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Red squirrels

Jonathan Sainsbury, red squirrels, watercolour

Red squirrels chasing around tree, watercolour, 8 inches x 5.5 inches, SOLD Perthshire Open Studios

Red squirrels are evident again in our part of Comrie, in the wood, on the golf-course.
A strange sound the other day turned out to be two of them, chasing each other round a tree, claws clattering on the bark.

Jonathan Sainsbury, red squirrel, watercolour and charcoa

Red squirrel, watercolour and charcoal, 11.75 inches x 7.75 inches, SOLD in Perthshire Open Studios

End of Perthshire Open Studios

Jonathan Sainsbury, Ark for Nature, Perthshire Open Studios 2018, St Serf's Church, Comrie

Jonathan Sainsbury with his Ark for Nature, Perthshire Open Studios, 2018, St Serf’s Church, Comrie,

As the orange Perthshire Open Studios signs come down, we reflect on the last nine days in  this successful arts event.

Over five hundred people came to my Ark for Nature, in St Serf’s church, many leaving messages in the visitors’ book.  I appreciate all those kind words. 

Every class from Comrie Primary School visited too, the children’s interest in nature filling me with optimism for the future.  They were a credit to their teachers and families.   They knew about the importance of bees, insects, protecting the environment, taking care of nature.  Class Five and Class One sent thank you letters, with their own drawings.

Jonathan Sainsbury, My Ark for Nature, Perthshire Open Studios 2018,

Pupils from Comrie Primary School and the Provost of Perth

Thank you, too, to the Provost of Perth, Councillor Dennis Melloy, who visited alongside  pupils from Primary Four class.  We all enjoyed his visit a lot.  He gamely joined in the questions over the cake-making machine.

Sales were up, spirits were high.  Thanks to all who organise Perthshire Open Studios and to the Vestry and Congregation of St Serf’s for hosting my Ark.

A selection of pictures from the exhibition are shown below: if you are interested in purchasing, please make contact.

Perthshire Open Studios 2018

Across Perthshire, in this popular event, over a hundred artists open their studios to visitors.  Jonathan exhibits in the church across the road, in a pop-up studio he calls his Ark for Nature.
With a focus on the subject matter right outside his studio and demonstrating live during the exhibition, Jonathan gives a glimpse of what it is to be a wildlife artist.  
September 1 – 9th 2018   St Serf’s church, Comrie, PH6 2JA       Daily 10 – 5pm, Sundays 12 – 5pm

A starling poem for Jonathan Sainsbury

A bonus of a tame starling is the poems people bring to your attention.  Here’s one by Pam Ayres, called ‘I’m a Starling … me Darling’ courtesy of John Ransom.

We’re starlings, the missis, meself and the boys.
We don’t go round hopping’, we walks,
We don’t go in for this singing all day
And twittering about, we just squawks.

We don’t go in for these fashionable clothes
Like old Missel Thrush, and his spots,
Me breast isn’t red, there’s no crest on me head,
We’ve got sort of, hardwearing … dots.

We starlings, the missis, meself and the boys,
We’ll eat anything that’s about,
Well, anything but that old half coconut,
I can’t hold it still.  I falls out.

What we’d rather do is wait here for you
To put out some bread for the tits,
And then when we’re certain you’re there by the curtain,
We flocks down and tears it to bits.

But we starlings, the missis, meself and the boys,
We reckon that we’re being got at.
You think for two minutes, them finches and linnets,
You never see them being shot at.

So the next time you comes out to sprinkle the crumbs out,
And there’s starlings there, making a noise,
Don’t you be so quick to heave half a brick,
It’s the missis, meself and the boys!

Chatter - starlings and brambles - oil - 25 X 36 ins - Jonathan Sainsbury

Chatter – starlings and brambles – oil – 25 X 36 ins

The painting ‘Chatter – starlings and brambles’ is included in Jonathan’s exhibition at the Strathearn Gallery, Crieff from 23rd April 2016


Jonathan Sainsbury – starling man

Jonathan Sainsbury and

“‘Ello gorgeous” – Jonathan and starling

Almost a year old, this is Tweet the starling, who has made his home with Jonathan Sainsbury.  Totally tame, Tweet baths in the sink, hops around the floor, scrambles all over Jonathan.  He copies Jonathan, “You’re gorgeous”, “hello”, “I love you”, wolf-whistles and blows kisses, picks up tunes and sings along to the radio and TV.

Jonathan Sainsbury has been painting starlings for a long time.  Now Tweet is a live model and a companion.

There are pictures of starlings and many other subjects in Jonathan’s exhibition at Strathearn Gallery, Crieff, opening 23rd April.

Jonathan Sainsbury at Countryfile live 2016

Jonathan Sainsbury at Countryfile live '16: sketch for Ark display stand

Jonathan Sainsbury sketch for Ark display space

Jonathan Sainsbury at Countryfile live '16: sketch for Ark display space

Jonathan Sainsbury sketch for Ark display space

Jonathan Sainsbury will exhibit at Countryfile live 2016.  This four day show is a partnership between the BBC and the National Trust.  It will be held in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, from 4-7th August.  The event will celebrate the countryside in its many forms. The editorial team of Countryfile will cover the show for six million viewers.  There will be a strong emphasis for visitors to the show on demonstration and learning.

Jonathan Sainsbury’s stand will be far more than a display of paintings.  He will showcase British wildlife art.  His subjects will range from small butterflies to songbirds to game and larger mammals.  His stand will be built like an Ark, referring to the vessel that saved creatures from the Flood.  This novel presentation suggests a theme of Conservation and celebrates the natural world.

The Ark will display originals, prints and cards of Jonathan Sainsbury’s work.  It  also presents a wildlife artist’s studio, to give visitors an idea of how pictures are made .  Jonathan will be drawing and talking about his work, live, on his stand, during Countryfile Live 2016.

Jonathan Sainsbury at Countryfile live '16: Ark of British Wildlife original watercolour

Jonathan Sainsbury: Ark of British Wildlife painting


‘Starlings and Brambles’


November 11th 2015 Edition displayed a double-page spread illustration of Jonathan’s painting ‘Starlings and Brambles’ on pages 56-7, illustrating an article on Starlings, titled ‘Thickening, deepening and blackening’.

Jonathan Sainsbury, Starlings and Brambles

Starlings and Brambles, oil, 28 x 42 ins, private collection, ©Jonathan Sainsbury

The picture, ‘Starlings and Brambles’, by Jonathan, was sold to Mr John Romans, then of Morar, Inverness-shire, later of Exbourne, mid-Devon.  John Romans, and his wife, Joanna, both died and the current whereabouts of the picture is not known to Jonathan.  He would be grateful for information either about the picture or about John Romans’ family, to enable him to get in touch.

Jonathan Sainsbury at the Scottish Game Fair

'Bumbarrels' - long-tailed tits - oil on nine panels - 32 inches square

‘Bumbarrels’ – long-tailed tits – oil on nine panels – 32 inches square

‘Bumbarrels’ was a nineteenth century country word for long-tail tits, used by poet John Clare to refer to these birds.  I named the work in homage to him.   They come to my studio, tumbling over each other at the bird-feeders, confusing other birds larger than them by their non-stop action and getting time at the food as a consequence.   They are one of my favourite sights.

The picture has been a focal point at the Scottish Game Fair, drawing dozens of people on to the stand.

My idea in painting this picture in nine separate panels was to echo the way the birds form a whole, while remaining separate from each other.  You can only watch one at a time, so your eyes focus on one bird, then switch to another and you build up the whole ‘picture’ out of these separate interactions.

Sainsbury paintings at RHS Chelsea

Paintings by Jonathan Sainsbury are on display in the Sculpture by the Lakes garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London from 19 – 23rd May.

Apple Branch and Blackbird - watercolour and charcoal, approximate image size 26 x 47 inches

Apple Branch and Blackbird – watercolour and charcoal, approximate image size 26 x 47 inches On display at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Sculpture by the Lakes garden

For Jonathan Sainsbury, illustration is more than representation.  His attention to a particular tree outside his studio and the blackbird that sings in it, to a wren on a branch where he walks, express his awareness about what beauty is and where it is to be found.

Wren's Larder - Oak Branch with Wren

Wren’s Larder -Oak Branch with wren
Watercolour and charcoal – image size approximately 30 x 46 inches.
On display at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Sculpture by the Lakes garden