It has been a while since I opened a book showcasing such great works of wildlife art accompanied by humorous but informative writing.
I would, however, expect nothing less from one of Britain’s leading sporting and wildlife artists.
This latest book is a collection of McPhail’s most accomplished works from the last two decades, all of which are a fine display of his extensive knowledge in the field.
Not only is it a joy to peruse his paintings, the book is also full of charming personal anecdotes and advice on activities in the wild, such as fishing, hunting and shooting.
MacPhail has personally selected the works that appear in the 160 pages of this beautifully produced coffee table book, and his passion for the wildlife that he has painstakingly depicted in oils and watercolours shines through on every page.
MacPhail describes this book as ‘a retrospective view of some of my paintings and drawings of the last twenty years – rather less than half my working life – and is really just a means to show off and an opportunity to pontificate a little before I get too decrepit’.
There is a hefty dose of the autobiographical in this tome, but I was soon entranced reading about McPhail’s great and full life. I found myself chuckling along at his wit while describing the artworks, species and even some of the people that he stumbled across in the course of his adventures.
As well as being intensely personal, the book is full of history, culture and philosophical meaning. A personal favourite, McPhail quotes: ‘Reading maketh a full man, conference ready a man, writing an exact man – Bacon’. Underneath in spray paint, some scally had added after the reference to Thomas Bacon ‘…a fat man’.
Focusing on habitats – from cliff tops to river beds and subjects from grouse to roe deer and bobwhite quails in places from the shores of England, to the Highlands of Scotland and woods of the USA – this book is jampacked with beauty, art, adventures and comical stories.
An Artist by Nature, by Rodger McPhail, published by Quiller, £35.