6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Lytham artist Andy Beckett on painting wildlife on the Fylde Coast

PUBLISHED: 18:00 28 February 2017

Seascapes, such as this view of the Ribble estuary, have an almost photographic quality

Seascapes, such as this view of the Ribble estuary, have an almost photographic quality

Andy Beckett

Artist Andy Beckett finds inspiration among the waders and seabirds along the coast near his Lytham home. Paul Mackenzie reports

Andy Beckkett lives five minutes from the Ribble estuaryAndy Beckkett lives five minutes from the Ribble estuary

The coastline between Lytham and St Annes has been attracting artists since the middle of the 19th century. At that time, wealthy patrons were encouraging artists to the area to paint the wild landscapes and one of them left behind more than a collection of his work – he gave the area it name.

Ansdell is the only village in England to be named after an artist but while Richard Ansdell didn’t stay long – he built a house there but moved to the wilds of Scotland once the railway came and the area developed – it still appeals to artists.

Andy Beckett has lived in the area all his life and, just like those Victorians, finds great inspiration along his local stretch of coast. His commercial work has appeared in advertising, on packaging and in books all over the world, but his passion is for the birds that live along or visit the shore.

‘I live five minutes walk from the estuary and that is my inspiration,’ he said. ‘I go down to Granny’s Bay, and along the stretch of coast between Lytham and St Annes. It’s the perfect location for me. At different times of day and different times of year the light and the environment are very different. It’s an ever-changing environment.’

A dotterel, one of the areas many wading birds by Andy BeckettA dotterel, one of the areas many wading birds by Andy Beckett

The seascapes he produces have an almost photographic quality and his understanding of the birds’ anatomy is as clear in the work as his knowledge of their habits and behaviour.

‘I do a lot of seascapes and birds are a part of the environment. The main focus is the sea, the weather and the light. The birds almost frame it but people will pull you up if details are wrong so it requires an understanding of the species and their behaviour.

‘I watch the birds, the waders and the migratory birds, and take notes and photographs and sketches. I study their behaviour.’

The 48-year-old studied Scientific and Natural History Illustration at Blackpool and the Fylde College and using oil-based pencils, he works from up to 30 photographs and sketches to create his artworks.

Eider ducks by Andy Beckkett, who studied at Blackpool and Fylde CollegeEider ducks by Andy Beckkett, who studied at Blackpool and Fylde College

‘I am very much at the mercy of the commissions I get. I have done work for clients all over the world, including a lot of advertising and packaging in America, for ice cream, pet food, museums, and education centres. I’ve done illustrations for children’s books and encyclopedias and for packets of almonds and tins of shortbread biscuits in Marks and Spencer.

‘But birds are my personal interest and those pieces enable me to be a lot more creative than when I’m working to other people’s briefs. With my own work I can be experimental and creative.’

Smaller pieces can take two or three weeks, larger ones anything up to six weeks and the dad-of-two isn’t only creative with the image he creates, but also with the canvas. He considers the physical object to be as important as the picture and uses primer and tints to give it the lived-in look of a re-claimed object. He then marks out the image and works with oil based pencils or, if it’s a colour image, polychromos pencils, coloured tints and acrylic paint.

He sells his work through a gallery on the north Norfolk coast – another important area for birdlife – and particularly likes to include black tailed godwits, oystercatchers and turnstones .

But even though they are Andy’s passion and are central to his paintings, a detailed knowledge of birds isn’t necessary to appreciate his work.

‘People have a sense of place when they go to the coast,’ he said. ‘We have all walked along the coastline and felt the elements. Sometimes particular light can evoke emotions and I think people can relate to that through my work.’

More from Out & About

A new breed of entrepreneur is heading for Cartmel, one of old Lancashire’s loveliest villages. Mike Glover reports.

Read more
Cartmel
Friday, September 15, 2017

Knott End is more than just a place to kill time waiting for the ferry, as John Lenehan discovers.

Read more
Morecambe
Monday, September 11, 2017

There really is more to fishing than catching fish. Conservation is the keyword for one of Lancashire’s top angling clubs, as Martin Pilkington discovers

Read more
Bowland
Sunday, September 10, 2017

Behind the scenes at Culture Liverpool

Read more
Liverpool
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beautiful boats like The Polly are still being built the old fashioned way on the river Wyre, writes Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lancashire Wildlife Trust senior conservation officer John Lamb describes the wonderful wildlife as you make the climb up Green Hill

Read more
Kirkby Lonsdale
Monday, August 28, 2017

Work is underway to discover more about the mysterious landscape of this ancient landmark, writes Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Carnforth Morecambe
Monday, August 21, 2017

Whether it’s preserving heritage or creating new memories, there’s real passion in this former mill town, as Rebekka O’Grady discovers.

Read more
Burnley
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

However many times you tackle Coniston’s iconic peak, a bright day never fails to inspire. John Lenehan takes the easy trail.

Read more
Coniston Lake District Walks
Monday, August 14, 2017

We meet the locals putting their best foot forward to put Lytham on the map. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Lytham
Thursday, August 10, 2017

It’s over here and over grown – an invasive plant that could pose a major threat to the Lakes economy

Read more
Lake District
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Fleetwood business founded on the supply of fossil fuels is joining the chain gang of cycling enthusiasts, writes Mike Glover.

Read more
Cycling Kendal Ambleside
Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Lowther family have made an indelible mark on the landscape and now an exhibition at their ancestral home tells the full fascinating story.

Read more
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chipping Steam Fair returned for a successful 19th year.

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search