted.

Extended Deadline is Friday 21st September.

For details on how to submit please click here.

The Natural Eye 2019, the 56th annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists

Ptarmigan pastel by John Threlfall SWLA

The Natural Eye, the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists showcases the very best of fine art inspired by the natural world. Renowned for displaying a wide ranging collection of exciting and thought provoking work including sculpture, printmaking, painting and drawing there will always be something to delight and inspire you. The Out of the Frame room celebrates the tradition of working from life and will show a selection of field sketches and project work from member artists. Each day a member artist will be at the gallery to meet visitors and share their experiences of creating their work. Alongside the exhibition our events will include artists demonstrations, talks and a portfolio day for which details will be published on this site in due course.


Private View Wednesday 23rd October

Open to the public: Thursday 24th October, 10am – 5pm

Closes: Sunday 3rd November, 1pm


The SWLA is extremely grateful to all our sponsors and supporters.

  • Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award (£1000 plus Swarovski optics)
  • Terravesta Prize (£2000)
  • The RSPB Award (£500)
  • Birdscapes Gallery Conservation Award (£750 split between the recipient and a conservation charity of their choice)
  • Larson-Juhl Drawing Prize (£500 framing materials and an article in their magazine 4Walls)
  • Mascot Media ‘Nature in Print’ Award: For the most original, unusual or effective interpretation of the natural world using traditional printmaking techniques. The winning artist will receive £200 and their choice of 10 current Mascot Media books
  • Dry Red Press Printmaker’s Award

The Natural Eye exhibition 2019 is sponsored by

Terravesta, pioneers of sustainable energy from Miscanthus

The Art of Migration, Birdscapes Gallery Norfolk

Male Cuckoo, Wicken by Richard Johnson

The Society of Wildlife Artists and the British Trust for Ornithology have joined forces in following our summer visitors, such as cuckoos, on their long incredible journeys from Britain to their wintering grounds in Africa and back. The scientific research undertaken and the amazing information and resulting artwork feature in the highly readable book Flight Lines by the BTO’s Mike Toms. Originals from the book and other works on the theme of migration, including those birds which travel huge distances to Britain from further north for our winter make up this fascinating exhibition.

Midday Saturday April 28th to May 20th 2018

The Birdscapes Gallery, Glandford, nr Holt NR25 7JP

Tel 01263741742   Open daily 11.am-5pm


Ud i det blå – ‘the great outdoors’ – Field Painting course on Bornholm, with Ben Woodhams and Greg Poole – 9th -15th September

Ud i det blå – Field Painting course

(picture: Ben Woodhams) Ud i det blå – Field Painting course on Bornholm, with Greg Poole and Ben Woodhams, Sunday the 9th to Saturday the 15th September, 2018 The Course Drawing and painting outside can be both exhilarating and daunting. This course will use drawing as a way of ‘active looking’.

Ben has also been carrying out an inspiring mission to walk the length of Bornholm’s coastline, painting as he goes. He is updating his blog each week with the results.


Posts about KYST blog written by woodhamslund