Sunday, 11 September 2011


I Had a very surreal day on Saturday! I attended a Book Fair in York to see if I could find any nice gems relating to bird art or any nice old bird books hidden amongst the many shelves of antique books on display. There were many of the old classics on display namely British tits (Christopher Perrins from the Collins New Naturalist Series)
that seems to appear at every stall?

However every now and then I would come across a beauty of a book like The Sparrowhawk by Ian Newton which is made twice as amazing as it contains Keith Brockie's incredible illustrations! (SOME OF MY FAVOURITE OF ALL TIME...especially the bird incubating on nest...WOW) what I would give to get hold of a print!

Sparrowhawk and with feathers of prey, by Keith Brockie

Sparrowhawk Face On by Keith Brockie

Sparrowhawk Circling up over Landscape, by keith Brockie

Sparrowhawk Head Profile by Keith Brockie


But the best was yet to come and on getting to the Modern First Editions Stall I was blown away with what lay ahead of me....SIR PETER SCOTTS ORIGINAL DRAWINGS FOR THE KEY PLATES OF 'THE WATERFOWL OF THE WORLD'!!!!!

Amazingly the Gentlemen (a real gentlemen it has to be said) running the stall allowed me to take it down from its display and look at every page and photograph them.

I was in Heaven!

This is the description given in the brochure regarding Sir Peter Scotts Work:

An archive from the estate of Sir Peter Scott's widow comprising thirty four line original line drawings and two dozen proofs by the great ornithological writer and artist for Volumes One, Two and Three of The Waterfowl of the World written by Scott's friend the French-American author Jean Delacour. In their clean lines and lack of fussiness these drawings reveal Scott's facility as a draughtsman and his extraordinary attention to detail, combined with the drive and determination which enabled him to carry through encyclopedic projects of this kind. These are the illustrations to the key plates which were bound into volumes I-III opposite Scott's colour plates of waterfowl. They are delicately inked onto tracing paper apparently by drawing over his own painted images for the coloured plates. There are pin marks which appear in the corners of all the sheets and would have held each one in place over the primary image. After completing the outline Scott then adds enough detail to effect the transfer from painted image to line drawing, rounding out the image and denoting significant identifying features. He appears to have decided that the images of chicks required the most shading and cross-hatching which makes them some of the most endearing images. Scott's final task for each drawing was to glue into position the labels that allow the reader to identify the species in both English and Latin. Most sheets also show additional annotations in Scott's handwriting. There are frequent signs of revision and improvement. Scott used tippex where he'd made minor mistakes and blue watercolour where a whole bird needed removing from the image. It's noticeable that he's more prone to these errors in the drawings for the first volume than the third volume which shows a much greater fluency of line, aided perhaps by the slightly smaller numbers of American and African species filling the page. In addition to Scott's notes there are printer's annotations concerning technical information, especially regarding the need to resize the images. VOLUME 1 covers The Magpie Goose, Whistling Ducks, Swans and Geese, Sheldgeese and Sheldducks: fifteen key plates showing quite heavy patterns of correction and emendation; each sheets labelled by Scott with some additional annotations and instructions. There is a letter from Country Life returning the drawings to Scott in 1962. VOLUME 2: The Dabbling Ducks - 23 proofs used for labelling and printed on slightly more opaque tracing paper; also in their original envelope. VOLUME 3: Eiders, Pochards, Perching Ducks, Scoters, Golden-eyes and Mergansers, Stiff-tailed Ducks. All 19 of the original key plates are present for Volume III drawn on a higher quality of tracing paper and consequently presenting clearer images. Plates in their original envelope. The drawings with their carefully positioned labels are testament to Peter Scott's lifelong mission to share his passion for wildlife, and waterfowl in particular, with the widest possible audience.

Here are some of the photos I took of the drawings and one taken from the website that's a lot clearer than my shaky efforts resulting from the amount of adrenaline rushing through my blood stream....


I would just like to say a massive thankyou to the gentlemen at Modern First Editions for all of his time and allowing me the privelage to look at an absolute legends work! I am very grateful indeed

If anyone would like any more information concerning these drawings or is interesting in them they are for sale at the Modern First Editions Website @

BELIEVE ME THERE WORTH IT....There beautifully executed and the Ducklings/Goslings are incredible

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Jonathan Pomroy

I was meant to create a post before about the superb talents of Jonathan Pomroy but thought it was even more applicable to post one at present after seeing the latest Issue of Birding World and Jonathan's beautiful swift painting that decorates the front cover for all to see.

My first encounter with Jonathan's work was in various Yorkshire journals that I recieved after getting some of my feeble attempts printed in them. Looking back at my work In some of these I would have never have put them to print if I knew Jonathan's work was going to feature in them as they made mine look like scribbles of an infant.

I then wondered if he had got a website and a blog and found he had..Wahoo

See Jonathan's work here

Little Gull by Jonathan Pomroy.....enough said!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

An Artist in Focus: Szabolcs Kokay 'UNBELIEVABLE'

I was once having a conversation with Rebecca Nason on Fair Isle and can remember mentioning to her how amazing Szabolcs Kokay's artwork was.

Rebecca was in complete agreement and as coincidence would have It she told me that her stall was next to his at the bird fair.

At this point I vividly remember turning to her and saying that she should keep an eye on his work as he will undoubtedly become one of the masters of Bird and Wildlife illustration!

However I think I may have been wrong when I said "BECOME" I think I meant to say 'IS' and I hope this video illustrates my point!


More of Szabolcs Kokay's mind blowing work can be found at:

and on his blog at:

Check out his Squacco Heron in Watercolour....I'm speechless!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

New Book: Drawing and Painting Birds by Tim Wootton

Where do I begin!

Lets just say I wake up very tired as I can't seem to put it down when I begin to read it just before bed. Not only is the text addictive but the pages are decorated from top to bottom with amazing artwork from some of my favourite artists and now new favourite artists.

Every aspect of bird art is covered in the book and takes you through each necessary step to get you started until you have reached completion on a finished piece. The beauty of any art book is its ability to relate to and inspire the beginner such as myself as well as a master of the field and this book does just that.

The book is segregated into the following sections

1. Why Paint Birds?
2. Drawing Techniques
3. Anatomy
4.Drawing Bird Types
5.Adding Paint
6.What and where to Paint
7. Elements of Composition: Placing the Birds in Context
8.Advance Techniques

and is a mass montage of colour, energy, and beauty that clearly conveys Tim Wootton's skill as a bird artist, his personal journey through art and his great passion for birds, bird art, the artists that inspired him and for life itself.

The only negative points I have to make about the book is the fact I don't get anytime to do my own art now because I can't put the book down. Also the book is beginning to jeopardise my relationship, as my girlfriend has lost me to the book and is sick of hearing 'how do you do that' and 'have you seen this' and 'WOW. WOW.WOW...look at this'.

It was bad enough before this book was published as I had not one, but two of John Busby's drawing birds books and now I have three books next to one another that talk to me when I'm sat around the house, 'PICK ME UP, PICK ME UP, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO' there worse than Kinder Bueno's....Yes its the book has be likened to Busby's books but honestly who gives a monkeys, surely more the merrier.

To all those negative critics I would like to refer to something John Busby once wrote:

'Too many wildlife artists shut their eyes to the values of the wider world of art, and then complain that their own work, which may ignore the aesthetic and emotional energies that are the lifeblood of art, is not admitted in the same league. Knowledge of subject matter is not enough. Art is a synthesis, a unity of the ideas and the means used to express them'

Yes I'm obsessed with this book and Busby's book and yes I don't care and I'm sure you will be yourself on opening it up. If you simply love birds or simply love illustrating and painting them you have to get this, that is unless you have a art deadline to meet

Right I have to go as I have a book to read.........oh and I may need to look into relationship counselling

Firstly a Huge Well done and Thank you to Tim Wootton and to all the featured artist


Mark Andrews
Paul Bartlett
Robert Bateman
David Bennett
Arthur Bishop
Adam Bowley
John Busby
Alan Dalton
Adrian Dancy
Nick Derry
Paschalis Dougalis
Andrew Ellis
Angela French
Paul Hawkyard
Debby Kaspari
Ed Keeble
Szabolcs Kokay
Peter Mathios
Clive Meredith
Jocelyn Oudesluys
Bruce Pearson
Jonathan Pointer
Chris Rose
Beth Rosenkoeffer
John Threlfall
Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe
Esther Tyson
Franciscus Van Boxtel
Barry Van Dusen
Katrina Van Grouw
Juan Varela (all I can say if you haven't seen it already is wait until you see the drake Shoveler.....WOW)
Mike Woodcock
Darren Woodhead
Tim Wootton

Monday, 28 March 2011

Ray Turley 1949-2011

I thought I would take this opportunity to pay tribute to Ray Turley who sadly past away earlier this year. Although I never personally met him I felt compelled to celebrate his life in my own way having enjoyed many of his illustrations and paintings in the past

May he rest in peace and his artwork being enjoyed for many years to come

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Sad Loss!

What ever happened to the days when stunning black and white vignettes graced the pages of our Ornithological Journals?

What happened to scraper board?

and what ever happened to a lot of the artists that produced them?

Ive uploaded a small selection of the type of work I am talking about and would love to think that one day I may see it again in Birdwatch, Birdwatching, British Birds, Birding World (At least Birding World has held on to having artwork decorate the front cover) alongside the fantastic photography that decorates the pages in these periodicals.

Black Stork (Phil Jones)

Greenshank on Nest (Andrew Shaw)

Dawn Goosanders (Peter M. Leonard)

Dusky Warbler (Brian Small)

Common Terns (John Cox)

Dartford Warbler (Brian Small)

Upland Sandpiper (Martin Hallam)

Northern Oriole (Ian Lewington)

Pallas's Warbler (Gary Wright)

Great Snipe (Martin Hallam)

In my eyes it has just as much right to be there than any high resolution image and encapsulates a bird a whole lot better than a full frame close up of a bird in which each rictal bristle is on display.

I'm not saying I don't love pin sharp close ups, as I do and a lot of the time they are essential for identification within a lot of species but would just love to see more photos whereby birds are in the surroundings and the environment/habitat has just as much voice as the bird itself.

Martin Cade of Portland Bird Observatory achieves just this and for this reason is still one of my favourite Bird photographers, I hope he doesn't mind me using his images as an example but this is what I mean and I think you will agree they look stunning.

Sorry if I sound like I'm ranting I just feel quite passionate about this subject!

Anyway these two images are my Martin Cade attempt of a Red-Backed Shrike on Fair Isle in 2009 and are some of my favourite images i have ever taken.

Cheers for the inspiration Martin and keep up the great work

P.s: If anyone feels just as strongly about this subject then simply scan your old black and white images/illustrations, old blast from the past images, vignettes you once had printed, vignettes you didn't get printed or drawings you simply love from old journals and email them to me ( and I will continue to post them for the people to see and enjoy! Thanks Ever So Much and I really hope the above artists don't mind me using there work.

Thanks again Jack

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Legends, legendary times and legendary Birds!

This video depicts everything I love about John Busby, Gannets and Bird Art!

Simply a living Legend.........Inspirational is an understatement!

At 12 minutes he Beautifully sums up not only why he is one of the all time MASTERS of Bird Illustration (persisting in adverse weather conditions) but also Shetland when its windy:

" As much to deter an artist and make life difficult as there is to inspire"

Fortunately in my last year on Fair Isle Deryk (another living legend) took me down a rather skinny sheep track at Guidicum with Simon and Lachlan to ring Gannets and their chicks.

I was Blown away. Not literally, but by the shear beauty of a Gannet Colony!

I can't thank him enough as I have never been anywhere or experienced anything quite like it, you simply drift away into another world............If you have never done it you most definitely should or sit near to is a far more beautiful world than the one humans share with their neighbours!

Although I look like a cabbage in all my gear I assure you it is necessary! Take a look at what an ultra-aggressive adult did to my arm and imagine what they can do if they went for your eyes!

Me and an Adult

Lachlan with an adult

Si with another Adult

Downy Chick

Adult with Downy Chick

Me cutting free a well grown chick having got itself entangled in fishing netting used to construct the nest mound

Deryk minding the youngsters