Ian Bowles blog

There are various times in one's life when you simply have to give things up. I can remember clearly the day I hung up my football boots forever, also the time, through injury, when I handed my judo suit to the charity shop, and then more recently my skiing boots descended into the dustbin of time. And now anno domini influenced, we have decided that exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower show is just too much for us. This has been so hard to come to terms with, but the long days from 7am to 9pm for six days, living on adrenaline, plus the two days setting up the stand and the breakdown time clearing up after the show has proved to take it's toll and too exhausting to continue, although quite frankly there is in our experience no other show to be part of like Chelsea.

So many occasions of seeing regular customers again, and of meeting and selling paintings to people from all over the world. However none can compete with the time that HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visited my stand and subsequently purchased a large painting of English Partridges. This we subsequently delivered to Buckingham Palace and were privileged with an individual tour around the Palace by Sir Brian McGrath, the Duke's Private Secretary and friend, a truly memorable day, and I am reliably informed that my painting now hangs in the Cottage at Sandringham. Only this seems to happen from Chelsea. However we can't look back, we exhibited there for 20 years and witnessed first hand the magic of Chelsea including the special times of wandering through the show gardens very early in the morning with no-one there, one of the many lovely memories we have.

I am still painting for my November/December Exhibition at Coolings Garden Centre in Knockholt, Kent, which for the last three years has been immensely successful and enjoyable. So I am no longer exhibiting at other shows, but working on commissions and my calendar, which still proves very popular and also with the RSPB. I also think that maybe we have to embrace the technology of the 21st century and look towards the internet to keep in touch with our many customers - says he, who can't even operate the basics of a computer, (but has a wife who can!)

I have just completed the plates for my 2018 Artist's Studio Calendar which are about to go to my printers with such diverse subjects as Short-Eared Owl, Black Grouse and a Hoopoe as well as more commonly seen favourites including Bullfinches for the first time and of course Wrens, Goldfinches and a flying Barn Owl. The details and images of next year's calendar will go onto my website very shortly so please do watch this space. Also the original watercolours for all these calendar plates are available mounted and framed for sale.

I also have had some terrific commissions. One customer buys birds of prey on prey and I have just completed a Long-Eared Owl with a Chaffinch kill and a Goshawk that has taken a Woodcock in an autumn forest ride. This last painting has taken forever, but boy is it good! I have also just completed a large picture of highly detailed pencil sketches of moorland birds with some watercolour washes for a customer and I am waiting to start a commissioned Caspian Snowcock .

So this retirement lark seems to be just as busy as before. However the apple orchard surrounding us is in full bloom, the bluebells in the woods are better than I have ever seen them, and a Mistle Thrush has decided to nest in a beech column in our front garden. He has even used the trimmings of the bright blue fine netting used in the orchards to support the branches to decorate his nest, making it seem as though it has net curtains! Ah well I suppose even Mistle Thrushes enjoy privacy! I hope the summer is good to you.

Ian Bowles
May 2017