Category Archives: Art

How to buy

While I have built up, thankfully, a modest following on this blog, on Instagram and other social media, with buyers (thank you!) in UK, USA, Brazil, Italy and Asia, it was suggested to me that I should provide quick links to my sales outlets to make them more easily accessible. So here they are and I shall re-publish the list every once in a while together with latest news..


My Alamy portfolio

These are Travel, Nature, and Food images that I have on sale. I have not added images in the past two years owing to Covid19 travel restrictions but I expect to add a few hundred images over the next few month so please return regularly to see what is on offer.

My images on PicFair

While I also use my PicFair portfolio for Travel, Nature and Food images I decided to create images that may have appeal for buyers of wall-art though, this portfolio too, will be expanded this year.


Saatchi Online

On this site I have a growing number of watercolour bird paintings on sale, in addition to which I show additional acrylic works or other watercolours that are not on sale (or were sold privately). I decided not to sell prints of these paintings as I feel it undermines the value of the original work as unique items.

Pipira Rosa

This is one of my two ETSY stores. The products on sale here are downloadable versions of some of my watercolour bird paintings that are licensed for printing at home.

Festive Coquette

This is my other ETSY store but I stopped selling on this platform at the end of 2019 owing, initially, to emergency travel and, later, because of the Covid19 pandemic which prevented me from fulfilling sales. I hope to have this store back on line later this year.

Product Design:

Alan Skyrme Design Studio

When I am not painting, taking photographs or writing I create designs for application to products. These are sold through Zazzle.

The products that I specialise in include tee-shirts, mugs, cushions, ceramic tiles and stationery items. Zazzle allows buyers to customise products on sale using my designs.

Feel free to visit (and buy from!!) these sites. I produce new paintings and designs every day, uploaded to the appropriate store on a weekly or monthly basis, so the number of items is constantly growing.

Thanks for following



Quiet April

Purple Sunbird

Easter holiday and midway through April. Time flues! I have not done much painting but have been busy with my design work.

The designs have, mostly, been in the form of new Sicilian style ceramic tiles that I sell through Zazzle and I shall continue my focus on this after the Easter break.

I am planning a trip to Sicily in May as my mother has had significant back problems in the last two weeks, having fractured a couple of vertebra a couple of years ago. She is 94 and a tough character but needs support. My brother will be there for a while before I can get there .,. travel is still difficult despite Covid19 seemingly improving.

While I am based in Sicily I shall continue to paint, design and photograph but at some stage will also visit my daughters and grandchikdren in Paris and UK. I hope to buy some paint and paper stock while there.


The only paintings completed so far this month are the Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) (above).
From a photo I took during my days (3 years) in India, these were common birds especially in the Botanical Gardens, Gachibowli, Hyderabad a short walk from where I lived. They share many traits with the hummingbirds of the Americas and can sometimes be seen hovering when collecting nectar.

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)
Quite a common bird in India where I saw several, including the odd one mobbing other birds, presumably in competition for food.

Both watercolour painting on A4 paper
Prints and original on sale.

Thanks for following. Happy Easter

October update

Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England

Having, last month, made a list of subjects to paint I have been more in control of my painting time, though for several reasons I still have a battle to ensure my time is balanced between things I want to do and things that I need to do – the latter being anything apart from painting.

At least I have made progress from the month of June where I was able to paint just 6 subjects in the whole month!

In September I managed 25 paintings though, if I am honest, a few will soon be consigned to my To Be Dumped area as I do not feel they are worthy of either keeping or selling.

October was not a bad month even though I completed only 7 paintings. One of these was an ink painting in Sumi-e style while the others were all acrylic paintings which take a bit longer to complete than watercolour, hence I am relatively satisfied with the output.

There were three paintings of Ashdown Forest that I completed (and I have one still in progress). The first is at the head of this post and is a general view of the forest though it has to be stressed that Ashdown is heathland rather than woodland, though there are significant wooded areas. It is an ancient forest that was used for hunting deer in Norman times but its history goes back to probably before the Roman arrived in Britain.

In the painting above there are deciduous trees in the background, bracken and gorse in the foreground and bridle paths that criss-cross the area.

Gorse, bracken and a scots pine tree

This second painting shows one of the pine trees (Scots Pine?) next to a gorse bush. The area is great for walking in, relaxing and breathing in fresh country area. I used to take my camera and wonder around though, nervously, I did ride there with my daughters on one occasion. I prefer steering wheels and gear stick but my girls are much more comfortable in the saddle than I.

Bluebells under an ash tree

This third painting has a touch of colour provided by bluebells. The woodlands are carpeted with these protected wild flowers.

The ink painting was made on a heavy weight paper, 1,125gm/m2, which is about 4 times the weight of my usual paper. It is quite absorbent so one has to be quite definite in mark-making.

Passion vine

The subject is a passion vine, a single flower painted in watercolour on the vine while buds and leaves were painted in ink – I varied the dilution of the ink to provide a couple of tones.

Two paintings were experimental using the heavyweight paper. I prepared the paper for both of these using gesso. One was a landscape of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, with plenty of colour. I think I overdid the sky but I enjoyed doing it and it will not be leaving my house. I just need to find a frame for its size (100 cm x 80 cm).

San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

The second of the experimental paintings was of a Trogon, again 100 cm x 80 cm, that I deliberately allowed paint to drip and run.

Blue-collared Trogon

Having cut one of the large 100 x 80 sheets into four smaller sheets I used one for the final painting of the month. Meet Nasibu, a male silverback western lowland gorilla who resides at Lisbon Zoo where I saw him two years ago:


I have difficulty in believing that we are now in the final two months of 2021. The past two years have been difficult ones, principally owing to the Covid pandemic. I hope 2022 will be better and that I shall be able to travel to see friends and family, having just missed my mother’s 94th birthday and, in September, the wedding of one of my daughters. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime I expect to be more productive in the remaining weeks of this year.

Feel free to comment or to visit either my instagram account or my website that is in need of an update!

Seasonal Robins

Tis the season to be jolly!

A couple of years ago, while taking care of my mother after she had broken a couple of vertebrae (and who celebrated her 94th birthday a fe days ago), I prepared a sketch of a Robin as a Christmas card design using Procreate on my iPad.

The image above is one, in what is now a series, that I made a couple of days ago.

The first one was as follows:

I then did another last year:

These now seem to have become an annual project so I have diarised for this time next year!

The Christmas cards are available for sale (look for Zazzle discounts) via my Zazzle store.

Also recently painted, in watercolour, are a series of three Robin paintings based on photos I took in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh a couple of years ago.

I shall prepare a summary of my October activities during this coming week, for posting on Friday.

Thanks for following.

September update

Pair of Plain-bellied Emeralds

Having lapsed from my regular weekly posts I thought it would be a good idea to do a catch-up on what I have been doing over the past month. This post, too, is a couple of days late!

I shall cover my plan to plan projects (referred to in my last post), bird paintings completed in watercolour, an acrylic landscape, and an experiment with large sheets of heavyweight paper.

Project planning

The idea was to give me a bit of direction and motivation to complete a number of paintings without the need to overcome the “what shall I paint” hurdle. My head is usually full of ideas to the extent that I don’t know where to start. I know, too, that I have to set time aside for admin and domestic tasks, many of which occur in the first week of each month, but on the 9th of September I managed to do eight watercolour bird paintings and a sumi-e style pen and ink bird. I did a few non-bird paintings on that weekend and began a large acrylic on canvas landscape on which I worked sporadically up to the month-end.

The 15th of September was another goodish day, with 6 watercolour paintings completed.

The next day I started a new project, that I shall describe later, on large heavyweight paper. It took a few days to complete.

The rest of the month was devoted to a large landscape canvas painting that, again, I shall describe below.

So, in conclusion, I find it is a useful exercise to plan projects and work my way through them without pausing to think “what’s next”. When I get a whole day to paint without disturbance I can chose subjects from my list based on my palette – knowing that I don’t have to create a new palette but simply to add to the existing one. On days broken by admin disturbances I can find a suitable subject from my list, having a reasonable idea of the complexity involved.

Laughing Dove, South Africa
Pied Avocet, Trapani, Sicily

Black-winged Stilt, Trapani, Sicily

Reed Warbler on bamboo, Sumi-e style, Chinese ink and brush on A3 watercolour paper

Heavyweight Paper

While in a local stationery store I came across some paper called Parana Paper, presumably thus named because it comes from a region (State) of that name in the south of brazil. The paper is 1125 gms/m2 with dimensions of 100cm x 80cm ie about 1 kg per sheet. I bought a pack of 5 sheets.

I decided to use the paper for acrylic painting since I am 100% certain the paper is unsized and not suitable for watercolour. Prior to painting I had to coat the surface with gesso, a practice I also employ on canvas prior to painting. It would be interesting to treat the paper with an appropriate size to enable me to paint watercolour, though I am pretty certain the gesso preparation will allow me to use watercolours too.

The subject I painted on the paper was a pair of Plain Bellied Emerald hummingbirds that I had photographed in my garden. I have a feeder that attracts hummingbirds but I also placed a wooden stick to allow the birds to perch between feeds. This enables me to set up my camera and get reasonable close-ups.

The remaining four sheets will be prepared with gesso this weekend as I have plans for painting a Trogon, a landscape, a floral subject and another bird (kingfisher or sunbird). One of these may be done in watercolour.

Plain-bellied Emeralds 100cm x 80 cm acrylic and watercolour on gessoed 1125gm/m2 paper

Landscape in acrylics

Having tried, and failed (owing to lack of subject simplification) to paint the landscape subject I felt obliged to give it a try. It was a significant learning exercise as in view of the canvas size as well as the subject matter but there is no progress without making a few errors, and errors can only be made by trying new techniques.

The subject is a piece of land in the Northeast of Brazil that belongs to my wife’s family. Her grandfather managed the farm successfully, producing cashews, coconut and cattle among other things. It is quite a large piece of land with its own source of water. After he passed away fifteen years or so ago the land was “managed” by one of my wife’s uncles. As he has no farming aptitude he sold off the livestock while the fruit trees and coconut palms are no longer productive (though local folk sneak onto the land and steal the fruit!).

While that is a bit saddening it is good news for wildlife. There are several species of birds and insects for anyone with an interest in such things to search out. I do whenever I visit. There are also wild fruits that I have photographed that few people know about. Modern times have dealt a blow to farming of low volume production. Cashews still have major interest both for the nuts (that have risen in cost ten-fold in the time I have been in the area) and juice from the cashew “apple”.

Details from the landscape

I wanted to include some basic elements in the landscape: fresh water streaming from the source, coconut palms, sand dunes and the animal life. For those with a keen eye there are two Kiskadees in the painting – one obvious and up-front, the second in the distance. There is also a dragonfly. I was thinking of including a common marmoset but am still thinking about it.

The painting, pretty well finished, will be set aside for a few days before I do the fine details. A fresh view in a week or more will allow me to be more objective.

Landscape – Northeast Brazil, featuring sand dunes, coconut palms and a variety of birds

That’s all for September. I hope to be a bit more productive in October. I need to finish the landscape, I have 4 sheets of the 1125 gm paper to work on, and I have plenty of A3 watercolour paper. I can’t promise to post weekly again but if I have a good week I shall try on Friday (8th).

Thanks for following. Feel free to comment or ask questions.


Wat Arun, Bangkok

For the past 2 years, actually since November 2019, I have kept track of my paintings by employing a register based on Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) reference numbers. Prior to that I simply kept a note of paintings by subject. But after I had painted several similar subjects I felt it necessary to keep note of subjects painted in more detail. In this way I can avoid confusion over paintings that are of interest to prospective buyers and those paintings that have been sold.

I was updating my SKU list yesterday when I noted that in June and this last month (August), to date, there have been few additions to the register. July was not a great month but I was producing only one painting every two days on average. My target is a lot higher – I aim to product at least one painting per day. On a good day I can complete 6 paintings in a day though on one particularly productive day in January I did manage 36! The point to note in respect of this record day is that the subject matter was simple and done in pen and ink.

The last two weeks of August were below average in productivity for several reasons but my mood has been the main issue. I feel I am in the doldrums, with no wind or current to push me in any particular direction. Fuelling this lack of motivation is the frequent need to change plans or to to go out to attend to administrative requirements.

Despite the situation I do force myself to do two things: sketch in my journal or of paper, and log into YouTube videos to learn new techniques or different forms of creativity. Learning has to be one of the most beneficial acts anyone can conduct. I try to learn something new every day.

So, to snap me out of this lack of motivation I plan to plan! This weekend shall be devoted to building a list of subjects to complete in the following week. If possible I shall prepare outlines ready for painting though I prefer start paintings with a blank sheet of paper and complete the outlining as part of the painting process – I can think things through while doing the outline sketch which helps me when I start putting paint on the paper.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Somewhere in Paris – Montmarte I think but my memory is bad!

Trapani, Sicily (Torre di Legny)

I forgot to post this when it was written at the end of August. It is now the end of September so I have clearly failed to post on the normal weekly basis! I therefore have a bit of catching up to do.

My next post will cover the success (or failure!) in my plan of plans, and will provide an update of what I have done during the month.

Thanks for following.

Almost monochrome

Harpy Eagle aka Gavião-real (Harpia harpyja)

I came across some photos of the Harpy Eagle, known in Brazil as Gavião-real, that I had taken a few years ago. Although I have seen one, at a distance while in the Amazon region of Brazil, my only photos were of zoo specimens in Curitiba.

The Harpy is an impressive bird with powerful talons capable of capturing monkeys, sloths and other animals of that size. The females can get larger animals than their male counterparts.

Some birds are almost monochromatic though I prefer to paint colourful species. My idea on this occasion was to paint in shades of grey, or almost all grey.

The first painting I did was this one:

First headshot

This painting was started by wetting the paper before laying in an uneven wash of Payne’s Grey. I was able to move or remove some of the pigment to give me the effect I was looking for.

The eye was painted with lemon yellow. But I painted the beak and some feather detail by building up layers of Payne’s Grey.

Incidentally, I make my own grey using sepia and ultramarine so the result is technically not Payne’s Grey but was close to it when I first made the mix. It has a blue bias but it works for me as I can create a good black by managing the balance between sepia and blue.

The second painting was of the bird’s head, gazing into the tree tops.

Second headshot

This is really no more than a sketch but I used the same approach as applied in the first painting: wash, layered detail and yellow eyes.

The third painting is a head and shoulders profile portrait.

Third painting – head and shoulders

I painted this third version with slightly more detail but felt the result looked like the bird was wearing an apron. A different point of view would have been better.

Having done these I felt compelled to paint a full portrait.

I decided to start on the feet first rather than the head, as is my usual practice, as the feet are a major feature of this bird.

Talons (work in progress image)

After completing the feet I moved to the head. Having introduced yellow ochre and sepia in the legs and feet I felt a need to do so too in the head. I also added some ultramarine blue to add variations in colour and shadow.

The head feathers in my reference photos were of various colours. Some in shadow, some catching the sunlight, hence the range that I painted went from blue-grey to yellow ochre. After taking these photos I added a touch of blue to the feathers on the left-hand side of the head.

On reflection, having painted the head and feet in quite a lot of detail, I ought to have painted the body with more texture. The result is neither here nor there. It is inconsistent!

Headshot detail from final portrait
Full length portrait

I have decided to put the portrait in a drawer to use as reference for another painting at some time in the future. I could wash out the wing and repaint it but I don‘t like the tail feathers either! I may do another version in acrylic.

Good fun though even though the result could have been better.

Cashew! Bless you!!

Cashew fruit (false fruit), nut and leaves

Knowing that the first week of the month is usually peppered with admin distractions, including the recent termite attack and a plumbing leak, I decided to start work on a botanical painting that could be handled as a project that allowed stops and starts.

I used a photograph that I had taken of a cashew fruit and leaves from my wife’s grandparent’s farm. The photo is on sale via Alamy if anyone is interested in using it.


I made an initial pencil sketch on A3 paper based on my photo. The photo itself was taken a few years ago with fruit and leaves carefully arranged on a white background and photographed in natural light.

I then lightened the pencil lines with a soft kneadable eraser so as to give me a guide without creating more work to erase the lines after painting. When painting in watercolour I prefer to have very light pencil lines only.

The leaf veins were painted in with a light wash of cadmium yellow before applying a light cadmium red wash on the fruit. I pulled off some colour with a damp brush to ensure I knew where the highlights would be. As the nut is a pale colour I decided to paint it first, initially with a very light wash of raw umber before subtly building up the colour.

To see more clearly where I needed variations in tone I applied a very pale wash on the leaves – darker in parts where I wanted to see shadows.

I then made adjustments to the nut to give form and texture.

As I did with the fruit (pseudo fruit – as the seed is formed outside the pulp rather than within it – which defines a fruit) I used a damp brush to take out colour in the leaves where the highlights would be.

I had thought of leaving the fruit to the end but, as it was the star of the painting, I painted this next.

The leaves of the cashew are a yellowish green so, to accentuate this, I painted a yellow-green wash over the leaves to make them more vivid. A couple of subtle washes were added to the nut: red at the top and green below – barely visible but it made a difference.

I worked on each leaf, working on each segment between the veins, until all of them were painted. I had to take out some colour to create smaller veins on some leaves.

The final stage involved adding shadows in key areas and adjusting the colours to show where the leaves were slightly deformed.

I would have preferred a brighter red for the fruit as I find it too dark. That may be a result of the paper I used. Perhaps hot-pressed paper would be better.

I like to leave this type of painting for a few days to take a fresh look and make adjustments if necessary. I may add some shadow under the leaves.

Thanks for following.

Shoot Stock

Slow week

Red-billed Blue Magpie

I managed only two paintings this week, my time having been taken up with household activities after a second attack of termites in the house was discovered just after releasing my last post. Having left things for a whole week the termites are back today. It seems there are forces at work to keep me from doing what I want. C’est la vie!

The first painting I completed this week was of a Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythroryncha). It is one of my favourite birds from my Hong Kong days. I lived there for a total of ten years – most of that time in the Mid-levels within walking distance of my office – but also for a few years further out, at the edge of the Tai Tam Reservoir Park.

Among the 25 species of birds that I saw on a daily basis I would see several of these Magpies moving through the trees in the Mid-levels.

Watercolour painting on A3 paper

Tufted Coquette

Tufted Coquette (Lophornis ornatus)

This is the second time I have painted this bird (having painted all four of the Brazilian Coquettes), the first time was on A4 paper. This lovely bird is resident in the extreme north of Brazil including Amapa where I would spend the occasional weekend when I lived in Belem.

Watercolour painting on A3 paper

Stay safe.

Shoot Stock

Back to the birds

Hippeastrum striatum

A new stock of paper arrived last weekend so I celebrated with some bird paintings and a floral painting of an “amaryllis”. My sumi-e practice is on the back-burner, for a while at least.

The bird paintings in watercolour on A3 paper were of two Hermits, which are a type of hummingbird, and a Green Bee-eater.

Saw-billed Hermit

The first was a Saw-billed Hermit (Ramphodon naevius) that I saw (no pun intended!) in the Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlantica) near Curitiba when I lived there 15 years ago. The area in which I saw and photographed the bird is the Graciosa road that runs down the mountainside from the plateau, about 850 m above sea level, down to the sea. I used to visit the area about once a month to capture photos of the many species of birds, insects and monkeys. The Mata Atlantica runs along the eastern coast of Brazil from the southern states to the northeast corner of the country though where I live the the rainforest barely exists and the wildlife is harder to see.

Planalto Hermit

The second was a Planalto Hermit (Phaethornis petrei) that I saw while visiting the state of Goias. I was on the way to a solo exhibition of my Inca Lands photos at the Legiao de Boa Vontage in Brasilia. We stopped off, overnight, at a “pousada” (an eco hotel of sorts) at a nature reserve.

The two birds are similar in appearance with most of the visible differences being in the breast feathers.

Green Bee-eater

The Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is a common bird in India that I saw regularly while living there. A few of them perched close to a pond in the Botanical Gardens in Kondapur, a suburb where I lived in HYderabad, where they would rest between flights to catch insects over the water.

The floral painting is of a Hippeastrum striatum that I found on the same trip to Goias in which I saw the Planalto Hermit. There were several of these flowers growing in a “scorched earth” environment where a recent fire had eliminated the herbaceous layer of the countryside. Interestingly I found other species of Hippeastrum growing in similar conditions in the south of Brazil.

Hippeastrum are endemic to South America (H. striatus being from central Brazil) while the similar Amaryllis is a South African flower.

Hippeastrum striatum

This painting took a couple of days to complete, the red petals needed to be built up in several layers using multiple colours (cadmium red, rose lake, burnt siena, alizarin crimson, violet, sepia and Payne’s gray).

I find that when I do more floral paintings, like this one, I become more patient and allow myself more time to focus on the details. No rush to finish. I would like to try something more challenging but all too often I am obliged to do other tasks that interrupt me. Maybe next week? Who knows.

Thanks for following. Feel free to comment or ask questions.

Shoot Stock