Thank you for visiting my website, which contains a selection of paintings, drawings, prints and books on the natural world, a subject that has absorbed me so much over the years. Since leaving
the Berkshire College of Art and Design nearly forty years ago, apart from six months with a design group, I have been a full-time, freelance illustrator, specialising mainly in insects and other invertebrates; I've yet to get a proper job. I've never really known what title to use for my work, whether I'm a scientific, biological, natural history or wildlife illustrator but at the moment I've plumped for the latter. My interest in the natural world has always been with me. Both my father and grandfather were keen countrymen, and some of my earliest memories are of exploring the countryside with my father, and visiting my grandparents’ house in the appropriately named 'Cricket Hill' in Finchampstead, Berkshire, where I would race to a small cabinet in the corner of their living room, to stare at my granddad’s modest collection of butterflies and moths.
So, it follows that my main interest in my working life has also been insects and other invertebrates. For the artist/illustrator there can be no area of greater diversity, with an infinite range of shapes, colours and textures, and with more species than one could ever hope to illustrate in many lifetimes. Of all the insect groups, butterflies are at the top of the pecking order of popularity, and although I have illustrated examples of all insect orders, it is only a few groups that attract enough attention to encourage publishers to give them the full, field guide treatment. Over the past twenty years, I’ve managed to cover most of these more popular groups, and have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the most respected, knowledgeable and interesting people, who have inspired me to attempt to do justice to the subjects that they write of so eloquently and always with such passion.
As well as the invertebrates I also occasionally paint vertebrates – mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, though not often the latter if I can help it, as some may know of the other ‘Lewington’ illustrator, my younger brother Ian, who is much better at them than am I, and who is one of the very best bird illustrators in the world. Take a look at his website Ian Lewington and you'll see what I mean even though I'm a bit biased! Sometimes, I stray away from the natural world, for example in 2008, when I was commissioned by Waitrose to paint Easter Eggs, but even then, they were made into a mini Easter egg field guide for chocoholics. It was galling that they printed 750,000 copies, which were seen by far more people than would ever see my ‘proper’ illustrations.
In addition to those illustrations that appear on this website, I have a huge number of other individual images, which may be used either for publication or as prints for framing. If you would like more details of any subject on the website, or any not shown, please feel free to contact me.
Next year's Tour and Course
From 23rd - 30th June 2014 I shall be leading a tour for Greentours, with Richard Bramwell, to the Auvergne in central France. The Auvergne is a beautiful region, full of flower-rich hay meadows, limestone gorges and sub-alpine slopes, where we will be looking at the wonderful variety of butterflies and flowers. My interest in natural history includes virtually everything, so there will also be a chance to see lots more interesting wildlife. We will be staying in a family run hotel in the hamlet of Chambon-sur-Dolore. For further details go to :- The Auvergne
From Friday 18th - Monday 21st July 2014 I shall be running my course on Identifying Butterflies, Moths and Dragonflies at the idyllic Field Studies Centre of Flatford Mill. If you are interested in joining the course, it's worth applying as soon as possible, as it gets fully subscribed pretty quickly. Further details can be seen here :- Flatford Mill although full details for 2014 courses aren't available until 15th October.
Signed Mounted Prints
All prints, with the exception of proof-prints, are scanned from the original artworks and adjusted by me to get the most accurate likeness to the original. Each one is individually printed on Archival Matte paper using pigmented inks, which should last for 80 years without fading, and mounted using Castile Ivory blackcore mounting board. Because of this attention to detail the resulting prints are always of a higher quality and detail than mass produced images.
Bumblebees App *now available*
I've recently been involved in a project to illustrate all the British bumblebees for an app. This has now been produced by BirdGuides for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and contains illustrations of all the British species plus photographs and video footage. There are also distribution maps and detailed texts, including advanced identification notes by Steven Falk. Identifying queen bumblebees in the spring, after they have emerged from hibernation, is fairly straight forward but later in the year when workers and males are around identification can be more tricky, even though there are only 23 British species. It's been an interesting group to work on and hopefully the illustrations I've produced will help with more positive identification. Details about the app. Can be seen here :- Bumblebees
Private Commissions and Original Paintings
In recent months I have been taking on more private commissions, which I enjoy, as they make a welcome break from some of the larger and more intensive projects. These may take the form of an individual specimen, which may be an aberration or even a new species to science, to a more informal painting of a favourite butterfly or other invertebrate, on a typical or specific plant. If you have a particular subject in mind, feel free to contact me and we can discuss things further. Alternatively, I've recently decided that I cannot keep all the artwork I've done over the years so I'm prepared to offer more of it for sale. So, if there is a particular species you are interested in, I may well have a painting of it, as there are many illustrations I have that are not shown on this website.
Butterfly Stamps - First Day Cover and Presention Pack
The Royal Mail - Butterflies Issue came out on 11th July 2013, which coincided with warm weather and a sudden increase in butterfly activity. It turned out to be the best summer for butterflies for several years, even drawing the attention of non enthusiasts. This link shows the Stamp Set, Presentation Pack, Stamp Cards, Retail Book, all of which are still available. Butterflies Stamp Issue
In 2010 I was asked by Royal Mail to submit samples of butterfly artwork for a proposed set of ten butterfly stamps they were planning to issue. This was to be the first time butterflies were to feature on British stamps since Gordon Beningfield produced a set in 1981.
It was clear when Royal Mail approached me, that they were favouring photography as the probable route for the stamps, but their minds were still open and I felt it was a part of my submission to try and convince them that the flexibility of artwork was the best way to proceed. With such a small format as a stamp, and bearing in mind the Queen's head and the denomination are mandatory, making the most of the space, to give a bold, eye-catching image is essential, and I felt artwork could do this more ably than photography.
Royal Mail had already decided on a short list of around 20 species and had also decided they wanted to show the butterflies on a white background, as if in flight. This was OK by me, although when painting butterflies, I do like to include flowers and plants, as they are obviously closely associated with each other and can combine to make beautiful designs.
I initially submitted two paintings, one of a Chalkhill Blue, the other a Painted Lady and after some months, involving several Stamp Advisory Committee meetings, I was informed that I had won the contract to produce the stamps.
The ten designs were completed in 2011 and I was also asked to write the information for the Presentation Pack and First Day Cover. This involved supplying illustrations of the early stages of the butterflies featured and instructions for illustrations of a looser nature, which were commissioned for the Presentation Pack. Earlier this year I was also asked to write the text for a double-page spread about butterflies for the Royal Mail Yearbook, which includes all the special stamps issued throughout the year.
The book 'Field Guide to the Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland' is now out and is available for £26+p&p from British Wildlife Publishing Micro Moths I would ask anyone who intends buying the book to buy direct from them, rather than from the large, non-tax paying dealers who may be offering it for a few pence less. This will help support BWP, a small, specialist publisher that produces natural history publications of the very highest quality. Of all the books I've done with BWP I think this is one of the very best, as it combines so many elements which have been put together to make a beautifully balanced publication. It appears to have been received with tremendous enthusiasm, though I'll wait for the reviewers to pass judgement!
British Birdwatching Fair 16th-18th August 2013
Last year's British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland was a great success, and following Phil Sterling's talk entitled 'Small is the new big: Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Britain and Ireland', we both appeared in the main Events Marquee, where we performed 'Moth trapping live - on the big screen'. Using new camera technology we were able to show the results of the previous night's catch to an audience of around 250-300 people. Phil also brought a few 'specials' from Dorset, including Jersey Tiger and an immaculate Mocha. He also recorded 96 species from the trap in the grounds of the Birdfair, including good numbers of Square-spotted Clay, and from the the garden where we stayed in Uppingham, recorded the attractive micro Parectopa oponidis, possibly a new county record. This event was a first for the Birdfair, which seemed to go down well with everyone and as a result, we have been asked by the organisers to do a repeat performance this August. It will take place in the Events Marquee at 1.00 pm on Friday 16th August. This time we'll try and improve the event and try to feature some better behaved moths. I shall also have my usual stand in the Art Marquee with lots of original artwork, prints and books for sale and Phil Sterling and I will be doing signing sessions for the 'Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland' which is already in its second print run. If there is anything you would like me to take to the Birdfair, perhaps something not on the website, e-mail or phone me and if I have what you want I'll make sure I take it along.
A new Field Studies Council chart 'British Insects'
I've just completed a new chart on British Insects for the Field Studies Council, which is an introduction to all the orders of British insects. It will be the sixth chart I've done for the FSC. The other titles are, Butterflies, which is the best selling of all their 74 charts, Day-flying Moths, House and Garden Spiders, Butterfly Caterpillars and Hawkmoths.
Since 'The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland' was published last April, the butterfly portraits have been going fast and most of them have been sold. There are just 7 still availabe :- Portraits from The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland although I have just added one or two extra illustrations which weren't previously available. There are also additional sketches of European butterflies, as well as several other insects and other invertebrates, plus a few vertebrates.
In April 2011 I produced a set of 6 butterfly stamp designs for the Isle of Man Post Office. In 2012 I did another set on the Bees of the Isle of Man, which have been infused with the scent of honey! They were issued on 8th August 2012. Both sets can be seen here under 'Stamp Issues - IOM Butterfly Collection' and 'Future Issues - Bee Fauna of the Isle of Man' :- Isle of Man Post Office
Seven of the butterflies that feature on the Isle of Man stamp designs are available as prints and can be seen here:- Other Butterfly Prints
I've recently added 2 new paintings of an Elephant Hawkmoth (SOLD) and a Swallow-tailed Moth New moth originals to the website, along with the Merveille du Jour (SOLD) All three are also available as prints, along with 3 micro-moths. The prints can be seen here :- New moth prints
I've also recently completed a painting of a 'Monarch on Joe Pye Weed' framed 18"x16" £750, which can be seen here :- New Butterfly Paintings It also available as a print.
Finally, on occasions in the past, some website enquiries have gone astray, so, if by chance you haven't heard from me after 24 hours of having e-mailed, please contact me by phone on 01235 848451.
The Summer 2011 issue of Atropos magazine has an article I wrote discussing the merits of artwork over photography for identification guides, from an illustrators point of view. Click on the image below to view the article, it seems the illustrations are best viewed on a PC rather than an iPad not sure why!
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