Wow…what a year. Pretty sure you have heard this at least four to five times a day, but I’ll say it again anyway.

For me, that which c(ovid)can’t be named, has been a real challenge, as I’m sure it has for many reading this blog.

This time has, however, also meant a positive change of outlook for me on my family and friends, time with my kids, where I live, what my priorities are, and what I now do as a career.

I grew up on the working family farm in the beautiful Meon Valley but ended up in London working for far too long… Every time I headed back to Hampshire it got harder to leave; I missed the country, I missed the farm, i missed my family and I missed being creative.

With Covid, I saw it as serendipity to make the move towards a different life with my family. Having been pretty keen with the ol’ pencil and paper as a child, I started drawing initially as a form of rehab after getting covid quite badly. I relit my passion for both creating and for the subject matter I specialise in; wildlife and the natural world. 

To begin with, I couldn’t stop my hand from shaking during my recovery, but soon managed to work through it and started producing pieces for myself and my friends.

I am now a full-time wildlife and nature artist working out of a studio on the farm. Working predominantly in carbon, I love the look and feel of the material. My process involves a very detailed examination of the animals I draw, starting by detailing every hair, which is individually embossed into the beautifully thick Italian watercolour I use.

Once the foundation of the subject has been created, I slowly build each layer of detail with carbon to create the final pieces. My aim isn’t hyperrealism (photographic quality drawings) but to give a true sense of each animal and let the viewer’s imagination fill in the gaps. I sort of see it like reading a book versus watching a movie – I hope that makes sense to others and not just me…

My love of nature and the great outdoors definitely stemmed from my younger days, as did my love for drawing. Now I’m a little (a lot…) older I’m really lucky to get back to that sense of creating and hopefully bringing a little joy and thought to people who see my work.

I think this time has given people a resolve to review who they are, what they are doing and what needs change; ultimately just to say “F#@k it, I’m going to give it a go”. My piece “Strength in Darkness” is a bit of a nod to this, we have all had a dark time but please take the time to reflect that we have also powered through, sometimes up and sometimes down, but still going.

Now is the time for a change in all elements of life and shooting and rural pursuits will not be immune to this, and certainly not to its detriment. As a keen shot I know the huge value that can be gained from rural sporting pursuits; from friends made, new places seen and mental and physical health.

I am sure most who read this blog will already have been out shooting many times but if not, now is the time to just say “I’m going to give it a go”. I would advocate don’t just limit it to shooting, if there is anything you have been thinking “maybe I could do this…” just say stuff it, I’ll give it a go, for times they are a-changin.

Written by Matthew Horn