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November 12th- redwings and fieldfares by the Holbeck

After so much gloomy weather this week, today’s magnificent ever changing skies were a joy. I walked round a regular route taking in a section of the Holbeck. Redwings and fieldfares were plundering hawthorns near the beck, but looking around I was struck by how many large hawthorns had virtually no berries. Should the weather freeze this winter I expect winter thrushes to move right out of the area for lack of food. The poor crop perhaps relates to some very hard frosts in May when hawthorn was in flower. It is hard to see redwings and fieldfares well in this milder weather; they are very skittish and hide or take to the air fast. However I did manage to see a stunning fieldfare taking haws for a few seconds. I will, set out to sketch them specifically on another day concealing myself so they are less nervous.

A fine roe deer gave great views in a meadow, its chestnut coat looked stunning in the strong late autumn sunshine. In the hedgerows holly, rose hips and sloes provided the predominant bright colours. I stopped to paint the Holbeck looking west. The contrast in colours from blue grey sky to the rich ochres and siennas of dying plant material reminded me why I love painting in winter.

Yorkshire Arboretum- artist’s residency

I feel privileged to be chosen as this years artist in residence at Yorkshire Arboretum. I am relishing the chance to really get to know the site and in particular individual trees. I tend to gravitate to more open landscapes, particularly those with water so it has been a challenge and an inspiration to be around trees, to really look at the smaller details of leaves and bark, the colours of leaf litter and the way light strikes in between trees. I am already really enjoying this opportunity. I want the project to challenge me artisically but above all hope through my work I can encourage others to really look at nature and benefit from this, not just the grand vistas with autumn colours but at the smaller details. I also want to show the relationships birds and other animals have with trees. I am already fortunate to have spent some time with the hawfinches and feel that part of my mission is to really put Yorkshire Arboretum on the birding map as one of the UK’s premier sites for this enigmatic finch!

This blog will share my work at the arboretum through the coming months.

November 12th- Holbeck near Gilling East looking west. Watercolour.
Hawfinches at Yorkshire arboretum 2018. A study of hawfinches in hornbeam leaf litter.

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