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!

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

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.

A few new things to share

Life has been very interesting for me recently to say the least. Firstly I have a show on at the moment called “The Art of Conservation”. It is a collaboration between myself and Kerryn Hocking who is a wonderful pastel artist. I have 18 pieces up for sale, all but two of them are scratchboards (my two pastels and a large scratchboard below have already sold)  and she has 16 lovely pastels – all wildlife and much of the money raised will go to the Adelaide Zoo’s conservation programs. The gallery is located at the entrance to the zoo and is called the Santos Conservation Centre. Exhibition open until the end of March, 9.30 am – 4.45 pm


The Art Of Conservation DL 01

I will also be writing an entire magazine (normally I write magazine articles but this will be the whole lot). More information to follow as it develops.

Finally, for the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of hosting one of the world’s greatest scratchboard artists in my home, the awesome Rod Leisure aka RodMan. This guy lives and breathes art and has done some plein air pieces as well as studio and demo work while he has been here. Below is a selection of his work while he’s been here. None of these pieces have more than about three hours on them so he works fast. He might take them home to Colorado and tighten them up but to be quite honest, he’s all about the fun he has doing it in the first place. It’s all about the process, even more than the result. I often impress this upon people – if you don’t enjoy the process why are you doing it. This man has lots of fun creating art.

Firstly, this is RodMan at our ‘famous’ Adelaide Balls.

20140215_170321 (Copy)

And now on site working on some working fishing industry boats at North Arm


This is the piece that came out of that visit


He spent a few days at Victor Harbor and painted the tram which takes tourists over to Granite Island


A couple of trips to the Railway Museum in Port Adelaide saw these two pieces done on site



Now, let’s have some serious fun. The afore-mentioned Kerryn Hocking organised two demonstrations (which RodMan did for free) and these pieces came from those demos



If things could get any better, well, they did. My 18 year old son who is a good artist in his own right did a collaboration piece with RodMan and they came up with this Mad Scientist. It’s still to be finished but I’m sure you get the idea.


Finally, RodMan came to my exhibition opening and saw some of my orangutan pieces there so we decided to do a collaboration image as well and came up with this fun piece – again it’s only two and a half hours work drawn freehand on clayboard with ink added with an airbrush and a couple of small bristle brushes, removed with a fibreglass brush and a blade and fun had by all. I’m pretty certain my style has come through quite well.


A few new pieces of art

I mentioned in my last blog that I went to Frankfurt Zoo on the way from West Africa to Adelaide, Australia, where I live. I was hanging out for some wildlife and although you can’t really call zoo animals ‘wildlife’, it was great to see what can be done with a small space in the middle of a huge city when people who care set their minds to it.

Unfortunately my camera display had been broken by a clumsy x-ray operator in Frankfurt airport going from one section to another, so at the zoo I had to simply click away and hope something was happening, since I couldn’t see the results on the screen (or apply any special settings) so it was a nice surprise when I got home and saw some awesome photos to work from. The following two pieces are a ‘variegated spider monkey’ and a ‘bonobo’ and there will be more to come from this visit. I need to get ready for an exhibition at the Adelaide Zoo with another artist, the amazing Kerryn Hocking, so I’ll be doing as many wildlife pieces as I can before tackling some portraits from Benin with the rich cultural history that can be found there.

Variegated Spider Monkey 2013

Bonobo 2013