Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Crucian Carp


Well this post concludes with the last drawing in the ‘Andrew Field’ Float collection, and I really pushed to complete it before Christmas. It’s been very enjoyable working on these pieces, and a challenge to try and present both float and artwork in a manner that is complementary, yet balanced in the frame. I want to say big thanks to Andy for all your help and support, it’s been much appreciated and I look forward to putting a couple of special works together for your own collection buddy.

Whilst I am offering thanks, I also want to doff my cap to another couple of people who offered support with this piece, one being Vinny (a fantastic writer) who runs his own blog ‘The Northwest Fisherman’, and is a gentleman to boot...check him out. Second is no other than Stu, aka The Sweetcorn Kid, who needs no introduction with his stunning writing and angling exploits - and the Can of Jolly Green is for you my friend!

Last but not least is Chris Turnbull, a gifted artist and writer with a phenomenal skill for gathering enthusiasts to work collectively and make angling a preserved sport for the future. He is a member of many angling associations and has spent a huge amount of effort forming the ACA (The Association Of Crucian Anglers) which has already in a short space of time started to form a plan that is helping this fish become established once again. Many clubs and individuals are now setting up fisheries with the sole intention based around this fish; what an achievement and success it will be for the future, well done Chris.

This collaboration has been an exciting opportunity, but as this chapter closes, so a new one opens and I am already looking forward to lots of new projects for 2016!

 

The final piece in this series is based on the lovely Crucian Carp, an endearingly shy fish that seems to thrive in waters that contain few mixed species; especially the King Carp, which is far to bold and dominates the Crucian, which subsequently suffers from its intense competition. In my experience, most farm ponds that hold a healthy stock of Crucians are relatively small in size and contain Rudd and perhaps a sprinkling of Tench, often with little else. The Rudd feeding in the upper layers tend not to impact the Crucians feeding strategy, so they live in perfect symbiosis. Their very nature is one of timidity; hence, they are also prone to predation from large pike and cormorants, and perhaps increasingly, otters too. Maybe that's why they favour those little overgrown farm ponds because cormorants are more suited to a large body of open water, leaving this shy chap to live life on his own peaceful terms.

On the contrary, if the habitat is suitable, he is a tough little bugger than can withstand some of the lowest oxygen levels of any known fish in the world. I have caught them on a park lake that was almost completely silted up with no more than 12" of water at its deepest point, leaving me to guess how they survived a cold winter when the lake froze solid.

They can also breed like rabbits which can become their downfall in a small pond because they end up stunted with so many small fish surviving, leaving little room for adults to continue growing.

My first encounter as a young lad was on such a pond; I remember vividly those shy bites on small pieces of bread flake that I could not connect with. I would fine the tackle down by reducing the mainline and hook size, along with a much slimmer float to minimise resistance...did it help, did it buggery. I started to align the float against shadows on the water cast from the overgrowing Alder trees around the pool, and on most occasions the float would drift ever-so slightly left or right without dipping a 1000th of a millimetre – strike…. and one of my fondest memories would we this little "bar of gold" spiralling round and around slowly corkscrewing to the surface from the dark depths of the pool, and the tell-tale rattling of the float against the shot on the mainline confirming it was a Crucian!

Some of the larger fish (no bigger than 12oz) from the pond would always give the impression of age, a dark tea stained back making way to a deep copper/gold flank like an old bronze statue. Combined with his delicate upturned mouth, it gave quite a ‘grumpy old man’ facial expression...but what a delight and fish to hold, nothing other than a big Rudd can shine like a Crucian Carp and a make young fish look like a freshly minted coin. With a buttery gold flank and orange coloured fins, nothing can brighten a dull day both in hue and spirit.

I have never landed a large one and it’s definitely top of my hit list. I knew of a water in Oxford that contained no more than 3 very old fish, along with massive Roach and Rudd which I was targeting. Those dinosaurs were the last remnants of stock that had managed to survive against all odds; however, they were no longer reproducing to kick-start the next generation. I managed to glimpse a pair that came into my swim while float fishing for Rudd, staying deep in the water with the Rudd taking casters on the drop. These fish slowly slid over the free offerings in 5 feet of gin-clear water, moving ever so slowly mouthing the odd caster, then evaporating before my eyes, that was the closest I ever came to hooking one, but a friend was lucky to have a chance later in the season with his old dark fish breaking the 4lb barrier! A true giant of the fish world.

I also came across a dead one in the margins of a beautiful old estate lake I used to fish, and to this day I would not like to hazard a guess at its size, all I will say is I have never, and probably will ever, see anything like it again.

This brings me to the Artwork which I have tried to amalgamate some of the elements I so lovingly relate to with this fish. I wanted to base the main image on a true old survivor, a fish that had seen the ebb and flow of many a season, and depict with a few missing scales and that aged dark oak barrel patina we all love. No other fish deserves a more traditional theme so I wanted the main drawing to look like an old taxidermy mount, a bold side view of the full flank displaying his beautiful contours and convex dorsal fin. That classic rounded stubby tail fully open...pausing in an upright position while mouthing his single grain of sweet corn like a spider monkey with a date.




I wanted the complementary drawings to finish more sketch-like and not as detailed, thereby offering a subtle suggestion of memories, fish lay in the fold of the landing net ready to be returned, my ever faithful ‘salter spring balance’ which composes the picture, and is the perfect size for comparison.....though crap for recording accurate weights, but I guess the weight is sometimes irrelevant. A can of Jolly Green Giant has always sat by my seat box when fishing for Crucian and I wanted to add a little modern twist to the traditional theme of the piece.



Andrew had made some stunning floats from old reed stem which had the most perfect pattern and coloration that reminded me of this fish. I asked if he could make me a float from the reed which looks absolutely perfect in its matching frame and bronze coloured mount edging.




I feel sad to finish this collection now, it has brought back many fond memories, which I hope others will somehow relate to, but for now, it’s time to put my pencil down, enjoy the festive cheer, then prepare for spring and the New Year ahead.

 

"The Crucian" is for sale priced at £450 and the overall size of the piece framed is:590 mm x 790mm



 

Enjoy the Christmas period, stay happy, healthy and look after the ones you hold dear.

 

Merry Christmas

Adam Entwistle


 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Lure Of The Float

Well this collaboration with Andrew Field “master float maker” has been ongoing for the past few seasons. There are many reasons why it's been postponed, all on my behalf of course, but sometimes you cannot rush a good thing! For this project I set myself a total target of 8 pieces, with 6 completed and ready for sale, the final two will follow very shortly. Each piece is a totally unique design and covers 8 different UK coarse fish. The aim was to capture all the finer characteristics of each particular species and express a clear angling theme that runs through each piece. The framing has been important too; I wanted to display each piece to its full potential and appeal to avid collectors seeking a bespoke piece of artwork. The floats are all Andrews stunning work, hand crafted with his signature detail and finished to perfection. Some of the floats are inlaid with bird feathers and luxurious threads, each signed by the man himself!




My passion for all the fish that swim UK waters stems from childhood, and for each species I can only heap praise, not just in their obvious beauty, but also by knowing the characteristics of each fish that are only learnt through experience. Getting to know their inherent behaviour, which includes habitat preferences, can only make you a more accomplished angler. Spending a lifetime by the waters edge, I have managed to tuck a few tricks up my sleeve to help dodge a blankety blank cheque-book and pen!

My art has fuelled my passion for angling even further, and has provided me with an additional excuse to talk fish on a cold winters day, when gracing the bank is not possible. So if you don't find me on the riverbank, you'll find me in my study where I am surrounded by all manner of objects from the natural world. In fact, these days is has become more like a small natural history museum.

One of the joys of my artwork is taking a pencil and breathing life into a blank piece of paper. It fascinates me that you can bring life to a pencil line through close observation of the fine details of scale patterns, fin shape and anatomy; even the iris shape of individual species exhibits distinct differences. Learning to observe these subtle nuances gives me more of an insight into the aquatic world, and helps me appreciate the inherent beauty, colours and shapes. Knowing your subject from touch and experience is the key, and this knowledge cannot be replicated from only reading books - you have to feel that passion to portray it through your work, and hopefully this is what I have achieved with each piece here.


If I had to choose a favourite fish with only one last cast at my disposal, I could not, I genuinely love each of them for many reasons and they are all intertwined within dreams and memories, past and present, which in my opinion no other sport can replicate. The mighty perch features in two of the works and this is a perfect opportunity to mention a fishing trip early in the year with Sam Edmonds and father Gary (who I called Paul all day until corrected, whilst we sat removing wellies at the car boot at the end of a great days fishing, what a prat I felt!). Pardon the pun, but this is not a cheap plug, on the contrary, it is more out of admiration for two of the most genuine people I have met for a long time, and damn fine anglers to boot. This deadly duo have caught more big Perch than any other I know, showing incredible skill season after season, which is why they are part of the national predator fishing team.


It was a mild damp February morning when I met up at a secret fishing location and was greeted by the Edmonds team. The weather had not been ideal, with plenty of floodwater gushing through the river, which was always going to make lure fishing for perch less than perfect. Fortunately, these guys had plenty of experience at hand and we set off armed with all manner of lures and jigs to hopefully entice a take. We covered huge areas of the river, spots the guys know well and hold fish over the 4lb mark, but takes were hard to come by. Each of us used slightly different tactics and even with the chaps putting me in proven areas, we could not tempt a pluck on the line. After lunch, we moved location to where two rivers merged and coincided with a line of moored boats, which down-stream created slack water that would hopefully hold fish. Sam was the first to strike with a fish hitting his rubber jig no less than 4 yards from his feet on the retrieve, but with a cursed word and the line falling slack, the hook had not set-home. We continued to work the area in a grid fashion until Sam once again connected with a fish close to the near bank. It was all over so soon with the fish in the net and three excited faces peered down like children on Christmas day. It was a good fish and we all new it... hoisted onto the mat we unhooked the prized perch, an old fish with dark coloured flanks that looked slightly tubby, but it bounced the needle to 3lb 15oz! Wahey it was the first fish of the day and an absolute beauty.

 After pictures of the prize were taken, it was time to move again to a section of river further upstream, which Gary was hoping would not have been as affected by the flood water. The river here was twisting and turning back on itself, snaking serpent-like across the flat landscape and offered some deep slow pools on each bend. The guys had taken many good fish from this stretch and Gary explained to me exactly where I needed to cast “over there Adam to the far bank under those large overhanging weeping willows”, and by the second cast I felt life for the first time that day. The line sent a signal straight through the carbon in my hand like an electric shock and instinct kicked in with a knee jerk reaction as I struck and set the hook home. Once again, a bold stripy was twisting and turning mid-river and I prayed the fish would not shed the hook. Yes, she's mine I said as a much paler fish slid into the fold of the net, saving a fishless day for myself and making it so worthwhile. On the scales she went 2lb 8oz so I was very pleased indeed... a quick picture and back she went while all 3 of us tried to make the most of the fading light by covering every nook and cranny by spreading out over a 50 yard stretch. Just as the sun dipped, signalling only 30 minutes of fading light, I had a savage take on the drop as my crayfish-type rubber lure was smashed as it fluttered past a dying reed bed along the far bank. This time the fight was much more spirited with a jack pike of around 6-8lb gracing the bank. What a fantastic day, happy memories and great company, and even though Gary did not manage a fish, in all honesty his fishing ability outclassed myself 10 fold and he even showed young Sam the Old Lion still had the touch. His casting was pinpoint accurate every time; and I mean inch-perfect presentation under every overhanging tree or bush, near and far. However, on the day it just was not meant to be, but Gary even allowed myself first cast in chosen areas over himself, which highlights the gentleman he is…. so thanks guys, it was a memorable day indeed.



Fuelled with new inspiration for Mr. Stripy, I started to put the perch piece together with a clear vision in my mind of this sneaky predator lurking in the murky water waiting to strike!

                                                         
                                                                    "Perch Bobbing"

Perch piece matched with a pair of Porcupine quill & Cork Bobs. (SOLD)

I will let the pictures speak for themselves, everything from the humble finger long Minnow, to the greatest Roach of them all "The Avon Roach" and a bold extravagant perch constructed from spike and armoured scale, to what may be the catalyst for many anglers, the Gudgeon... they all sit alongside a float made fit for fishing purpose. I hope you enjoy them chaps; a lot of love and attention has gone into this unique collection that will not be repeated again.


                                                                        "Winter Magic"

A large extravagant piece depicting my 3 favourite winter species alongside 3 of the finest floats I have had the pleasure to hold!! (SOLD)


                                                                  "The Redmire King"

                      Gudgeon study piece accompanying a pair of stunning quill floats.(SOLD)



                                                                 "The Avon Roach"

 Main image is a pastel & graphite drawing alongside other images of the Roach and a beautiful Avon float made from quill & cork, inlaid with pheasant feathers.
Price  £449 Professional mounted in a brushed steel frame.


 
"Green & Gold"
A Tench piece nearly a meter in length with an elegant lift float mounted at the top of the frame. SOLD
 
 
Boyhood Dreams
 
Another mixed species piece covering Gudgeon, Tench, Perch & Minnow. This was inspired from days fishing as a young boy, chasing dreams & monsters. A small quill float accompanies the piece.
SOLD
 
 
A further Crucian carp piece to follow soon.
 

If you are interested in purchasing any of the works that are still available or require more close-up images to show the detail & sizes, please feel free to contact and I will be happy to help.

I hope you enjoy them. tight lines this winter.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Mr Mole

                           

A mole is a creature we all know as being depicted in children's books many times and kicking over their piles of fresh dark soil that appeared on the school field overnight was a regular pastime for myself, but few people have ever seen one. Adapting to a life in the dark, its eyes are virtually none-existent, relying totally on his nose to find juicy earthworms, huge front paddle shaped hands with long sharp nails, tiny hind feet and the cutest rounded bum, shaped like the end of a plum tomato with a short stout tail stuck on the end, covered in bristle type black hair that looks pig-like even though its not curly.

As a young lad I had never seen one dead or alive until the old man had brought one home he had found dead while out walking with the dog. Being a proof-reader for a national newspaper he had taken the animal to work in the morning to show the old boys who were all stooped in long lines over wooden bench-desks, huddled under a reading lamp with plumes of smoke rising from either a fag butt or pipe hanging out of their mouths, filling the dark room with a rich aroma of tobacco and printers ink. Of all the men present that morning not one could name the animal which is hard to believe, all manner of remarks thrown at the old man " it's your lads pet hamster" or it's a rat or mouse, but these city men were born of steel & brick, never breathing or visiting the countryside, preferring the men's social clubs for contraband over a country walk!! So home the mole came, so we could all ponder over its tube-like body shape, fur so fine and soft which could be brushed both ways like a fine tailored suede jacket. Where are its eyes dad? how can it find food?, do they bite? the questions coming thick and fast, can we hold it?, does it smell?, let's put it back in the ground for its mum to find, the memory remains vivid, an animal of the underworld brought to life for the first time.

This summer we have had a mole in the garden, throwing mounds of fresh soil daily, but not once has it ever been an issue. Never one for wanting a perfect manicured lawn, the lawn mower only spreads the soil around anyway ready for him to make a new one the following day!! I feel privileged to know they are here, well before we looked after the land and here when we leave, so Mr Mole does have his right to this patch, so for the vanity of a bowling green lawn you can keep it.

Moles have been trapped for generations for many reasons, the old trappers would use a manual mole trap which would be set in a mole run, killing him instantly and they would be paid per mole. The poor creature was not wasted, with his fur being used to make clothing from trousers to hats. These days gas or poison is used , which for me shows complete disregard for an animal that is viewed solely as a pest, a menace to the modern garden, but sometimes it pays to stop and think about his role in nature, surely a quick rake or letting the children kick the mole hills around is better than a sterile lifeless garden that is more suited to a city lifestyle than a country one?

So one sunny evening I was walking back to the garage with one of my young sons when right in front of us the ground started to rise with fresh, dark soil bubbling up, we both paused, frozen with fear of banging our feet sending him back into the abyss. By pure chance a spade was leaning against the garage wall, so without lifting my feet I lent over grabbing the spade, waiting for the next arrival of topsoil. Now I have heard of this technique before but timing is crucial, too slow and you miss him, too fast and you cut the poor mole in half, so I waited until the earth started erupting again and he came to the surface pushing out more soil and making a new underground tunnel linking one bypass to another. "He's coming" whispered Lucas, "wait for it" I said , then I thrust the spade deep into the earth as far down as I could force in one motion, scooping at the same time to hopefully bare the prize. At first all we could see was a pile of earth, but as we rummaged through the spade-full of soil there he was!, frozen and exposed to the bright sunshine, he remained so still, almost as if he was trying to hide. We picked him up and put him inside a bucket for a brief minute, allowing myself time to explain to Lucas what he was & why he was there.

Of all his adorable features the two things that struck me most was the immense power and speed, it completely shocked me how fast he could shuffle, & I mean turbo fast!! His power was incredible too for a creature of this size, being one of muscle and limbs he set off like a scalextric car across the lawn, across the gravel drive and literally upended and tore through the gravel like some earth burrowing robot in a kids cartoon. I could not have dug that fast with a trowel, and we both still laugh how fast "Turbo" mole disappeared, it boggles my mind to think how he did managed to evaporate in front of our eyes, through a bone dry gravel parking area, back into his underworld, unbelievable!.

Mr Mole really did leave his mark on Lucas and myself, so that night I decided after the encounter to draw him, it's not easy drawing an animal that has no obvious hard lines or contours, just a sausage shape with a sticky out tail , rubbery long snout and huge front baby pink hands. I decided to depict him when he first froze in the daylight, with a strong cast shadow from the sun, adding a little colour to his hands, feet and nose.

I hope you like this endearing little creature, you may never get chance to see one, but hopefully this drawing brings one to life in your thoughts.

The drawing is for sale £100. (actual drawing size is 190mm x 80mm



 

A.J.E Artwork copyright (R) on all images on this blog.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A Brood Of Pheasants



This season we have been busy breeding various birds, which has come with a variety of highs and lows. Here on the farm we have few wild game birds, and for many reasons. A lack of good land management, predation and shooting pressure (previous owner) have all played a role in reducing overall numbers. This season we raised a combination of pheasant and partridge poults for release onto the land to try and complement the small number of remaining wild birds. With so many apex predators in this area that is never an easy task and all manner of wily predators have tried to outwit my husbandry skills. It really is a daily task to oversee the whole operation. However, it has given me a wonderful insight into the work of the traditional keeper, and not just for the day to day physicalitys, but also their vast knowledge of land management and animal husbandry which is so inextricably linked to the English country estates that many know and love.

Cock pheasants are hard to miss, their resplendent colouration contrasts starkly with a frosted woodland edge; his distinctive “kok-kok” highlighting his presence. The hen bird on the other hand is equally beautiful, yet her plumage is cryptic, containing all manner of camouflaged buff, sandy-browns that allow her to disappear in the undergrowth. I would hazard a guess that you typically only see one hen to every 10-15 cock birds. In the UK, they were introduced by the Normans around the 11th century, and whilst non-native, it is one bird we appear to have taken under our wing.

As for our efforts, well for this first year they bode well, but I will need to improve my skills next season to ensure we release enough birds to give our project a fighting chance.

One of the hen pheasants demonstrated good parental skills, and was happy to brood her own clutch, but most of the other hens just laid eggs here and there, on a daily basis - similar to a chicken. These eggs were hatched via an incubator or a broody hen, but I was keen to encourage parent birds to raise their own clutch to try and establish a population that had the necessary skills to do so in the wild. This will be essential for long-term population stability. Well, our particular hen pheasant remained faithful to her task, but just two days before the first egg hatched, a fox attempted a midnight raid. It did not manage to break in because of the double layer fence, but it tore a hole big enough for some of the birds to escape, followed by the same scenario on one of the partridge pens! The broody hen pheasant disappeared along with 3 other birds, but later that day two of the three returned walking the perimeter of the pen, with mother wanting to get back to her clutch of eggs and showing signs of distress. I quickly set up a cage trap that I use to catch vermin and placed it up against the outside of the pen, repaired the damaged fence and within 30 minutes she had walked straight in, catching her without harm and returning her back to the pen quick sharp.

I have taken lots of reference pictures of this hen with her clutch, which I will use later for my artwork, but it was the first chick that hatched which inspired the drawing below.

When you observe any young animal being born, it stirs a deep maternal instinct in both man & women alike. You may want to help protect and nurture, or just enjoy the whole process from a distance, but its a powerful emotion that is hard to resist. Once you become involved in any animal rearing project, its very rewarding too. It also gives my 3 young sons a responsibility and teaches them sound values for later life.

With the first chick hatching only days after the fox fiasco, I started to sketch this young chick along with the fresh broken egg shell to hopefully capture some of the energy I was grateful to observe. A pheasant egg is absent of distinct markings, yet are painted beautiful rich, creamy olive/green colours, and the outer shell possesses a lovely sheen. It is smaller than a chicken egg, roughly 4-5cm long, and with an average number of 8-12 eggs per clutch, you don't need many parent birds to raise large numbers of poults.

I used pastel for the drawing of the egg to highlight this beautiful colour, which seemed to blend perfectly with the chick in graphite pencil and give the drawing a little more interest.



I hope you enjoy the piece and it will be the first of many I'm sure over time.

The drawing itself measures 300mm long by 150mm wide. It is for sale and priced at £220.








 
If interested, please feel free to contact.

 
                                                            A.J.E Copy (R) On All Images

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Grass Carp Commission

I have just completed quite a large commission of a chap who has been visiting our fishery for some years now. It's not very often I draw a portrait of a person because I feel so much emphasis goes into the portrait, not just from my perspective but the viewer aswell, and this pulls me away from my love of drawing animals & fish!! I have enjoyed the challenge and once I was happy with Kevs facial features the drawing came together nicely. It's always heart warming to observe a customers initial reaction when they see a commission piece and he honestly nearly gave himself whiplash when he first glanced at the drawing, it made the whole thing so worth while.

The fish in this piece is a Grass carp, a species that originates from eastern Asia and may have first come from the Amur river. It was introduced to Europe for aquatic weed control, and is very effective at doing so. It can eat 3 times its own body weight per day & can fight like no other carp I know, if in the correct environment!. Its such a stunning looking fish, made up of amour like scales of silver and a turquoise sheen across its back with a lovely creamy white underside. Its body shape is like a submarine, being long and streamlined with a solid, bony skull.
They are so unpredictable in the water and out, so care needs to be taken when handling these fish because they can damage themselves with their erratic jumping behaviour. In the water it's a shy secretive fish that likes shady cover under trees and bushes, quietly cruising around happy to feed on most aquatic vegetation.

If you have never caught one and know of a lake that contains them, a bright sweet based bait is a preferred choice, something like sweetcorn is an ideal bait, fished in a warm shallow area and preferably on a slope like the side of a gravel bar. The mouth of a grass carp is not underslung like the King carp or semi protrusible, it has very hard lips for tearing vegetation and is located at the front of the skull making it difficult to feed on the bottom, having to upend almost vertically to pick food items up, thus making it far easier for the Grass carp to feed on a slope with its body in a horizontal position.

I hope you enjoy the piece and also understand a little more about this stunning species, Thanks Kevin its been a pleasure!!!



The completed piece framed and mounted to give you the overall effect of the finished work.




A.J.E Copy (C) Right on all images on this blog site.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Highland Speciality

Well a big apology for the distinct lack of blog updates. Running a small family business takes up a lot of my working week, and unfortunately at this present moment, my Artwork has to fit in with my limited free time. Spring is also my favourite month of the season, with new life emerging and the land blooming, it's the perfect excuse to be spending time outdoors and gathering a wealth of reference material for the cold months ahead. I'm very privileged to live in a beautiful part of the world. It holds a great array of wildlife and you would be hard-pressed to surpass it. This season I have been gathering data from 3 very rare and important bird species, which in the UK need all the help available if we are to save at least two of them becoming extinct. I will return to these species later in the year, but more recently on the Artwork front I have been tying to catch-up with many interesting commissions, along with a few study pieces and sketches to keep the graphite flowing when time permits.

 

This blog is about a very beautiful bird that seems to evade the main headlines for most avian lovers, one that has adapted to some of the harshest barren conditions, the Dotterel. It is many years since I last observed this charismatic bird and I have always enjoyed it not just for its beauty, but for the cheeky character it radiates. This A2 size study piece is for an important wildlife photographer who has spent many hours observing them, so it's always a pleasure to put together a piece for someone who knows the species well; casting a keen eye over my work for likeness and accuracy. The dotterel is a smallish sized bird around 8" tall with bold markings. Its white cheeks and blackish/brown crown, with a brown/beige chest and whitish breast-band help separate the beautiful chestnut lower breast and flanks, which lead into a black under belly. The Dotterel really is a stunning bird and its colours blend perfectly with the highland landscape. The main focus of the piece is the bird in colour on the right-hand side of the board; I used pastel pencils to show the magnificent colours of the species, which Graphite could not depict. The rest of the study hopefully captures the upright stance of the bird, with its prominent rotund posture highlighting the most wonderful outline when silhouetted against a skyline

 

Because they favour very remote areas in the breeding season, most are located above 2500ft in high level fells and barren mountaintops. The most northern part of Scotland and the Cairngorms is one of the best places to observe them in the UK. This habitat offers minimal contact with humans, thus a large percentage of them live without fear of human beings, giving them a reputation for extraordinary tameness. Others can be quite wild and rise long before you approach, but most will literally run up to your feet if you remain still.

 

The female is brighter in colour than the male, but unusual for most bird species, the eggs are almost entirely incubated by the male.

I hope my study piece captures the essence of this little charismatic bird, even though most will never see one because of the harsh environment it favours. Please look it up in your bird book because it really is something to behold.

 

Back soon with more fishy blogs followed by a large Golden Eagle commission for later in the year!




Copy(C) right on all images on this blog, including artwork & Photographs.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Birding Art Gallery





I have just been accepted to join the Birding Art online Gallery to display some of my work, The site  www.birdingart.com specialise in bird art in all mediums, and display some stunning work from artists all over the world. I feel privileged to join, and also its a positive step forward to showcase my work to a wider audience, and hopefully generate a little more interest in what I do.


I have listed a selection of different subjects all in graphite pencil & ink, with each piece being professionally mounted and framed.



All works can be viewed directly from the site and I will give you a little more information about a couple of the works below so you can see how I put the drawings together.



The original reference material for the Sparrow Hawk drawing came from a Wildlife Photographer called Rob Cross, feel free to look at his site www.robcimages.co.uk, because he has taken some wonderful images. In the original photo the Spar is just touching down with a mouse in its beak, with the wing tips out of the frame and no talons were on show. With a clear image in my mind of what I wanted to portray I set about building a complete image in small sketches, marrying the Great Tit in his talons and finding the perfect wooden post to position the birds on, along with removing the mouse from his slightly open beak. It's a large drawing with many hours spent to bring it to completion but hopefully you agree it's a dramatic pose.


A close-up of the head to show the level of detail in this piece.

The second work "Larking Around" depicts a bird that is close to my heart. To some it's just another brown little bird but the Skylark is much more so than that. It has inspired poets, musicians & artists for generations with its liquid song resonating across the countryside on a bright blue summers day. It also signifies all is balanced in the complex pyramid of the countryside, and they thrive on land that is unspoilt, untouched, & unadulterated. Land that most would call scrub, or in -need of a tractors flail, but this kind of grassland that holds a whole host of weeds and insects is prime habitat for the Skylark.

The title for the piece is a phase most of us have heard before "stop larking around" but there is a deeper meaning. The phase was coined in the 18th century when young boys and girls would go into the meadows at dawn break to catch Skylarks in nets, I presume to eat or cage them for their song, and the term "Larking Around" was born!!




I hope I have managed to display the majestic beauty of this little brown bird, and it's certainly a bird I will draw again sometime. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to contact me with any questions.



 




Adam Entwistle Copyright (C) On all images displayed on this blog.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Summer Sanctuary

I have just completed a large commission that for many reasons has taken far too long, being on and off the board more times than I have caught Carp. I really wanted to capture a dark old scaley mirror underwater, giving the impression of it just coming into a small clearing with its pectorals just fanning, pausing for that spilt second before disappearing amongst the Lily pads and fronds of Elodea & Milfoil weed.

The customer was quite happy to leave the piece to myself, only stating he wanted a carp in it's natural environment, so it was enjoyable collecting reference material and building the image over the summer in my mind before I tackled the piece. The whole drawing is made up of at least 40+ reference pictures, all brought together hopefully harmoniously to produce the final drawing.

I used the full range of graphite on this work from 9B upto 5H along with a little ink, to give just a small touch of deep black where I thought appropriate.

This is the longest I have spent in man hours on a single work and the picture measures approx 600mm x 400mm

I will let the scaly dark mirror do the talking.

Bye for now.
                    

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Rise Of The Falcon

One family of birds I have always had a very keen interest in is the birds of prey. For longer than we can remember, they have been a fascination to man, and not just for their sheer beauty and presence. For centuries, raptors held an even closer appeal having been manned to provide food for the table; thus the Art of Falconry was born. History documents the sport dates back to 2000BC and peaked in the 17th Century, when it was soon to be superseded for hunting purposes by the firearm. My father kept numerous birds of prey while I was a young lad, which left lasting memories. Now a little older & greyer myself, its not just falconry that interests me; the greatest thrill is observing these birds wild in their natural environment.

 

As with any Apex predator, intelligence is an inherent part of their make-up. To feed and survive they must hunt & outwit other living creatures, which is not an easy feat considering those things evolved to evade beak and talon. A cow or any large herbivore will happily find food with ease, they can stand and chew the cud with the sunrays warming their rump without too much care or worry, this is what sets a predator apart from other animals in the food chain. 


But when one has the opportunity to look directly into the eye of a raptor, a sense of intelligence is portrayed through its steely, and often, dark stare. It can be a little un-nerving when something as large as a Golden Eagle perched on your gauntlet manages to fix a glare and you get that instinctive feeling you are the underdog.

I have had a wonderful few days recently with friends & family flying Merlin, Peregrine, Goshawk & Gyrfalcon, all utterly captivating in their own way. When you study a subject for creative reasons, you really get the opportunity (especially at close quarters) to observe the anatomy and gracious lines of the bird, and a species like the peregrine falcon can only be described as sheer evolutionary perfection. The feather lay over the shoulders and back look like carbon fibre formula 1 racecar panels. Designed for minimising wind resistance and maximum speed, it's this essence of the bird I hope to capture in my work as my level of skill & observation develop. One of natures finest spectacles is watching a Peregrine stoop from over 500 feet to hit its intended quarry at such a force as to kill it on impact. It leaves the hairs on your neck erect like a spooked tomcat. The first time I saw this take place was a wild bird taking a pigeon in a remote moorland location and it truly left me speechless; one of natures most impressive, chilling and breath-taking moments.

 

The graphite peregrine piece below was inspired by my recent encounter with a stunning tiercel and it hopefully captures that previously mentioned noble stance & steely stare, with its fine detail concentrated on the head, followed by the simple master-lines of its body and the Falconers glove.

The piece is For Sale, being double mounted and professional framed for £250. Size 290mm x 205mm.




Following on from the peregrine is the most diminutive falcon of the British Isles, the merlin. A bird predominately of moor and open heathland, it is smaller than the kestrel, yet equally if not more adept on the wing, flying low over the landscape to capture its prey using a surprising turn of speed and agility. Certainly a falcon that doesnt take the centre stage, but any falconer worth his weight in gold has manned one of these birds at some stage on their falconry journey. This drawing is a 3-bird piece on A3 sized Bristol art paper. The centre drawing was of an adult Jack (male) merlin and the two drawings either side are based on a 1 year old female (falcon).

The piece is available to purchase: £280 double mounted and professional framed. Size 400mm x 280mm.



I have also added an image of the framed drawing to give you the overall impression of a finished work framed.


My final drawing is a tiercel peregrine/gyrfalcon hybrid.The gyrfalcon is the largest of the falcons, a bird of artic tundra built for sheer power, stamina and speed. It is even known to hunt peregrine, along with all manner of other birds & mammals as large as mountain hare. It can vary in widely in colour; from snow white to heavy flecked and is a very impressive bird indeed. So impressive, that they were used as peace offerings by Kings. In fact an Ottoman Sultan was once offered 200,000 gold ducats as a ransom offering for the capture of the Duke of Burgundy. He refused the offer instead of something more precious the prize of 12 white gyrfalcons. The hybrid is a cross between the closely related peregrine & gyrfalcon species. The ultimate aim is to obtain the blend of gyrfalcon power and stamina with a peregrines turn of speed. It is a popular falcon for hunting and one I have had the pleasure to watch many times in the field.

This piece is quite large in size (580mm x 380mm) & again it is another 3-bird piece. I really wanted to exhibit this falcon in flight to display the grace & beauty, along with this birds strong anatomical lines.

The piece is available for sale: £300 & once again its double mounted & professional framed ready to hang on the wall.

 




My next blog will return to something fishy, but in the meantime please feel free to contact me about any of the works above, or if you are interested in a commission of a different subject.


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