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Painting Puffins: Northumberland’s Quirkiest Bird

Posted by Joanne Wishart on

Painting Puffins: Northumberland’s Quirkiest Seabird

The puffin is synonymous with Northumberland’s beautiful coastline. One of the world’s most unique seabirds, they’re known locally as “Tommy Noddys” and commonly nest on the Farne Islands.

Puffins are one of my favourite things to paint, which is why I have quite a few puffin art pieces on my site, including my new Flying Puffins Tea Towel, showing a host of the colourful birds in flight! 

A lilac blue coastal tea towel featuring Puffins flying in a pattern.

Puffin facts

Between mid-April and late July, puffins head to the Farne Islands to breed. Tourists can visit the islands and see their nests - burrowed into the peaty ground of the islands. Puffin chicks are known as… prepare yourself for the cuteness...  pufflings! 

Puffins are long-lived birds with lifespans in excess of 20 years, with some UK birds living for three decades! They are entirely sea-based over winter but return to land to nest in the summer season. The Northumberland puffins we’re discussing here habitually return to the Farne Islands to nest. Unfortunately, they are a red-listed species that is in decline. 

It’s also during these breeding seasons that their bills are at their shiniest! During winter at sea, puffin bills turn a cold grey. When back on land, their colourful rainbow pattern returns. Though even on land, Puffins head to the water to hunt their prey. They are carnivorous and can dive up to 60m to retrieve fish. 

With such beautiful colouring, it’s easy to see why puffins are so beloved - but if you’ve never seen them on land then you’re missing out on just how endearing they are. On land, the puffin is a clumsy bird - hopping and stumbling around in a way that is reminiscent of penguins. At sea, or in their dashing aerial dives, they become agile and dextrous. This transition between awkward land bird and maverick sea bird makes them all the more amazing to watch. 

Not only are puffins a breath-taking spectacle, but they also have a fascinating story. Did you know that puffins typically mate for life? Making an original puffin greetings card the perfect way to mark a special anniversary for your other half or another couple in your life. 


A greetings card featuring a flying puffin over a turquoise sea.

Painting Puffins in Northumberland

Plus, thanks to their friendly nature, puffins are also easy to study. Tourists can visit Seahouses then hire a boat to visit the Farne Islands. Once the boat completes a tour around the islands, tourists are allowed to dismount and then walk around the island to get up close to the birds. You should never get close enough to touch them - but taking photographs is encouraged! On your return to Seahouses, don’t forget to pop by independent art shop Drift to purchase some of my unique art?

A mounted print of a scene of Seahorses harbour with colourful red boats and Bamburgh Castle and beach in the distance.  

I love painting puffins - and you can probably tell why. They’re not only beautiful birds in terms of their colouring but also in terms of their unique personalities. Of course, their association with Northumberland and the Farne islands also makes them dear to me. 

Using inspiration to evolve as an artist

Puffins are exactly the type of inspiration an artist needs to help come up with new ideas. Their cheeky personalities and mixture of beauty, grace and clumsiness are so endearing. Coupled with how easy it is to visit the Farne Islands by taking a boat from Seahouses, it’s no surprise I have lots of Puffin related art on my site. 

During the lockdown, I could no longer visit the Farne islands or other Northumberland areas I love. Resigned to life at home whilst I homeschooled my children, I decided to take an online course to rejuvenate my skills in surface pattern design (which was my degree subject). I’ve been creating new wrapping paper designs as a result of this training and I’m delighted to share this one with you today whilst we’re on the subject of puffins! 

 Puffin Gift wrapping paper and matching labels by Joanne Wishart

Have you ever visited Seahouses and the Farne Islands to see the puffins? Such beautiful but sadly endangered birds deserve all the attention they can get. Shop my art prints online now if you’d like greetings cards, tea towels or wrapping paper featuring the cheeky seabirds. 

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Northumberland Hidden Gems | Northumberland Walks | Joanne Wishart

Posted by Joanne Wishart on

Discover Northumberland’s Hidden Gems 

Northumberland is a stunning place. Not only does it boast miles upon miles of some of England’s only remaining untouched wilderness, but the region is also home to quaint towns, captivating coastlines and buildings rich in history.

Some of the region’s best spots, however, are hidden away from the general public. They’re the sort of areas nestled away from the busiest areas like Bamburgh Castle - offering a unique, secluded intimacy that helps accentuate the region’s beauty. 

Rumbling Kern, Howick

Rumbling Kern is a truly spectacular cove nestled away in the Northumberland coastline. Overlooked by a Grade II listed building known as the Bathing House, the cove is named after the sound made by waves crashing through rocks in high tide. The beach is a real hidden gem as Google Maps don’t even recognise the location. Instead, you need to head south of Craster to Howick before walking down to the beach. 

The cove is a secluded, peaceful; place with a beautiful beach in low tide. Our Bathing House painting captures the lonely cottage which overlooks the area. If you choose to visit Rumbling Kern, buy a limited edition print to commemorate your trip. 


The Bathing House Howick on the Northumberland Coastal Path Art Print by Joanne Wishart

Duddo Stone Circle

Northumberland has its very own Stonehenge, a collection of standing stones whose history stretch back to the neolithic period. The stones are located next to Duddo, a village situated near Berwick on the Scottish border. These five stones are perched on a hill, so there are incredible vistas across the wilderness all around. For those who love ancient history, you can’t really go wrong.  

Northumberland Coastal Path

Okay - so maybe this one isn’t quite a hidden gem. As Northumberland’s premier walking route, the coastal path is hardly hidden away. However, the route itself does serve as an opportunity to find vast moments of solace and seclusion - especially for those who walk the entire path. The popular stretches are those near towns and villages, but there are many places where the trail ambles through total isolation and empty beaches. 


Northumberland Coastal Path Bathing House Howick Art Print Joanne wishart

The coastal path itself inspired this limited edition print: with the Bathing House at Howick in the distance and fields of wildflowers nearby. 

Linhope Spout

Northumberland has a few great waterfalls, but this one is particularly special thanks to the small pool it creates at its foot. Some adventure seekers in the summertime even head to the pool to take a daring leap down into it. 

For most of us, though, Linhope spout is just a great walk amidst wild moorlands. It’s around a mile and a half from Hartside Farm to reach the waterfall itself, with the going fairly moderate. A must-visit for families who enjoy wild swimming with the kids. 

Newton by the Sea

Low Newton Northumberland Art Print Joanne Wishart

The silhouette of Dunstanburgh castle is instantly recognisable from Newton by the sea, a quiet village with an incredible beach. The beach itself sits across a stretch of sea that guards it against the peninsula where Dunstanburgh sits, giving the entire landscape an incredible backdrop. 

Less popular than many of the nearby villages, this is a quieter beach to sit and soak in the sunshine and historic views. 

Buy a limited edition print here.

Bolam Lake

A place is well known by locals but not as visited by tourists, Bolam Lake is a lovely lakeside and woodland area with lots of open grassy areas for picnics. The lakeside itself is great as it boasts an accessible path, so it can be enjoyed by all. Wildlife spotters will be pleased, as Bolam lake hosts many different species such as red squirrels, roe deer and the spotted woodpecker. 


Home to an RAF base, Boulmer may not be your first choice as a tourist visiting Northumberland. But while it may be famous for its military associations, Boulmer is also a quiet village with a beautiful coastline free from all of the bustle of the more popular Alnmouth to its south. Boulmer itself is home to quaint cottages which look out across the sea, and the village itself has buildings over a hundred years old.

With its authentic fishing history and quiet location, this is a true hidden gem for those looking for a quiet escape. This limited edition print captures the area’s heritage, with a family walking along the coastline overlooked by moored fishing boats. 

Northumberland has so much to offer to people from all walks of life. For me, in particular, the region is such an inspiration for the art featured here on the site. Shop our Northumberland art prints for a memento of your trips to England’s last true wilderness.


Boulmer Northumberland Art Print Joanne Wishart
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Draw the Oceans with Greenpeace

Posted by Joanne Wishart on

Draw the Oceans Challenge

Big Blue Whale  Greetings card by Joanne Wishart Draw the oceans challenge

This month Greenpeace challenged artist and illustrations form all over the globe to join in with their campaign to draw the oceans. The project aims to highlight that the Arctic Sunrise is sailing through the Indian Ocean and documenting the threats our oceans face, and put pressure on governments to protect them.   

Draw the Oceans

The draw the oceans campaign was headlined by artists such as Oliver Jeffers, Quentin Blake, Jane Foster to name a few and you can view all submissions by searching the #drawtheoceans hashtag on social media.   

Joanne Wishart Draws the Oceans

So it seemed rude not to join in and show you some of my ocean artwork and whale imagery. It's given me thoughts of doing a large canvas painting of a whale too. So what this space.

Orca whale greetings card by Joanne Wishart draw the oceans

Draw the oceans and join in

To find out more about this campaign and give greenpeace your support, please visit the Greenpeace website here. Draw the Oceans and join in.



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Weather Pictures Competition - BBC North East and Cumbria

Posted by Joanne Wishart on

Weather Pictures Competition - BBC North East and Cumbria

I am delighted to be the January judge for the BBC North East and Cumbria weather pictures competition. It was a pleasure to receive a phone call from the wonderful Paul Mooney who asked me to do the honours. 

Paul (our regional BBC weatherman) and I met on the Great North Elmer Parade when he interviewed me for a short feature about Elmer the Elephish, outside the Dome in Whitley Bay. 

BBC Weather Paul Mooney and artist Joanne Wishart with elephant on the Great North Elmer Parade outside the Whitley Bay Dome

Weather Pictures Competition

The weather pictures competition is all about weather pictures sent in by viewers each month representing the regions weather. A couple of pictures are featured at the beginning of the weather broadcast each day and each month they are all sent to an external judge to pick the winner.  The winning weather photo from each month gets made into the BBC Look North Weather Calendar to raise money for BBC Children in Need.

Judging the Weather Pictures Competition

January was a bumper month as you can imagine with so much snow, wind, rain and sun to contend with. I had a really amazing selection of weather pictures to choose from. It was a really difficult choice.

Click here to view the feature

Runners up

Ice Pancakes - by Jane Saul

BBC weather pictures of Ice pancakes on the river tyne

I chose this photo as Jane really captured quite a rare sighting of a cluster of ice formations in the River Tyne. This beautiful pattern of circular sculptures floating on the surface of the water really show something magical that the weather and nature can create.  

Open Water Swimmers at Derwent - Mike Pearson

BBC weather pictures two ladies swimming in a flooded derwent

This photo really did make me smile. The photograph shows such a flat, dull, wet, grey day. The Derwent is flooded but there standing on the submerged jetty are two open water swimmers making the most of the January weather. Loved the Wonder Woman costume and big smiles. Well done for catching this moment Mike.


Sunrise at Bowes Museum - Andy Beck

Bowes museum photograph winner for the BBC weather pictures competition

I instantly connected with this photograph by Andy as it features one of the last cultural venues that I visited last March before we went into the first lockdown. It's a lovely traditional snowy sunrise scene. I can just imagine myself sitting on that bench and watching the sunrise over this magnificent building. The photo very much captured the quietness of a venue that is sadly closed due to the pandemic but the sunrise raises optimism that the sun will rise again over the Bowes Museum and all our much loved cultural venues in the region. 

Watch the weather pictures film clip click here 

How to enter the weather pictures competition? Click here

If you are out and about and snap a great picture of the weather then I'm sure Paul would love to hear from you. Get snapping!


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North East Artist - Lockdown Paintings

Posted by Joanne Wishart on

North East Artist

North East Artist Joanne Wishart painting at the Easel Northumberland picture 

North East Artist Joanne Wishart based in Cullercoats on the North East coast. She is busy painting lots of new pictures during lockdown. Drawing on her days out on the North East coast last summer she has plenty of inspiration to keep her creative behind the scenes!

Inspiration for a North East Artist

Paintings of the North East are what Joanne is most famous for and her work is collected by many people. She has an extensive catalogue of limited edition prints and paintings depicting many of the most famous beaches and landmarks on the North East coast.

Landscapes in the North East

Joanne paints many North East coastal landscapes and she is currently focusing on scenes of the Old Bath House, Craster, Embleton Bay and Low Newton. She is building up a stock of new paintings to hang in her gallery when she is allowed to reopen after lockdown.

Artist at Work

Painting on an easel in her studio / gallery in Cullercoats Joanne uses acrylic painting techniques to build up colour and texture to create her cheerful pictures on the North East coast. 

To see whats currently on sale in the gallery visit: Original Artwork 

Joanne can deliver paintings and prints to your door if you live in the local area or please contact us to arrange a courier.


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