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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Exhibition at RSPB Conwy

Thank you to those of you who left a comment on my last post after I'd been away for so long - it's lovely to know you are still out there and I'm not talking to myself!  Gary and I have had a busy weekend preparing for a joint exhibition which was held today at RSPB Conwy, a site we often visit as RSPB members.  They have a new building which looks out over one of the pools at the reserve which they hire out as exhibition space.  As you can see from the photo the sun was streaming in through the windows, it was like a summer's day.  We met some lovely people throughout the day and there was lots of interest in both Gary's photos and my bird watercolours, with robins and puffins seeming to be favourites of the day!  It seems a few people will be getting our work as Christmas presents this year so I hope they like them!!!   A highlight of the day was watching a beautiful kingfisher fishing outside - always a treat to see these stunning birds!  I was also very impressed to meet a 3 year old who already had a great knowledge of birds, being able to identify all the birds on Gary's photo display, including an Osprey.  Findlay Wilde had better watch out!  If you haven't heard of  Findlay then go to his blog and find out all about what this amazing young conservationist is achieving at such a young age - a Chris Packham in the making!!  We will be exhibiting at RSPB Conwy again in the New Year, dates to be confirmed. Hope you've all had a wonderful weekend yourselves.

As promised here are couple of photos from our trip to Mull - this was my first encounter with White Tailed Sea Eagles - we had been watching them through binoculars for a few days and then went on the Mull Charters boat trip where they fly out to the boat, soaring above you before swooping down for the fish which have been thrown out of the boat - it was an incredible experience to be this close to such fabulous birds of prey and I was moved to tears watching this beautiful bird soaring above me - I can't quite describe how it felt - this is one of the photos I took once I'd stopped watching in awe.

This lovely red deer hind didn't stick around for long once it realised we were there, but managed to quickly get this photo before the lovely animal bolted away seeming to disappear into thin air as they do!!

In contrast to the hind above, this lovely young stag stood watching us watching him for what seemed like ages but was probably 5 minutes or so, before stamping a foot and trotting away into the undergrowth.

Looking at these photos brings back all the memories of our trip to Mull, I can't wait to get back there, such a beautiful, wildlife rich place, the only downside was that we weren't lucky enough to spot any otters despite staking out some known otter hotspots - but that's wildlife for you!!! Better luck next time!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Back to blogging!!

I can't believe my last blog post was back in May!!!!!!  What has happened in the last few months!!!  I really hope those of you who were following me are still out there and will say hi!!!  I'm going to get back into blogging again and really need to catch up on all of you out there who I was following before life got in the way and I started to neglect the blog.  Not really sure what to put in this post as lots have happened in the last few months - although I've not done a lot of painting compared to what I was doing.  Gary was busy in the summer converting the old shed in my back garden into a gallery space which was perfect for hosting the North Wales Open Studios in September.  Here is a photo of before and after - clever Gary eh?

 and this is how it looks inside - somewhere to display my art and Gary's photography

We've been getting out and about as much as we can and have been to the Lake District for a walking holiday and to the Isle of Mull for a wildlife holiday (although we did a great walk up Ben More while we were there!)

Gary on Ben More summit ridge (Mull)

The highlight of being on the Isle of Mull was the wildlife and I'll post some photos of the wildlife we encountered tomorrow.  Please say hi if you're out there so I know you're there and I'll have a good browse round you all to try and catch up with what you've all been up to!!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Blue Tits

I've not been doing as much painting as usual lately sadly but on the upside I have finally been getting back out and about in the mountains - to see what we've been up to pop over to Two Pairs of Boots.

The couple of watercolours I have done have been inspired by watching the birds in the garden at this time of year.  Both of these have been painted from beautiful photos taken by Dave Webb.

© Sharon Whitley 
Feed me, feed me!

© Sharon Whitley
Baby Blue Tits

and here is one of the photos I took of a pair of  adult Blue Tits, one feeding the other in the garden, lovely to see.   

On another note I was dismayed to read about the call for allowing the destruction without license of nests of birds such as robins, starlings and wagtails!!!!  This blog on the subject makes interesting reading and if it's true then I can only fear all the more for the state of our British wildlife - so sad

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Back in Lakeland

New post on the walking blog, a trip to the Association of Animal Artists Annual Exhibition before heading to the Lake District for a weekend's walking

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Back in the Fells

I have finally updated the blog I share with Gary Jones, with a post about our recent trip to the Lake District - hope to see you over there!

Saturday, 26 April 2014


I've so been neglecting the blog of late - not been doing a lot of painting but have been out and about in probably my favourite time of the year - Spring, always a relief after the short Winter days to see the nights getting lighter, lambs in the field, wildlife on the move and getting ready for the breeding season.  I've always been happy enough leaving Gary to take all the photos while I just take it all in, binoculars at the ready but I've now caught the photography bug a bit and try and grab a few shots myself using his spare camera.  So here is a mixture of photos and artwork done recently.

I painted this Black Grouse after we spent a few early mornings watching the lek at World's End about 20 minute drive from us in North Wales.  Most mornings we were there we saw around 12 male birds lekking - I painted this from one of Gary's photos as I love wildlife photos that capture a bit of character and this one looks like he's really strutting his stuff!  I took quite a few photos myself including this one of one of the birds that came fairly close to the side of the road where we watched from the car.

Another bird I love to see at this time of year is the charismatic Wheatear.  This time last year we had seen so many by now but we didn't see our first one until last week at the Black Grouse lek - we've seen quite a few since though, particularly when we spent a few days walking in the Lake District.  They tease us on our walks, often landing on a fence post or wall a little way ahead of us,  only to hop a little further away as we approach, and then continuing in this manner for a while before eventually skittishly flying away, flashing it's white underfeathers as it goes.  I managed to get a far off shot of a female World's End last week 

and did this watercolour sketch of a male from a photo Gary took - I'm hoping to get a decent photo of one perched on a fence post in that typical upright postion to paint next which I'll take more time over.

We've been watching Dippers at a local river recently as well.  They've been so busy nest building under a bridge but the nest has collapsed a couple of times now due to the vibration from people walking and running across!  Here's one of the photos I took from our last visit there 

and a painting from a photo Gary took at a Dipper we saw at Dyserth waterfall

Also, after a pretty quiet Winter in the garden, I've had a lovely variety of birds visiting over the past couple of months which is wonderful to see.  Less sparrows and starlings than I used to have but an abundance of goldfinches, greenfinches and also the odd siskin and redpoll  - I never tire of watching them resulting in my daughters calling me a right bird nerd!

This is a watercolour painting I did last year of a Siskin and Goldfinch in flight - it is still stretched on the art board as I still haven't decided to leave as is or add a background!  

And to finish off, here's a photo that Gary took of one of the frogs in my garden pond - Gary dug the pond out for me soon after I moved in to my new house last year and it's thriving with around 5 or 6 frogs, loads of tadpoles and we even saw a newt in there yesterday - we think a smooth newt, hopefully will get some photos soon, in the meantime here is froggy giving Gary the evils as he climbs out from the depths of the pond!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Bird Watercolours

I apologise in advance for this blatant plug but I recently painted a series of small bird watercolours which are available at £10.00 each unframed (each approx 5x3 inches ish)- I keep getting told they are too cheap for originals so if you fancy one get in there quick before I decide to up the price!! If preferred they can be bought framed at £20 (plus p&p).  Here is what is still available, if interested you can contact me on

I sometimes get sent photos from people who have bought my artwork showing me how they look hanging in their new home and it's always lovely to see! Here is one from a lady who bought a few of these small watercolours, displayed together.

There you go plug over!!  

Still enjoying learning about photography and took these photos of a couple of beautiful Canada Geese at our local pond on Friday.  Hope you like them - I'll be painting one of these in the near future I think

Monday, 17 March 2014

A new passion?

I've always enjoyed photography but only ever had a small point and click so as far as photographing wildlife is concerned they're a bit limited.  So up to now all our outdoor experiences and in particular wildlife experiences have been captured through Gary's lens and I've used his photos to paint from.  I think any artist would say that given the choice they would prefer to paint from their own life experiences - you can't beat it, as you relive the moment as you're painting, you experience a different feeling when painting something you've experienced.  That's not to say I don't enjoy painting from other people's photos as I love that too, a photo can trigger something in me and inspire me to want to paint it, like when I saw a kingfisher for the first time but didn't get a photo so used one of Gary's old ones - I hadn't been there when he took the photo but the emotions I felt when I saw my first kingfisher went into the painting. Some of the photos I've used from PMP have given me enormous pleasure to paint,  whether it be for a challenge or because a photo has reminded me of a place or a time etc.  and I love seeing the subject come to life in front of me - not that I always like the end result! - but I will have enjoyed the process.   So the emotions can be there whether or not you have actually been there at the time.   

Anyway I'm in the very lucky position of having a very good teacher and a good camera to start my journey into DSLRing! So not only will I be having the experiences I will be capturing the images through my own lens (well Gary's borrowed lens!!)  He generally uses a Nikon D3 but has kept hold of his old D300 so the other week I asked him if he could teach me how to use it and I'm loving every minute.    I went out yesterday on my own to have a practice and was delighted to come across 2 Mute swans in a beautiful courtship display so got a few shots of that and I tried to get some shots of flapping ducks - this is the only one I managed and it was a bit of a fluke!

So you can expect art AND photography posts from now on hopefully - I've finally got into the watermark thing too, something I should have started ages ago!!!!   

On the bottom of each of my blog posts at the moment you'll find a link to the charity wildlife ebook Gary and I are both part of. Everyone involved in the book has volunteered their work and time to put it together and all proceeds go to the South West Deer Rescue Centre

Here is a link to my post about it  

If you haven't already please consider buying this book - it's a wonderful book and only costs about the same as a coffee and it will make such a difference to the deer centre.  

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Wildlife Art and Photography Book

Red deer stag
Watercolour painting by Sharon Whitley

I know that many of my fellow bloggers are wildlife and nature lovers and hope that you'll be interested in this post.

Gary and I feel very privileged to be part of a charity ebook which is available worldwide on Amazon for the kindle, kindle apps and kindle reader on the pc.  It features wildlife artwork and photography from all over the world with an account of the inspiration and thought processes behind each painting and photo provided by the artist/photographer. It includes 2 paintings of mine (please don't let that put you off though, there's plenty from other artists too!!)  and a few of Gary's wildlife photos.  It also includes 2 step by step watercolour demonstrations by the super talented Maria Balcells.  Not only is it a wonderful book but it's for a very, very worthy cause, the South West Deer Rescue Centre. Every penny of the royalties from this book will go to the cause and the book itself is currently available at the reduced price of £1.29 or $2.15 for a limited period until the price goes up, that's less than the price of a coffee!

"The South West Deer Rescue & Study Centre was started by Mike Gage, who has been involved with deer management and conservation for over 35 years, and has built a true bond with all of the SWDRC residents. Caring for orphaned and injured deer of all species, he is the true deer whisperer and relayed tales of sitting in the middle of fields waiting for the deer to surround him. This has enabled him to understand and build a trust with these animals. Mike is a well-known character on Exmoor and indeed, he has some Exmoor deer at the centre; he will not release these deer back to the wild for fear of them being shot or poached . One of his stags has an impressive 31 points on the antlers and is a true giant of an animal. What is even more amazing is the fact that Mike receives no funding of any kind and uses his pension and savings to feed the deer. You can book to visit the centre and it is completely free"

Here is a link to a review of the book on Judith Farnworth's blog   Her otter painting is also featured in the book.

So I urge you to please consider buying for your kindle or pc - there's no reason not to at that price and you will be making such a difference to the deer and to Mike!

I've also donated the above painting to the cause which is currently receiving offers - the painting will go to the highest bidder so if you like it please consider making a bid, you never know you might be the highest bidder, it's an original watercolour mounted in a 12 x 10 inch mount.

Here is a link to buy the book in the UK  Buy a Book, Feed a Deer (UK Amazon)
and in the US  Buy a Book Feed a Deer (US Amazon)
and in Australia  Buy a Book Feed a Deer (Australia Amazon)

and to make an offer on the deer painting please email to

Click here to go to the South West Deer Rescue Website

Thank you for reading and hope you can help!

Monday, 24 February 2014

More birds - of course!

Screaming Eagle
© Sharon Whitley

The photo I used as a reference for this painting was taken at the Lake District Wildlife Park near Bassenthwaite.  We were within arms length of this magnificent bird and Gary captured him in full screech! Really enjoyed painting this one, it brought back memories of a great day being so close to such beautiful birds of prey.  

I also painted another Magpie, the dancing Magpie from the previous post has been sold and is off to it's new home in Australia in the sun! Lucky him!!!!   

I've got a few things to look forward to as far as my art is concerned.  I've just joined the Association of Animal Artists and am looking forward to exhibiting with them alongside many artists I admire.  I'm looking forward to an exhibition at the Castle Park Arts Centre featuring artists from all over the North of England and North Wales and I've been contacted this week regarding a charity exhibition coming up in Cheshire after one of my pet portraits was seen by a couple of the trustees - isn't that nice! I'll also be demoing at an upcoming wildlife event in Warrington and selling some small simple watercolours of birds in aid of Risley Moss Nature Reserve, here are a couple of examples of the type of thing I've been doing for that....

So that's some of what's going on in my little art world.  Not got a lot to report as far as the other passion of walking the mountains goes as the weather is inhibiting us getting out and about up high!  But it's given us more time to do more of the other thing we love to do - wildlife watching and  I've recently seen my first Hen Harrier - a male and a female hunting on the Dee Estuary - awesome!!!  and Short eared owls, beautiful birds to watch!  We're off there again this weekend for another high tide, so looking forward to that!  

So how are things going out there in blogland - I need to catch up with you all - not enough time in the day to do everything and I do apologise for not visiting lately.  I'd love to hear what you've been up to!