Success at the Society of Animal Artists show in New Jersey

What a great trip we’ve just had. Two blissful weeks in the United States with a holiday built around attending the Society of Animal Artists annual exhibition in Oradell, New Jersey. I have to admit I was delighted to be even juried into the society as a member a couple of years ago because their standards are extremely high. Then I found I was juried in as a signature member, the highest level you can be juried in at. Surprise number three came when I was accepted to their annual exhibition at my first attempt. Anything else would be the icing on the cake so image my joy when I won an Award of Excellence, the highest award they give at the exhibition. Blown away!!

The rest of the trip was a blast. We hiked in the Appalachians in New York State with great friends and fellow scratchboard artists Lori Dunn and Cathy Sheeter, took photographs of Peregrine Falcons right across from New York City, and then we did the usual touristy things in Manhattan.

This is the medal I will be receiving for my Award of Excellence

With my Meerkat Montage

Lori Dunn, also a recipient of an Award of Excellence, with her wonderful art. There were six scratchboards out of 125 pieces in the exhibition and two of them received Awards of Excellence (eight were awarded) a strike rate we can be proud of.

Cathy Sheeter with her amazing kingfisher clayboard

Tamara Pokorny with her incredible scratchboard of a lionfish. I don’t even know how she does what she does!

Julie Askew with her piece Lifeline 4, Red-Crowned Cranes

Kim Diment won the cover of the exhibition catalogue with her Green Sea Turtle “Adrift in Turquoise”

The long and short of it, SAA President Reneé Bemis being dwarfed by artist Rachelle Siegrist and board member Cynthie Fisher

Our home for a week. The Hiram Blauvelt artist in residence Cathy Sheeter lives here and kindly hosted Gaynor and I. It was such a beautiful place.

Exhibition venue the Hiram Blauvelt Wildlife Art Museum

The Mansion on the same grounds. It is in a state of disrepair and if ever there was a perfect venue for a haunted mansion movie, this is it.

Peregrine Falcon with a bluejay dinner. This was quite a distance away so I am zoomed in as far as I can go

Black Rat Snake

Pupae of a Sphinx Moth

Gaynor and I signing off from an amazing trip.

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It’s a small world

One of my favourite artists, Avril Thomas from Magpie Springs Gallery, Vineyard and Cellar Door, is holding an exhibition of small works from people all round the world. Proceeds from this show will go towards helping Marilyn Jetty Swim raise money for Cancer Research with Cancer Council SA, something that is very dear to Avril. All works are unframed and only 4″x6″ to make postage easy and inexpensive. The art will be displayed at her gallery in the Adelaide Hills and sales will be via auction. Gallery hrs:- Fri Sat Sun 11 – 5 Magpie Springs, 1870 Brookman Rd HOPE FOREST SOUTH AUSTRALIA 5172

Check out Magpie Springs Facebook page and also the “It’s a small world” page.

I have been honoured to be asked to take part and have sent this small piece called “A mother’s Protection”.

giraffe-a-mothers-protection-ink-and-pencil

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2016

I wish I was in London this week. The David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition has been on at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London and the photos of the artwork that I’ve seen have been absolutely stunning. This is a link to the work that’s been hung on the walls this year. It looks like it’s been a very successful event and will raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation, something that drives David and all of us wildlife artists.

A fabulous artist friend of mine, Martin Aveling, sent me a link to a blog by well known artist Katherine Tyrrell where she had written highly about my “Meerkat Montage” which was a lovely surprise. It’s always good to see that people appreciate your work so a very big thank you to her.

Also, here are the two pieces that Martin got accepted into the show. I absolutely love his work and find his clever use of “what to” and “what not to” include very attractive.

“Bateleur” by Martin Aveling

Martin Bateleur

“Clear to Land” by Martin Aveling

Martin Clear for landing

The honour is all mine

I’ve had a very good month. I submitted my Meerkat Montage to the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year annhual exhibition. This esteemed event attracts entries from all over the globe and a very small percentage gets accepted. Last year I got into the category “Selected but not hung” with a grazing zebra which was very nice but this year I have managed to go one better by getting into the actual exhibition. The event will be at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London from June 27th to July 2nd 2016. It’s particularly important to me because David Shepherd was my original inspiration in wildlife art, something he’s been a pioneer of since the early 1960s. I believe I have five of his books and three of his prints. We as a family have also adopted elephants and wild dogs that his wildlife foundation saves so to get into his exhibition is awesome for me.

 

Then to cap it all off I applied to join the legendary Society of Animal Artists. This society is full of my heroes. I skimmed through the member list and saw amazing luminaries as associate members. They have a higher level called Signature level but that’s reserved for the best of the best – a bit beyond me I would have thought. So here I was waiting for my application to be judged and hoping I would get in (apparently 75 people applied this year and only 25 were accepted) when I get the email saying “Congratulations, you have been accepted as a Signature Level member”. This didn’t even enter my head that I would get this result. I have been indeed honoured this month and am very grateful. Along with being able to sign my work with the letters MSA for my Master status in The International Society of Scratchboard Artists, I can now also add the letters SSA as a signature artist of the Society of Animal Artists.

Here are a few recent pieces I’ve done

Elephant triptych_1600x762

An award and some new art

It’s that time of year again for the International Society of Scratchboard Artists to hold their annual exhibition, this time in Maryland USA. I sent two pieces over from Australia, entered into the Masters category and am delighted to say that for the second year running I won the “Silver Award”, this time with my Meerkat Montage, below.

Meerkat Montage

Meerkat Montage

This is a real honour because I am exhibiting next to some of the world’s greatest scratchboard artists – in fact some of the finest artists in the world full stop. It’s always a great show for the public and artists alike. I attended the 2012 show in California where artists gave workshops and demonstrations and I certainly learnt a lot.

In this post I’m adding a few pieces of recent art below, both pastels and scratchboards.

This first scratchboard of a Namibian girl (from one of my trips to Africa) is completed entirely with the use of tattoo needles.

Intensity, Namibian Girl

Here we have a meerkat created with an airbrush and the fibreglass brush I use so much, a great tool for creating a soft look. I was particularly drawn to the backlighting from one of my photographs of meerkats at the Adelaide Zoo. I started out with a white board. Normally I use black boards where black India ink has been sprayed onto the clay by the manufacturer but you can also buy clayboards where you put the ink on yourself.

Meerkat Sunset Sentry

Perhaps an unusual subject for me, done again with tattoo needles. It was a birthday present for my bodybuilder son and is of Shawn Ray, one of the world’s best ever bodybuilders.

Shawn Ray

With this group of zebras in scratchboard, I’ve tried to use composition as a tool to tell a story. I’ve cropped them closely and called it “Our world is closing in” in reference to the fact that, even in Africa, the game parks are being encroached on by such massive human population growth that even relatively common animals like zebras are being driven further and further away to escape those pressures. The zebras are drinking in a formation where they can still see the dangers around them which can be an analogy for this world that they are being forced to live in.

Zebras, Our world is closing in

This is a pastel of a backlit zebra and following that a pastel of a meerkat, both quick studies for larger works to come later.

Zebra Backlit

Meerkat cutie

Artists Against Extinction

Following on from my previous blog I’ve recently been invited to join “Artists Against Extinction”. Firstly this is one heck of a cause. It gives artists the opportunity to come together under one banner and do something about the current situation regarding poaching or habitat elimination/degradation. As wildlife artists we want to find any opportunities to give back. Artists tend to be passionate people and we direct that passion towards our subject matter, in this case wildlife. I have a few pieces of art up on the site and the sale of each piece gives me chance to support one or more organisation.

Where would we be without the wonderful wild creatures that we draw and paint? Well, if we do nothing we may soon get a chance to find out.

Karen Laurence-Rowe, a wonderful artist from Kenya and winner of the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the year award 2012, put this group and website together and this brings me to my second point. I get the opportunity to be involved with something worthwhile but with people who are heroes to me. Some of the other artists are legendary names in our world. I also have  two things in common with Karen. We were both born in Uganda and we both lived in Kenya (though she still lives there).

The link to the website is below. Please browse some of the brilliant art and get to know more about this excellent initiative, and if you wish to purchase something, do so in the knowledge that a large portion of the money will go to a worthwhile cause. Everyone is a winner!

http://www.artistsagainstextinction.com/

Artists Against Extinction

 

Elephant drinking in Chobe, Botswana

It seems like it’s all bad news these days about elephants. One elephant is slaughtered every 15 minutes for its ivory to serve unscrupulous scum, mainly in the far east like in China and Vietnam. (By the way, those countries themselves have good people fighting the fight but they are sadly outnumbered and out bidded). That’s 35,000 plus elephants gone every year. However, I like to focus on the people who are doing some good and I count many of my wildlife artist friends among that number. Check out this page from Julie Askew and feel free to search out the following artists who do such great work

http://julieaskew.blogspot.com.au/p/projecttanzania-october-22-november-2.html

Artist ambassadors

Anyhow, with this in mind, I have a small scratchboard completed. It’s of an elephant I saw in Chobe National Park in Botswana. I’ve tried to create the high contrast of shiny wet hide on the elephant as it is in a river drinking.

Elephant wading

Elephant wading

My previous blog was about a march for elephants and rhinos to highlight the old yet growing problem of poaching. Again I reiterate the catch cry “Not on our watch”!!! Let’s make a difference.