Tuesday, 26 May 2009

An interview with Gayle Mason SOFA

This is the last in the series of interviews with the three UKCPS members who have had their work accepted for the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009 exhibition to be held at the Mall Galleries, London from 1st-6th June 2009.

Today it's the turn of Gayle Mason.

Hot Spot
a finalist in Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009

8" x 20", coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Gayle Mason

What's your approach to wildlife art? Why are you interested in it?

Animals are my passion, - studying them, living with them, painting and drawing them. I'm fascinated by the detail in nature and strive to capture it in pencil or paint.

Recent family holidays have been chosen because they are places rich in wildlife. Last summer I was lucky enough to photograph a wild Grizzly bear feeding on a Bison carcase in the Yellowstone National Park in the USA.

How do you generate your reference photos?

By spending hours in the field or at Wildlife Parks waiting with my camera to snap that 'perfect' shot!

I've recently combined two hobbies, bird watching and painting to add birds to the dogs, cats and wildlife in my portfolio. I'm lucky enough to have a wide range of bird species which visit my garden. My drawing table is next to the window which looks out on to the garden and I spend hours with my camera ready next to me as I draw. You can see some of the results on my blog Fur in the Paint.

What's the story behind your piece and why did you choose to enter this one?

We spent New Year in the Highlands of Scotland. One day we visited Loch Fleet and I was lucky enough to capture this little Stoat with my camera. He was dashing about amongst some huge boulders right on the shore of the Loch and every so often he would pause and look at me.

When I saw the image I was immediately struck by the fact that his life will be a tiny spark compared to the eons the boulders have, and will, endure. I tried to convey that message in the drawing. The title 'Hot Spot' has a double meaning, the spark of life and the fact that on a bitterly cold day the Stoat was indeed the 'hot spot'

What pencils and support did you use for your artwork and why did you choose them?

I nearly always use Arches Hot Press Watercolour paper when I'm using mixed media. Although I often try different surfaces Arches is the one I always return to. For this particular piece I used several French Grey coloured pencils, a mixture of Polychromos and Prismacolor. I prefer Polychromos because they are slightly harder and retain a point longer. The stoat himself was painted in acrylic and there are also are several acrylic glazes over the rocks, which were added to give depth to the painting

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an artist

I've always been interested in animals and have always spent as much time as possible in the countryside right from childhood. My interest in animals and the countryside have also influenced my education - I've got an honours degree in Zoology - and where we live in Yorkshire, on the very edge of the moors. I also breed and show my Rough Collies and have trotted round a ring at Crufts!

So far as art is concerned, it's grown out of my longstanding interests. I've now been drawing and painting seriously for around 6 years and exhibit on a regular basis at various national wildlife exhibitions and the Society of Feline Artists. I know that my subject matter with always consist of living things. I'm also fairly sure my subject matter will have fur, feathers or leaves as I have no interest in human portraits and instead prefer the portrayal of natural history.

My proudest artistic moment to date was when I found out that I had passed the jury process and had been elected to full membership of the Society of Feline Artists. Of course being short listed for Wildlife Artist of the Year matches that!

You can see more of my drawings and paintings of animals on my animal and nature art website or my pet portraits website. You can also read about my artwork, how I work, what I use - and my Rough Collies - in my blog Fur in the Paint.

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