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  • Writer's pictureLeo Davey


There are particular times that you see a kingfisher that are just breath taking. You might have seen one on a dull day and wonder what all the fuss is about – but when you see one in the right light and in the right place you know what all the fuss is about. As for these two, I’ve drawn them out in pencil and now I’m starting to colour them. It is common practice to start light and work up to the darker colours. I seem to have developed a method that does the opposite. Permanent black Indian ink tends to go on first followed by layer after layer of washes drying (with a hairdryer) after each application and continuing until satisfied.

Kingfishers are a bit of an obsession of mine. There’s a place I go and see them, behind the chalets at Dunster Beach. I’ve always loved birds and as far as I’m concerned the kingfisher is undoubtedly the most remarkable British bird.

The most exciting part of my watercolour painting process occurs once the paper is covered. It’s here where I'll start putting on more layers and it begins to take shape before your eyes. The most satisfying part is when you know it’s finished. There’s a tipping point when you start going backwards and fuss rather than resolve and can start to lose the freshness. I’ve started to recognise that tipping point and to be a better judge of when to call it a day. Obviously this one isn't quite there yet!

This particular composition is for the Evolver prize. Evolver magazine is a quarterly publication that promotes arts and culture in Wessex (Somerset, Devon, Dorset & Wiltshire). They run this competition annually . I won it with 'My Cup of Tea' in 2010 (see below) and have been submitting an entry every year ever since!

My Cup of Tea
'My Cup of Tea'

Because the majority of my work is self-initiated, it's actually really nice to work to a brief once in a while. Albeit a loose brief: anything you think would make a great cover for the magazine. It's one of the few times I work in a portrait format.

This years submission fits in with the work I’ve been producing recently - a continuation of '12 Birds in 12 Boxes'. Here you can see how the Kingfisher theme is present in all aspects of my practice. I do like kingfishers!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know if you did, or give me some constructive feedback if you didn't! And I'd love to know what else you might be interested in. Thanks for reading,


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