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
“Clear to Land” by Martin Aveling
One day about 18 months ago a flat pack parcel arrived for me at home in Adelaide. I noticed it was from the US. I often send art to shows in the States and if it doesn’t sell, it gets sent back to me. However at this time I wasn’t expecting any returns. I noticed it was from my friend Diana Lee. Maybe she’d sent me a magazine? Excited, I ripped the parcel open to be faced – literally – with myself. Diana had colluded with my lovely but sneaky wife Gaynor and the result was a fabulous portrait of me. Totally unexpected and the best surprise one could get.
Great scratchboard artist friends Harold Farley, Lorna Hannett, Me, Diana Lee and Allan Ace Adams
To put things in context, Diana Lee could be described as one of the finest artists in the world without a shadow of doubt. She is a pioneer of scratchboard art and has inspired many many artists to get involved with this fine art medium. She was with me when we created the International Society of Scratchboard Artists with five other artists. Due in no small part to her, this society has now gone global and as a result, Diana has ended up touching even more lives. She certainly touched mine and my family’s. We all loved her and I’m devastated by her passing to an aggressive form of cancer.
This is the portrait she did of me and underneath that a selection of her art which will show you why I consider her so highly. However, no matter how good her art was, it didn’t match up to how good she was as a human being and I will sorely miss her.
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
“Pads”, Amur Leopard
“The Stalk”, African Lion
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m a regular bush walker and this weekend I had one of those moments that will live with me forever.
It was a stinking hot day in an area that generally gets a lot of walkers but because of the temperature there was no one else at all. I saw this wild koala at the base of a tree and when it heard me it scampered up the trunk until it was out of any danger that it may think I could cause. I took a few photos, below is one of them…
I left the area to finish the first part of my walk and when I got back about an hour later the same koala was back at the bottom of the tree. This time I approached very slowly and it climbed only to my waist level and stopped. I stopped too, sat down and waited a while. I also talked reassuringly. It looked very hot and parched so I took my water bottle out and gingerly advanced a few more steps, sat down, waited some more, advanced a bit more again until I was eventually within arm’s reach. I held out the water bottle and poured a few drops onto the ground so the koala could see what it was. I then leaned in and poured some water onto its nose and straight away it started to drink. It eventually drank about half my remaining water and at one time it even took the bottle off me but then dropped it. I was a wonderful experience and it even let me pet it a little. I shouldn’t have but simply couldn’t resist it. It’s great when an animal trusts you enough to allow you this close and to hopefully even help it. I’ve seen this koala up the same tree once before so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if I ever see it again. Check out the following photos.