A Painting in Progress

Welcome to my 'Work in Progress' page.  Here you can see one of my major painting projects from start to finish.  

2011/2012 Chough Painting Project

2012 was the 50th Anniversary of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust a most important organisation in the conservation and preservation of Cornwall's natural world, flora, fauna and habitat.

My family had been members and supporters for 30 years in 2012. Over the years I have helped with fund raising by donating wildlife artwork, usually to the Trust's annual raffle. 2012 being the Trust's 50th Anniversary I did a very special painting to mark the occasion and then published it as signed limited edition print and donated the original painting to the 2012 50th Anniversary raffle. 

Initially I was going to portray otters on the River Camel as they are a real success story for our part of the world and can now be seen regularly on most of Cornwall's major rivers. However a wildlife event happened on the section of coast nearest my studio that certainly changed my choice of subject and definately something I most certainly wanted to record with a painting.  In late August 2011 4 wild Cornish bred choughs returned to Beacon Cove near Trevarrian where my wife Ann and I saw on two occassions what was thought to be Cornwall's last resident chough in 1973.

Throughout September and into October I was fortunate to be able to visit the area at daybreak most mornings and watch these birds feeding usually alongside jackdaws, take some photographs and actually sketch these birds in situ.

 These photos were taken with my little compact with no telephoto so are more for interest rather than reference.

It was a real privilidge to be able to be able to sit and be with such an iconic bird for Cornwall just 15 minutes from my Studio, watching the sun rise,  just me, my favourite Cornish cove and choughs, at these moments I would not be anywhere else in the world and would not swap places with anyone.

Sunrise over Trevarrian, Cornwall September 2011

Beacon Cove, first light September 2011
Towards the end of November I gathered all my reference material together

These included my on site sketches which  are not really necessary for reference but were great to be able to do from life.

I had masses of day break skies to choose from but will do something like this

This is the view (below) I shall use as it show the cove to perfection


 It also shows the top of Stem Cove which was the last known breeding site in Cornwall

Painting sketched out and then blocked in with paint during the last week in November with my chosen sky painted in ready to be a demonstration piece during my Christmas Art exhibition at the Merrymoor Inn, Mawgan Porth.

Gradually filling in the background and adding depth to the artwork

Over the next 10 days it was just a case of filling in background detail. The entire painting will be completed using Chromacolour (a type of acrylic) on a canvas panel

Taking shape 

Working on the sea now until Christmas Break


January 2nd back to work carrying on with the sea

More background work  


Really getting to grips with the sea now, I can feel every wave 

Jan 11th more work on the sea and the immediate forground


January 12th

Finished off the foreground today with the thrift just past its best as we go into September but still enough flowerheads left to add a splash of colour to the painting.

Now for the exciting bit, adding the four choughs. To achieve this I sketch out  around a dozen birds in flight from my reference photographs onto tracing paper. I then play around with them altering wing shapes, flying attidudes, angles etc. untill I have four birds that I am happy with.

I want one to be landing on the very same stone wall that we saw the 'Last Chough' calling from in 1973 this image will really signify the 'Choughs Return'  to Beacon Cove

I then move my chosen sketches around the painting untill I am happy with the composition I then trace them down and block them in with paint which is where we are up to now..

Jan 17th working on the choughs.

Last Sunday, 15th, I visited Beacon Cove for the first time since the end of October and was rewarded by the presence of three choughs feeding in the same field I had last seen them at the end of September beginning of October when they moved away for a while, they were seen occasionally up around Trevose . I really hope they are back for good now, being able to watch them undisturbed is such a privilidge and a real help with this artwork.

January 24th Finished!!

Cornish Sunrise ~ The Return of the Choughs

Over the subsequent years the chough numbers have increased greatly and they can now be seen regularly all up and down our north coast