Lines from Nature

Published on 15 June 2016 in Book reviews

7b6cb3_b0b3c1276ee741dbbd1c238519ed783dBy John Busby; Langford Press, 2016

Hbk, 191pp, many colour images

ISBN 978-1-904078-61-6, RRP £38, BB Bookshop price £34.99

This book is a collection of images by well-known wildlife artist John Busby, from across his working life and accompanied by his own narrative. It’s a bit of a travelogue in celebration of his work as he takes us to places and times where inspiration grabbed him, be it the Bass Rock and its Northern Gannets, or Tigers in India. There is not much text devoted to technique or about drawing – the work pretty much speaks for itself – but reminiscences of places and times, notes on observations and motivations.

The characteristic ‘Busby’ is an economy of both line and colour, using a rather thick, soft pencil on textured paper, often with a simple watercolour wash or crayon finish: instantly recognisable. He also had a lovely eye for colour combinations, but it was his ability to capture movement so beautifully that sets his work apart. The development of such skills comes only from continual practice, which sharpens the eye and trains the memory, enabling rapid renderings of the briefest moments in time. Just look at the retreating Otter at the top of p. 23 or the Fox and Hare studies on pp. 150–155. There are several works featuring rock pools in both watercolour and oils, an aspect of his work new to me.

Sadly, John died just as this book was nearing publication, so it has become a celebration to his talent, and I like the relaxed atmosphere of the book as John describes some of his favourite places and events from which his art has been inspired.

John Busby was undoubtedly a master. He remains hugely influential to the growing band of young, observational field artists, which is currently blossoming. He taught art and many have benefited from his expert guidance.

I don’t see how anyone could be anything other than delighted and enthralled as they browse through this book – it’s absolutely wonderful!

Alan Harris