Britains native mountain hare (quick biology lesson)

I have Karen Miller to thank for this image of a mountain hare. She was out on the mountain in the snow with her camera, and I was in the relative (mostly not that relative) warmth of my studio with paper and pastels. Karen has inspired me. She has captured some wonderful and characterful shots of mountain hares and other wildlife and I will be attempting to do some of them justice, with her gracious permission.
I have been moved to learn more about these secretive yet ubiquitously depicted creatures. Most people who come to my studio mistake them for “bunnies”. I guess you could be forgiven if you have never seen a hare, but they are a very different beastie indeed. Their physiology for a start; much larger and more powerful as you would expect, but a thing like their nasal cavity has evolved quite differently to that of a rabbit in order to accommodate the volume of air needed to fuel their flight and gymnastics; the way their heart is anchored extra securely to their skeleton in order not to be dislodged in sharp turns and tumbles while racing from predators (or suitors). The leverets are borne fully formed with eyes open. They live entirely above ground and do not make a burrow. They are among a very small group of animals that have the ability to conceive while in the last stage of pregnancy, thought to be an adaptation to shorten the time between litters.
We live in an age where raising grouse to shoot commercially takes precedence over mountain hares and many are killed so that grouse hunting can remain lucrative. Not in some far off place, but in Scotland. Maybe the more we learn about an animal, an ecosystem, our planet, the safer it becomes because hopefully with knowledge comes respect. Thats how it works for me anyway.
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This is a 30 x 30 cm drawing I did a couple of years ago as one of a pair of commissions from Jenny herself. She is an extraordinary woman in her eighties now, and she wanted something for her family to remember her by. The drawing is from a strongly lit black and white photo of her in her early twenties looking quite pensive and uncertain. I don’t often do portraits but this image was sufficiently odd and engaging and Jenny is such a fun and engaging character that I could not refuse.

Great Chalfield Oak

This is one of my latest drawings of what I can only assume is an oak, in a delightful field in Great Chalfield. It stands as part of an avenue of sturdy mature oaks that punctuate the grass in a strait line from one gate to the next. It’s a 25 minuet walk from my home. I discovered it in high summer when the air was full of insects and the cool shade of the trees made a dappled, fairy tail tunnel into another world. I went back in late Autumn to catch the trees without their clothes on. A Tree Creeper, seemingly oblivious to me was industriously hunting the crevices for a meal. On another walk there, just before the gate to the field, I came face to face with a muntjac deer crossing the road, he and I both pedestrians for a moment, both heading into different fields. Other walks in that direction have resulted in encounters with a young grass snake, a beautiful brown hare and a kingfisher. All practically on my door step and there for all to see if you know how to look.

Graphite on wood £195

Cloth Road Arts Week

Who Me ?

This fellow is on the cover of the brochure for this years Cloth Road Art Trail.  The Corner Gallery where I make and sell my work is participating from the 5th to the 13th of May. We hope to get lots of visitors through the door and it’s a great opportunity to see and purchase fresh work made especially for the event.  There are three artists at two venues down at the Tithe Barn Workshops so it really is worth a visit if you find yourself on the Art Trail.

 

 

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The corner gallery is where I have my open studio and shop, along with three other artists. I can be found at my drawing board through the door on the left of this photo. We are situated in the beautiful Barton Farm Country Park just across the way from the Tithe Barn. The gallery is just one of the seven outlets comprising the Tithe Barn Workshops, where you can relax in the peaceful garden, enjoy a cream tea and shop for original art, crafts, antiques and all manner of unusual lovelies. A visit to us helps to support local  independent traders and artists. So, bring your dog and your family!