Wells painter launches book

Over the years his books of paintings have given people a fresh perspective on the life and behaviour of the natural world in Norfolk.And now painter and naturalist James McCallum has found a new muse for his work in the 140,000 pink-footed geese that migrate to our region every autumn - about half of the world's entire pink-footed geese population.

Over the years his books of paintings have given people a fresh perspective on the life and behaviour of the natural world in Norfolk.

And now painter and naturalist James McCallum has found a new muse for his work in the 140,000 pink-footed geese that migrate to our region every autumn - about half of the world's entire pink-footed geese population.

His new book, Wild Skeins and Winter Skies, tracks the birds in sketches and paintings from their roosting spots near Wells and Holkham, to their prominent flying formations across the county's skies.

The pictures are also accompanied by notes on their behaviour and Mr McCallum's experiences painting them outside.


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“I would observe and draw them in the early hours of the morning where they roost, then follow them as they begin to fly inland to feed,” Mr McCallum said.

“Sometimes this can be a bit of a gamble as they do not always return to the same spot twice and can use fields up to six miles apart.

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“However, the birds have a preference for sugar beet, so I would usually find them on the mechanically harvested fields eating the bi-product left over from the crop. Here, I would continue to draw them.”

Mr McCallum, 39, was born in Wells where he first became interested in the coast's wildlife and landscape.

After graduating from art college, he went on to complete a masters degree in natural history illustration from the Royal College of Art in London.

Since then he has published five other books of paintings, North Norfolk Wildlife Through Seasons, Wild Goose Winter, North Norfolk Summer Sketchbook, Larks and Leverets, and Arctic Flight, as well as travelling across the globe to capture the natural world in Africa, the Arctic, and Asia.

“Learning to draw and paint the geese outside was perhaps the biggest challenge I faced,” Mr McCallum said.

“It takes a while to unravel how the birds move and land. Then you have to learn how to draw these movements quickly in unpredictable weather conditions.

“But once that is accomplished it can only take a couple of hours to capture the birds in their true form.”

The book will be launched on Saturday at 11am at the Reading Room, opposite the Victoria Hotel, in Holkham.

An exhibition of paintings from the book will run from Saturday until Sunday, November 22 at the Reading Room.

Entry is free to the exhibition which will be open daily from 11am until 4.30pm.

Hardback copies of Wild Skeins and Winter Skies cost �28, while a signed limited edition version which is leather bound and includes an original watercolour sketch is on sale for �200.

For more information visit www.jamesmccallum.co.uk

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