I’m finding it interesting how much the books are driving themselves, and although I have the bulk of the birds I need to put a book together, there are inevitably ones which I feel would be more appropriate or necessary so I need to paint them.

I love playing with the white space and the birds’ plumage but there are some which would just look disembodied, and on those occasions I use a lovely pale blue watercolour paper which sets off white black and grey really well.

Coast & Cliffs is a selection of mainly sea and shorebirds with a few passage birds too such as wheatear and stonechat. It’s quite difficult deciding who goes where but I have a catch-all “Other birds you may see” on the last page where I can put some extras that occupy more than one habitat. This in turn helps shape the other books as I fill the respective flat plan – it’s certainly an organic process but I love watching it develop.

My most recent paintings are a gannet and an avocet. Here they are:

I use Instagram photos where I can as I can then engage with the photographer and make sure I credit them for their work in providing me with reference material.

The cps now looks like this:

…and for the Other birds I’ve picked kingfisher, widgeon, linnet and then two I have yet to paint – curlew and black redstart. Curlew will go in Forest & Farmland, and the black redstart in Urban Gardens & Parkland.

Back at the book admin. I am at the point of ordering some printed copies of my first book, having found an excellent printer who not only has priced competitively but also seems to ‘get’ what we are doing and has been extremely helpful with samples and suggestions for coatings and such like. As it is a pocket book, I want some extra strength and protection for the cover, and rounded corners so it doesn’t keep catching. Having been sent A6 samples I am extremely pleased with my decision to go for something other than A6, and make it a little more finished with rounded corners, otherwise it could well look like the kind of freebie you get in high-end gift sets. The paper is also FSC registered and the cover coating recyclable which is important to me.

Next is to work out how many to order. I want to send out samples to people so they can decide if they want a bespoke version, but I am also wondering whether to get some Garden and some Coast books printed so it shows a greater breadth of my work. We are in discussions with Newman Thomson at the moment, but I am so excited to get something actually printed. The costs are such that naturally 10 is almost as expensive as 100 but then if I pick the latter I have 100 to deal with not just 10. Also, they will not have a barcode or necessarily be the final final version as tweaks may be required so again, I don’t want to be having to sell something substandard. I am all for feedback but then again I am a terrible one for getting caught up in my own indecision and in a way I need to work out what I want and stick with it!

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