Jonathan Sainsbury - Blackbird feeding young

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Blackbird feeding young, watercolour and charcoal, 12 x 13 ins, private collection

A key aspect of wildlife painting is that birds and animals and the natural world are constantly changing and moving.  My challenge is to show you how they look through composition and  paint so you think ‘that’s just what I’ve seen!’

Sometimes, that’s all I want to do.  Other times, I want to show you a scene I witnessed, maybe a chance event, where I see in it something that has a deeper meaning, like the ‘circle of life’ story of mistle thrushes eating berries spilling from the crop of a dead pheasant, hit by a car.  ‘Life goes on’, this said to me.

'Forgiven Fruits', mistle thrushes and hen pheasant, oil, 25 x 35 ins

‘Forgiven Fruits’, mistle thrushes and hen pheasant, oil, 25 x 35 ins

I saw this, I couldn’t have invented it!  I made sketches in pencil in my notebook at the time.  Later, in the studio I drew it in charcoal.  Then I painted it in watercolour.  That was chosen for the Singer & Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition and was  later loaned to Nature in Art, Gloucestershire, where it can still be seen.  The image stayed with me and some time later,  I painted it again, in oil.  This time I contrasted the large immovable stone with the living birds.  That is the version shown here.