Leo du Feu Painter of landscape and nature
Updated: 56 min 13 sec ago

Art Idea! - Easter! Eggs! Birds!

Sun, 04/12/2020 - 16:27

Here's something to play with over this strange Easter period. Eggs, paint, birds...

Aren't eggs amazing. Look at these:

Auk family - razorbill, black guillemot, little auk, puffin.
Why are the eggs of cliff-colony-nesting razorbills and black guillemots so patterned while those of solitary burrow/hole-nesting puffins and little auks bright white?

ten different tern species

assorted finches, buntings and starlings.
The starling eggs are the three unpatterned light ones on the bottom row.
Starlings nest in dark holes in buildings and the like.

A pair of starlings nest in the roof cavity at the bottom of our bedroom dormer window, each year they fledge two lots of chicks. What great noises they make! In the past week they've stopped bringing their dried grasses in behind their gutter so they must have finished building their nest.

the top five eggs here are all laid by guillemots but look at the amazing pattern variation. Guillemots nest in cliff colonies of thousands of birds, all tightly packed together.
It could be very hard to spot one's own egg if all were identical.

Now Some Art:

I thought it'd be nice to try painting egg-like patterns.
Here are a few ways. What other ways can you find?

I used:
- thickish watercolour paper / card so it doesn't buckle too much
- watercolour paints
- pencil
- scissors
- glue


Egg 1.1
- add water onto a patch of paper using clean brush. I painted my water in a rough egg shape

Egg 1.2
- use a brush to dab on dots of paints. Watch it spider across the wet paper!

- The more watered down the paint the more it will spread

Egg 1.3
- while all still wet add some darker paint at the top

Egg 1.4
- Look at it now, paint has spread so much that the individual dots have almost disappeared. The paint only spread to where I wet the paper.

- Look at the new dots on the right, painted onto dry paper - they haven't spread at all.

Egg 1.5
- drop water onto the still wet spots on the right, let it all spread for a few seconds then use clean rag or paper napkin (I save mine up in cafes) to dab all the moisture off - only the ghosts of the paint spots remain. Nice egg pattern.

Egg 2
- watery paint, brushed/dripped onto the paper, lean down and blow on it hard.

- Blowing through a straw makes it easier.

- Drawing ink works really well instead of paint.

Egg 3.1
- paint another patch of clean water onto the paper.

- Leave it a bit longer than last time so the paper dries a bit more.

Egg 3.2
- dab on some delicate little specks. That's it!

- below that, some delicate specks dabbed onto dry paper.

Egg 4.1
- use finger to flick paint from a paintbrush or a toothbrush. An old toothbrush, not you partner's / mum's / brother's / toddler's.

Egg 4.2
- flick another colour or two on top

- drip some water on top.

Egg 4.3
- flick another colour on top of that! See you it acts on the wetted sections compared to the dry sections

Egg 5.1
- wet the paper

- paint a spiral

Egg 5.1
- all still wet, paint a second spiral within the first

Egg 6.1
- paint an egg shape

Egg 6.2
- still a bit wet - paint blobs of a new colour onto the egg.

- fill in a larger area with paint at the bottom/sides/top

Egg 6.3
- try a third colour, maybe something **BRIGHT**

Egg 6.4
- why not a fourth? Dark red on yellow on blue on lighter red

Look at all these potential eggs!

- draw egg shapes onto your painted patterns once the paint has dried.

- cut them out

- lay them out. Do you prefer a natural look:

- or ordered, like in the books:

Eggs Make Birds

We hopefully all know that. But egg shapes can be helpful in making birds too:

Look at this beautiful screenprint from the Art in Healthcare Collection, by artist Kittie Jones:

Kittie Jones, mallards, 37.5x38.5cm
The outline of the male mallard duck is pretty much an egg shape. His head and neck, with a bit of imagination or screwed up eyelids, are made of a second smaller egg.

The body of the female away near that lovely arching bridge is an egg shape too.

So here are four of the eggs I cut out earlier:

Now I've drawn on a few of the features:

Now I've done a little bit of cutting and glued the shapes down:

And painted on top:

You could leave it like this on nice white card.

Or paint in a background. Abstract? A landscape?

Or collage a habitat around them.

Eggs Make More Birds:

Another piece I love from the Art in Healthcare Collection:

Helga Chart, Four Racers, 90.5x55cm

Those pigeons have fairly egg-shaped bodies.

I glued down three of my own to turn into this curlew, pigeon and ringed plover, drawn in pencil:

Then painted up with watercolours:

Again, do what you wish with the background.

Have a good explore of the Art in Healthcare Collection because it has a really good selection of Scottish and Scottish-related artworks. Loads to inspire.

If you see artworks in hospitals and other healthcare settings they may be from the Art in Healthcare. Collection.

Use this form to do a more detailed search -

For example, search for "egg" - and find these two lovely and very different pieces:

Freda Blackwood, Plums and Quail's Eggs, 45x45cm

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Orange and Lemon Playing Games I, 53.2x66cm

Enjoy :)

Scotland By Rail - reopened renovated Aberdeen Art Gallery

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 09:37

A day out by rail to Aberdeen, delivering paintings to Gallery Heinzel's 30th Anniversary exhibition before visiting recently reopened Aberdeen Art Gallery. When I was up in Aberdeen more frequently I used to visit gallery often. In 2015 it closed for refurbishment and remained closed until reopening a few months ago in Autumn 2019. I remember my final pre-closure visit, looking at my favourite paintings and trying to store them up in my memory, feeling rather sad that I wouldn’t see them again for years. And worried about what I whether I’d like the makeover.

I needn’t have worried.
Outside, the gallery looks as it always did, until you look up and see the extra floor. Two storeys have become three. Inside the old large central area remains but is lighter brighter and with its added top layer.

We started in the cafe – really good lunches, baking, coffee. Really nice staff.
Then the gallery – spacious, fresh, light and bright (I’ve already said that). Lots of room for children to move in and lots to interest them. Sketchbooks and pencils laid out beside many of the gallery benches – do a sketch then leave it for the next person. A number of interactive screen areas are dotted around, something which personal preference normally makes me blank from my vision. I tried them today though and they were pretty good.
The shop doesn’t feel too big and is very nicely stocked. The gallery attendants were extremely friendly throughout. There are lockers for your rucksack and a space to leave buggies.
All the galleries are laid out in really interesting ways. The artworks are diverse and top quality, as I already knew. I don’t really know how to write reviews without overusing ‘great’ and ‘brilliant’ and ‘nice’ so I'll direct you to Susan Mansfield's 5 star review in The Scotsman.
It’s just a great gallery. Do get the train up for a visit.

Here are some photos: 

look at that wonderful John Piper - Dunnottar Castle

When you need a bit of fresh air you can go out onto the two roof terraces for pigeon-perch views.

Dismayed to see mass tree felling in Union Terrace Gardens though. Why do we think it’s okay to keep destroying and destroying mature trees whenever we want to ‘develop’ a space? Read about the long saga of Union Terrace Gardens makeover here. (including pics of how many mature trees there were). 46 trees felled apparently - P&J article and another here.

Anyway, when you need a bit of fresh air and nature and close-up pigeon views, exit the gallery and turn left to walk down Schoolhill for about a minute until you get to St Nicholas Cemetery on your right. The pigeons were seriously tame so if you aren’t too keen you might want to stay standing up and not eat anything. Sitting snacking on a bench Oren and I enjoyed watching one hop onto my boot and wobble its way up to my knee.

Snack over, quick trip to excellent Oxfam bookshop on Back Wynd, then back to the gallery:

Eric Ravilious
Ravilious, Coastal Defences, watercolour
I love the Graham Sutherland on the far right
Paul Nash, John Piper...
Sylvia Wishart
Frances Walker
little oil masterpiece by JD Fergusson
etching equipment

How to get there:
Trains to Aberdeen from the south (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee) mean a beautiful coastal approach (watch out for whales and dolphins) and from the west mean winding through rolling farmland between gentle hills from Inverness. Great journeys.

Timetables & Buy Tickets here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their support of my Scotland By Rail work.

Scotland By Rail - Dundee - McManus Gallery & Museum - paintings from the Arctic and Antarctic

Wed, 02/26/2020 - 09:43
You haven't much time left to do it but if you're fascinated by the Arctic or the Antarctic or by really top landscape painting I recommend you get yourself up/down/across to Dundee to the McManus Art Gallery and Museum where the exhibition Among The Polar Ice ends on 8th March. It's a five-star-reviewed by Duncan Macmillan in The Scotsman and I'm with him all the way.

The featured artists are Frances Walker and James Morrison, two brilliant painters who very much inspire me and my work. I've seen Frances Walker's Antarctic Suite of six large oil paintings and associated prints before, in 2010 when they were exhibited at Aberdeen Art Gallery in Place Observed in Solitude. She's so good.

James Morrison's work I know from years of solo shows at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, most recently From Angus to the Antarctic, last month. His paintings are also in oil but used in a totally different way to Frances Walker - thinly thinly, almost as watercolour. I haven't seen anyone else paint like him.

The McManus is a great place.

Oh, and there's a cafe.

And a humpback whale skeleton.

Do go.

McManus Art Gallery & Museum

James Morrison

Frances Walker

Frances Walker

Frances Walker

James Morrison 

Frances Walker, triptych

Frances Walker, oils, sketchbook journals, original prints

Just look at those cliffs.
William G. Burn Murdoch - Dundee Antarctic Whaling Expedition (1892-93)

The polar regions are important, and we're losing them.

What can we do?


Reduce flights.
Reduce car use.
Walk, cycle, train.
Eat less meat and dairy.
Switch to 100% renewable energy suppliers.
Lobby councils and government and business.
Join environmental groups.
Go birdwatching :)

my exhibition notes in sketchbook.
a great way to remember what you've seen, what you thought, what you might wish to reference in the future.

River Tay
Tay Bridge

Previous Dundee blog posts
2020 - Gallery Q, DCA, V&A, cormorant trying to swallow a flatfish -
2017 - Balgay Hill & Cemetery and lots of Martin Hill (and a very interesting local comment at the end by Jim Crumley) -


How to get there:
Trains to Dundee leave:
- Edinburgh and Aberdeen frequently, journey time a bit over an hour.
- Glasgow frequently, journey time a bit under an hour and a half
- Perth every hour, journey time about half an hour

Timetables & Buy Tickets here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their support of my Scotland By Rail work.

Scotland By Rail - Perth - riverside walk, sculpture trail, printmaking exhibition, mist and beavers

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 16:42

My firstPerth blog post was in 2012when I walked the river pathnorth to a little almost-islandand saw an osprey dive and catch a large fish - here.

My second was in 2016. Mostly about the train journey from Fife (it’s a lovely route) plus a couple of pics of the station (station mentioned below) - here.

This newpost is Feb 2020:

I like Perth very much though I confess I mainly know the station (big, grand, now quiet but with strong echoes of the Golden days of rail), the walk to the river, the walk up the river, a few shopping streets – in particular looking for bakeries andcafes – and Frames Gallery where I’ve sometimes exhibited.
This latest trip was for theopening of a Frames exhibition of work by the members of Fife Dunfermline Printmakers Workshop

We went early to have a couple of hourstoexplore. The plan was a short bit by the river en route to Perth Museum & Art Gallery

By Rhonda Bayley (2004).

Reaching the river and this Rhonda Bayley sculpture which I so love (what on earth is it all about? See *secret* answer at end of blog)we spotted a group of people walking what looked like a traffic free path through the trees on the opposite bank. I looked at the map and discovered Bellwood Riverside Park. How had I not noticed it before? Perhaps I’ve only ever been when the trees are in leaf and obscure the far bank. We decided no to the art gallery and yes to exploring a new patch. Discovering a new nature space is always a great day.
Bellwood Riverside Park combines with Norie Miller Park and Rodney Gardens to form a really nicely managed stretchof green running between three bridges on the eastbank of the Tay. There’s a footbridge (step access only) over the railway bridge and accessible pavement over the two road bridges Queen’s Bridge and Perth Bridge.
It was a beautifully misty late afternoon.

The parks are very nicely laid out and managed with shrubs, trees, bulbs, winding paths, a pond, a Heather Collection and areas of natural unmanaged land. There’s also a sculpturetrail with as many sculptures as there are letters of the alphabet. Keep your eyes open for the fox.

And on waterside trees for signs of beavers. They are there. Few things are as exciting as beavers being back in our landscape for the first time since we hunted them to extinction in the 16thCentury. If you’re interested in learning more, much more, about the life and habits and environment-enhancing ways of the beaver I can recommend few books as highly as Jim Crumley’s Nature’s Architect(other than perhaps his The Last Wolf). If friends or colleagues think beavers chopping down trees is bad for nature or increases flooding, buy Nature's Architect for them too.

corkscrew hazel

looking to Moncrieffe Island from Bellwood Riverside Park

Explore the full River Tay Public Art Trail (both sides of river) on this excellent website - here.

Atthe far south of the parks, where railway bridge crosses and you look across to Moncrieffe Island, there’s a smaller, earth (/mud) path continuing by the river bank. From the west bank - Shore Road, a ten minute walk from the station - it’s possible to get onto the island with its allotments and golf course. Access is on foot only. Up steps onto the railway bridge, down steps onto the island.

Courier article & pics - video. What a haven -

More exploring needed.


How to get there

Plan your journey at

Many thanks to ScotRail for supporting my Scotland by Rail work.

*Secret *Answer: Soutar's Menagerie by Rhonda Bayley (2004).
"William Soutar is Perth’s best-known poet... His morelight-hearted side is shown in this amusing piece, representing quirky animal forms featured in his poem ‘Bairn Rhymes’."

Some Discovered Worlds

Thu, 02/06/2020 - 21:36
Station Studio fundraiser, artworks £50 - £150. These are acrylic on card, on board, on canvas and on found ceramic. Miniatures and assorted sizes. Unframed except those in the first photo.

Get in touch to know more about any or to see close-up pics.

framed miniatures. smallest is 3.5x3.5cm, largest 9x9cm (image sizes)

smallest squares are 5x5cm, largest is 30x30cm

each 19x25cm

each 19x25cm


each 4.5x50cm

each 10.5x15cm..

Some Unframed Works

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 16:01

Station Studio fundraiser, artworks £50 - £150. A lot of my work is made out on location and over the years it really builds up. These are watercolour, pencil, ink, acrylic, oil, and one with a little bit of conte. Most are A5 or A5 ish. 

Get in touch to know more about any or to see close-up pics.





(actually, it's a prickly pear)













Scotland By Rail - Dundee, Gallery Q, DCA, V&A, cormorant trying to swallow something

Sun, 01/26/2020 - 21:02
Pilgrim's Haven, watercolour, 25x30cm, (spot the lighthouse).
In Gallery Q, Feb 2020 

A Scotland By Rail day delivering four island artworks to Gallery Q plus exploring a little bit of cultural Dundee.

Dundee - Gallery QThe exhibition at Gallery Q opens next Saturday 1st February at 12noon. Let me know if you're interested. Gallery opening hours are Tues - Sat 11am - 4.30pm (5.30pm on Thurs). 
When I visited the gallery birds and nature seemed to be prominent. I loved the terracotta bird jugs by Phil Arthur and, as always, Claire Harkess' watercolour wildlife. 
I'm really happy to be exhibiting in this bright friendly gallery full of original painting and printmaking, ceramics, glasswork and jewellery. I'm especially pleased to be exhibiting again alongside my friend since school days, Dundee artist Martin Hill.
See our work from the exhibition here -

Martin Hill, Sunset, oil on board, 14x20cm
Phil Arthur, Little Owl lidded jug, c.23cm high
Claire Harkess, Band-bellied Owl, watercolour, 15x21cm

Train to DundeeIt's such a good journey, worth doing just for the views. Soon after departing Burntisland: Kinghorn, church, bay, Inchkeith Island. Once I saw dolphins from the train at this very spot.

Markinch, reminding me of  an earlier Scotland By Rail trip looking for grey partridge with artist Kittie Jones. Finding unexpected adornments in a modern, not outwardly promising, station building -
trees and fields and other such nice
crossing the Tay, looking to Dundee
crossing the Tay, Fife on the left, two crows crossing the other direction

In Dundee - V&A and RRS Discovery
Dundee old and new, RRS Discovery and V&A. I love the contrast
porthole window in V&A, glimpses of Discovery, Tay, Tay Bridge, Fife hills beyond
Tay Bridge & lighthouse

Cormorant and something fishy
And here in the Tay, a cormorant, grappling with something, I couldn't work out what. Something wide and flat. I started to fear it was a big piece of plastic. 



Angles changed and suddenly backlit fins appeared


A flat fish! A flatfish. A Flounder or a Dab? I sadly know really nothing of fish. 

And swallowed. Or possibly dropped.

Dundee Contemporary Arts - Ursula Le Guin
I enjoyed Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) too, it's an interesting building in layout (especially the toilets, very unusual) with a small good arty design-y gift and book shop, original prints for sale, cafe, exhibition space, cinema. 

The exhibition on until 22nd March is Seized by the Left Hand, a very diverse, contemporary exhibition of fifteen international artists come together to look at thoughts and ideas in Ursula K. Le Guin's hugely popular sci-fi novel The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). I like sci-fi, I like environment, I like equality. This exhibition is about all that.

Quote from DCA website:
"Written 50 years ago, this masterpiece of feminist science fiction is set on an icy planet called 'Gethen' (which translates to 'Winter') whose inhabitants shift and change gender continuously throughout their lives. We as readers are told the story of Gethen from a human perspective through the eyes of protagonist Genly Ai, an envoy sent to the planet to attempt to convince Gethenian governments to join an interplanetary trade coalition.

The book had a profound impact on the sci-fi genre at the time of its publication and remains hugely relevant to the world around us today, posing serious and challenging questions about gender, sexuality, the environment, language, communication, power and empire."

My favourite work in the exhibition is Flora Moscovic's huge, atomic, volcanic, solar wall mural - two full walls painted from top to bottom, side to side in glowing white, yellow, orange, blue light. Title, Crossing the Kargav. 

Also two series of beautifully delicate and very touching painterly works-from-memory by Abel Rodríguez, an elder of the Nonuya ethnic group in the Colombian Amazon, "recalling the indigenous flora and fauna that precariously inhabit the region. Now in his 70s, Rodríguez has recently been forced to move and resettle ... after being displaced from his homeland by guerrilla militia forces and corrupt government structures ... facilitating the exploitation and destruction of the precious rainforest ecosystems in South America."

Complete exhibition notes are online here -

Previous Dundee blog post2017 - Balgay Hill & Cemetery and lots of Martin Hill (and a very interesting local comment at the end by Jim Crumley) -


Fluke Street & South Horn, Isle of May, watercolour, 18x37cm (spot the moon). In Gallery Q, Feb 2020


How to get there:
Trains to Dundee leave:
- Edinburgh and Aberdeen frequently, journey time a bit over an hour.
- Glasgow frequently, journey time a bit under an hour and a half
- Perth every hour, journey time about half an hour

Timetables & Buy Tickets here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their support of my Scotland By Rail work.