We have been very lucky here in Newbiggin by the Sea with the weather. We've had some warm, sunny days that have allowed myself and my partner John Graham, to get out on our bikes for a couple of hours and cycle along the coast. After 7 weeks of limited movement during the Covid-19 lockdown, getting back out to enjoy our beautiful Northumberland coastline again was wonderful. Here I share some photos of that day plus photos of recent artworks in progress or completed. Finally, a bird rarity to Newbiggin!
Newbiggin in the sun
Last week we went out for a bike ride along the coast. We cycled up to Beacon's Point, which is a popular spot for birdwatchers, being that it turns up rarities from time to time. It was a warm day and we sat on the cliff edge for a while before heading towards Lynemouth power station in the search for Flycatchers and Whinchats. We walked along the path at the side of the golf course which is covered in gorse bushes and an ideal place for birds to nest. This was where John once photographed a Red-spotted Bluethroat. A rarity which attracted a large group of photographers from miles around who set up their cameras on the beach and waited for hours in the hope they got a look, some did, others wasn't so lucky (me included) The latest rarity that turned up in Newbiggin can be found at the bottom of this blog.
'On the Easel' - Kingfisher in Acrylics
I have had some relaxing evenings in the studio recently. Having set my sights on completing some of my unfinished paintings which have been sitting on the shelf for a while, I got the paints back out. The Kingfisher painting is a simple composition, but this is what makes it so effective. This bird overpowers its drab surroundings so extra detail is not really needed. The wooden post was created using a mix of paint and texture gel and the raindrops added at the end helped to frame the bird perfectly. This is a 9" x 12" acrylic painting which is available for sale framed or unframed. You ca see some framed examples below.
Get in touch for details about purchasing this painting.
The reference image used for this painting was taken by John last year. Being surrounded by open fields and small, woodland areas, there is always an abundance of wildlife. The Kingfisher momentarily posed on the wooden post early one morning, giving John enough time to capture a few images, before it departed.
'On the Easel' - Bullfinch & Apple Blossom acrylic painting
This painting was created using two reference images, the Bullfinch and the blossom. There is a cycle path close to home, which has a long row of apple blossom trees where you often see Bullfinches. Although I was able to get photos of the trees in blossom, I was not lucky enough to get a Bullfinch posing at the same time and so used one of John's Bullfinch images.
This is an 8" x 8" acrylic painting which will be available for sale upon completion, either framed or unframed. Contact me for details about purchasing this portrait.
What a find!
John was extremely lucky one morning to capture a glimpse of the stunning European Bee-Eater as it flew over a lake close to home. Although it was a long way off, there is no mistaking the Bee-Eater with its long beak and vibrant colours. Although there have been sightings of Bee-Eaters around the country, this is the first time a Bee-Eater has been seen in Newbiggin by the sea.
I was approached by a returning customer from the USA to create a Coloured pencil portrait of a Barn Owl and offered to create a few mock ups of compositions before I began as I always do. As a lover of photography I have a large photo reference library of various animals and birds including Barn Owls and so put together 5 different compositions one of which was the 2 Owls on the wall which became the basis of the portrait. The second stage was creating a few mock ups of the Owls within different backgrounds and finally, with the Owls and background in place the last collection of mock ups made were with various walls for the Owls to stand on which were in focus and added interest to the final composition. Many of my Wildlife portraits are created this way.
I chose a tan toned paper to work on which matches the warm tones of the Barn owls as well as giving strength in colour to the lighter tones such as the whites. The tonal background will be created using Derwent's Coloursoft range pencils which are soft and blend well for great effect and the Owls & the wall will be created using the caran Dache Luminance pencils which are ideal for very fine detail and strength of colour. A base layer of tones and loose detail is first applied to the whole of the portrait before I then apply the stronger & finer details to completion.
The Barn Owl at Cresswell, Northumberland (UK)
This portrait is based on actual Barn Owl territory at Cresswell in Northumberland (UK). It is a 40 minute cycle ride from where I live along the beautiful coastal route of Lynemouth through to Cresswell pond, this place regularly has Photographers set up waiting for this little guy to make an appearance. Sitting in the undergrowth of the wide open field which connects to a lagoon where you can regularly see Avocets, Oystercatchers & even Otters on the rare occasion, is an area overlooking the coast and is ideal for field mice and voles. I wait patiently as I see him in the distance, flying silently and hovering on numerous occasions, not at all phased by the long line of photographers with their huge cameras on tripods waiting to get some great photos themselves. There is something breathtaking about seeing such a Bird in the Wild and feeling honoured that this Owl continues it's daily journey passing close by whilst I click the rapid fire button on my camera. Here are some of those photos.
After having spent a hectic week back in Chesterfield (my old home town) to run my Coloured pencil 'Pet portrait' Workshop which ran on the 9th of May (2015) and catching up with family and friends too, once back home in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, I decided to take a rare day off from work to recuperate and myself and my partner John Graham, decided to head out on the bikes with our camera's to hopefully capture some new reference material and simply enjoy Mother Nature in all her glory! We headed off up the coastal road through Cresswell stopping off at Cresswell Pond to spend some time in their hide looking out at the waders and ending up at Druridge Pools who also has a few hides dotted around their lake too. A 20 mile round trip gathering such great photos were totally worth sore bottoms the next day!!
the natural beauty that surrounds us, so I feel very privileged to have seen such an abundance of Wildlife in such a short space of time - these few but well enjoyed, walks and cycles out have always left me thinking one thing as I stand there admiring each view "I want to paint"!
So in the next few weeks, I will be going back to my first love in Art and that is Birds. I taught myself to draw with Coloured pencils working from bird Illustrations in books when I was little and have always held a great passion for these feathered animals, so have decided to produce a collection of paintings of these beautiful creatures and hope to offer prints once completed too. Progress images will be posted and all Original work will be available to purchase if anyone wishes to buy!
Photography by www.johngrahamart.com and Karen M Berisford
Karen M Berisford