|I have been fascinated by birds ever since I can remember – well, anyway since the age of four, when I was taken to see a pair of Tawny Owls next door. As a child at school on the edge of Ashdown Forest, in Sussex, I spent hours, often on my own, watching and drawing birds, and was lucky to find a mentor in the person of a local doctor who was not only an excellent naturalist, but also drew birds.
Later, at school in the West Sussex countryside, there was ample opportunity for birding, and in my teens I discovered Cley marsh, and benefitted hugely from Richard Richardson’s encouragement and advice, soon ranging further afield to the Camargue, the Alps and then Uganda.In 1965 I became the Hon. Secretary of the British Ornithologists’ Club, and as a result of a contact there, jumped at the chance of illustrating a planned field guide to the birds of south-east Asia, spending several months birding in Thailand and Malaya.I then started eight years of spare-time work painting the plates (while pursuing a ‘normal’ business career). The publishers were keen on further projects, so at last it seemed possible to make a living out of my twin passions, for birds and painting.Over the following years I illustrated many field guides, and monographs on families such as Pittas, Hornbills and Nightjars. Working on the illustrations for the seven volume handbook The Birds of Africa spread over 25 years. The fieldwork involved in this project formed the basis for my book Safari Sketchbook, published in 2010.
Living in north Norfolk provides plenty of inspiration for paintings that are more concerned with interpretation and atmosphere, in oil or watercolour, of both wildlife and landscapes.