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Jackie Garner, wildlife artist recommends
Jackie Garner,
wildlife artist

British wildlife artist Jackie Garner answers FAQs

I'm often asked which art materials I use, which optics I prefer or which books I recommend, so I offer here a selection of my favourites. These are the products I love. The elite. The ones I get excited about. The ones I use constantly because I feel good every time I use them.

I love quality. Call me a perfectionist, a Virgo or just plain choosy, but I love the items I buy to ooze quality. I don't mean the most expensive, though admittedly some are, but rather that which has been designed with care and is ideally suited to its purpose.

Arts and Crafts designer William Morris said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." Personally, and whenever possible, I go a step further - I want it to be useful and beautiful. If it does the job but is terminally ugly: I don't want it. Fantastically beautiful but mediocre performance: I don't want it.

My followers, students and customers are important to me, so I promise never to waste your valuable time and/or money by recommending anything I don't wholeheartedly believe in. I've linked to a web page where you can purchase or find out more about the product. But please note, these are my personal recommendations - it's up to you to decide if they're right for you.

Wildlife art and other useful book recommendations Wildlife art and other useful books
'Drawing Birds' by John Busby
'Drawing & Painting Birds' by Tim Wootton
'I'd rather be in the studio! The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion' by Alyson B Stanfield
'Sargent Portrait Drawings' Dover Art Library
'The Unfeathered Bird' by Katrina Van Grouw
'The Wildlife Artist's Handbook' by Jackie Garner

Optical equipment recommendations Optical equipment
Swarovski binoculars and telescope

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR camera

Art materials recommendationsArt Materials
Winsor & Newton Series 7 kolinsky sable watercolour brushes
Liquitex Acrylics
Fabriano Artistico Extra White Watercolour blocks

Daylight lamp
Lowe Alpine Convert Mitten Gloves

Wildlife art and other useful book recommendationsWildlife art and other useful book recommendations

'Drawing Birds' by John Busby
I learnt more about art in a weekend class with the late, great John Busby than I had in all my school art lessons, and here is John's experience and wisdom laid down for your benefit. Lavishly illustrated by John and guest artists, and packed with useful advice, this should be in the library of any (aspiring) bird artist >> Drawing Birds by John Busby

'Drawing & Painting Birds' by Tim Wootton
Another great book the bird artist shouldn't be without is Drawing & Painting Birds by Tim Wootton. A veritable treasure trove of images and art tips, again with plenty of guest artists' images to inspire
>> Drawing and Painting Birds by Tim Wootton

'I'd rather be in the studio! The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion' by Alyson B Stanfield
A must for everyone who wants to sell their art, and should be compulsory reading for art students. Even if you're already marketing your art you'll still pick up tips from this book. Just one extra sale and it will have paid for itself. Bargain! >> I'd Rather Be in the Studio!: The Artist's No-excuse Guide to Self-promotion by Alyson B Stanfield

Sargent Portrait Drawings, Dover Art Library
It’s no secret John Singer Sargent is one of my art heroes, so I was delighted to find a book about his portrait drawings. Wonderful images in their own right, they’re also a masterclass in tonal drawing, quality of line and using an eraser as a drawing tool. At just over £5 you’ll never find a more affordable masterpiece! >> Sargent Portrait Drawings (Dover Art Library)

'The Unfeathered Bird' by Katrina Van Grouw
Katrina van Grouw's The Unfeathered Bird is a unique book on bird anatomy. Crucially it shows the birds in lifelike positions and indulging in typical behaviour, a real bonus for the wildlife artist. All the drawings are made from actual specimens, and Katrina's draughtsmanship is second to none. If you've ever wondered what goes on beneath the feathers this book is for you. And if the thought of muscle and bone seems a little gruesome, rest assured there is a quirky humour to the images that will make you smile rather than squirm. Another essential for the bird artist's library. >>The Unfeathered Bird by Katrina van Grouw

'The Wildlife Artist's Handbook' by Jackie Garner
Well, I would recommend my own book, wouldn't I? But the main reason is because it's different from the usual 'How to...' books on the market. The Wildlife Artist's Handbook acts as a companion to the reader as they progress from the first tentative drawings of a moving subject, to being confident enough to share their work with a local, then global, audience. It is a dual purpose book, offering practical advice, and showcasing wildlife art from history and from 30 contemporary professional artists. Whether or not the reader picks up a pencil, they will enjoy the inspiring images from this beautiful book. >>The Wildlife Artist's Handbook' by Jackie Garner

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Optical equipment recommendations Optical equipment recommendations

Swarovski binoculars and telescope
My first thought when I used my new Swarovski binoculars was “Oh, that’s what I’ve been missing all this time”. I was delighted with them when I bought them and I’m still delighted with them years later. I recently tried the very latest ELs and I was amazed that they were even better - I didn’t think that was possible. Using the best optical equipment is pure pleasure and I love this company’s commitment to wildlife conservation too. I use 8.5x42 EL binoculars and an ATS 80 HD telescope with a 20-60x eyepiece. If you want to use a telescope for wildlife sketching purposes choose an angled eyepiece so you can shift your gaze between subject and sketchpad with minimal movement.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR
I'm certainly not an expert photographer but I get a real buzz from using my camera. It has coped admirably with every light level from the British countryside to Egyptian tombs, or my own studio to museums and galleries. It's aimed at entry level amateur usage and if you want a camera that takes everything in its stride, is comfortable to use and will do far more than you'll need, this is it. The Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Camera (inc. 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens Kit) is the latest version of mine. And here's the
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens for the above camera.

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Art materials recommendationsArt Material recommendations

Paint brushes

Winsor & Newton's Series 7 kolinsky sable watercolour brushes
The Rolls Royce of paintbrushes. I'll compromise on some things but never on watercolour brushes. They've been made to the highest standards since Queen Victoria commanded Winsor & Newton to make the very finest watercolour brushes. Unbeatable.
Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Water Colour Brush (size 2)
Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Water Colour Brush (size 4)
Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Water Colour Brush (size 7)
Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Water Colour Brush (size 10)

Liquitex Acrylics
Anyone who has been to one of my acrylics workshops can be in no doubt of my preferred brand. I use Liquitex’s Heavy Body range because I love the thick, buttery quality of the paint. It’s always a consistent quality and can be thinned down or bulked up when necessary to suit the varying painting requirements. It seems to me to have a slightly slower drying time than some other makes, which is a definite advantage. My favourite colours for wildlife art are: Titanium White, Unbleached Titanium, Ultramarine, Yellow Oxide, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow Light. Available from good art materials stockists such as Jacksons Art Supplies or Ken Bromley Art Supplies

Fabriano Artistico Extra White Watercolour blocks
Fabriano watercolour paper seems to fall in to the Marmite category (you either love it or hate it). I love it – the paper, not the Marmite – because it’s always consistent quality, acid free, it’s strong enough to lift off colour without damaging the surface and no animal by-products are used in the manufacturing process. Blocks are a little more expensive than sheets of paper but I’d much rather spend my time painting than stretching paper so I consider it money well spent. You can find out more about watercolour paper in my blog post Watercolour paper - the differences explained

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Miscellaneous recommendations

Daylight lamp
I don’t want to stop painting when the light levels drop, so here’s my secret weapon. It’s a daylight balanced, twin fluorescent tube lamp that clips to my drawing board or can be attached to a base on the floor. It gives a wide, even beam of light and is 100 times better than a single “daylight” bulb. Since discovering this lamp I even love dark winter evenings >> Twin Fluorescent Bench Lamp

I bless the day I discovered shooting gloves, otherwise known as mitten gloves or glomitts. They are fingerless gloves with a mitten cover and are perfect for keeping enough fingers free to hold a pencil whilst keeping the rest warm as toast. My original ones are double thickness windproof fleece with Thinsulate for warmth. As they were designed for shooting they had a rubber grip stitched across the palm but I cut that off because it gripped my sketchbook too well - I needed my hand to move smoothly across the page. Inferior gloves skimp on the thumb cover or the quality of fleece, so beware of cheap imitations.

Lowe Alpine Convert Mitten Glove

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