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Friday, 28 September 2012

Squabbly starlings and a scruffy blue tit

© Sharon Whitley

The latest in the garden bird series - this is especially for Pete Woodruff of Birds2Blog fame who I know loves these squabbly visitiors to the garden (not!!) I've been getting quite a few of these in the garden (link here).  If you've never seen these birds roosting in the Autumn and Winter evenings (and I haven't for real yet but hoping to do so soon!!) just take a look at this!  I can't wait to see this for real, just amazing and such a beautiful right to the end, nature itself for a work of art!

and just thought I'd share a photo of a visitor to Gary's garden last month - this poor little blue tit was going through the molting process and was looking a bit worse for wear - in fact definitely the scruffiest little bird I've ever seen in my life but I'm sure he's showing off a spanking new set of feathers by now bless him!!

Thank you to those who gave advice about photographing artwork and printing cards - definitely need to look at how I'm photographing my artwork and will look into printing out my own cards too!

Off to check out all your blogs now, til next time.............

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Great Tit and Blackbird

Continuing with the garden bird theme and recording the birds that visit my garden, here is a Great Tit which I painted last night

Great Tit
© Sharon Whitley

and a Blackbird that I did after work tonight using the old faithful Payne's Grey.

© Sharon Whitley

I love the way they wander round the garden cocking their head listening out for what treats await underground.

Gary says I should make a set of greetings cards from them - I've just received a set of Christmas cards I ordered from Moo using some of my paintings from last year but not happy with how a couple of the pictures have printed out - it's difficult to know how a photo of your painting will appear on a print out, the colours are nowhere near as vibrant as the actual painting so I'm a bit disappointed - although the quality of the cards themselves are great.

Til next time -thank you everyone for all your comments!

Links to the other garden bird paintings
Blue Tit
Coal Tit

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Splashy Blue Tit

Blue Tit
© Sharon Whitley

Continuing my plan to paint the birds I see in the garden, here is my loose style, splashy blue tit, he's a bit splashy and messy but still cute I think!  I'm having loads of fun watching the birds and as soon as I get home from work I'm straight to the back window to see what's there. Here's what I found today - lovely goldfinch on the niger seed, great tit and of course my little favourite the coal tit (link here) as well as the usual starlings, sparrows and blue tits.

My 12 year old is enjoying it too - I had a text from her yesterday while she was off school which read 'Mum there are 8 goldfinches on the feeder, 1 greenfinch, 3 starlings and loads of sparrows!!!!'  She's got a great view from her bedroom window.

The starlings are regular visitors, we had these lot in the garden yesterday

As well as the birds I've also got a nice fat froggy in the garden....

Before I rush off to finish the tea, I'll leave you with a couple of photos from our walk in the Lakes the weekend before last. Gary and I went there for his birthday and wild camped on the Friday night - I say wild camped we actually ended up pitching the tent by the car after climbing up to Scales Tarn on Blencathra with very heavy rucksacks only to have to carry them back down again because it was too windy to get the tent up - although we spent half an hour trying! Needless to say we booked a B&B for the second night! - but after the disastrous wild camp attempt we were treated with a gorgeous sunny day on the Saturday so decided to walk up Skiddaw - here's a couple of tasters from the day, if you'd like to see more you can go to Gary's blog HERE

Till next time bloggers!  Comments welcome as always!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cute Coal Tit

from a photo by Gary Jones
link to Gary's blog post here
to see the photo I used you'll have to scroll down to almost the bottom of the post but you'll be treated with loads of birdy pics on the way!

Coal Tit
© Sharon Whitley

Regular visitors to the ole blog will know I moved into a new place back in April and I've been trying to coax a  variety of birds into the garden, I've no trees in this garden but there are a couple lining next door's garden so I've placed the feeders along there by the fence. I've had plenty of sparrows, link here, the odd blue tit, blackbirds, pigeons and the like and more recently lots of starlings but nothing like the variety I used to get where I lived before. backing on to fields - but I'm finally getting in a wider variety and am chuffed to bits.

The goldfinch  link here  is still visiting regularly

along with handsome robins

 female greenfinch


and the cute little coal tit (my favourite)  is here all the time now

I really love painting birds and it's not very often I say this but I'm really pleased with the coal tit painting posted above - he came out just how I wanted him to, all cute and lovely - I'm planning on painting all the birds that I see visiting my garden - a little tribute to them all so hopefully lots of bird paintings coming soon!

As always I look forward to reading your lovely comments, take care and hope you're having a great weekend!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Garden Goldfinches

Since I moved into a house closer to town I've not had as big a variety of birds visiting the garden which I've missed as I used to get a lovely variety where I used to live.  I've been keeping the feeders full trying to tempt them in and have had loads of sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, pigeons and magpies and I've finally started seeing some blue tits and love them all. However I knew there were also goldfinches about as we've seen and heard them flying overhead so Gary bought me some Niger seed and a Niger seed feeder and it wasn't long before they came - I saw the first one yesterday and they were in again today, gorgeous little birds they are and sure enough it was the Niger seed they were after.  I haven't painted for quite a few days and thought I'd paint a goldfinch to celebrate their visit!

I painted this one
© Sharon Whitley

and wasn't at all happy with it so I painted another looser version complete with splatters!

© Sharon Whitley

still not overly happy but chuffed to bits that they're in the garden.  I'll hopefully capture them on camera soon - in the meantime here's a couple of Gary's goldfinch pics!

Oh and before I go here's a link to Wirral Hub's blog where I've been featured as a local artist, very exciting to see myself on a posh website!  It's a great website for anyone living in the North West of England with info on community events and the arts, well worth a look.... till next time fellow bloggers, take care!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

It's that magpie again!

When I painted this magpie it was just for a bit of fun one evening but it's brought me quite a bit of luck - maybe because I painted two of them, two for joy and all that!

© Sharon Whitley

Both magpies were selected to be used as prints in a hotel in Bedfordshire via Seeking Artists after they were seen on my facebook page - I received the royalty payment on that today which was very nice ....and the top one shown above was entered into the Seeking Artists Sunday Shares competition a few weeks ago - and won!   All nine weekly winners over the Summer have been put forward to another competition for which there is a prize of a gift voucher to buy art supplies so my magpie is up again against some really excellent paintings.  This is where I'm hoping you fellow bloggers can help me out!  I need votes if I've any chance of winning, the competition is featured on the Seeking Artists facebook page and to vote all you need to do is like the painting, leave a comment or share so any of you who have a facebook account and would like to give me a vote I'd be reeaallly grateful!!! Here is the link to the page where you can vote.

I'd be thrilled if I won and what a treat to be able to buy a few art supplies without feeling guilty about it !!  Why do we feel guilty when we spend money on ourselves I wonder?  I've also had an enquiry about buying the original although I'd rather sell them as a pair - they need to stay together don't you think? I'm off to the Lakes on Friday so probably won't be posting for a few days but will have loads of scrummy photos of the Lake District when I get back - hopefully sunny ones! and maybe a couple of plein air paintings if the weather stays dry.  Until then I thank you in advance if you decide to give me a vote, thanks soooo much, til next time, have a lovely weekend ..........

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Red Kite fest

I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that red kites are stunningly beautiful birds. Up until last Friday I'd never been lucky enough to see one, but my word I was in for a treat!  Early Friday morning we drove down to Cadair Idris for a walk up to Llyn Cau, probably my favourite spot in Snowdonia

Regulars to the blog will remember I attempted a painting of this photo in July which I wasn't happy with at the time but it has grown on me a bit

Llyn Cau
© Sharon Whitley

Anyway, after our walk up to one of the most stunning places in Wales, we drove across to Rhayader and Gigrin Farm where they feed the local red kites each day at 3pm.  Soon after entering Powys we realised why the red kite is the much loved symbol of this vast county as we saw a few overhead on our drive down and I got very excited at these sightings.  Little did I know I would soon be seeing hundreds of these magnificent birds swooping down to grasp their food supplements for the day. There were literally hundreds of them, and a few buzzards taking advantage of the free food too!  Gary took some beautiful photos while we were there which I'm sure will soon be on his blog site.  I'll definitely be painting one or two of these I think! In the meantime though I'm posting a coloured pencil sketch I did of a red kite early last year, my first go at coloured pencil so its not that good!  I'd like to give cp another try some time as I've not really given them a chance and could do with experimenting with them a bit more.

Red Kite
© Sharon Whitley

To make the day even more special we had the most gorgeous weather, beautiful blue skies perfect for photography - I forgot my paints so no plein air, although I was so busy enjoying watching the kites I don't think I'd have done any even if I did have the paints with me!  The rest of the weekend continued to be lovely and sunny and on Saturday I led a group of walkers on a circular walk from Loggerheads to Moel Famau and back, a beautiful, leisurely walk with wonderful views of Snowdonia from the summit, and luckily I didn't lose anybody en route!

Gary and I enjoying the views

I love this photo that was taken by another Sharon who joined us on the walk, this is the view to Moel Famau from Loggerheads at the start of the walk.  I'm hoping we get just as good weather next weekend as we're off to the Lake District on Friday for 3 days, lots of walking and more plein air painting to bore you with!  I'll hopefully get a red kite painting in before then though! Til next time fellow bloggers, take care of yourselves!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Toby and more plein air

Another pet portrait I did as a gift for a friend's 50th last week.  I can finally post it now that she has received it, I really enjoyed painting him, it just seemed to come together nicely

© Sharon Whitley

And yes I've been out doing more plein air bits and pieces - I'm rarely happy with the result but enjoying the process! Here I am on Tuesday night at the summit of Moel Famau doing a very quick sketch because it was freezing of the Jubilee Tower

the resulting small watercolour  5.5 x 3.5"

and last night it was much calmer and warmer and I did a couple of small watercolours from this view point

 this is one of them, of the fence that lines the path up there

I'm painting in the comfort of the art room at home tonight, or I might just nip into the garden!  Til next time fellow bloggers..................

Monday, 3 September 2012

More Plein Air

It's funny isn't it - when you find that you really enjoy doing something that you didn't think was your cup of tea?  Well, I've found this with plein air painting.  I've been toying with the idea for a while but really didn't think I'd take to it, being so used to painting in the comfort of my home and when I am outdoors I'm used to walking, not sitting!  Yet I've found I've really quite enjoyed it - I've only done a handful of plein air sketches and the results haven't been great, but it's the enjoyment of sitting there with a live subject in front of you and being out in the open.  I did a couple on Friday for Maggie Latham's small works challenge.  The challenge is to paint some postcard sized watercolours en plein air.  I've got some watercolour paper scraps from Ken Bromley's Art Supplies - they have a box that you can help yourself from and I took a handful when I was there (link to post) so they came in very handy for this challenge!  We drove to Loggerheads which is an AONB near us - I already knew what I wanted to paint, the bridge over the River Alyn, so I sat myself down on the bench near the bridge, got some water from the river and started to paint.  I use one of those pan sets that W&N do when working plein air, which is a bit alien to me as I normally use tubes and it's weird not knowing what colours you're using as well but I'm getting used to using them.

Here is the first watercolour sketch which took about half an hour.

Bridge at Loggerheads
© Sharon Whitley

and here is me in situ - there were a couple of light showers but the trees helped keep me dry

Then we had a wander through the woods and I sat at the side of the path to paint another watercolour

The finished painting and my favourite of the two

Walk through the woods
© Sharon Whitley

With two small paintings under my belt it was time to visit Caffi Florence for a delicious bowl of homemade soup, then home, a perfect end to a lovely morning.  Poor Gary though was hoping to get some wildlife shots while I was painting as we sometimes see Tree Creepers, and Dippers in this area but no such luck this morning - it's a good job he enjoys watching me paint!

We went out to Loggerheads again on Saturday night and I took my little scraps of watercolour paper with me and had another go, this time the weather was a bit more extreme and the wind was howling making it a bit difficult to keep my pot of water upright and paint straight !!! 

Extreme painting!

Needless to say the results were quite loose - good job that was the feel I was going for then!!!!  I did three small sketches but am only showing you the one I like best as the other two are howlers!  I'm out with the paints again tonight to do a bit more!

Moel Famau
© Sharon Whitley

Til next time bloggers, have a lovely day!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Satisfied customers?

Following on from my last post  (link here),  I just had to show you this adorable photo of the two dogs I did a drawing of last week which was taken when the drawing arrived at its destination - although I'm not quite sure what the one on the right thinks of it!!  He looks a bit shell shocked.