Your complete guide to Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir
This new Sky Arts show combines two of our favourite things: art and nature! Find out everything you need to know about Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir
If you’ve been missing Landscape Artist of the Year and Portrait Artist of the Year then you’re in luck – Sky Arts is bringing out another fantastic art show to inspire your creativity!
Presenters Jim and Nancy Moir are searching for artistic inspiration in the natural world and getting to know Britain’s birds along the way.
They’re embarking on a road trip to explore places of outstanding beauty in the UK and paint the birds they spot!y. They’ll be joined by a host of local twitchers, artists and conservation experts – plus a few famous faces!
Read on to learn more about your new favourite art show…
When is Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir on TV?
Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir starts on Wednesday 19th April at 8pm.
Where can I watch Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir?
The show is available on Sky Arts and Now TV.
Where is Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir filmed?
The show takes Jim and Nancy around the UK, taking in Britain’s best beauty spots. The first episode will begin in Northumberland.
Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir: what to expect
Jim and Nancy will roam around the UK on a comedic road trip, guided by wildlife experts and artists.
They’ll be challenged to paint a picture of a bird native to that area over the course of a weekend. Their journey will take them to forests and fens, wild countryside and bird sanctuaries.
The pair will spend meditative weekends painting our feathered friends. What could be more relaxing than watching artists at work? The show will cover a variety of birds, ranging from goshawks and bitterns to bearded tits.
Keep an eye out for a few celebrity cameos throughout the series!
Catch up with Landscape Artist of the Year
Fans of Painting with Birds should definitely check out Landscape Artist of the Year. It’s a relaxing art competition which visits a variety of intriguing locations around the UK.
Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir episodes
The first episode of the new series kicked off in the stunning natural landscape of Northumberland, with Jim and Nancy in search of the elusive curlew. Their quest takes them from the River Aln to the picturesque island of Lindisfarne.
They were guided by local bird expert Tom Cadwallender, who shares Jim's love for the elegant long-beaked curlew.
The Moirs paid a visit to the Berwick Museum and Art Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where they met the artist in residence, Bethan Maddocks. Bethan showed them how to create their own beautiful curlews using paper cutting techniques.
Later, they teamed up with actor Mark Benton and Jim gave Mark and Nancy a painting lesson on Lindisfarne. Jim makes a fantastic art teacher and you'll definitely learn a few tips and tricks from this episode!
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On the final day in Northumberland, they finally managed to catch a glimpse of a curlew and Jim revealed his finished curlew painting.
This episode was a wonderful start to the new series. Jim's love of art and nature really shone through and it's impossible not to share his enthusiasm for his two passions. It's not surprising that Jim described it as "the best job I've ever had"!
This week Jim and Nancy headed to Cornwall in search of the chough. Choughs went extinct in the UK in 1973 due to farming practices, but have been reintroduced and there's now a small population of birds along the Cornish coast.
The couple went to Godrevy Point to meet Hilary and Phil, who are chough experts from the Cornish Chough Conservation Network. Hilary and Phil pointed them in the direction of a recent chough sighting and it wasn't long before they'd spotted the elusive birds on a headland.
Despite the inclement weather, Jim decided to stop and paint the iconic Godrevy lighthouse. The wind and rain made his watercolour sketch even more atmospheric and Jim enjoyed bringing the elements into his painting.
In this episode, Jim and Nancy also met up with a host of artists. At Newlyn Art Gallery, they were joined by conceptual artist Cornelia Parker for a potato-themed art session. Jim and Nancy went back to childhood by making chough potato stamps, while Cornelia built a model of nearby St Michael's Mount out of chips. She then took her model outside for the seagulls to devour.
Later on, Jim and Nancy met up with landscape artist Flynn O'Reilly, who was persuaded to add a chough into one of his seascapes.
Back in his art studio, Jim painted his chough using blue and black for the feathers. As he pointed out, black in a painting is rarely just one colour and often has hints of blue or red. He brought texture to his watercolour bird by sprinkling salt onto the wet paint before leaving it to dry.
After a speedy art session at the Gurnard's Head pub, Jim and Nancy went out for a walk and incredibly stumbled across a flock of 40 choughs, much to Jim's delight!
If you're feeling inspired by the watercolour paintings in this episode, take a look at our watercolour techniques guide for lots of tips and tricks!
This time Jim and Nancy stayed close to their home in Kent to appreciate the long-eared owl. This beautiful bird is crepuscular, meaning that it hunts at dusk.
We joined Jim in the studio as he worked on his painting of the long-eared owl, trying to capture its vivid orange eyes. Jim shared a top tip – painting upside down can often be helpful and transform the entire look of your painting.
The paired headed out to visit a local owl sanctuary to learn more about British owls. They got up close to a stunning long-eared owl called Lenny, then spent time watching barn owls in flight.
Jim stopped to draw Nancy with a barn owl perched on her arm. He used the one-line drawing technique, where you draw continuously without lifting your pencil from the paper. It's a good method to try if you're stuck in a creative rut.
Later in the episode, Jim went to visit musician Jools Holland for a landscape drawing session in Jools' garden. Jim settled down to create a charcoal drawing of the topiary, while Jools produced a architectural drawing in pencils.
Jim and Nancy also took the time to learn an uncommon art technique: drypoint etching. This is a technique which involves scratching a design into a surface such as aluminium. The surface is then covered in ink and put through a press to create a print. Artist David Hunt showed the couple his detailed owl prints then guided them through the method.
Finally, they went to Elmley Nature Reserve to catch a glimpse of the long-eared owl hunting at dusk and spotted one camouflaged in the trees.
Jim and Nancy's tour of the UK took them to the rainy Outer Hebrides in search of the golden eagle.
After arriving on the Isle of Harris, the couple set out on a boat trip with Kenny Macleod. On their way, they caught glimpses of cormorants and great black backed gulls, as well as a colony of seals. It wasn't long before Jim spotted a white-tailed eagle.
Jim described the golden eagle as "the king of the birds" and wanted to capture its majesty in his painting. He used big brushstrokes to try to show its power.
He sprinkled the watercolour paints with salt to create a mottled effect. Jim said he'd tried lots of different salts for this technique and found that cheap table salt produced the best results.
Jim and Nancy met up with 80s popstar Edwyn Collins and his wife Grace. Edwyn revealed that he'd been fascinated by birds since childhood.
Edwyn and Jim head outdoors to paint a landscape together. It was windy, so Edwyn weighed down his paper with rocks and sketched a bird using charcoal. Top tip: copy Jim and use tape to mark your horizon line!
Later in the hotel room, Jim carried on with his eagle art using watercolour pencils – filmed by Nancy. Bizarrely, Jim started using watercolour pencils because they were recommended to him by American actress Rita Wilson (wife of Tom Hanks).
Jim and Nancy visited Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris to meet printmaker Jane Smith. She's a former wildlife filmmaker who converted to printmaking after having children. She demonstrated the art of screen printing using stencils to make a striking image of oystercatchers in flight.
The pair headed up a misty mountain on the hunt for the golden eagle. They were joined by local ranger Fañch Bihan Gallic to find the best eagle-spotting locations.
While Nancy kept an eye out for the eagles, Jim settled down to do some painting. He said he enjoys painting landscape because it makes you focused on what you're seeing. Unfortunately his finished painting was blown away by the strong winds and lost forever!
However, his day wasn't ruined because the golden eagle finally made an appearance!
This week's episode was a trip down memory lane for Jim, as he returned to his home county of Yorkshire. With Nancy at his side, he went to the cliffs at Bempton close to where his mother used to live.
The cliffs were packed with gannets – a bird Jim described as "the king of the sea birds". He explained that gannets have nostrils inside their beaks, so that they don't fill up with water when they dive into the sea.
The pair met up with gannet expert Steve Race, who taught them more about this fascinating bird. Apparently, gannets like to bring each other "love gifts" when they're choosing a mate. He captured this beautifully in a photograph of a gannet giving its mate some flowers!
Jim spent time in his studio painting his portrait of the gannet. He explained that part of the difficulty of painting gannets is that they're a white bird on white paper, but there are ways to solve that problem. You have to look for the colours in the landscape that are reflected in the bird's feathers.
He said that his gannet painting needs to look "lean, taut and dynamic" to show the nature of this magnificent bird.
Later in the episode, Jim's mum made an appearance and recalled seeing men climbing down the cliffs at Bempton to gather gannet eggs, suspended from ropes. These men were known as "climmers" and tourists would often visit the cliffs to see them at work.
It wouldn't be Painting Birds without an appearance from one of Jim's talented friends. In this episode, Jim teamed up with pop artist Colin Self to paint Scarborough Harbour in just 30 minutes.
Colin also shared some of the bird sketches and paintings that he'd created in his youth.
Finally, Jim and Nancy went to see Jim's exhibition at the Red House Gallery in Harrogate, where his gannet painting was displayed in all its glory.
We can't believe it's the final episode of the series? It's just flown by! To finish of the series, Jim and Nancy celebrated a small, colourful native bird: the bearded tit. There's a very small population of this species in the UK, with just 600 breeding pairs.
The couple headed to RSPB Leighton Moss in Lancashire to learn more about this elusive bird. They met up with John Nelson, a former warden who helped to found the reserve. The management of the site has helped birds, otters and other wildlife to thrive.
John is particularly fond of the reserve's bearded tit population. He said: "I've shown people hundreds of birds and I've never seen anyone disappointed to see a bearded tit. They're really impressed when they see them."
Unfortunately, Jim and Nancy were so wrapped up in the conversation that they missed their first chance to spot the bearded tit.
They met up with well-known nature lover and wildlife presenter Chris Packham for a painting session. As well as displaying his ornithological knowledge, Chris also demonstrated real artistic talent as he painted the reserve from one of the hides at Leighton Moss.
Shortly afterwards, Jim, Nancy and Chris were lucky enough to see the bearded tits feeding and they were visibly thrilled!
The birds on the site also attract artists. Jim and Nancy met Aaron Sterling, a local artist who loves to sketch the birds at RSPB Leighton Moss.
There was also time for more bird-inspired art later in the show, as Jim and Nancy teamed up with textile artist Anya Paintsil to have a go at punch needle embroidery.
And that's it for this series! We hope you've enjoyed watching the show as much as we have and we're already looking forward to the next series!
Who is Jim Moir?
Jim Moir is a comedian from Leeds who is best known by his stage name: Vic Reeves. You may have spotted Jim on Sky Arts before – he’s previously competed in the celebrity edition of Portrait Artist of the Year.
On Portrait Artist of the Year, Jim demonstrated real artistic flair, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he produces in this series.
Jim’s career has spanned decades and he often worked alongside his comedy partner Bob Mortimer on shows such as Shooting Stars and Bang, Bang, It’s Reeves and Mortimer.
While Jim was building his comedy career, he began to study art part-time at a local college in 1983. He continued to develop his painting skills and built his reputation as an artist over the years.
Who is Nancy Moir?
Nancy Moir (aka Nancy Sorrell) is a model, actor and TV presenter from Chigwell. Early in her career, she modelled for high street brands such as M&S, Next and Ann Summers.
Nancy went on to appear in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall with rock guitarist Jeff Beck.
We’re looking forward to seeing Nancy’s artistic creations on the show!
Why Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir is perfect for art lovers
Painting with Birds is the ideal mid-week art show. It’s restful, entertaining and allows us to appreciate the natural world. It’s always therapeutic to watch artists at work too.
This show also visits some of the country’s most stunning natural environments – and it’s worth watching for that alone.
How to draw birds
After you’ve finished watching the show, you might be in the mood to create your own ornithological art. We’ve got just the tutorial for you!
Learn how to draw a bird with Gathered’s step-by-step guide.
Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints
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