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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!  

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Monday, 10 February 2014

What makes you an artist?

I've heard this debated a few times and I usually end up feeling a bit of a phony when this is discussed - as I have called myself an artist (albeit an amateur one) because I do art!  I love art!  It is part of who I am, but am I a true artist - I'll let you decide!

I've always enjoyed art - used to draw anything and everything when I was a teenager, then life took over and I stopped drawing, then 3 years ago I started again, and started painting - I love seeing something come to life in front of me and even if I'm not that happy with the result, I will have always enjoyed the process.  I doubt if some people would regard me as a 'true artist' though as I'm a bit too laid back about it all - and I don't follow the rules, I don't even know all of the rules!  I don't plan, I haven't got time for that, I've got a day job and limited time to paint so an idea pops into my head and I think 'I'll paint that tonight!' and I just dive in! It's usually because a I've seen something that inspires me whether it be from an experience I've had or a photograph or it may be a challenge on a art site or on facebook.   Yes I feel passionate about art, I love it, and couldn't not paint now - but I heard it said once that 'some people can never be a true artist because they're not tormented enough' !  and I think I know what they mean.  I don't have that huge drive that some do to evolve and improve - I see artists saying how you must strive endlessly to improve, and evolve and find who you are as an artist - and I admire the drive of these artists, it's brilliant - but we haven't all got that same drive - so are we not true artists then?

I haven't got that drive -  it's not in my personality to be like that, and is not who I am.  I fear if I got into that mindset that I would lose some of those natural emotions in creating for the love of it - I think I would subconsciously find it a pressure to be worrying that I need to keep improving, and striving to advance myself etc.  and this would show in my artwork which could result in looking more contrived rather than ( I hope !) more natural.

I'm not saying I'm not interested in improving - of course I am, and I think I have over the last 3 years - naturally because I paint so much, I'm learning through trial and error what I can achieve.   I'm much more confident painting certain subjects and I do plan on challenging myself to paint some subjects I'm much less confident with - and I do read art books and  watch demos on youtube and play around with paint but I'm not obsessed with improving - I'll let it happen naturally in my own time and won't try to rush it or take it too seriously. I've got all the time in the world, I want to enjoy it!   I've been criticised in the past for being this way and not pushing myself enough  which is a shame as I don't criticise other artists for doing things their way.  Instead I admire their drive. 

Maybe I lack that essential spark, that fire that is apparently the essence of the true artistic personality.  So no I'm not a 'true artist'  and never will be I suppose.  One thing I do know though is that every painting I do is from the heart, whether it is a beautiful bird I've seen in the garden or my old walking boots!  

© Sharon Whitley

So last night's creation was inspired by a visit to a local waterfall yesterday where we saw one of my favourite birds - the Dipper - I know I'm always saying 'one of my favourite birds' but I do have a lot of favourites - you can't help but love the Dipper, bobbing up and down by the water. This one was sat in the spray from the waterfall and sat posing for a good few minutes posing while Gary took a few shots, so of course I had to paint him - I was thinking of the colours I was going to use while admiring him through the binoculars.  Burnt Umber with an Indigo based dark mix for his lovely tail feathers!