All it takes is a Nudge.

What a Year 2017 has been!
A year of many firsts, and a year so packed full of events, I haven’t found the time to blog. Shame on me when I’ve had so much to share. Never fear, I’m here now…with news of my latest adventure which was scary and exciting at the same time!
Last week, I accepted an invitiation from the Bramshott and Liphook Art and Craft Society to hold a Talk/Demo about my feather painting.
This had actually been booked for over a year, and in my mind was always ages away, so I need not worry about it. But as time has flown so very quickly this year, November 7th came around very quickly and I had to get my head around it, and fast!!
Not only did I have to prepare what I would say, I needed visuals and work to demonstrate. I also had to plan for the 3 hour drive there and back – traffic hold ups were a real concern.

My husband was roped in to teach me how to create a power point presentation (thanks Nic!) and I had fun searching through all my old photos to find the most relevant images for my story.

Along with the powerpoint, I took a selection of my framed feathers, some prints and cards and my new banner to make an interesting display.

The journey to Hampshire was not a pleasant one – rain and early darkness meant road conditions, particularly spray from lorries, made it a tough drive. Despite the conditions, I arrived in plenty of time, and with the help of Andy from the society, I set up my display and powerpoint presentation ready for the talk.

I’ve demonstrated my painting many times now during various exhibitions, including my time earlier this year as Artist In Residence at Nature In Art, but this was the first time I’d had a large audience sitting in tiers of raised seating, with spotights on me, and using a powerpoint presentation to help me!! The nerves were jangling for sure!!
Having said that, both Andy and Carolynne from the society, who had asked me to talk, made me feel at ease. As the members arrived and took their seats, I could feel they were a friendly bunch and I began to feel excitement take over from the nerves.

7.30 pm arrived and it was time for me to begin…and I did! Andy introduced me, and off I went. For all the worry and nerves, I thoroughly enjoyed telling my story which I began with
the question I’m asked the most: “What on earth made you paint on a feather?” So my story explains exactly how it started, with a chance meeting with a falconer and his birds of prey at a children’s birthday party.

Unbelievably for me, my talk lasted a good 45 minutes! I answered some questions and then we stopped for a tea/coffee break which gave everyone a chance to take a closer look at my feathers and my other items on display.
After coffee came my feather painting demonstration, where I explained and demonstrated my working process, from choosing a feather, selecting an image, deciding on composition, application of paint and refining the image with a little bit about framing to finish.

At this point, Andy was filming me painting over my shoulder using a video camera which very cleverly projected the video up onto the big screen behind me! This allowed everyone in the audience to see exactly what I was doing. I know this kind of thing happens all the time, but this was the first time for me and it was really exciting!
We finished the demo with some very interesting questions from the audience and I realised I had a beaming smile across my face.

In sharing my story with the aim of inspiring others, I realised how happy and lucky I am to be doing what I do, and more importantly, I felt a huge sense of achievement realising how far I’ve come since the day I met those beautiful birds in February 2009.

Sometimes a nudge out of our comfort zones can be a really good thing! So, thank you very much to Carolynne Winchester and the Bramshott and Liphook Arts and Crafts Society for giving me that nudge.

My display and demo area including my banner.

Me ready to begin my talk.

My view of the audience.

Demonstrating with the big screen behind me.

Demonstrating feather painting.

Mid-flow, demonstrating the qualities of a suitable feather.

The various stages of a feather painting

 

‘Award Winning Artist’!!

Another whirlwind month has flown by, and what a month it has been! All 3 of my entries to The Royal Bath & West Show were selected for the Art exhibition, and I am delighted that they all sold. Chuffed to bits to recieve a ‘highly commended’ award for my Barn Owl Feather.

Feathers

2016 Entries for Royal Bath & West Show

 

Highly Commended!The TWASI Annual Exhibition held at Nature In Art, Gloucester was a great success and I thoroughly enjoyed 7 out of the 10 days either demonstrating, stewarding or attending one of the workshops. The daily drive up and down the motorway was pretty tiring but well worth the effort. The icing on the cake for me this year was being awarded the ‘St Cuthbert’s Mill Prize for ‘The Best Work On Paper’ for my piece titled ‘Epitome Of Beauty’. Couldn’t have wished for a better prize – a huge pack of my favourite Saunders Waterford Paper!!! I still haven’t had a chance to paint on it, but I’m so excited to open it up and unleash my watercolours as soon as things calm down after our current exhibition. (more on that in a moment!)

St Cuthbert's Mill Award for Best Work On Paper

Presentation of St Cuthbert's Mill Award by Pollyanna Pickering

Presentation of St Cuthbert’s Mill Award by Pollyanna Pickering

The workshop I attended during the TWASI exhibition was by the incredibly talented Graphite Artist, Jamie Boots. The day flew by as we were shown some fantastic drawing techniques – how to create various fur textures, deep blacks and bright highlights all with graphite. Our subject for the day was a really cute meerkat. I’m yet to put into practice everything I  learned, but again, I’m really looking forward to improving my future graphite drawings.

Exhibition Poster

As I write, a shared exhibition with my good friend and fellow artist, Hayley Jones is in full swing at The Old Town Quarry, Weston-super-Mare. Sharing such a generous space with only one other artist has required a lot of planning and preparation and LOTS of painting!!! We hung our exhibition last Thursday evening and have already had lots of interested visitors. There’s plenty of time to see our exhibition titled ‘Nature Seen Through different Eyes’ – it’s open until July 7th (closed Mondays & Tuesdays). We share a love of animals and wildlife, and our art expresses this. Our mediums are very different, but both bodies of work compliment each other – Hayley’s Stunning bold wire sculptures contrast against my delicate feather paintings and watercolours.

Me with some of my colourful watercolours

Me with some of my colourful watercolours

Hayley & Mandi with Hayley's Sculptures

Hayley & Mandi with Hayley’s Sculptures

Mandi & Hayley with Mandi's Feathers

Mandi & Hayley with Mandi’s Feathers

If you love animals, its well worth a visit – even if I say so myself! The venue is a wonderful place – an old quarry which has been allowed to revert back to nature, artists studios and a lovely tearoom serving delicious cakes, coffees and lunches!

Next job on my ‘to do list’ is to finish framing my entries to NEWA and transoprt them up to Nature In Art by the beginning of July…fingers crossed for selection again this year that’s news for another blog… 😀

Back to blogging after a busy, busy year!!

So much happened in the last 12 months, I simply didn’t find the time to write about it! Now it’s time for a catch up.

One of the big events of 2015 for me was joining TWASI (The Wildlife Art Sociey International) and exhibiting for the first time in their Annual Exhibition held at Nature In Art, Gloucester. As a ‘newbie’ I declined the offer to demonstrate during the exhibition, but I did volunteer to help steward. It was a valuable and enjoyable experience where I met lots of other artists, caught up with old friends and made some new ones. Bonus of the week for me was selling 2 of my three paintings and meeting one of my wildlife art heroes, Pollyanna Pickering who handed out the awards at the prize giving ceremony!

Mandi Baykaa-Murray with Claudia Hahn and Pollyanna Pickering at TWASI 2015

Mandi Baykaa-Murray with Claudia Hahn and Pollyanna Pickering at TWASI 2015

TWASI paintings

My 2 ‘Red Dots’ at TWASI 2015

Fast forward 10 months to now, and I am preparing once again to enter the TWASI Annual Exhibition and this year I will be demonstrating!

TWASI Poster

I’ve recently had my painting ‘Waiting For Darkness’ put forward as one of five members representing TWASI into a new Competition category called ‘Art Club Of The Year 2016’ at Patchings Art Festival this Summer. The TWASI entry has been selected as one of the Top Ten Art Club Finalists which will be judged by Hazel Soan at Patchings this Summer.

'Waiting for Darkness' - My painting selected to represent TWASI at Patchings Art Festival 2016

‘Waiting for Darkness’ – My painting selected to represent TWASI at Patchings Art Festival 2016

Of all the artists I met during the TWASI Exhibition, I really hit it off with Lisa-Ann Watkins, an incredibly talented coloured pencil artist who creates stunning pet portraits and wildlife art which is so vibrant and full of life. Lisa works hard to raise awareness and funding for several animal charities through her art. Last week, we arranged to meet for a well deserved catch-up and Lisa introduced me to another amazingly talented coloured-pencil Artist, France Baudin who’s Cat portraits are simply exquisite! France’s house was bursting with cats and kittens – both real and a ‘gallery’ of paintings showing her personal development as an artist through the history of her cats. We all enjoyed an indulgent arty lunch talking mostly art and cats!

http://animalartbylaw.co.uk

'Stella' by Lisa-Ann Watkins, Animal Art by LAW

‘Stella’ French Bulldog by Lisa-Ann Watkins, Animal Art by LAW

http://www.francebauduin.webspace.virginmedia.com/Site/Welcome.html

'Salt & Pepper' by France Bauduin

‘Salt & Pepper’ by France Bauduin

Next week, the three of us hope to meet again in London to visit the Private View of The  UK Coloured Pencil Society Annual Open Exhibition where Lisa and France are both exhibiting…this is Art Networking at it’s most enjoyable!!! The painting ‘Stella’ seen above, is Lisa’s entry in the Exhibition.

As you know, I love the challenge of a new medium, but I’m really not sure I have the patience for coloured pencils. Having said that, with a little help from my friends, I might just have to give it a go…watch this space! 😀

March Madness with Mixed-Media!!

As is often the case with me, I’ve been dabbling with some new ideas and just recently it’s been ‘mixed-media’. I’ve been experimenting using different papers as both grounds and collage material with varied and interesting results. I’ve particularly enjoyed using pages of musical score and pages from old novels among other textured papers and fabrics along with texture pastes, gesso, and other grounds.

My 1st 3 attempts at mixed-media

My 1st 3 attempts at mixed-media

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a wonderful mini-workshop led by Fina Art,  http://creationsbyfina.co.uk  where she showed us how to create a mini collage on a 3″ ceramic tile which can be hung on a wall. The theme was ‘love’ for Valentine’s Day, but true to myself, my love theme included birds, feathers and nature. I even used pieces of wood instead of ceramic tiles.

Mixed Media Tiles based on the theme of Love by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Mixed Media Tiles based on the theme of Love by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Keen to explore the world of mixed-media, I was over the moon to discover that an artist who’s work caught my eye at the SAA art show in London last Summer was offering workshops…specifically “Owls in mixed-media” !!!!! This had my name all over it, so I signed up…and on Saturday, I set off to Dorset in my little red Beetle to find the studio of Alison C Board.

http://www.alisoncboard-fineart.co.uk

The first time I saw Alison’s work, I was drawn to it…the subject, the textures, the colours and the overall gorgeousness – I’d love to be able to produce art like that but had no idea of how to tackle it. Now was my chance to learn…

Alison welcomed me and 5 other ladies into her wonderful studio where we were settled in to begin the workshop. I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve ever used such a huge variety of mediums to create a single painting! Having said that, Alison demonstrated each step in the process very clearly for us all to see and understand.

We were offered the choice between painting a Tawny owl or a Bald Eagle with reference photos Ali had taken during a recent visit to The Hawk Conservancy Trust (an incredible place to visit if you like birds of prey!)

So, here goes… step by step as well as I can remember, thanks to the photos I took along the way. I don’t think I photographed every stage, but you’ll get the idea.

Step 1: Place and glue pieces of collage material on watercolour paper – randomly. Allow to dry.

Step 2: Apply various texture pastes to paper/collage, e.g.. gesso, texture paste, watercolour ground. Allow to dry.

Step 3: Draw bird on to paper paying attention to composition. DRY THOROUGHLY before the next stages.

Collage materials in place and owl drawn in.

Collage materials in place and owl drawn in.

Step 4: Using a waterproof pen, strengthen drawing paying attention to eyes and any important details. Protect any areas you want to keep white with masking fluid. Now using water soluble pen, work into drawing giving definition to the bird and then lightly spritz with a water spray.

Water soluble pen added and spritzed with water spray.

Water soluble pen added and spritzed with water spray.

Step 5: Add textures to the bird using appropriate pastes/grounds as above. Allow to dry.

Step 6: Using watercolours, paint in the background, blending away to the corners to create a soft vignette effect.

Background added in watercolour, blended away to the corners.

Background added in watercolour, blended away to the corners.

Step 7: Chosing 2 colours (a light and a dark version) paint areas of the bird using the light colour as a wash, then drop in the dark colour to create shadows. While the paint is still wet, sprinkle on some Brusho Powder to add texture and allow to dry.

Paint colour on the owl

Paint colour on the owl

Step 8: If any areas of collage appear too strong and distract from your image, use some white gouache paint to soften the offending areas.

Knock back any overbearing areas with white gouache.

Knock back any overbearing areas with white gouache.

Step 9: Remove any masking fluid, tweak any details with pen/paint and ensure the bird has more contrast than the background.

Finished mixed media painting.

Finished mixed media painting.

TA DAH!!! Finished painting – why not give it a go?

Big thanks to Alison Board for a great workshop…Hope I can join you again some time soon 🙂

 

Pay It Forward Portrait…Pirate Ahoy!!

This time last year, I joined in the ‘Pay It Forward’ initiative on Facebook. If you haven’t seen it, basically, you post the offer a special treat/unexpected kindness/surprise during the following year to the first 5 people who opt in. I still ‘owe’ a couple of my takers (you have not been forgotten, I promise!) but one has proved to be particularly rewarding.

Let’s rewind to set the scene:

Through the wonders of facebook, around 7 years ago, I was reunited with an old friend from school, my mate Simon. We hadn’t seen each other for 26 years, and after a few ‘chats’ through Facebook, we soon clicked back into friendship. It turned out he lived just down the road from my parents, who I visit regularly so on my next trip to Cornwall, we met up. Long story, short: We get on like a house on fire and I always try to catch up when I’m in the area.

Simon opted ‘in’ for my pay it forward. I was at a loss as to what I could do that would be special – he’s a ‘Pie-Hot’ Photographer, so that ruled out anything photographic. What to do??? Then I had my lightbulb moment – I could paint his portrait! …but would he want to be painted??

I already had the vision of my painting in my head before I asked him, so although delighted he said YES, I was a little surprised when he asked if I could paint him as a Pirate!!! For a miillisecond, that threw me, but I soon got my head around that, and said I would do both.

Here are the two resulting paintings: ‘Happy Pirate’ – my last painting of 2014 and ‘Contemplating Grumpiness’ My 2nd painting of 2015.

Happy Pirate,        Acrylic,  15" x 11"  Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Happy Pirate, Acrylic,
15″ x 11″
Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Contemplating Grumpiness, Acrylic, 16" x 14"  Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Contemplating Grumpiness, Acrylic, 16″ x 14″ Mandi Baykaa-Murray

 

Both portraits are painted in acrylic on board and I used a minimal palette of Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, White and a tiny hint of Black.

If you like the idea of having your portrait painted by Mandi, please email for details: mandi@mandibaykaa-murray.co.uk

NSA Pop Up Shop/Gallery – a great success!

It’s been a busy couple of months…that has to be my understatement of the year!! So much has happened recently I haven’t even got around to blogging about it!

For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been involved with an exciting experimental project run by North Somerset Arts – a Pop-Up Shop/Gallery in Clevedon.

NSAflag

Photo credit NSA FB page

 

 

 

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NSA is an organisation set up to promote ‘The Arts’ in North Somerset and has been primarily responsible for the bi-annual Arts Week (Open studios/Arts Trail) which I took part in for the first time 2 years ago. Having recently gained charitable status, NSA is keen to expand on its role to promote art, artists and ‘the arts’ within the community and it’s latest project, the ‘Pop-Up’ has done just that. As well as promoting the forthcoming Arts Week in May 2015, the Pop Up has showcased around 25 local artist’s work – much of which sold during the 5 weeks when the shop was open.

I don’t know all the ‘ins and outs’ of it all, but the project received a grant to help towards the cost of rent and insurance of the property, and all participating artists also contributed to the costs. A core group of volunteers (artists, including myself and NSA Committee members) shared the stewarding duties throughout.

The Pop-Up opened on Saturday 15th November. During the day there was a live Jazz band playing and in the afternoon, artists were on site for ‘meet the artist’ sessions and local press came to photograph and report on the event.

IMG_4092 IMG_4094

For the following 5 weeks, the shop was open from 10am – 5pm, Tuesday – Saturday and we had our final day on Saturday 20th December.

25 local artists came together to put on a wonderful show of their art and crafts which displayed a broad range of talents including painting, ceramics, wire sculpture, printmaking, felting & textiles, glass, jewellery and woodwork and there were also prints and cards available too. This variety offered something for everyone which made the pop up very appealing.

mepopup2 photo 1

The project was a complete experiment which turned out to be a resounding success! Most encouraging was all the amazing feedback from the Clevedon townspeople – shoppers visited our shop in their hundreds and many were happy to tell us how much they enjoyed our gallery and would like it to stay permanently. We were delighted to have such welcome feedback – knowing we were appreciated was a great feeling…and could lead to similar projects in the future! 🙂

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This morning was time for the artists to collect their work, and leave the space vacant once again. The good news is, NSA have been given permission to use the window as a display for the next couple of months, so all I can say is WATCH THIS  SPACE…and keep our fingers crossed for the future!! …and keep your eyes peeled for the Pink Triangle Flags of the NSA in May for ARTS WEEK! 😀

mandi popup

On a personal level, as a participating artist, it was a wonderful, positive experience. Not only to hear the fabulous feedback about the pop-up and our art, but to meet and make friends with many of the other artists taking part. Working from home as an artist can be quite a solitary existence so to be involved with such a friendly group of like-minded people was great fun! (Technically I guess you’d call it ‘networking’)

It’s been a great way to end what’s been a fantastic year for me – I’m already looking forward to what 2015 may bring.

On that note, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

A great week at MIWAS!

What a week I’ve had! Just back from my first time exhibiting at MIWAS which is probably the largest wildlife art exhibition in Europe. Our paintings were all delivered to the venue, Rookesbury Park Manor on Tuesday so the exhibition could be hung in time for the opening on Thursday evening at 7pm.

Kate Bush Half time curtain down - had a huge feather on it - a hint of things to come...?

Kate Bush Half time curtain down – had a huge feather on it – a hint of things to come…?

It all started for me on Wednesday evening, being lucky to see Kate Bush in concert in London! I have to admit to not being a ‘Kate Bush Superfan’ like my husband, but the opportunity to see such an icon was not to be missed! I was not disappointed – the concert was astounding and unexpectedly inspiring for my art. (More on that in a future blog post!) My next challenge was to drive myself out of London to Wickham. Once I reached the M4 I breathed a sigh of relief and proceeded to enjoy the scenery during my drive to Wickham – I arrived on Thursday afternoon and the first person I bumped into was Martin Rumary who had delivered my paintings for me. Martin took me for a sneaky peek around to show me where my paintings had been hung before I set off to find my hotel.

Me with my paintings on display at MIWAS

Me with my paintings on display at MIWAS

Later, I met up with friends and fellow artists, Carol Bonsor and Vic Bearcroft and together we drove to Rookesbury Park, all  feeling a mixture of nervous and excited anticipation of the Preview Event.

Me with Vic Bearcroft and Carol Bonsor

Me with Vic Bearcroft and Carol Bonsor

It was great to see lots of guests admiring all the art and to catch up with friends and acquaintances from last year’s exhibition. It was a real buzz seeing my paintings hanging as part of such an amazing exhibition. Pip McGarry made an opening speech and introduced special guest, John ‘The Hammer’ Cameron who announced the award winners – So congratulations to all the winners, especially Claudia Hahn, Rob Braybrooks and Paul Matthews!

Friday morning I helped Vic set up his stand in the art market. This is my favourite area of the exhibition where you can meet artists and watch them working on their latest piece of work. As well as demonstrating, most artists sell prints and cards along side a few original works, which is great if you want to take home your favourite piece of art but can’t afford to buy the original!  Once the stand was set up, I went off to the main exhibition hall to do my stint of stewarding. Wearing a yellow MIWAS sash and carrying a handful of catalogues, it was an insigtful experience watching the visitors reactions to the artworks on display – especially to my own paintings! It was also a great opportunity to have a really good look at the art in the rooms where I was stewarding.

Vic's stand in the Art Market

Vic’s stand in the Art Market

I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the art market, catching up with the artists I’d met last year and meeting some new ones! A group of us went to a local Thai restaurant for a delicious bite to eat, then the evening continued into a second preview.

My delicious Thai Tiger Prawns

My delicious Thai Tiger Prawns

 

Claudia Hahn working on hand-guilding one of her exquisite prints.

Claudia Hahn working on hand-guilding one of her exquisite prints.

D Y Hide (Debbi) in action working on one of her beautiful coloured pencil designs.

D Y Hide (Debbi) in action working on one of her beautiful coloured pencil designs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vic Bearcroft working on his latest Indian Ink painting.

Vic Bearcroft working on his latest Indian Ink painting.

Saturday was probably my best day. Surrounded by incredible art, immersed in an environment where everyone is interested in art and wildlife –  just like paradise for me! Constantly chatting, discussing, bouncing ideas with like-minded people was a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring experience. The highlight of my day came as a surprise when I found out one of my paintings had sold!!! I made a dash to the main exhibition to take a photo of my ‘red dot’!!

My painting, 'Something To Save' which sold at the MIWAS Exhibition.

My painting, ‘Something To Save’ which sold at the MIWAS Exhibition, complete with red dot!.

 

It’s hard to describe the feeling inside when you realise someone has paid good money for an original painting you have created from your heart and soul. A rush of emotion – elation and pride, but somehow, almost a hint of sadness to see it go. It’s funny how your personal favourites always seem to sell quickest (it was my very favourite of the four paintings on display.) I’m sure others will agree, as artists, we wear our heart on our sleeve and each painting we create contains a little piece of us.

There was one very special visitor who I was lucky to be introduced to – ‘Steve the Skunk’, brought by her owner, Adam who kindly allowed me a cuddle with his furry companion. Such a cutie with a sweet face, I had to draw a sketch in the evening!

Selfie with 'Steve'

Selfie with ‘Steve’

 

My sketch of Steve the Skunk

My sketch of Steve the Skunk

Sunday, the final day of the exhibition seemed to pass in a flash! More socialising, networking and watching artists at work – fascinating to see images appear out of the paper over the 3 days. Before long, 5pm had arrived and it was time to pack up and collect our paintings to take home, and to say lots of goodbyes. After only 3 days, I felt a real sense of belonging – I’ve made so many lovely new friends and I’m already looking forward to next year’s exhibition. I will make sure I get my application for the Art Market in EARLY this year so I can have a stand of my own!

Huge thanks to Vic Bearcroft for letting me hang out on his stand and to all the other artists who made me so welcome at this wonderful event…Bring on MIWAS 2015!!!! 😀

 

 

Exhibitions…achieving my goal!!!

Poster for Clevedon Art Exhibition 2014

Poster for Clevedon Art Exhibition 2014

The end of August is amost upon us and as I write, exhibitions are on my mind. I currently have 2 Barn Owl paintings on display as part of the Clevedon Art Club 58th Annual Exhibition at The Science Atrium, Clevedon School, Clevedon. This is open for another few days, until 25th and as usual, its a wonderful show with something for everyone. Well worth a look if you’re in the area!

Night Watch by Mandi Baykaa-Murray, Acrylic.

Night Watch by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

'Snuggled Up' Barn Owl, acrylic by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

‘Snuggled Up’ Barn Owl, acrylic by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Next week is the week I’ve been waiting for since this time last year when I visited the MIWAS exhibition for the first time. This year, I’m exhibiting there for the first time and I can’t wait!! Yesterday I took my paintings to fellow artist, Martin Rumary http://www.martinrumary who kindly offers a pick-up/delivery service to Marwell which has saved me the return journey to Hampshire on Tuesday. It was great to meet another like-minded fellow artist and we soon got chatting about the birds we love to paint and the paints and paper of our choice!

Poster for MIWAS 2014

Poster for MIWAS 2014

MIWAS (Marwell International Wildlife Art Society) is one of the largest Wildlife Art Exhibitions in the country and exhibits artworks from amateur and professional wildlife artists from all over the world. Alongside the exhibition is an ‘Art Market’ where a selection of exhibiting artists have their prints and cards for sale, and most of them can be seen working in situ demonstrating their art. Personally, this is my favourite part of the exhibition. Last year I met so many lovely people and talking to them all really gave me the confidence boost I needed to try myself…and I haven’t looked back! I’ve had the most amazing year so far…next week I’ll be achieving the goal I set myself for 2014.

Here’s a taster of what to expect…one of my entries for the exhibition…’Something To Save’

Something To Save, Relief Print & Acrylic by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

Something To Save, Relief Print & Acrylic by Mandi Baykaa-Murray

 

I’m really looking forward to this exhibition… next Friday, to Sunday (Aug 29th-31st) 10am-5pm…hope to see you there!!! 😀

Fun With Owls and Art in the Classroom!

A few weeks ago I was invited to spend a couple of days working with some groups of children at a local primary school on their ‘owl project’. The first day began with an ‘Owl Encounter’. The school had arranged for Gary the Falconer from Puxton Falconry Centre to be there with a selection of his owls.

indian-eagle-owl

Woolley, Indian Eagle Owl

He brought ‘Woolley’ the Indian Eagle Owl, ‘George’ the Barn Owl, ‘Ulu’ the South African White Faced Owl and ‘Gollum’ the Burrowing Owl. The children watched intently as Gary flew the owls up and down the classroom over their heads and shared lots of information about the owls. A few lucky volunteers were chosen to wear the falconer’s glove and fly the owls themselves.

Gary with George The Barn Owl

Gary with George The Barn Owl

 

Class Teacher Holding Ulu, the South African White Faced Owl

Class Teacher Holding Ulu, the South African White Faced Owl

Gollum the burrowing Owl running among the children.

Gollum the burrowing Owl.

After Gary had finished his display and taken the owls back to their aviaries, it was my turn to talk to the children and show them my paintings. Luckily, I had some of each of the owls the children had just met.

indian-eagle-owl

Acrylic painting of Woolley, indian Eagle Owl by Mandi Baykaa-Murray.

Listening for Clues. Barn Owl, Acrylic

Acrylic Painting of George the Barn Owl by Mandi Baykaa-Murray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My challenge was to show the children how to make an owl sculpture from pipe cleaners and ‘mod-roc’…not being a sculptor and never having heard of, let alone used mod-roc, this was a case of me ‘winging it’ (literally!!)

So, infront to 2 classes of children aged between 4-7, I began twisting pipe cleaners together to make an ‘owl shaped’ frame to support the mod roc. (Mod-roc is like a bandage soaked in plaster of paris, activated by water and sets hard once dry)

At this point, the children were given their pipe cleaners and all began twisting their frames together. Then…the messy bit!! My introduction to mod roc in front of lots of children… here’s my resulting ‘blob’, sorry, owl sculpture…!

Mod-roc owl

My mod-roc ‘Owl’ (blob!)

Some of the older children were ready for the next stage… layering the mod-roc bandage around their pipecleaner frames. …MESSY TIME!!!!!!   What fun we had!

I couldn’t believe it, but the school day was over. There was some serious table cleaning to do and it was obvious I would have to come back again so we could all paint our sculptures and transform them from white blobs into owls.

Mod-roc blobs

Mod-roc blobs

Mod-roc blobs

Mod-roc blobs

Having been thrown in at the deep end with the mod-roc, I decided to take my white blob home and paint it so it would be ready for the children to see – to give them an idea of what to expect for the next stage.

My mod-roc sculpture of George the Barn Owl, painted ready to show the children.

My mod-roc sculpture of George the Barn Owl, painted ready to show the children.

Mod-roc George

Mod-roc George

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days later, I returned  with my Sculpture of George the Barn Owl. The children were very excited about painting their sculptures, and I gave a quick talk offering hints and tips on applying the paint. I also gave the children reference photographs of the owls who had visited as a reminder of their colouring and feather patterns. We had a lot of fun with paint…

Painting our sculptures

Painting our sculptures

Paint!!

Paint!!

Paint!

Paint!

Painting fun!

Painting fun!

allS25

Barn Owls

Barn Owls

 

 

Here are the finished owls…and what a wonderful group of owls they are too! 😀

amazing mod-roc owl sculptures

amazing mod-roc owl sculptures

amazing mod-roc Owl sculptures

amazing mod-roc Owl sculptures

Mod-roc owls

Mod-roc owls

 

Woolley

Woolley

Bumble

Bumble

 

Mod-roc owl sculptures

Mod-roc owl sculptures

 

 

George

George

Children, you were fantastic! Well done – your owl sculptures are amazing! 😀

 

David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2014

This is the week that was…. I shall certainly never forget it! Seven days ago, I jumped on a train to London, with my painting safely wrapped and under my arm. I took the tube from Paddington Station to Charing Cross and popped up from the underground right into Trafalgar Square where I was greeted by lion statues, the National Gallery, an enormous blue cockerel sculpture, and sunshine! A short walk around to the rear of the Mall Galleries, and my painting was safely delivered. Phew! To celebrate my achievement of being selected for such a prestigeous exhibition, I treated myself to a wander through both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery. I joined in the ‘late shift’ in the Portrait gallery, where I sat with a group of artists, guided by a tutor and drew from one of the paintings on display before heading back to Paddington to catch my train home.

Back from the framers

Back from the framers

Only 3 days later, accompanied by my brother, I made the same journey, and again we enjoyed the atmosphere of Trafalgar Square on a sunny day. We explored Covent Garden and had another sneaky peek inside the National Gallery – I was keen to show my brother Leonardo da Vinci’s Cartoon that I had admired so much on my first visit.

Me and my brother in front of The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square.

Me and my brother in front of The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square.

Before I knew it, The time had come to attend the Private viewing of the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2014. After a quick freshen up, we made our way to the Mall Galleries when sheer excitement turned to a mixture of fear and excitement combined! Entering the gallery knowing my painting would be hanging somewhere among so many amazing artworks was a real buzz! A quick glance around enabled me to spot my painting and I breathed a sigh of relief. We had an hour or so before the winners were announced when we were able to mingle, meet the other artists and take photographs. This was when I realised how ‘starstruck’ I was feeling as I saw Hazel Soan standing next to my painting!!!

'Feathered Friend' in place at The Mall Galleries

‘Feathered Friend’ in place at The Mall Galleries

My 'blurb'

My ‘blurb’

The awards were announced and speeches were made and thankfully, bubbles flowed freely throughout the evening! After chatting to several artists, and sipping a couple of glases of bubbly, I summoned up some dutch courage and asked for photographs with Mark Carwardine, Hazel Soan and the great man himself, David Shepherd CBE – the highlight of my evening! It was a wonderful evening I shall never forget and I feel honoured to have been part of such an amazing exhibition which supports such a worthy cause.

Me with David Shepherd CBE

Me with David Shepherd CBE

Me with Mark Carwardine, wildlife photographer and film maker.

Me with Mark Carwardine, wildlife photographer and film maker.

Me and Hazel Soan with my painting, 'Feathered Friend'

Me and Hazel Soan with my painting, ‘Feathered Friend’

I visited the exhibition twice during the week, each time with a different friend! What better excuse for a daytrip to London?? It was lovely to look properly and take in all the different artworks on display (the private view was so busy and exciting, it was difficult to see everything properly!) Tomorrow is the final day of the exhibition – although all the art is accessible through the DSWF website, and today I had an email to say my painting has been sold!!! This is the icing on the cake for me – it’s topped off the biggest week of my life like an enormous painted cherry!

Sold

If you have a chance to visit the Mall Galleries tomorrow, feast your eyes, if not, check out the website…

http://shop.davidshepherd.org/list.php?search[exhib]=way14ex&search[event]=8&max_perpage=9999&from_event=8