Saturday, 25 May 2013

 Studio Workshops

A few images of the relaxed but rewarding and challenging workshops that I tutor with groups such as the National Trust and the Wildlife Trusts. All these images are from The Old Coastguard Station at Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire. Look out for my workshops this year 2013 
 Lunch times are a special treat with both hot and cold food. Soup, hot rolls and piping hot sausage rolls followed by a selection of salads, cheeses, quiche, pickles and chutneys and a wide selection of fruit. In between painting, tea and coffee, all of which goes a long way to make a special day even better with a finished painting to take home.
People are always amazed, and often overwhelmed that they can finish a painting in a single workshop, just one day. The standard of work they achieve builds masses of confidence for work later when they are at home or for painting outdoors. I try to show style, ideas and techniques that they will not have tried or even attempted before. It's exciting for me to see people, many who have not painted since school days, pick up a brush and be swept away by what they can do.
 I always demonstrate and take the work step by step. Showing how I work, and bringing along my own work at different stages for people to see and to inspire ideas and confidence. More often than not as a group we work on a defined image, in the case of these images a moorland copse of evergreens and bracken and heather in Autumn. This allows for each individual to see what art is truly about, no two images are ever the same. All who attend bring there own style and ideas to life, even though they don't think they can at first.
All ages and abilities, side by side, encouraging, chatting, laughing and enjoying playing with an image that they can see develop before them. Always pushing each one, I try to get the most out of what they can do, and encourage them to go a little further with an idea and then step back, re-work a section of the work and then move on again. Come along and try for yourself.

Come and Enjoy a Studio Workshop

You can go from my web-site at to my workshop details. Telephone me on 01751 432 948 or e-mail

You will be made very welcome and enjoy some good company. Have a great lunch and take home something to be proud of as a gift or for your own home.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Pencil, graphite and graphite dust on paper 118cm x 29cm

'The Hay-wain' A large format drawing in a social heritage series looking at coastal areas and in particular fishing families, agriculture and rural life 1850 - 1914.

These drawings illustrate a little of my work in the field of social heritage in the UK, and are an example of detailed study and interpretation.

Pencil, graphite and graphite dust on paper 40cm x 26cm

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Spurn Head and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust with Rob Parkin

‘Really Wild’ Painting with Nature Artist Rob Parkin and the YWT at Spurn Head

'Birds, colour, light and flight'
This is a rare in-the-field opportunity to paint birds and landscape in an intensive two day tutored course with international nature artist Robert Parkin. Whether you are a beginner or a more experienced artist, Rob will help you to create an inspiring composition and develop light and techniques while painting in one of the most remote and wild places in Yorkshire, England. Be inspired to create a work that you can develop, or a finished painting.

Date: 20/21 July 2013. £110.00  per person
Cost includes entrance to the YWT reserve at Spurn, refreshments and lunch, all materials and the use of pre-worked reference material. Evening talk and lecture by Harry Watkins, the Spurn Reserve Manager.

Materials will be provided but you are more than welcome to bring along your own brushes/pencils and any other painting materials that you find comfortable. To work swiftly and to capture the spirit of the subject and place we will be working in ChromaColour acrylic paint (supplied). This can be ‘worked’ in an oil or watercolour technique to suit your own style and preferences. We will be working on canvas board or stretched canvas for the finished piece. You are welcome to bring along watercolours if you wish to work up colour sketches.

Please note: Places are strictly limited 

This studio workshop is very special, in a very special place. Covering two days it will lead both the experienced and the novice painter to produce a piece of outstanding work, beginning with field work and leading to the studio to complete the work.

Spurn Head is a wonderful finger of land that is more an island than a land   spit. Caught between the river Humber and the North Sea it is home, and a migration stop off, to a varied and ever changing number of birds. It is also a place to discover other wildlife, often shy and fleeting that hide among the sheltered dunes and plant cover. All combine to inspire art. The dynamics of this coastline are very evident at Spurn. The enormous lighthouse (which you can visit and work from if you wish) and the only permanently manned lifeboat station in the UK are testimony to the wild coastline. The extensive mudflats on the Humber side of Spurn play host to many waterfowl and waders, which are all part of this dynamic shifting landscape of coastal erosion.

The workshop will offer the chance to do a little bird and animal spotting - field glasses and/or a scope is recommended. We will have the opportunity to study the landscape and to record and sketch ideas for the studio. I will suggest ways for you to create strong and unusual composition, and highlight some of my own ideas working alongside each individual workshop member. Light is all in painting, and I hope that we can create images that will demonstrate how light combined with good composition can bring a painting to life. We will be working indoors and out, and we will have the chance to listen to members of the YWT when they explain more about Spurn and its wildlife. This workshop offers all who love wildlife, art and painting the chance to work in the wild and with nature. It will be intensive and it will be fun. No matter what the weather we will produce work, and we will be inspired by Spurn and by each other.

Booking details:
To book, or to reserve a place(s) please contact me directly by e-mail
By telephone on +44 (0)1751 432 948.
Or write to:
Robert Parkin. Cow Syke Farm, Bransdale, Fadmoor, York. YO62 7JL

Places can be reserved by deposit

A full itinerary and details (including location and accommodation) will be available by the end of March 2013
Places to eat and stay (to suit all pockets) can be found by using the links listed below. Please contact me directly for more information.

Yorkshire Tourist Board website

A location map for the Spurn reserve and studio workshop area can be found on:

Monday, 24 December 2012


Included are new locations and dates for all my studio workshops in 2013.

Please click on each to see more details.

Contact details are on each individual page. Please contact me directly for more information or help in booking. 
New locations are added as they become available. Please re-visit to see other new locations and dates.

 Studio Workshops 2013 with Robert Parkin (More to come)

Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags

Studio Workshops at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags (Details will be posted by January 22nd)

Ryedale Folk Museum, North Yorkshire, Nr Pickering.

Studio Workshops at Ryedale Folk Museum (Details will be posted by January 22nd)

Spurn Head and The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust with Rob Parkin

Two unique two day studio workshops in Spring 2013 (Full details soon)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Robert Parkin and The National Trust. Robin Hoods Bay. 2013

The National Trust 'Old Coastguard Station', Robin Hoods Bay, North Yorkshire.

For all the following workshops at Robin Hoods Bay, contact:
Robert Parkin on 01751 432 948 or write to:
Rob Parkin. Cow Syke Farm, Bransdale, Fadmoor, York. YO62 7JL or email:

PLEASE NOTE: All new dates and locations will be posted by January 22nd 2013.
Full list of Studio Workshops please follow this link

Michaelmas Studio Workshop: Painting Birds and Nature

2013 Wednesday 6 November and 3 December,10am – 4pm 
Learn more about painting birds in nature - composition, colour and detail. Create a finished painting in a day with renowned wildlife and nature artist Rob Parkin. £45, includes materials and lunch. *BE on 01751 432948 or email

Michaelmas Studio Workshop: Nature and Magic
2013 Wednesday 13 November and 6 December, 10am – 4pm  
Nature has been an inspiration to ‘fantasy’ artists for many years. This studio workshop offers the opportunity to create a work in the style of Arthur Rackham and learn more about his technique. Create a finished painting in a day with celebrated local artist Rob Parkin. £45, includes materials and lunch. *BE on 01751 432948 or email

Michaelmas Studio Workshop: Landscape and Nature Painting

2013 Wednesdays 20 & 27 November, 10am – 4pm
Create a finished landscape painting in a day with Rob Parkin. Share some of Rob’s studio secrets and paint a landscape in snow for Christmas, or, a winding country lane that would have been familiar to Thomas Hardy and Jane Austin. £45, includes materials and lunch. *BE on 01751 432948 or email

*BE Booking Essential 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Reflective Art. Past Generations.

The two pencil/graphite drawings illustrated show North Yorkshire 'Fisher' Folk from an age now becoming hazy in the mist of time.
They depict a community from 1890 - 1900, that has now all but disappeared,  and with it, a way of life hundreds of years in the making. No longer, in all but a few rare cases do you find son, or daughter, following in the footsteps of mother, father, or indeed grandparents as they did when this sight was common  on our coasts. So too have gone the traditions and ideas. The knowledge and the trust. Not the fault of the fisherman, or their families, but our fault when we want 'more' fish and cheaper fish on our table. They are the same reasons that farming has undergone radical, and disagreeable change. More for less, the demand of the supermarket, pressure on the farmer and producer and the fisher-folk who sail out to meet all weathers.

They represent a romantic way of life, hard, challenging and unusual in today's age of commuting and office boredom. For me as an artist they evoke a need to reflect what they were and indeed are. My own family fished the inshore coast of North Yorkshire in the 1500's. This and other work that I do pays respect to that past and to them..

The following illustration shows a work in progress - the piece above in fact titled 'Four Generations'.
I work up sketches and drawings of individual figures from a number of reference sources before I transfer them to the finished work and then continue the easy bit, drawing them in. Composition is everything in art, any art. With drawing it is very important to understand and 'feel' for the composition, there is no turning back.

I teach art, and lead studio workshops. I am always amazed and saddened when people come along and you discover that a drawing skill they had when they were a young child has been lost. More often than not in high school through poor teaching and a miss-guided adoration of artists who are household names, but could not draw a square let alone anything else.

All art, especially 2/dimensional art should be founded on drawing and the ability to see the image on the paper before and when you are working on it. Michelangelo was reputed to have said that in a block of the finest marble - "he could see a figure", all he had to do was set it free. Drawing is the same. The more you draw the more you will see the 'shadow' in the paper, all you must do is bring it to life. Without good composition the shadow will fade.

Look at the work of the Renaissance. The understanding they had of form, shape, light, shade, depth and perspective. Look at how they could compose and work, and what they produced. Then look at the modern age of 'modernism'. At artists who failed to know a pencil, charcoal or pen. A few, such as Augustus John could use line like it was a gift from God - they are the people I turn too and admire. They and the old masters set the pace for all to follow.

Work in progress. A long way to go with a drawing such as this. If you compare to the finished image above you will see how far in fact. You can see the images lightly drawn in and I work from left to right to complete the work. In pencil your hand must never touch the paper, and your thoughts must always be four steps ahead.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Nature Art Uncovered 3/3 Conservation. Nature Art. Coming of Age

We have seen that with the development of serious scientific research the ‘exploration' of nature took on new meaning.
The audience for visions and views both of the scientific minutia or expansive scenes of distant places allowed artists to travel and expand their own belief and ideas on nature. Landscape painting itself evolved one avenue toward the portrayal of the exotic - both human and wildlife - as well as the view. Specimens of this new wildlife went far beyond the familiar depicted in painting for generations (or chased and eaten at home) - even the images ofHieronymus Bosch were eclipsed.

Bosch 'Garden of Earthly Delights'

These specimens, or skins, verified the often unbelievable images that artist's had created on their travels. To the artist came a new market, and one that was expanding, and fast. Old empires had generated new wealth and settled communities in what had been the New World - this presented opportunity. In the case of Marian Ellis Rowan and her work on Australian flora this was perhaps perceived as in some way - not art, or at best, the ‘whim' of idle hands. For years, long before Wildlife Art as a genera evolved, landscape art had laboured under a similar lesser status, considered second class to that of the Grandiose Historic Painter.
Surprising then, when you consider that many of the great masters developed within their paintings sublime landscape and nature. Consider St. Francis in Ecstasy by Giovanni Bellini. This staggeringly beautiful painting encompasses belief in a greater power - it's true. A look at the landscape, and the labours of man are in evidence in almost every corner. But the painting goes well beyond that detail to a belief in the true ‘nature' of faith.

Bellini 'St Francis in Ecstasy' 

St Francis is nature represented - the creator and preserver, or the conservationist perhaps? Living away from the evils of the world, and its corruption, he has chosen nature, or his God in the guise of nature. He is transcending from the mortal, the corruptible - to the divine. These artists were able to represent nature as a prop as well as an ideal. A small part of an image, or in the case of St Francis almost all the image (some of the painting having been lost) but playing a supporting role to that of man as the originator never the less. What did they have in mind in an age of religious fervour? Will we ever truly be able to say? What separates them from us in this human journey of expression?
We on the other hand live in a world of instant images and messages, purveyed to us in a panacea of sordid forms. There can be few secrets. You, like me, know the world is getting hot, not because you see it, feel it, or measure it, like me - you have been told. Unlike the secrets no doubt whispered in the cloistered walls of religious institutions, as was the case in 1480 when Bellini finished his painting, we all know, it's common knowledge.
With the expansion of our world, and science, has come knowledge, particularly in regard to what we as humanity, have done to our natural world. So too has come responsibility and guilt. We see photo images of our world in crisis - a human world on the edge of catastrophe, the natural world teetering on a knife edge.
So where are the Bellini's today?
In the world of human achievement, of painting, sculpture, music, writing, and science, where are the peddlers of magic hiding that can express the fundamental emotion of ‘belief' in nature and therefore humanity - and a future? Well, as yet, not in the world of wildlife art - ‘Nature Art'.
A wonderful image by Robert Bateman.
In the eyes of many people perhaps the worlds leading and most influential nature/wildlife artist.

There are those who have carried the baton, raised the flag, you know them: Bateman, Shepherd, Scott. Each has been a herald, all have created a legacy, all have laid a path - but to where and to what? Scan the pages of Google and see for yourself. Portrayers of beautiful images - yes. Renderers of doomsday scenarios - yes. But time passes. Our art may well be a requiem, a memorial to our natural world and ideals. Is that the best we can do? How many images of a bald eagle in tree tops does the world need? How many owls in a barn do we paint, and for what? We are artists, visionaries - we must escape the silo that wildlife art has become and ask ourselves: why do we paint?
'I see you' Rob Parkin

It is not sufficient to say that we work in celebration of our natural world, or, in fact any of the obvious and trite claims that we make as nature artists. Nor indeed is it enough to shake a box, or rattle a tin in the hope of attracting charity - ‘merely' to support nature. It is not enough. Within AFC lies a precious opportunity, a place for challenge, debate, for re-focus, and renewed hope. The gauntlet lies at our door. The hill just got steeper, and we need to shift gear only if we want the natural world, (not humanity, detached as it is from the heartbeat of the natural world) to have the equivalent of an ‘Arab Spring'. As Jeff Whiting of AFC said in my recent debate with him on this topic, "We need to build on forums to show our leadership as artists and galvanize means to enact change as a group." I would add: To build on our shared history, past and present as artists and humanitarians.

If Bellini were standing where we stand today, if Darwin stood beside him, and, if Bosche were to pick up his brushes knowing what we now know, what work would they create? Would it indeed need paint, words, a chisel? Our images, yours and mine, carry the expectation of generations. More important, they carry the silent cry of hope for those, not only human, yet to come. We have been writing letters in the sand for millennia, taken, cast away, in the hope that they will settle at some stage onto fertile soils. We are still here. Nature Art has come of age, can we rise to the challenge? Do you ‘believe', and if so - in what?
Or does the future for artistic expression of our natural world, the building blocks of humanity, our relationship to it, and it to us, lie elsewhere?