Monday, 23 May 2016

Island Paradise

For many years now I have been meaning to visit Skomer, one of the islands off of the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline. It is a national nature reserve and one of the most important breeding sites of sea birds in Europe,with the largest breeding population of Manx Shearwaters in the world. You have to be on the island at night to see them though as they hide all day in their burrows safe underground. 
I attempted to get onto the island about 3 years ago but we got there too late to board the boat and so could only have a boat ride around the island. There is a limit to the number of people allowed onto the island each day, a good thing of course. This time we left home at 5am as its a 2 hour drive away and we got there eagerly early to get our tickets. 

We got onto Skomer at 10am and set out to explore the rugged island in the spring sunshine. On the northern side the bluebells were so impressive, just a hazy wash of warm blue in all directions. I've never seen so many before. Then further on, the burrows of the seabirds pitted the ground and the starry sea campion grew in such profusion all around the little holes. At The Wick was a large Puffin colony, there were a few there posing for us. They are such beautiful, entertaining characters and so small. It felt like a privilege to be able to be there to watch, photo and sketch them. 

On the cliffs Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills are busy building nests in the crevices of  these ancient rocks. If you are lucky you may see the rarer Choughs but not this time for me.

 This island also has an interesting history with archaeological evidence suggesting that there was an Iron Age farming community of up to 200 people here.
I highly recommend a visit to Skomer for all nature lovers. I had such a wonderful time that I am already planning a longer stay on the islands.

Thrift along the cliff tops

I've now added a couple of puffin doodles, the left one is painted with Derwent Inktense blocks which I used with a paintbrush. The right hand one is in watercolours.

Other news with me is that I have found a new love for painting in oils. I have just completed 2 bird oil paintings.

Merlin Falcon
Little Owl
I have also completed the Oak Woods 2 painting , a very large 71 cms x 49 cms. I counted 70 individual species on it! But some are depicted more than once through the seasons, in different growth stages.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Plants and Pollinators exhibition

The Plants and pollinators exhibition in Blossoms gallery, Aberystwyth is on now for 4 weeks. There are some really fascinating sculptures of enlarged pollen grains and deconstructed flowers which all makes for a different and interesting show.
 Here are a few photos from the exhibition.

Deconstructed bluebell and Dandelion

These amazing insects and sculptures are painted and made by Tereska Shepherd, the gallery owner.

The fascinating pollen grain sculptures

My moth painting is on an easel in the window.

Here are 2 more of my paintings, the foxgloves and bee and the bee orchid.

Upstairs in the Eco gallery is the exhibition 'Made with Love and Rubbish' with amazing work by Sue Clow and Ruby Roberts. All pieces are hand crafted from recycled rubbish, very thought provoking and colourful too.
If you'd like to check out Blossoms gallery, here's their website.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Arch - Y Bwa

Now the new year is in full swing and health wise I am feeling much better, it's time to catch up. It has been very hard lately trying to keep inspired, when feeling terrible. The weather has also been bad, constant rain, so not good to go out with a sketchbook. Such a shame we've had no snow, just rain. But I still have work from the October journal at Cymystwyth Arch so I will post some now. 

Cladonia Lichen Studies
Autumn Sketchbook studies from near Cwmystwyth Arch; Bilberry, Sycamore Leaf with tar spot, Amethyst Deceiver and some Polystichum moss.
A study of the Arch in Daniel Smiths watercolours- mainly Moonglow, Green apatite and serpentine; I really love the Primatek range for landscape studies
The Arch- Y Bwa was built by Thomas Johnes of the Hafod Estate in 1810. 
I love this place so much, it has an aura about it and a good place to sketch. But unfortunately on my last visit I was sad to see that a lot of trees had been felled and the place looked a bit like a bombsite. Two huge conifers that were growing near to the arch were felled; this upset me most of all as they hosted a great diversity of fungi in autumn. I understand that a lot of larches have to be felled as the Phytophthora ramorum disease takes hold in this area but these trees were not larches, (I think Spruces), but I'm sure (hope) there's good reason for it. Anyway, it will all grow back in time into native heath and woodland. 
Larch woodlands are beautiful and a favourite of mine. These delicate trees allow light to penetrate under the canopy and so other plants flourish beneath them, unlike some other conifers plantations, which create dense dark woods.They are deciduous, so in Autumn they scatter russet needles and leave a carpet of glowing colour. Very sad to see so many being felled due to the disease in this area.

I've made a few more mini concertina books and have them for sale on my Etsy shop, a link is in the right hand column.

I hope to start painting soon, it's been a few weeks with no painting so I think I've had enough of a break, well OK, artist block!

Keep inspired and happy painting.