As it's the first of June, and the start of summer (well, late Spring I suppose - 21 days to go until summer proper!) and it's raining outside - sigh - I thought it was a good time to blog. As you may have noticed, there seems to be a bit of a bird theme with a lot of my pictures. I find watching birds very relaxing - whether it's just watching the Goldfinch and the Swifts (hooray, a summer bird!) skittering round above the garden, checking the robins are still popping in and out of the bushes (we are slowly getting more different visitors in the garden) or just seeing what we spot when out and about on our walks. We also enjoy visiting Brandon Marsh to see what's about there too; hence Bittern spotting! Not only is it relaxing - much needed with both of our jobs - but it's helping give me plenty of inspiration for pictures too, and I like having a growing knowledge of what's around me. I am rubbish with birdsong though - apart from a Green Woodpecker's yaffle ;-)
I wanted to share some of my photographs I have been collecting together over the last few months and a few drawings that I've done too.
The chap above - Dunnock - was drawn from a photograph I took on a visit to Packwood House, one of our local National Trust properties earlier in the year. It's actually quite a big drawing, I must remember to try and put something onto my pictures to show the scale of them! I have been checking out the use of images and copyright for copying/referencing images and have come to the conclusion it is far safer to take my own (or use Dave's pictures with his permission of course!), so I have been trying to sneak the camera away from Dave to take photos when we are out and about. We have a Canon 700D and two lenses. One is a zoomier lens than the other. You can tell I'm very technically minded about such things! I might add more detail about the camera later, but I'll need to go and read things first!! I have been practising my manual focusing rather than relying on the auto settings, but still need lessons to learn more about ISO settings and shutter speeds! I am getting there slowly - practise and playing will keep helping! I haven't filtered or altered my pictures in any way colourwise; they are as taken, apart from the odd bit of cropping to take out a stray branch or just to improve the framing. I'm not a photoshop fan!
We've just got back from a lovely few days away in Chapel Stile in the Lakes District (the sun was out and it was a warm and balmy three days!) where I was hoping to get a bit more photography done. However the birds must be very well fed because we had very few visitors to the cottage garden, whereas at Easter it was packed out with birds on the feeder. I took the first two pictures below of the Blue Tit and the Chaffinch there at Easter. The Nuthatch (sitting on the bacon!) was taken at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in February. There were lots of water birds there too and a fabulous heronry in the trees, I think we stopped counting at around 30 nests! The drawing of Heron underneath is bigger than it looks - it's on A2 size paper, as is the Dunnock's head above. More about drawing later!
Pheasant is a shot from this weekend - he had landed in the garden next door to us and was pinching bird seed off the floor under their feeders. Mr Robin was also taken on the visit to Packwood House - which is also where I took the gourd/pumpkin photograph in one of my earlier blogs. I'm hoping the images should grow to full size when you click on them in the gallery below!
What kick-started me creating more art again was taking part in 'Inktober' last year. The idea is to draw, in ink, every day in October, and to share your images online, mine were shared via twitter and my instagram account, with the hashtag #inktober! Day one started with drawing a Wheatear that we had spotted while at Draycote Water for a walk, and day two was a Lapwing, spotted at Brandon Marsh. It wasn't all birds from there on in! Some of the other drawings are on my gallery page on this website. I found it tricky to start with as I stuck to drawing just in ink, using a yellow pen for my initial sketches and then building in colour on top. I can also see the progress in my drawing as the month went along. I got a lot more confident in myself and what I was doing which obviously came from drawing every day!
Kingfisher was a culmination of a few days towards the end of inktober (and I did start with a pencil sketch for this one) - one of our friends Viv complained that she hadn't seen the Kingfisher on our local pond which we promised she would see, so I drew one instead! Almost the same ;-) hmmmm....
Duck and Owl were post inktober drawings, both in my A5 sketchbook, and from there the bird theme has just continued!
I've been mainly drawing using pencil crayons, or Faber Castel Pitt Artist's brush pens which have a really vibrant colour to them - Kingfisher was just a pen drawing - or a combination of both, which I think is what I prefer to do.
Next step is to practise drawing feathers though as I can find them quite tricky!
My next printing project has started with drawing out my idea first - again on an A2 size, far bigger than my linocut will be! I've not finished all of the colouring, but think I will start the print and then return to the drawing later. It has wings, but it's not a bird! I am hoping to get it started over the next few days, I've done enough thinking about it! Hopefully I'll be able to get the camera off Dave to get some more photos done too. I should get him to do a guest blog with some of his pictures - he has taken some cracking photographs and has a much better understanding of the technical twiddly things on the camera ;-)
Here we go...
The ramblings of a linocut printmaker.... and other artistic adventures!