Fortunately, the weather has been great here in Newbiggin by the Sea. My partner John Graham and I have taken advantage of the warm, sunny days by going on bike rides along the coast. After being limited in our movements due to the Covid-19 lockdown for seven weeks, it felt amazing to enjoy the beauty of the Northumberland coastline again. I've included some photos from our bike ride and some recent artwork I've been working on. Lastly, I wanted to share that John spotted a rare bird in Newbiggin. Please keep reading to see what bird it was.
Newbiggin in the sun
Last week, John and I went for a bike ride along the coast. We took a break at Beacon's Point, a popular spot for birdwatchers known to have rare birds occasionally. We enjoyed the warm weather and took some time to relax on the cliff edge before moving on towards Lynemouth power station, hoping to spot some Flycatchers and Whinchats. We followed a path alongside the golf course covered in gorse bushes, providing an ideal bird nesting place.
'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, making the final piece compelling. This bird overpowers its drab surroundings, so extra detail is optional. I created the wooden post using a mix of paint and texture gel, and the raindrops added at the end helped frame the bird perfectly. This 9" x 12" acrylic painting is available for sale, framed or unframed. You can see some framed examples below.
Get in touch for details about purchasing this painting.
Last year, John took this reference image used for this painting. The area around him was filled with open fields and small wooded areas, providing abundant wildlife. One morning, a Kingfisher landed on a wooden post and posed momentarily, allowing John to capture a few images before it flew away.
'On the Easel' - Bullfinch & Apple Blossom acrylic painting
I made this painting by combining two reference images - one of a Bullfinch and the other of apple blossoms. Near my home, there's a cycle path lined with apple blossom trees where I often spot Bullfinches. However, I couldn't capture a photo of the bird and the blossoms simultaneously. So, I used a Bullfinch image taken by John. The painting is 8" x 8" and made with acrylic. It is now available for sale, either framed or unframed. If you want to purchase this portrait, don't hesitate to contact me for more details.
What a find!
One morning, John was lucky to spot a beautiful European Bee-Eater flying over a nearby lake. Despite being far away, the Bee-Eater was easily recognizable due to its long beak and bright colours. While there have been reports of Bee-Eaters in other parts of the country, this was the first sighting of one 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.
Most people visiting my website would understandably think that I only take on pet & portrait commissions, but I do undertake various subjects, if someone is looking for something specific. The three images below were created using an editing program, allowing me to cut and paste sections of digital images, to create one 'mock up', which will then become the reference photo used for the portrait. As a huge fan of photography, I have collected thousands of photographs of animals, birds & many other subject matter, that can be used for a bespoke portrait.
These Barn Owls were taken on two separate occasions at the Butterfly House in Sheffield, but the background was taken in Cresswell, Northumberland. The wall was taken on a different day, at Woodhorn church in Northumberland. They were all cropped and loosely fused together in an editing program, to create a single composition. The artwork, which is being created in coloured pencils for a returning customer from the USA, will be created by balancing out incorrect lighting and generally offering a more appealing and balanced background. When this article was first written, this drawing was currently in progress, but the finished drawing has been added here at a later date.
The final drawing was added in at a later date.
The Sumatran Tiger was also created in Coloured pencils for a returning customer who allowed me to create my own composition. The Tiger image was taken at a zoo, of which you can still see the bars. The water, rocks in the foreground, and the tree branches at the top left of the image, were all cut from individual images, to create the one composition.
The Green girl was created purely for a competition entry for the USA Colored pencil Magazine. You could pull any section from the image itself and create your own composition, for this I uploaded it into Picmonkey and literally played around with different tones, overlays and applications until I came up with the final reference image.
If you have your own idea for a piece of art that you would like to commission me to create in coloured pencils or acrylics, you can drop me an E-mail direct at: email@example.com, drop me a message via my CONTACT FORM or request a quote on the BOOKING/QUOTE FORM. Here is another bespoke commission that was requested for a Wedding Day, and laterly, a gift for a 1 year wedding anniversary gift.
I had a busy week in my hometown of Chesterfield, where I ran a workshop on creating coloured pencil pet portraits on May 9th, 2015. I also took the opportunity to catch up with family and friends. Once back in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, my partner John and I decided to take a day off from work to relax and enjoy nature. We took our bikes and brought our cameras to capture new reference material. We rode up the coastal road through Cresswell and stopped at Cresswell Pond to observe the waders. Eventually, we ended up at Druridge Pools, where we found a few hides dotted around the lake. We rode 20 miles and took some fantastic photos, despite experiencing soreness the following day.
I love immersing myself in nature and taking photographs to incorporate into my work. It's just as important to me as the quality of my art products. My goal is to capture the rawness and essence of the moment, taking into account the surroundings and weather conditions. It's truly an honour to witness wildlife in their natural habitats and be able to offer a glimpse into their lives.
Karen M Berisford