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.
2015 Field Studies Council course - Identifying Butterflies, Moths and Dragonflies
From Friday 18th - Monday 21st July 2014 I ran my course on Identifying Butterflies, Moths and Dragonflies at the idyllic Field Studies Centre of Flatford Mill. It was fully subscribed and went very well with 115 species of moth, 15 butterflies and 17 dragonflies and damselflies. Next year's course is a week later than usual, from 24th-27th July. 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
The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland
The extremely successful 'The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland' by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Lewington, published by British Wildlife Publishing in 2010, has been completely revised and updated with all the latest research and information on distribution. As well as being available in hardback, it is also available for the first time as a paperback. Following the take over of British Wildlife Publishing in December 2013, the new publishers, Osprey Publishing, are keen to update existing titles and to add to the list of natural history publications. The name of British Wildlife Publishing will continue as before and the bi-monthly magazine will continue under the capable editorship of Malcolm Tait.
Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland
Having been in print for 12 years, the Pocket Guide is undergoing a complete revision, making it the most up to date book on butterflies available, with accounts of even the most recent visitors to our shores, including the Scarce or Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell. It has been described as 'the best tenner you'll ever spend', and by my good 'bugboy' friend Nick Baker, as '...quite simply the best and most beautiful 'proper' field guide to the Butterflies of our islands'. It will be available in the Spring.
Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland
Still regarded as the leading field guide to British Odonata, the 'Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland' has just undergone a complete revision. This has involved adding the most recent information for all species occurring in Britain, new distribution maps, extra colour illustrations, making identification of some trickier species easier. First published in 1997, the guide has been revised and reprinted several times, however, it is 10 years since the last revision and a lot has happened in the dragonfly world since then. So, this is a complete redesign and extension of the original guide by Steve Brooks, who will be joined by Steve Cham, the two leading experts in the field. As has been said before, '... the best available field guide to dragonflies and the one other publishers try to imitate'. Well, it's now even better, and I'm especially pleased with the printing, undertaken by the Italian company Printer Trento, who seem to have perfected the art of printing BWP book so well.
Signed Mounted Prints
All prints, with the exception of proof-prints, are scanned from the original artworks and adjusted by me, so as to get the most accurate likeness to the original. Each one is individually printed on high image definition, Archival Matte paper using pigmented inks, which should last for more than 80 years without fading, they are 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 and are of equal or better quality than expensive professionally produced Giclee prints.
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
New Publication - BRITISH BEES
Throughout the last year or so, I've been working on the illustrations for a new publication on British social and solitary bees - the Aculeate Bees. Rather like the recent book on Micro-moths I did with Phil Sterling and Mark Parsons, there is no single-volume book available on the subject, apart from David Baldock's book on the Bees of Surrey, and a couple on Bumblebees. In fact, the last book covering British bees was 'The Hymenoptera Aculeata of the British Islands' by Edward Saunders (1896), not easy to get hold of, very expensive and a bit out of date. In recent years, anyone wanting to identify and learn more about bees, has either had to use the very good but incomplete Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society (BWARS) website, or consult many different papers and specialist publications. So, together with Steven Falk, the highly renowned entomologist working for BugLife, we are hoping to do for bees what the micro-moth book, is hopefully, doing for micros - giving them the attention they deserve. I've put together a plate of bees showing their amazing diversity, together with one of the more spectacular immigrants, the Violet Carpenter Bee Xylocopa violacea, which has been turning up in recent years, here :- Bees
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, some of which are still available, though if you can get their website to work properly you're cleverer than me! 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.
British Birdwatching Fair 2014 & 2015
Once again I really enjoyed the 2014 British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland, which was a great success. It was good to meet up again with so many friends and enthusiasts, and to get feedback about various projects I've worked on in the last few years. It was also useful to receive suggestions for possible new subjects to cover in coming years. For the third year running Phil Sterling and I appeared in the main Events Marquee, where we performed 'Moth Trapping Live - on the big screen'. My brother Ian was also planning to join us on stage, to operate the camcorder, but unfortunately he was down to give a talk in the neighbouring marquee about his work in the recently published 'Rare Birds of North America'. The idea was that he would relieve me of having to operate the camera while also trying to control the moths and talk, all at the same time. So the result was the usual chaotic and unpredictable event with moths becoming active, me attempting to get them in focus on the big screen, whilst trying to say something sensible. To add to our stress, the previous few nights had been pretty cool and we had been concerned about not having enough moths to show the audience. We needn't have worried though, as the whole event seemed to be really, very well received, with around 450 people attending. It was great (though not for Nigel the chief organiser) that at the end of the talk, many members of the audience came up to the stage and some on to it, to get a closer look at the incredible diversity of moths. I especially liked the idea of children handling moths and being absorbed by their beautiful markings. So, I think we'll be doing it again this year, the dates are 21st-23rd August 2015. I'm looking forward to meeting up with everyone again.
Field Studies Council chart 'British Insects'
My latest chart for the Field Studies Council, is an introduction to all the orders of British insects. It is 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.
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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