I really love drawing birds. Every day I get so much pleasure from watching the birds in my garden and those which I see and hear when out and about. Their antics always entertain, and I am fascinated by how robust and vital such tiny and fragile seeming creatures are. I have previously only drawn wild birds, but had often though about drawing a budgie. So I was delighted when I was commissioned to draw these two beautiful birds, what wonderful colours they are!
Budgie Buddies is a portrait created as a personal gift from the client to someone who means a lot to her. These birds are treasured pets, and the portrait a symbol of the clients love and appreciation for her friend. What a beautiful and thoughtful birthday present to receive.
In the client’s own words: ‘The budgies arrived today, Oh my god they are so amazing! And thanks 100% for the care with the wrapping, so well protected. Off to the framers tomorrow!’
‘A bitter sweet story behind this wonderful portrait. I commissioned Tamsin months before the birthday of one of my fantastic volunteers in my CIC business as a special thank you for her hard work. I arranged a meal out to hand over the surprise (it was so hard to keep the secret) but the day before Sparky (the blue bird) suddenly died. I was in a quandary whether to give the portrait or not as Denise was so upset. Anyway I decided I should and she was so thrilled as she hadn’t even got a photo of him (her neighbour and I had secretly taken one). Denise found the portrait a wonderful tribute to her beautiful bird! Rosy (the green one) now has two new friends to keep her company! So thank you Tamsin for your beautiful work and ever lasting memory’
Budgie Buddies is drawn with pastel pencils on grey Pastelmat.
Commissioning an original piece of art is a simple process which is a collaboration between us both. I can offer a range of options depending on your preferences and budget, and I make every effort to ensure that I exceed your expectations with the portrait created. As each picture takes many hours to create, if you have a date in mind for a gift for example, the sooner the commission is planned the better to ensure that it is possible to achieve. I am always happy to discuss any ideas you may have, so drop me a line or give me a call and I will help in any way that I can.
Looking back at 2020 in pictures, this is my year in art. Amongst all the other things that life has required, and the particular and unexpected challenges of 2020, making art has remained a constant source of joy for me. There is a certain peace that comes with putting your attention on one task, and the distraction it offers from the regular thoughts when that task is challenging. Being creative, in whichever way it manifests for you, can be a form of meditation. For me it is an opportunity to disappear into something else for a while, to challenge my abilities as well as my preconceptions, and to really focus my attention on what is.
I will never tire of the magic of watching a drawing unfold in front of me. Despite knowing the techniques that I employ the visual illusions of shadows and highlights creating a sense of form work every time, and this never ceases to delight. I love the tangible nature of art, that I have something to show for my efforts, and appreciate the time I get to spend really getting to know the individuality of my subjects in this way.
Top row, left to right: Bonny Miss Bonnie (pastel), Billy the Kid (pastel), Jay (pastel), Pepsi (pastel), Melissa (pastel)
Bottom row, left to right: An Apprentice of Indigo (coloured pencil), An Age of Indigo (coloured pencil), Lisa and Danny (graphite pencil), Barn Owl (pastel), What a Hoot! (pastel)
The Jay is an elusive bird, a shy member of the Crow family that lives in British woodlands. Some years ago I lived very near to a Cornish wood and as a result had the most wonderful range of birds come to the feeders in my garden that I have ever known. Amongst the visitors were Jays, such beautiful birds that would strut around the lawn cocking their heads to better study any offerings that they found on the ground. My cat and I had a shared interest in bird watching so would sit together in the window seat, equally delighted by our feathered friends, albeit with somewhat different motivations behind our observations.
This wintry study of a Jay paused on a snowy branch captured my imagination, due to both the subject and the colours in the scene. I created this artwork in pastel, which lends itself in particular to the softness of the out of focus background and the overlay of snowflakes as a finishing touch. It has been made into greetings cards, which served as my Christmas card for 2020, and are now available to purchase should you want to share this handsome bird with your loved ones too.
Sometimes it is fun to sketch rather than draw in a more detailed and precise fashion. I don’t do this as often as I might, but am finding of late that I am enjoying working quickly more often and am developing my style. This collection of studies are drawn with a carbon pencil and white pastel. Carbon pencils are relatively new to me but have become a tool of choice when I want to get very dark marks like you do with charcoal but without the smudging. By sketching on toned paper, in this case in a brown paper sketchbook, the mid-tones are already present so you can focus on capturing the darks and the highlights.
These quick studies are of Peanut, a burrowing owl who is hand reared and so tame and very friendly. I have had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and I am a huge fan of this little creature. It is a joy to sit with him and just observe his movements and markings as he chats with his owner Sarah, taking it all in.
If you are in Cornwall anytime I highly recommend paying a visit to Sarah, Peanut and his fellow birds with the the Bird Lady of Fowey. Sarah is hugely knowledgeable and passionate about the owls and hawks in her care, and offers excellent bird encounters and flying experiences in an intimate setting in the heart of Cornwall. Or like we did, if you are living or staying in Cornwall, you can arrange for Sarah to visit you in the comfort of your own home.
If you too have the good fortune to meet dear little Peanut any time, please do say hello to him from me.
Introducing this wonderful Eurasian eagle owl, the star of What a Hoot! This is the third happy creature to feature in my series of joyful animals against blue backgrounds.
There are eagle owls living wild in the UK, and although I have yet to see one myself, I have had the great pleasure of getting up close to some which are in captivity at sanctuaries here in Cornwall. I find them to be particularly magnificent, in part due to their sheer size and strength.
This beautiful owl was a treat to paint in soft pastel, especially as it looks as if it is chuckling to itself, which only serves to endear me to it even further. One very wise, and I suspect witty old owl.
The original painting that inspired this pastel painting is a masterpiece in oil by the Dutch artist, Fabritius.
Fabritius was a student of Michelangelo, one of my all time favourite artists, and I came to love this painting thanks to reading the wonderful novel of the same name, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.
As life’s little coincidences go, I happened to connect with a lovely woman whose daughter adores Fabritius’ painting, and at the same time stumbled across the book in a local book swap, and events combined to generate a commission of my interpretation of the image, with the concurrent pleasure of a really good read. Having immersed myself in the novel where the painting is central to the plot, I felt a strong connection to the image, only increased by a love of goldfinches and recent success in encouraging them to visit our garden.
This pastel painting was particularly challenging, as pastel is a very different medium to oil, and the closer I looked at the source image, the more I saw how integral the rough brush strokes were to the painting. This was replicated to some extent in my artwork, and consciously trying to paint in the style of another is very challenging though also enlightening. It is a process I have not undertaken before, though one I would like to do again as it was a challenge that stretched me and taught me a lot.
Now completed, The Goldfinch has settled in it’s new home, and is all set to travel to university with it’s owner when she takes her next step in life. As a gift from her parents, I am sure it will be treasured and travel with her through the years, and I hope will always be enjoyed.