We talked to wildlife artist Andrew Forkner about his travels in Canada, the inspirational wildlife on his doorstep, and his annual residency at Nature in Art.
I grew up and have lived in Oxfordshire for most of my life, apart from a short spell of four years (during my early twenties) when I worked away during the week, only coming back at weekends. My interest in art and animals has been ever present for as long as I can remember and to begin with I used to copy pictures of wildlife from books when I was at primary school.
Yes, I have been intending to produce a painting of a Red Kite for several years now, but have not managed to find enough spare time when I have no commissions or ongoing book work to complete. These stunning birds, which used to be confined to central Wales, are now a common sight in Oxfordshire and just this morning one glided over the house while I was working.
My current work in progress is a large, detailed graphite pencil drawing of a Barn Owl. It will be the centre piece for a display of my work during my annual residency at Nature In Art.
Yes, books on wildlife art. I am an avid collector of books in this genre and currently my collection numbers almost 300. Many of these focus on the inspirational work of some of my favourite artists and over the years I have had the good fortune to meet many of them.
This is a difficult question to answer. My recent book 'A-Z of Bird Portraits' contained almost 200 illustrations and at the time of publication I was pleased with all of them. However, as usually happens, I now look at them and think 'I could have done that better!' So I have chosen my Kingfisher painting from the book, mostly because it is one of my favourite bird species, rather than because it is the illustration that I am most proud of.
Definitely Canada. The Rockies and the Pacific coast around Vancouver and Vancouver Island are amazing areas for wildlife. On our next trip there we plan to head further north into Alaska. As an artist I am drawn (if you'll pardon the pun) to predators, so with Wolves, Bears, Mountain Lions, Bald Eagles and Orcas, Alaska has a stunning selection of inspiring subject matter.
Many examples of my work can be found on my website: www.andrewforkner.co.uk or on my Facebook page: Andrew Forkner Natural Art.
My next exhibition of work will take place at Nature in Art near Gloucester during my annual week as Artist in Residence. I will be working at the museum and talking to visitors from 1-6 March. I have been part of the Artist in Residence programme at Nature In Art for the past 16 years and it is a week that I look forward to every year.
One of the artists on WonderStreet whose work I really admire is Mark Langley. His animal and bird portraits are exceptional, but I also like his landscapes and beautifully rendered paintings and drawings of old buildings. The sensational portrait work of Gregory Wellman is also a particular favourite of mine. As a pastel user myself I can appreciate the level of skill required to achieve such wonderful results in this medium.
Hard Times: This is a section taken from a landscape format acrylic painting of a couple of Red-legged Partridges. These birds are common along the lanes around where I live and their wonderful shape, colours and plumage pattern make them a tempting subject.
Snow Leopard Portrait: This is one of my pencil renderings of a Snow Leopard. It is the piece that I was working on during my Nature in Art Residency a few years ago and which was purchased by a client before it was finished. Snow Leopards are one of my favourite subjects and their glorious coat colour and pattern lends itself to graphite pencil, acrylic or pastel work.
Peregrine Falcon: As I mentioned earlier I have a particular fascination for the predators of the animal kingdom and birds of prey feature high in that category. This large acrylic Peregrine portrait (which I completed in 2015) allowed me to really focus on all the intricate detail of the plumage.
Hattie: This graphite pencil drawing was a commission that I completed after visiting the owners and spending an enjoyable hour playing with Hattie in their garden. I love painting and drawing gundogs. It is always a challenge to create a successful image of an individual after such a brief encounter. The dog's owners know the animal so well that any inaccuracies in the finished work will be immediately evident to them.