Fanfare of Feathers – Peacock

How can you be an artist who creates birds without including a Peacock?

They are so regal, colourful and arrogant, you just can’t over look them. That said, the sad and soggy photographs I took of my subject whilst on holiday in Cornwall were not my finest!  A great deal of artistic licence was going to be called for to regain his finery.


Even on such a wet day, the fabulous colours in his plumage are visible, it was a starting point if nothing else.

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I decided to focus on a ‘head shot’, concentrating on the feathers, colours and textures around his face and crest.  I had very few suitable blues in my stash so had to go shopping for just the right pieces (hooray!).  I worked out from my outline sketch how many colours ! would need to create the different textures and light and shade.


Once again the Oliver Twist threads were ideal, their gradual colour changes were perfect and the two packs covered most of the colours I needed.


Below shows the Peacock pieced ready for stitching.


Before starting stitching I add details to follow with a heat removable pen.


The Peacocks head has an unusual texture which called for quite a different stitch pattern.  Areas around the eye have an almost turkey like appearance.


The stitch pattern used can be seen more clearly from the back.


The feather shafts of the crest were created using a King Tut thread which had a colour change from grey to pale brown.


The picture below shows the background fabric being quilted with similar thread colour, following the pattern of the fabric to avoid it becoming too dominant.


The finished piece, I feel he has regained some of his royal presence and arrogance!

A limited edition Giclee print of ‘Fanfare of Feathers’ is available from my Website shop , please click here to view.

AK010 Feathered Fanfare



‘Into the Night’ – Tawny Owl

I love Owls and after meeting this little Tawny Owl last summer I embarked on the next piece.


After experimenting with different poses I settled on the one below and started selecting fabrics (always the best bit!).  Once again the fabrics added lots of texture and light and shade to the piece before stitching began.  I selected a very dark blue night sky to set him against.


Below, the selection of threads, mostly King Tut and Oliver Twist.


Starting to stitch the area around the eyes with the darkest threads.


Detail of face after 6-7 thread colours.


Seeing the picture develop from the back.

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Working the detail down into the chest area, dark threads first.

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Finished and ready for framing.

AK013 Into the Night Final


Fish Supper – Kingfisher

There are few birds in the UK as strikingly beautiful as the Kingfisher.  I have only been lucky enough to see one and even then it was fleeting.

They are found near slow moving or still water.  They fly rapidly, low over water and hunt fish from riverside perches.

Kingfishers breed in their first year. Two to three broods are raised in quick succession.  The first clutch of 6-7 eggs is in April/May.  Both adults incubate the eggs, chicks hatch 19-21 days later.  Each chick can eat 12-18 fish a day.  The chicks are usually ready to leave the nest when they are 24-25 days old (unless weather has affected the parents ability to fish, in which case up to 37 days).  Once out of the nest the young are fed for only 4 days before the adults drive them out of the territory and start the next brood.

Kingfishers are very short lived.  Many young will have not learnt to fish by the time they are driven from their parents territory.  Studies suggest that only half of the fledglings survive more than 1-2 weeks.

Very few birds live longer than one breeding season.  Most die from cold or lack of food.  A severe winter can kill a very high percentage of the birds.

Because they are high up the food chain they are extremely vulnerable to a build up of chemicals in their food and river pollution.


This piece was inspired by a water colour painting by a distant relative, I have grown up with this picture and always loved the movement and colours, despite its age it is still quite vibrant.

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As always I enjoyed searching out appropriate fabrics, I already owned most but was over the moon to find the backing fabric.  It gave the perfect, subtle impression of water and reeds.

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Above you can see how I used some of the fabrics and the selection of cottons I had to work from.  Once again the Oliver Twist threads were perfect, with their subtle colour changes and jewel like shades.


Starting to stitch the reeds and fish.


The tiny flecks of pale turquoise on the birds wings were picked out using a double thickness of thread sewn by hand.


I quilted the backing fabric with a pale shade of greenish grey to enhance the impression of plant life.

A limited edition Giclee print of ‘Fish Supper’ is available from my Website shop , please click here to view.

AK011 Fish Supper