Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Courting fox

The foxes in Thixendale have begun courting. I've been out listening for their calls and so far I've tracked five in the vicinity.

Fox on the Lookout, limited edition print 

Then last night I spotted a lone vixen and followed her because this year I have an ambitious plan: I want to build an artificial fox earth and try to encourage the vixen to bring up her cubs there.

The idea is to then build a sunken hide into the mound from where I can watch the cubs as they emerge in the spring. It will mean tracking her comings and goings very closely.

In the meantime I've begun working on the composition of a new painting of a fox pair. I like to cut up my photographic studies and play about with them on a plain background until I'm happy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Red Deer in Cheshire

I couldn't resist taking the family to see the red deer at the National Trust's Lyme Park during a visit to see some friends in Cheshire this weekend.

This is definitely a spot to revisit during the rut later this year. The moorland backdrop is spectacular and will look stunning in a composition. I painted the stag above in the Highlands.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Warts and all

I painted this last month as a gift for someone and it was a delight to do so as I've always wanted to create a composition featuring these characterful creatures.

Funnily enough I first came up with the idea for the composition some 20 years ago on my very fist trip to the African continent. I was on an unscheduled and, as I discovered later, somewhat kamakazi walk along the Zambezi river, when I first encountered warthogs and the idea struck. 
Whilst I tried to get some photographic studies to make my idea a reality, I got a little too close to a warthog and ended up being thrown into some bushes by a bad tempered female - much to the amusement of my wife!
I wrote about the experience in my Yorkshire Post column at Christmas and my article made the front cover!

Adorable badger cubs playing as they head out with mum

The way these badger cubs playfully chase each other round and round as they muck about outside the entrance to their sett is adorable - I think you'll agree!
I filmed them last April after waiting patiently in my hide for days at a time to see their first steps into the world.
I went on to photograph them throughout the year, from these first moments as they appear with their mother and on to their solo outings as they matured.
The photographs will provide studies for a new painting I am planning.
As they grew they became so accustomed to my presence that I have even been able to encourage one female to eat from my hand! Watch this space for new paintings as I gather together all my studies for a new composition!