"Sun's up; time for bed" (Barn Owls portrait)
Artist Code: 1514. Picture inception and preliminary drawing done in May 2015. Painting started April 2020, completed 8th August 2020. Original Water colour. Unframed Aquarelle Arches 140lb 100% cotton rag paper, 14" x 20". [250 Prints available].
In December 2014 I spent the most wonderful 5 hours sitting in an aviary with two beautiful barn owls (Robbie and Suzie). I took over 400 photographs and just watched them (see photographs at the base of this page). What extremely graceful creatures they are and so silent in their flight. I had attended a friend’s 70th birthday party in August 2014 which was lovely, and he showed me his two barn owls, with an open invitation to visit any time to get resource photographs.
After playing tennis on 27th June 2020, I came home and, unusually on a Saturday, decided to do a bit of tidying up. I came across the previously old commissioned owl sketch, so decided to paint it. As you can see above, in the original sketch there was only one owl, but I thought two would make a nicer portrait. So I re-drew the composition on a larger sheet and added another owl. Males differ from females only by the fact that their coat is paler in colour than the female and I wanted to show this. I had also discovered a lovely big hole in an ash tree whilst on one of my field trips and photographed and used it as a natural backdrop to my painting, rather than the made-up one in the original commission sketch.
Over the following couple of months I made several attempts to complete the painting which I had drawn out and at one time thought I had mucked it up completely, in between worrying about book illustrations and other work. But, at 11.30pm on the balmy night of Saturday 8th August 2020, I finally completed it! This is yet another large water colour (which I promised myself I would not do again), the birds being life-size which can be anywhere between 11" and 17" tall. But if needs must….
Golden Pheasants and Bluebells
Artist Code: 1515. Picture inception 2015. Drawing done 20th June 2018. Painting started 10th May 2020, completed 24th June 2020. Original Water colour. Unframed Aquarelle Arches 140lb 100% cotton rag paper, 12" x 16". [Prints available]
The inspiration for the background in this painting popped up whilst I was walking in May 2015 with a group of caravanning friends in the beautiful British countryside (Cotswolds I think) and we came across a small wooded glade with bluebells and young spring plants growing and the morning sun glinting through the gaps in the trees and hedgerows. There was an old wooden stump covered with moss and tree seedlings dotted about. It really was a beautiful scene. I had not taken my camera so am indebted to my friend, Martin, who allowed me to use his and I took some lovely photographs of the scene and surrounds.
The very next week I went to Kew Gardens for the first time (with my camera), and there I met up with some gorgeous Golden Pheasants. I snapped to my hearts content, thinking all the time that they would go beautifully with the bluebell background.
It has taken me from 2015 to 24th June 2018 to complete this work, which took 82 hours to paint (not counting the preliminary thinking and drawing rounds).
Golden Pheasants are around in the wild in the UK, but rare as their bright plumage makes them susceptible to death by wily fox! They can be seen all year round in small areas of England, Scotland, and Wales in forests and dense woodlands.
Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasqueflower)
Artist Code: 1802. Completed 6 June 2018. Original Water Colour on Aquarelle Arches hot pressed 100% cotton rag size 14″ x 10″. Prints available. SOLD at the Iceni Botanical Artists 2018 Exhibition, Apex, Bury St Edmunds.
I have been wanting to paint this little flower for a few years now and did not know where to see it live and kicking. I played in a friendly ladies golf match at Royston Golf Club during my Lady Captain’s year at Bourn Golf Club in July 2017 and the Lady Captain of Royston and I got round to talking about my artwork (as you do!), and I mentioned that I had purchased a Pasqueflower which had died on me before I had chance to paint it. Lady Captain mentioned that they grow all over the hill near the tenth tee at Royston. She promised to let me know when they were flowering in 2018.
I received a nice email in April 2018 to say the flowers were out. So I journeyed over as soon as I could to take resource photographs and do some preliminary drawings and colour sketches. This is the result, which I am quite pleased with. The picture was featured on the front cover of a published limited edition hardback 2019 Diary.
To read the full story of my trip to Church Hill, Therfield Heath, near Royston, please visit my blog of the day: http://tinasfineart.uk/1802-pulsatilla-vulgaris-pasqueflower/
Artist Code 2016. Turtle Doves. COMMISSION. Graphite pencil on Aquarelle Arches 140lb 100% Cotton rag paper. Completed 8 October 2020.
I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to portray the beautiful turtle dove for a “birders” 80th birthday—being his favourite bird. The commissioner contacted me on a Monday when the birthday was the next Saturday. In that short time, all I could produce was a graphite drawing.
I was much taken with the beauty of these birds so decided to use my preliminary sketch from that commission to produce a water colour painting which will be Artist Code 2017.
I Bow to My Queen
I Bow to my Queen (Turtle Doves) (Started 29 November 2020). Artist Code 2017. Started November 2020 completed 23 April2021.ORIGINAL – Water colour 12″ x 16″ Aquarelle Arches 140lb paper
In October 2020 I was asked to produce an artwork of turtle doves for someone’s 80th birthday. As there was only a week before commissioning and the birthday, all I could manage was a pencil sketch, although the recipient was very pleased with the result (Artist Code 2016 – Turtle Doves).
I was so taken with the sketch that I felt impelled to make a colour version, albeit executed on a more leisurely timetable. So it took 4 months to complete!
Turtle doves have so many colours, many of which are indistinct nuances rather than distinguishable colours. I have exercised my artistic license in portraying these beautiful birds in early, bright morning sunlight so the colours are arbitrary. Resources for this work are my own photographs taken at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk a few years ago. The doves and other wild fowl, including Bearded tits/reedlings (subject of another artwork: Artist Code 2012), were in a very large aviary, and the birds were acting as near-normal as can be in such circumstances. Ruffs were cavorting, and the male turtle doves were parading—hence the title. The background is a sawn tree-stump surrounded by wood anemones taken in Switzerland around 2010, but which could easily be in Britain, so I decided to use it!
Formerly this bird was often heard “brrring” away in our English countryside. Now the sound is very rare. Turtle doves are on the UK Red List of species. The good news is that “Operation Turtle Dove” is working closely with farmers by encouraging them to provide good habitat which suits the birds’ needs, and there are other organised conservation efforts which may help to stem the decline: 30 per cent loss in the 16 years up to October 2015.
The Jay's Feather
“The Jay’s Feather” (Rhododendron ponticum, white Japanese Anemones and garden snail shells). Artist Code 2104. Completed 26 May 2021.ORIGINAL – Gouache on A3 Royal Talens van Gogh black water colour 100% cellulose paper 140lbs
This is the second little painting done on the Royal Talens black paper. As I liked the Anemones in Artist Code 2013 (pink ones), I decided to re-use my traced pencil sketch and do them in white, but have also added a sprig of Rhododendron and some garden snail shells and, of course, the Jay’s Feather. I have lots of little specimen jars full of nature’s critters and their remnants (all deceased in natural circumstances, I might add), including the hide of a hedgehog, a badger skull, and blue tit’s nest which was ravaged by a cat’s paw (very sad as all the babies were killed and one of the parents. All our nest boxes in the garden now have protective wire to stop that ever happening again. Ironically the other parent bird we believe was also killed, but this time by a Sparrowhawk. I also have another nest with baby blue tit skeletons after a colony of bees invaded the blue tits box and frightened off the parents. The bees then proceeded to make a nest for a little while, then left in free abandonment.
July Open Studios
- With Cambridge Botanist Dr Sylvia M. Haslam. We are co-authoring a series of small books (A5) all about things to do with rivers. As well as writing, I am preparing all the artwork, typesetting and publishing the series. Please visit the "River Friend" website for more details: www.riverfriend.tinasfineart.uk.
- Botanical illustrations.
- Illuminated letters with gold leaf.
Tina has been a professional artist since March 2005—after a “lifetime” of typing Theses and scientific papers (early days) and then as a self-employed desktop publisher. She was told by her primary school teacher in 1957: “You could be an artist when you grow up”, and has never thought she could not draw and paint purely by that little statement when just a child of seven years. After painting all her life as a hobby, Tina decided to become professional so that the burning feeling she felt of needing to be creative could be extinguished. Ultimately, the flame grew bigger and the feeling is more elevated to a point where she now suffers withdrawal symptoms if she does not paint!
Initially veering towards botanical illustration Tina attended several courses with the Continuing Education courses run by the University of Cambridge at Madingley Hall which resulted in receiving points towards a degree. However, after taking too long to “cash in” her points, she missed the boat and the points had to be discarded! Not phased by this, in 2008 she was successful in becoming an Associate member of the Society of Botanical Artists. But it was not for her and she ceased membership after 2015. However, in November 2017 Tina was delighted to be elected a member of the Iceni Botanical Artists, whose rules are not quite so rigid and it is nearer to her home.
Tina’s three areas of subject interest are Natural History, Botanical Illustration, and Illuminated lettering with gold leaf. She works mostly in water colour, but also dabbles with oil, polychromos oil pencils, and graphite, only working with acrylic under duress—”I find it is like painting with liquid plastic!”
Commissions have included the three main subjects mentioned above as well as, for example, a huge gas stationary engine, and pet and people portraits!
In 2004 Tina designed and planted a small ‘wild’ garden to provide live subjects such as frogs, newts, toads and all manner of insects, including lesser stag beetles, hedgehogs and wood mice, as well as many bird-spotting opportunities. Black and grey squirrels also visited. Sadly, since they built houses at the bottom of her garden in 2010, there are no longer visits from hedgehogs; the squirrels are few and far between, and the bird life to the feeders is almost non-existent, except for jackdaws (who have now learnt how to land on the feeders and shake them so that the food falls out and to the ground!), plus a few starlings, doves and pigeons. Little birds are rare visitors.
Whenever possible, Tina paints life-size using live specimens or resource photographs she has taken herself, and from memory. She relies on many friends and acquaintances to let her use their fabulous photographs from wider travels, and she would never be able to paint exotic flora and fauna were it not for their kindness and generosity. A list of these nice people (minus those who prefer to be anonymous) is listed under the “About Tina” tab on the main menu of Tina's website: www.tinasfineart.uk.