Darren Woodhead & Rosamund Jones
Being country people we’re inclined to appreciate art that relates to the world around us and when we came across two extraordinarily talented and successful artists whose work is inspired by nature we felt we ought to share them.
There is a sense in Darren Woodhead’s paintings of the effort it takes to spot birds in their natural setting, these are not studies in the ornithological print tradition where birds appear in relief against a scant background and the primary aim is the appreciation of the characteristics of each species. Try spotting the Yellow-browed Warbler in the painting above and you’ll see just what we mean.
In Darren’s paintings birds are camouflaged by their habitat, as you would naturally find them. Crowds of waxwings with their punky plumage are loosely defined against the ruby red berries and russet of the gnarled, lichen covered branches of the hedgerow. We view them mid-twitter and their perpetual motion is merely suspended for the briefest moment, if we blink heads will twitch, feathers fluff, berries plop into beaks and tiny birds will take flight and be gone.
Darren is enormously skilled at capturing these moments and it is no surprise, but nonetheless impressive, to learn that his craft is entirely field based. He works only in watercolours, drawing directly in brush onto plain white paper with the intention of depicting all that is elemental to the natural world; there is incredible inherent energy in his work and the freshness of the scene is vividly rendered.
Rosamund Jones is another artist committed to working outdoors and for the past four decades she has worked the countryside that surrounds her in Nidderdale, Yorkshire. She is never without her sketchbook and works entirely by hand – she has until recently never owned a camera, she strives to capture the atmosphere and essence that are so ephemeral in nature. Colours can dissolve with a subtle change of light and wild creatures are impatient sitters but Rosamund’s constant goal is to translate her visceral experience of the landscape into a true rendering of her world.
In the summer months she takes her copper plates outside and describes how, when her children were small she would load their ponies up with plates and materials and walk out into the landscape. Now with the ponies gone she has to work on a smaller scale but as long as the weather is warm enough to work the beeswax and bitumen she will endeavour to etch outdoors.
Rosamund keeps a diary of her time on the moors so that she has a constant reference for her studio, a means of recalling the dark, brackish syrupy bog, the pale silvery lichen, the mauve and the grays, the sheep deep in the heather and the monochrome of the local grit stone walls that are recurrent themes in her work.
Her etchings of birds are magnificent, in her exacting understanding of her subject the ptarmigan is precisely a ptarmigan, its beady eye, head and neck acutely observed and its feathering marvelously appreciated in texture, tone and colour. Work of this quality and skill can only ever be the product of someone utterly committed to the land.
Darren Woodhead MA, SWLA, is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, he is a member of The Society of Wildlife Artists, he has exhibited widely including the Donald Watson Gallery, Waterston House, Aberlady, Henderson Gallery, Edinburgh, Birdscapes Gallery, Norfolk, Minsmere RSPB reserve, Suffolk. He has twice won the Swarovski/Birdwatch magazine Artist of the Year Award, as well as many other prestigious awards. Darren’s work is held in many private collections, including recently a commission for the Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th Birthday. He lives and works in East Lothian, Scotland.
For more information see www.darrenwoodhead.com
Rosamund Jones RE is a graduate of Leeds and Harrogate Art College and a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, she has exhibited widely, more than 10 times with the Royal Academy, twice at the Scottish Royal Academy, at Bite an annual exhibition of Artists Making Prints at the Mall in London which resulted in an award and locally at Number Six Studio Gallery in Pateley. She has won several awards including the David Murray Travelling Scholarship and her work is held in the prestigious Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
For more information contact Rosamund at her studio in Nidderdale 01423 770635.