Picture Profile 2017: “I Bow to My Queen”

Re-worked painting completed August 2021
Original painting completed April 2021

I Bow to my Queen (Turtle Doves) (Started 29 November 2020). Artist Code 2017. Started November 2020 completed 23 April 2021. THEN REWORKED AUGUST 2021 (see top painting). ORIGINAL – Water colour 12″ x 16″ Aquarelle Arches 140lb paper

In October 2020 I was asked to produce an artwork of turtle doves for someone’s 80th birthday. As there was only a week before commissioning and the birthday, all I could manage was a pencil sketch, although the recipient was very pleased with the result (Artist Code 2016 – Turtle Doves).

I was so taken with the sketch that I felt impelled to make a colour version, albeit executed on a more leisurely timetable. So it took 4 months to complete!

Turtle doves have so many colours, many of which are indistinct nuances rather than distinguishable colours. I have exercised my artistic license in portraying these beautiful birds in early, bright morning sunlight so the colours are arbitrary. Resources for this work are my own photographs taken at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk a few years ago. The doves and other wild fowl, including Bearded tits/reedlings (subject of another artwork: Artist Code 2012), were in a very large aviary, and the birds were acting as near-normal as can be in such circumstances. Ruffs were cavorting, and the male turtle doves were parading—hence the title. The background is a sawn tree-stump surrounded by wood anemones taken in Switzerland around 2010, but which could easily be in Britain, so I decided to use it! AND, not being totally satisfied with the colour on the birds, I did a bit of re-working in August 2021, and feel the painting is better for it!

Formerly this bird was often heard “brrring” away in our English countryside. Now the sound is very rare. Turtle doves are on the UK Red List of species. The good news is that “Operation Turtle Dove” is working closely with Britain’s farmers by encouraging them to provide good habitat which suits the birds’ needs, and there are other organised conservation efforts which may help to stem the decline: 30 per cent loss in the 16 years up to October 2015.

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