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.
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.
Having lived in Chesterfield for 40 years (!!) close to the Peak District in Northern Derbyshire, I have never been far from nature growing up, but as many residents will admit, we very often take our home towns and cities for granted, rarely appreciating 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 much enjoyed, walks and cycles out and about 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 using coloured pencils first and foremost. Copying bird illustrations from books when I was little, and have always held a great passion for these feathered animals. So I hope to produce a collection of paintings of these beautiful creatures and offer prints where possible too. Progress images will be posted here on the news blog, and any original pieces will be available to purchase on the STORE page.
Photography by John Graham and Karen M Berisford
Karen M Berisford