Oil on canvas, 76cm x 71cm

I am yet again drawn to the beach and the effects and patterns of sand and water. I have spent a lot of time looking at the effects of sunlight on shallow water as it runs across the sand. I am intrigued at the way that a ripple in the water acts like a lens, concentrating sunlight like a magnifying glass on to the surface of the underlying sand while also casting areas of darker shadow in constantly flickering patterns of light and dark.

As the sea swirls over the sand at high tide it scours shallow bowls out of the sand, especially around rocks. As the tide recedes, the pools of water that collect here carve their own paths back to the sea in rivulets that twist and turn, cutting channels through the soft sand. The seemingly abstract patterns of these beach-scapes are a source of fascination and intrigue to me. I liked the backdrop of solid, immovable rock at the top of the picture – a fixture in an otherwise constantly shifting landscape.

The redshank was originally going to be two curlews! Both species were present as I painted the field sketch but when it came to placing the curlews in the composition they dominated the picture. I replaced them with a single redshank, which seemed altogether happier in the environment of the painting.

This painting is one of a pair depicting the same subject but in different light conditions. Its sister painting, Against the Light, shows broadly the same scene but looking in to the sun.

This painting will be on show at my one-man exhibition ‘From Antarctica to Aberlady’ which runs from 15th November to 14th January at the Donald Watson Gallery  near Edinburgh. The gallery enjoys stunning views across Aberlady Bay and the Firth of Forth.

Donald Watson Gallery, the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC), Aberlady, East Lothian, EH32 0PY,  Tel; 01875 871330




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

Prints for sale

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Hawfinches &
Winter Thrushes
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