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April 2002 Sketchbook

Richard Allen

Born in Newbury, Berkshire in 1964, an Art Foundation Course at Brighton was followed by a Degree in Graphic/Illustration at Kingston Polytechnic. Starting as a freelance illustrator in advertising, publishing and newspapers, my work has gradually drifted towards my main interest of birds and wildlife, especially after winning "British Birds", Bird Illustrator of the Year 1993. A keen birder from an early age, the bird rich estuaries and marshes of the Essex coast where I live have fuelled a passion for field-sketching. Recent travels to China, USA, S.E. Asia, Senegal and many parts of Europe have continued this interest and numerous sketchbooks have been filled.

The experience gained in the field has been put to good use in the many books illustrated. These include, "Concise Birds of the Western Palearctic", "The Handbook of Birds of the World", "A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia" and the recently published "Sunbirds and Flowerpeckers" (Amazon USA link or Amazon UK link). Current projects include a book on Birds of Paradise and illustrating a regular gardening column in "The Times" newspaper.

I have recently moved to Wivenhoe on the Colne estuary, next to a wood with Nightingales and woodpeckers to tempt me away from the drawing board.

1984 Foundation Studies, (Art & Design), Brighton Polytechnic

1987 BA Hons Graphic Design, Kingston Polytechnic

1988 Second Prize, Reader’s Digest Young Illustrators Competition

1993 Winner "British Birds" Bird Illustrator of the Year Competition

Regularly exhibited at the Society of Wildlife Artists exhibition, Mall Galleries, London

Cock Linnet, Wivenhoe, Essex

The coastal bushes are full of chittering Linnets at this time of year. The males perching up on the tops of briar and hawthorn, and small groups chasing around calling excitedly.

Dartford Warbler, 19th April 2002, Dunwich Heath

Early morning on the heath and a scratchy song draws my attention to a Dartford Warbler singing from the top of some gorse. Almost silhouetted against the eastern sea and sky, it’s tail ragged from the early dew, it chattered away before diving into the heather.
dartford warbler

Sandwich Terns, 19th April 2002, Minsmere

Sandwich Terns are both a delight and a frustration to draw, every time you look there is a different shape to sketch. These birds were on the Scrape, preening and displaying, their brilliant white and silky grey plumage gleaming in the spring sunshine.
sandwich terns