The first time we saw Lesley McLaren's painting Ruffled Wren we both instantly fell in love with this beautiful little bird. Those ruffled feathers and the cocked little tail are just adorable. Overall the image is a bit darker than most of our greeting cards but the light feathers and the silver birch really stand out against the background and the contrast makes it really come alive. We are not surprised that this card has been one of our top 5 selling cards since it was introduced in January 2016. It is one of our most ordered designs by the RSPB and is also very popular with the RHS.
Ruffled Wren by Lesley McLaren
We asked Lesley to tell us a bit about the painting.
"I painted 'Ruffled Wren' a number of years ago - 2014 I think. I've always absolutely loved wrens; their character intrigues me the most. They are beautiful of course but of all the birds in my garden, their personality shines through. So tiny and fleeting with their perky tail held high, quick on their feet and pretty fearless, considering how tiny they are. Years ago I'm afraid my cat brought one into the house and I was amazed at the loudness of it's call and when I managed to rescue it in one piece, I could feel just how small it really is.
So, looking out my kitchen window every day at the drystone dyke three feet away I enjoy observing the wee wren hoping along. Most likely not the same one I rescued but no matter - I was hooked. I painted a Ruffled Wren perched on a branch on my favourite birch tree. Ruffled, because I'm not one for neatly manicured feathers. Since then I've painted many wrens, and they are always very popular paintings... obviously I'm not alone in my admiration for them. It's amazing too that they are in fact the most common bird in the UK."
Lesley McLaren in her studio
Lesley's paintings reflect the fascination she has with the natural world, mostly that which surrounds her in her immediate environment. She lives in the Scottish Borders, where the landscape and light is beautiful and varied – a rich source of inspiration, from Belted Galloway cattle to Scottish Blackface sheep, barn owls to wrens. She lives in a small community beside a busy farm where there is an abundance of subjects to paint. As well as the Scottish landscape, animal and bird life she has a love of indoor objects of beauty too, such as precious mementos and collections. She often scours her friends’ homes, hoping they will allow her to borrow a vase or ornament.
"With my window scenes I try to bring the outside in so that there is a merging of environments; perhaps a blackbird or barn owl who tries his luck or a creeping vine meandering towards the window sill. Sheep on the hill or a cottage in the distance. A vase of flowers deepens the link between interior and exterior. Usually a table holds carefully placed individual objects, each with its own story to tell, but also part of the whole coming together of the scene. There’s an entire lifetime of inspiration in all the things I love, and that includes childhood memories of holidays on the west coast of Scotland with my family. It's all there for the taking."
Lesley paints exclusively in oil on gesso panel. She contributes every year to the London Affordable Art Fairs at Battersea and Hampstead. She also regularly exhibits in a wide range of galleries throughout the UK, primarily Morningside Gallery in Edinburgh and at the moment her work is exhibited at Iona House Gallery in Woodstock.
Please visit Lesley's website for more information and to view her work:
With thanks to Lesley McLaren for working with us and for her contribution to this text.
Laura and Kicki