Sunday, January 4, 2009


A painter of both mammals and birds, Martin Ridley has spent much time developing a knowledge of the field, which is clearly reflected in his work. Combined with conceptual composition his attention to animal behaviour, habitat detail and lighting creates an amazingly accurate and artistic record of his nature encounters.
He graduated in 1988 with the highest awards ever given to a student completing the wildlife illustration course. He was not only awarded a distinction but was nominated course, faculty and college student of the year. A plethora of his images have gone into printed circulation including illustrations for books, prints, card and calendar designs.
His work has featured in The Artist, BBC Wildlife, The Field and Heritage magazines and a book entitled "The Best of Wildlife Art", published in the USA. Works of art have been utilized as covers for the following publications; 1999 autumn issue of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust magazine, the WeBs Wetland Bird Survey 1994-95 and 1997-98. Published images for 2002 include; a twelve-piece calendar, which is being sold in aid of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the cover image for "The Birdwatchers Yearbook and Diary".

Poolewe Stags (Detail from the painting)
Wildlife paintings using digital camera shots

At The Wildlife Art Society's 1995 Exhibition at the Westminster Galleries in London, Martin was awarded Best Painting in Show, Best Oil Painting and Best Newcomer. In 1997 he was a finalist in the Laing sponsored seascape and landscape painting competition and in the following year two works were finalists in the touring Nature in Art exhibition. Works of art have been utilized as covers for the following publications; 1999 autumn issue of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust magazine, the WeBs Wetland Bird Survey 1994-95 and 1997-98. Published images include; several twelve-piece calendars, which were sold in aid of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the cover image for The Birdwatchers Yearbook and Diary.
(© copyright 2008 - Martin Ridley)

The Interloper
Brown Hares in the Snow

A wildlife print depicting three brown hares in a snow covered landscape. The painting shows a doe with a buck in attendance as an interloper canters onto the scene. Hares start courtship behaviour early in spring. This painting was created at the beginning of a wintry week one March. The low winter sun creates long shadows on the snow.

Red Deer Stag and Screes

A red deer stag print reproduced from an original oil painting. The stag wanders into view in front of a striking mountainside of rock scree patches broken by the lines of traversing deer paths. This rocky landscape is very typical of the wild mountains of Scotland

Below the Surface

This otter painting was produced following a kayaking fieldtrip along the shores of Loch Shieldaig and Loch Torridon. I added a fitting to my paddle so that I was able to attach an underwater camera. Once out on the water above flowing seaweeds I set up the camera and simply pressed the ten second timer before lowering the paddle and attached camera under the kayak. The resulting photos were rather hit and miss and were never going to provide a photo of an otter chasing a fish, but they did provide me with enough of a perspective from beneath the surface to produce this painting.

Shooting the Rapids, Otters

The otter is a large member of the weasel family (mustelids), which includes badgers, polecats, martens, weasels, stoats and mink. In the wild they are elusive, secretive animals and live in undisturbed rivers, streams and estuaries. In the early 1960’s they were on the verge of extinction due to river pollution, habitat loss and hunting. Now with full legal protection, cleaner rivers and managed habitat it is returning to its former haunts, although its distribution will always be limited by the availability of fish.
The male otter is called a dog and the female a bitch. As otters are very territorial they tend to live alone, except during mating and for a period, dependent on the mother, after the cubs are born. They have large lungs and can stay submerged under water for 4 minutes, often swimming 400 metres before resurfacing. They can reach speeds of 12 km/h under water and can outrun man on land.

Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos)

This huge bird of prey has a wingspan of 6.5 to 7.5 ft (1.8 to 2.3 m) MALE 3.5-4 kg (8-9 lb.) FEMALE 4.5-6 kg (10-14 lb.). Only the white-tailed eagle is larger in the United Kingdom. Golden Eagles are are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks. Immature birds can be recognised by the presence of distinct white patches on the under-wing and by a large white tail with dark band. Golden Eagles are extremely fast in the air, and can dive upon their prey at terrific speeds. Eagles are a very important part of the environment. As hunters they keep animal populations strong. They do this by killing weak, old, and slower animals, leaving only the healthiest to survive. Golden eagles prefer to attack upwind, which increases both their ability to control speed and maneuverability. They also feed on carrion, which unfortunately sometimes results in death from poisoning.

Bouncing Along, Brown Hare Studies

Pencil and watercolour sketches of brown hares bouncing along. The images have been made available as a short run limited edition print

Approaching Sunrise, Red Deer Triptych
Limited edition on three block canvases

At the Earth
Red Fox

Sharpened by the Cold
Sparrowhawk chasing fieldfares

High Screes - Red Deer - Roaring Stag

Peregrine falcon

'My specialist area is British wildlife and landscape paintings. Most of the original artwork is created using oils or watercolours. Since early childhood I've been an enthusiast of the natural world and my paintings are an expression of this. Through painting I aim to create a variety of stimulating visual images that originate from my day-to-day experiences and knowledge of the natural world. I draw and paint birds, mammals and landscapes at locations all over Great Britain. I very much enjoy working in watercolours. As a painting medium, watercolours provide me with a completely different range of effects and make a refreshing contrast to my lengthier oil painting projects. I have decided that my most successful watercolours are those that retain a freshness. Most importantly I'm striving for a strong and lively pencil drawing that captures the essence of the animal's character. The drawings structure is the core of the picture. I try to complete the watercolour painting rapidly, because painting watercolors for too long endangers translucency and pigment clarity.'
-Martin Ridley in

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