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.
I was invited to write a feature for the November 2020 edition of The SAA’s PAINT magazine. When considering what the subject might be I happened upon this owl, and I found its faraway expression so appealing as it looked to me as if it were deep in thought.
I really enjoy sharing the process of how I create an artwork. It is an opportunity to demystify what happens on the drawing board, and also encourages me to work in a more methodical and way than I usually do. The act of recording the stages, the colours used and the manner in which I work brings a focus to the act which can be really valuable. Plus seeing my words and art in print is always particularly rewarding, so thank you to The SAA. I hope that the readers of PAINT will find this tutorial as rewarding and fun as I did.
I think that this portrait speaks for itself, Miss Bonnie is just irresitable! For me, portraiture is about finding an emotional connection between the subject and the viewer. Sometimes this is deeply sentimental or nostalgic, and other times I aim to make art that generates a big smile.
Ever since I painted my pastel picture Chewing it Over, starring a rather comedic looking giraffe, I have wanted to create a series of artworks with bright blue backgrounds and cheerful animals. Bonny Miss Bonnie is the second artwork in this now growing range of gleeful pictures.
Dear little Miss Bonnie is so full of life, almost bounding onto the page as if just popping up to say hello or to ask us to play. Her joyful expression makes me smile right back at here every time I see her, so I created this artwork to share the Miss Bonnie love and to brighten all of our days.
For this artwork, I used pastel pencils and worked on Pastelmat, whereas previously my pastel work was predominantly on velour paper. It was, I have to say, a very steep learning curve. I now understand Pastelmat a lot better than I once did, and am excited about the possibilities it offers me as an artist to work to a high level of detail with pastel. Miss Bonnie is just the beginning.
Many thanks to Tracy Lian Miles, Miss Bonnie’s human, for the wonderful source image.