How a close encounter influenced a new Wrendale painting
For anyone who loves all things creative, I highly recommend keeping a sketchbook. It feels very much like a diary to me, full of spontaneous little sketches, most of which I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to see, but like a diary it’s a lovely way of recording special moments and something that is fun to look back on.
When is the best time to see wildlife in the UK?
Early in the morning and dusk are ideal times to venture out to maximise your chances of some good wildlife sightings, but it can fit around a busy schedule too and even five minutes sketching butterflies on window-ledge flowers on a sunny afternoon is incredibly rewarding.
I usually take a soft leaded pencil, a fineliner pen and a pair of binoculars with me and occasionally I’ll take a small set of travel watercolours depending on how much time I have.
I love the feeling of not knowing who may make an appearance - there’s nearly always a hare, deer, fox, barn owl, kestrel or rabbit to spot but the real joy is what you can observe when you really take time to look and listen.
Regularly sitting quietly and just absorbing your surroundings connects you to the changes of the landscape through the seasons as spring blossoms ripen into luscious berries as well as the different behaviours you see at different times of year and the migratory species who come to say hello after their epic journeys. There’s almost always an iridescent beetle nestled into a flower, a chirping cricket in the long grass or a solitary bee ambling through the flower beds if you stop long enough to notice them.
An unexpected visitor
One of my highlights of the summer was early one morning when I’d gone out to sketch. It felt like it was going to be a fairly quiet morning and I’d started some sketches of brambles (plants and flowers are always a reliable source of inspiration when animals and birds are being elusive!).
I was almost about to head back inside when a hare appeared in the distance across the field. With binoculars at hand, I started to try and capture some of his poses as he nibbled the grass and slowly made his way towards me. Within a few minutes he was within 6 feet of my chair and I tried desperately hard not to startle him as I sketched like mad! He stayed there, totally indifferent to the strange human watching him, for several minutes before disappearing into the bottom of the hedgerow.
There is something indescribable about such an intimate encounter with a wild animal and hares in particular have a magical intrigue about them, it’s easy to see why they feature so heavily in folklore and fairy tales.
A few days later, I used the sketches in my book as the basis for a new painting. Sometimes there is just a grain of something in a sketch – an expression or angle that sparks and idea and leads to a new painting. The result is this chap who is already proving to be a favourite addition at Wrendale HQ.
Fancy having a go at sketching wildlife yourself? Our Wrendale wildlife journal is a great place to start with plenty of space for logs, notes, and sketches.