Guest blog by Kathryn Speak, Graphic Designer & Illustrator, and self-confessed nature nut!

My name is Kathryn, and I’m a graphic designer and illustrator based in Chorley, Lancashire.  I am lucky enough to have been brought up surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside the UK has to offer. From local walks around the Ribble Valley to weekends and holidays in the Lake District, as a creative person I’m continuously inspired by nature. I’m also extremely lucky to have a job which allows me to be as creative as I want. So last year I thought, why don’t I combine the two. I decided to start sketching up some of the birds I’d been photographing throughout the year.  I realised that there is so much more detail in our little feathered friends than what you see at first glance. There are so many bright and vivid colours on show! Even the tiny little wren, he’s just covered in the most beautiful plumage. People just don’t seem to appreciate the many different markings and beauty in some of our more common birds.

So I thought it would be great to show off these colours in a slightly abstract style. At the time I was just working on the sketches as an illustrated project piece to go into my portfolio, but after showing the final versions to friends and family, they all asked if they could buy one (or two!). So I thought it would be a good excuse to have them all printed up so that I could sign and number each one, and hopefully more people would be interested, and with some of the money raised going back into the looking after our feathered friends then it would be a worthwhile project.

British Feathers – Series One is the first set of birds that I have worked up and finalised. The sketches are first created by hand. After this process, once I am happy with the feathers, I create each individual feather digitally. Then the fun part of the process is choosing the colours. Going off the various images I have, I pick a colour to best represent the birds feathers. These are always a lot brighter. For example the magpies which I created, I used a vivid colour pallet of  greens, turquoises and rich blues to bring his feathers out. The idea is that the colours are exaggerated and highlighted. Although to be fair, there isn’t much exaggeration needed, some of them have the brightest coloured feathers, it’s actually more difficult making sure it’s as vibrant as it possibly can be. Finally they are reproduced to scale as giclée prints on thick 300gsm paper, numbered and then signed.

I am already preparing my next series, but it is proving difficult to decide which birds to illustrate! Hopefully this project will give something back to the work that the RSPB does, because their help means I can continue drawing our spectacular British birds.

Kathryn is generously donating 10% of profits to the RSPB from the sale of her wonderful pictures, such as the glorious kingfisher below.  To see the full range - and the chance to own one of these limited edition masterpieces, click here.  We thank her for her support.


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