I have always been fascinated by birds, especially here in Orkney as there are so many different ones! Everywhere you go from the beach to the lochs and hills there are birds. My dad was a great bird watcher and we often spent time together watching them. I often add them into my landscape paintings, into the skyline or perched on rocks by the shoreline such as my paintings 'Oystercatchers on the shoreline' and 'Puffins sitting on the cliff'.
Orkney is famous for its migrating birds which pass through in the Autumn. Amongst these are the wild geese which many thousands have now made Orkney their all the year around home, much to many to the farmers disgust! as they destroy the crops by trampling them down. But I love them! Just the sound of them flying overhead makes my bones shiver. The wonderful patterns they make when they fly together are beautiful too. Several pictures on this website have geese in them, ' The explorer John Rae's house' has geese flying high above, I imagined on their way from the Arctic to Orkney as John Rae did himself and 'Geese in flight' which is a mixed media painting pictures the birds flying together in their flock.
I couldn't talk about painting birds without mentioning the Puffins! again they have been a constant source of inspiration. Nearly every year I manage to go to the Island of Westray and paint the puffins. There are other parts of the mainland where you can see them such as the Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head but the most I have seen together is at Burrian castle in Westray. They are wonderfully cute and full of personality and get up to all sorts of antics around their burrows in the side of the cliffs. The perfect subject! 'Puffin twins' and 'Curious puffins' are two of my favourite pictures and are amongst many puffin prints on this site.
Gulls often appear in my pictures too, there are so many here and all different species of them. I don't know enough to tell the difference so I just call them all gulls. 'Gulls and waves' is a fairly traditional watercolour depicting the patterns the birds make entwined with the waves. Other more abstract pictures such as 'After the storm' and 'Silky seagull' portray the birds created with collage by using small pieces of copper cut into bird shapes amongst the seaweed and in the latter, cut out of handmade silk paper. There are 31 images which incorporate gulls all available in different sizes of prints.
I think probably the third favourite birds of mine are Oystercatchers. I have painted them sitting on fences, on rocks on the Rackwick shore, in the snow, the fields and on the sand. I love their long bright red beaks and salmon pink legs and the comical way they march along the shoreline such as in the paintings, 'Marching Oystercatchers' and 'Busy Oystercatchers'.
I love them all, the lapwings and curlews, swallows and terns. They all provide me with endless inspiration. I paint them with watercolours in a traditional way and often highlight them in more mixed media and abstract pictures such as a new work called 'Oystercatcher abstract'. I hope you enjoy seeing them all.