Tutor Profile


John Threlfall  SWLAJohn Threlfall



John Threlfall was born in Bolton in 1958.  He studied Geochemistry at Liverpool University and worked for the British Geological Survey during the summers and as a ski instructor in the French Alps each winter.

John is a self-taught artist; he has been painting since 1990, becoming a full-time artist in 2002.

 ‘In order to draw and paint birds and animals from life the focus of your looking and concentration must be total. Thereby lies the appeal. To be absolutely absorbed in your subject matter and their surroundings, to look as if you have never seen before, and so wonder at it all, is an enthralling and enchanting state to be in. Here is the true value of drawing, irrespective of the outcome.

This is my way of connecting with the natural world around me, of acknowledging and celebrating the existence of other species. Back in the studio I hope to combine these primary studies into a painting, a process of compositional arrangements of shapes, tones and colour, of texture, space, movement and mark making. If this work then can communicate to others something of the awe, the spectacle, the fascination and the beauty of the natural world then, as an artist, I have succeeded to some extent.’

John regularly exhibits his paintings and has achieved many accolades as a highly regarded wildlife artist.

  • The Swarovski/Birdwatch ‘Bird Artist of the Year 2007’.
  • Elected full member of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) in 2007.
  • Award winner at the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2011.
  • Commended in the Bird Artist of the Year 2006 and the RSPB Art Award 2006. 
  • Winner of the inaugural Birdscapes Gallery Award 2007.
  • Artist in residence at Nature In Art June 2007.
  • Participated in the Artists for Nature Foundation residency to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India, March 2010.
  • Participated in the Artists for Nature Foundation project to Sark, Channel Islands in May 2011.
  • Guest tutor on John Busby’s Seabird Drawing Course, East Lothian, June 2012, 2013
  • Tour leader and tutor on Art Safari India Feb 2013 and Botswana June 2014
  • Field Studies Council Drawing Birds Workshop, May 2013, July 2014

Recent exhibitions include: Society of Wildlife Artists Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London; Birdscapes Gallery, Norfolk; Scottish Ornithologists Club, Aberlady. Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge; Designs Gallery, Castle Douglas; McGill Duncan Gallery, Castle Douglas; Kunstgalerie Oog Voor Natuur, Netherlands; The Jerram Gallery, Dorset.

Stretch by John Threlfall

Commissions include: the hide murals at Mersehead RSPB reserve, the visitor centre mural at Lochwinnoch RSPB reserve, commissioned paintings for RSPB Scotland and Birdlife International; mural and illustrations for the National Trust for Scotland; the bird illustrations at the Mull of Galloway visitor centre for Scottish Natural Heritage; illustrations and designs for interpretation boards and leaflets for Dumfries and Galloway Council and card designs for RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Drawn to the edgePublication of book ‘Between the Tides’ (Langford Press) Nov 2007.  New publication ‘Drawn to the Edge’ out August 2013. ‘An artists look at the habitat and wildlife of the UK coast’. Picture Book of the Month in the December 2013 edition of BBC Wildlife magazine. Details at  www.langford-press.co.uk

Featured articles in the Artist magazine (summer 2013), Bird Art and Photography magazine (summer 2012).


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