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Originally from Newbury, Berkshire, an Art Foundation Course at Brighton was followed by a Degree in Graphic/ Illustration at Kingston Polytechnic. After graduating in 1987 I became a freelance illustrator working mainly in scraperboard for advertising, publishing, packaging and newspapers. However, my work has gradually drifted towards my main interest of birds and wildlife especially after winning “British Birds – Bird Illustrator of the year” in 1993. Moving to Essex in 1988, and more recently to Wivenhoe, the bird rich estuaries and marshes of the Essex coast have provided an endless source of inspiration and fueled a passion for field-sketching. I enjoy the immediacy of working directly from nature, trying to capture the life and vitality of wild birds, and the patterns of plumage, light, water and foliage.
This essential field experience has proves invaluable when working on paintings in the studio, or when illustrating bird identification guides. Publications include, “Concise Birds of the Western Palearctic”(Oxford University Press), “The Handbook of Birds of the World” (Lynx Editions), “A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia”(New Holland) and the solely illustrated “Sunbirds and Flowerpeckers”(Bloomsbury).Such work has led me on exciting trips to China, USA, Southern Asia, Senegal and many parts of Europe and I’ve filled many sketchbooks with observations of wildlife and landscape.
This grounding in field is also a considerable help when producing wildlife interpretation illustrations for nature reserves and visitor centres. A rounded knowledge of all forms of wildlife is vital when designing complete habitat compositions such as chalk streams, ancient woodland or estuary salt-marsh. I don’t however confine myself to wildlife and a varied portfolio of work has come my way, from iron-age hill-forts to Olympic stamps, medieval monasteries to a range of TV-related walk maps for the Radio Times.
I do always though come back to my passion for studying and depicting the natural environment. After many years working in watercolours I have recently been experimenting with oils, and I’ve enjoyed using a new medium, developing a new style, and revealing in the rich colours attainable in oils paint. I have also returned to print making and my next book of lino-cuts is now published showing a selection of garden birds.
I live in Wivenhoe, on the Colne estuary, with my wife Sally and Buster the border terrier who takes me for walks along the seawall.
C5292 Great Tits and Coal Tit 2/50 – Richard Allen
Coastal Birds by Richard Allen (Signed Copy)
"Coming originally from land-locked Berkshire, I never tire of walking my dog Buster along the Colne estuary and observing the ever changing scene of birds, tides and weather. There is always something interesting going on, pairs of Oystercatchers squabbling over territory, a Marsh Harrier drifting along the seawall, or a seal crunching on a Dab. The bird population of the estuary is also constantly changing, as I write this the Black-tailed Godwits are about to leave for their Icelandic nesting grounds, while the Lapwings and Golden Plover that crowded the mud in winter are already on the meadows and moors of eastern Europe. “Coastal Birds” is a collection of linocuts inspired by the birds that regularly haunt and bring to life mylocal patch of shoreline. I am particularly attracted to birds with bold dynamic plumage such as Lapwings, Shelduck and Oystercatchers, and the patterns found in their habitat of water, mud and sky. The Avocet is a special favourite, one that I spend many hours sketching, a rare bird in my early birdwatching days it is now a frequent sight on this east coast estuary." Richard Allen [space_20] Format: Hardback, 12cm x 12cm Pages: 46 black and white pages Signed by the author [space_20]