A couple of weeks ago I traveled to Devon, England, where I was born and spent my whole life until I moved to the USA at the end of 2009. It’s an area rich with biodiversity and is the only county in the UK to boast two separate (and stunning) coastlines, north and south. I was lucky to grow up on the south Devon coast and to be so accustomed to its native wildlife, the marine-dwelling locals ranging from bottlenose dolphins and basking sharks to spiny seahorses and common cuttlefish. Though I currently live about 4000 miles away, south Devon will always be close to my heart.
When I returned home recently I was motivated to get to work on a personal project I’ve wanted to do for years: a series of paintings featuring my favourite Devon marine wildlife. It’s a way for me to celebrate the fantastic animals that live there and share them with the world.
Because I’ve been on quite a bird kick lately as I gear up for my participation in Art Gone Wild, I decided to start with a great cormorant. They’re extremely common around south Devon but I’m always excited to see them – there’s just something about birds that spend their time at sea. I’ve actually planned out a larger painting of an individual drying its wings – one of my favourite sights – but completed this little close-up study of one today on an 8 x 10 canvas. They’re such prehistoric-looking birds. When I worked at Living Coasts I had the pleasure of spending my time with two charismatic bank cormorant brothers, a different species that is endemic to South Africa, but also got to watch native cormorants go about their daily business right off our balcony. I would frequently spot them while out on boat trips across Torbay and loved to watch them dive down and pop back up again.
And a couple of in-progress shots…