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Robert Greenhalf

About the artist

I have been fascinated by birds for as far back as I can remember. At first it would have been garden birds and we had a large garden with woods on one side which attracted many species. My parents knew the names of the commoner ones, but soon we needed the aid of books as we ventured further afield and into new habitats. 


Throughout this time my interest in art was also developing so when schooling finished I obtained a place at Eastbourne School of Art where I spent two happy years doing a lot of drawing and sketching from life and was also introduced to lino cutting and lithography. The migration hot-spot of Beachy Head was also conveniently nearby, where during the spring and autumn, most of my spare time was spent birdwatching and training to become a ringer.


My second College, Maidstone, introduced me to basic design, illustration and etching. It was also here that I was tutored by Graham Clarke, who at that time was just becoming well known for his etchings. It was Graham, who through his example, persuaded me that it might be possible for me to make a living from printmaking. After college Graham employed me from time to time, to print his linocuts and etchings. This gave me a little money, lots of experience  and the time to start making my own prints and to start selling them through a few galleries. Landscape etchings and watercolours became my main source of income during the late seventies and eighties.  Birds began to creep in to some of them and later came to dominate.

I began submitting work  to the Society of Wildlife Artists Exhibitions at the Mall Galleries and was elected a member in 1986. This proved a great way to meet buyers and gallery owners as well as  other wildlife artists. In 1992 I was invited to join an international group of about thirty fellow artists on a two week stay in the Biebrza marshes of North-east Poland. We had a great time, produced some good work, later used in the book "Portrait of a Living Marsh", and made lifelong friends. It was the brainchild of a charismatic Dutchman, Ysbrand Brouwers and his Artists for Nature Foundation . Since then there have been many such trips to locations around the world, to focus attention on threatened wildlife habitats.


I have also spent time in the French Alps as an artist in residence at the Parc des Ecrins.  The Society of Wildlife Artists has organised projects  in the New Forest, on the west coast of Scotland and in the Great Fen and recently in the Danish Wadden Sea, amongst others.In 2014 I was very lucky to be chosen to visit Senegal on a joint project on migration with the British Trust for Ornithology, along with Bruce Pearson, Esther Tyson and Greg Poole, who has very sadly since died.


I have always made field sketching the basis for all that I do. I used to create finished watercolours in the field, but these days I paint mainly in oils in the studio. Lino and woodcuts took over from etching many years ago, but with all of these techniques, the field sketch is the starting point.


In 2022 I was asked to become the jacket designer for the prestigious Collins New Naturalists series of books, which for the past thirty years had been designed by Robert Gillmor, who sadly died last year. I am enjoying the challenge of producing eye-catching designs for a very diverse range of titles, often about groups of species that I have little knowledge of.

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