Welcome to my website. Iím an artist and naturalist. I grew up in Wales, then studied at art college, graduating in Fine Art (Painting) at Bath Academy of Art in 1980, and have lived here in Scotland since 1986.
Since my art college days I have worked mainly in a different field, as a botanist (www.benandalisonaveris.co.uk), but I still do a lot of artwork. My pictures, in coloured pencil, graphite pencil and black pen, are mostly landscapes of some kind. Why landscapes? Because wherever I am, I canít ignore the landscape around me: the scale of it, the wonders within it, the innocence of it . . . objects and environments just existing innocently without the concepts of status, cleverness, right, wrong and so on that can enhance but also overcomplicate or even undermine our human lives. Many people's worlds seem to be centered strongly around our species: money, business, careers, politics, economics, religion, tradition, nationality and other social stuff. I've never had whatever it takes to be one of them, especially those who are so urbane and worldly-wise about human matters. They might look down on someone such as me, but I've got used to that and live in my world of landscapes and environments within which we humans and all our affairs are just a part.
I like to draw pictures of all sorts of landscapes. For example, trees in winter woodland settings with an atmosphere of still, innocent quietness and muted colours. And urban scenes, because Iím fascinated by towns and cities, I enjoy their varied and busy ways, and, despite being a naturalist who often works alone in wild places and lacks that urbane confident wisdom I just spoke of, I do like people and am a sociable person.
There are links between my art and botany, not just through shared subject matter but also through parallels in their processes of exploration, finding patterns and relationships, and developing ideas and understandings. Relevant to this is my Seeing Thinking document - a 4 MB PDF file available from the Downloads page of this website.
I hope the writing that accompanies pictures on this website adds some interest. My writing style might seem rather casual to some people in the art world. I avoid the jargon that makes some artists' writings offputtingly vague, difficult, pretentious, self-indulgent or 'superior'. The commercial side of the art world can make me feel overwhelmed, belittled or even unworthy of the term 'artist', but I'm more productive if I don't let that bother me too much. Making progress my own way is more interesting and important to me than trying to follow established ways of the professional art world. Landscape painting/drawing might not appear to be as fashionable as some other forms of art these days but I think it still has an important place, for various reasons including the ongoing changes to our landscapes and the need for people to be aware of the environments around them.
In recent years I have exhibited pictures at Resipole Studios gallery in the west Highlands, and drawn pictures to illustrate various publications: The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland by Clifton Bain (2015; ISBN 9781910124260), An Illustrated Guide to British Upland Vegetation (2004; ISBN 9781784270155), A Morvern Nature Diary by Stephen Hardy (2013; ISBN 9780956589330), the French botanical journal La Garance Voyageuse (ISSN 0988-3444 / March 2016), my own book Plants and Habitats (2013; ISBN 9780957608108), The Whisky Dictionary by Iain Hector Ross (published by Sandstone Press in October 2017) and cartoons in the Australian equestrian magazine Horses and People. This year I have been working on an art project about a west Highland nature reserve (see Morvern 2017 webpage).
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In case it is of interest to anyone (and I know some people are interested in such things), I draw my pictures with the following types of pencils and pens: Derwent 'Artists' coloured pencils (these have relatively hard leads that keep sharp points well and are good for details), Derwent 'Coloursoft' (with softer leads and richer colours), Derwent 'Drawing' (with soft, thick leads and subtle colours), Caran d'Ache 'Luminance 6901' pencils (with quite soft leads and rich colours; fabulous pencils but relatively expensive so I try to be economical with my use of them), Faber Castell 'Albrecht Durer' pencils (I have a few of these, mainly for doing details in certain dark colours; their leads are strong enough to keep a sharp point and the colour is good and strong), Staedler 'Noris' HB graphite pencils (the yellow and black striped ones; my favourite 'ordinary' pencil; always reliable, keeping a good sharp point for detail, and versatile too from very light and pale to darker stronger markings) and Pilot Drawing Pens (in four thicknesses - 0.1, 0.2, 0.5 and 0.8). In coloured pencil drawings I often use an old 'empty' biro (that has run out of ink) for scoring the paper where I want thin white lines to stand out uncoloured after colour has been applied to the general area. It's about time I did a biro picture! Using a proper working biro, of course. I actually have a rather treasured little collection of 'happy' biros, all writing in blue or black but with their outer casings in different and mostly bright colours. Several of them came from a £1/biro charity box at the till at the Co-op foodstore in Balloch. Whenever I called in there to get some food (and probably looking like yet another of the many food-focused folk) I would actually be thinking: "Ooh yes - let's get another lovely biro!". Others came from the amazing Tokyu Hands shop in Sapporo, Japan, where I came across a quiet corner with bright-coloured biros and was totally in my element. My biro collection sort of matches my small but interesting collection of washing-up brushes which, by the way, I haven't actually seen since we moved house in summer 2016, so I do hope (anxiously, with fingers crossed) that they are not lost.