I have studied and painted birds in a number of countries and continents: in various parts of Africa, much of Australia and Britain, some of the European countries, and now on the American continent. I'm often asked whether I get bored painting birds — but consider the difference between an ostrich and a hummingbird, about as much as between an oak tree and a daisy. Even if the variety of birds were my criterion for avoiding professional boredom, the world contains well over eight thousand species. Most of these I shall never see, nor have time to paint.
However, there is usually so much more to a picture than the central subject. The possible arrangements of a composition are as limitless as the variety of the natural world. Painting the branch, the patch of earth, the rock, upon which the bird sits is only the first step in depicting the bird's environment. In studying flowers and foliage, the many ways reflections happen in water, a tangle of grass blades, I am led on endlessly, delving into nature. The element of interpretation is vital, as I seek to add something of myself to the painting. The only limits are personal. My choice of this or that diagonal, balance of mass against detail, dark against light, is a matter of my own aesthetics.
The years at art school set me on the path, but one has to keep pursuing creativity and honing the sensibilities as well as the senses. One essential is to return to the source: subjects are ten-a-penny, but it is composition that is the challenge; and for that, studying nature is the inspiration.