Friday, April 26, 2013


I’ve just received the Summer 2013 issue of ‘Birds’ the RSPB magazine. Filled as ever with stunning photographs; there’s a particularly attractive shot of a Redstart on the cover. Digital photography has brought a revolution in the way wildlife subjects can be portrayed. The Redstart on the cover reveals more detail in a fraction of a second than is seen by the naked eye even after long study.
Photographs are a good source of reference for the artist but it seems to me that many artists are preoccupied with achieving laborious detailed realism because we are visually fed too much photography. Much of the enjoyment in painting both for the painter and the viewer comes from the enjoyment of the hand-made mark. All hand crafted media offer distinctive ways for the artist to interpret and exploit what he sees.  For me the expressive marks made by a moving hand are what make painting interesting. The starting point of expressive mark begins in front of the subject with a long stare.

Lars Jonnsson advocates looking at a bird for six minutes before starting to paint it – good memory training? My current favourite wildlife painter though is Darren Woodhead. A watercolourist who works outdoors from direct observation. He can be found on Twitter or visit his website at:

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