Moorhen and bulrushes


Acrylic on board, 86cm x 56cm

The dead stems and leaves of bulrushes that line the edge of a local loch created an intriguing pattern of abstract shapes. I liked the interplay of light stems over dark and dark over light. I wanted to portray this as an almost flat, wallpaper-like pattern, at the same time creating a sense of depth so you feel you could reach through the maze of stems towards the back. The subtle greys and ochres give a sense of winter dormancy and, on this overcast and freezing morning, a heavy frost rimed the leaves and stems, brightening the scene.

A moorhen picked its way between the stems, its long toes providing much needed stability on the ice. As attractive as it may appear to us, these are harsh conditions for wildlife, particularly for water birds as a lot of their food will be locked away under the ice.

I chose to paint this in acrylics because they can impart a cold, flatness of colour and a hard edge that is less easy to achieve in oils.



Select an original below

  • Redshank
  • Jewels of sunlight
  • Grey wagtail
  • Shallow waters
  • Snow charm
  • Snowy birches and ermine
  • Avocet
  • Moorhen and bulrushes
  • Melting away (snipe)
  • At the waterline
  • Winter fox
  • St Mary’s seals
  • The Gathering
  • Short-eared owl
  • Abernethy Forest pool
  • Redshank alarm
  • Evening pools – wigeon
  • Silver light
  • Aberlady Bay
  • Fishing in the flow tide – Little egret
  • Long-eared owl
  • Shrimping
  • Purple sandpipers
  • Morecambe Bay waders
  • Storm surge – gannets at Bamburgh
  • Sandpiper flight
  • Lindisfarne Bay
  • Heading north – migrating dunlin
  • Redshank
  • Against the light
  • Spring tide
  • Marsh grass
  • Warming up
  • Snow petrel
  • Smiling at the sun (rock martins at Abu Simbel)
  • Salt marsh sentinel
  • Making waves
  • Log pile
  • The sand martin and the jellyfish
  • Humpbacks in the Gerlache Strait
  • Dipper
  • Beachcombers
  • Run-off

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