As we move into winter and dark evenings, the theme of my latest painting depicts a character all too familiar in the countryside where I live. I photographed a fence-post covered in ivy and then enhanced the photo to change it from the winter green to an eerie twilight effect. Initially I was going to paint various birds in and around the ivy, but then of course at dusk the small birds would all be roosting. But one character is always awake at this hour, a bird of prey, labelled 'phantom' as he will suddenly appear like a ghost from nowhere, making no sound as he hunts for his prey. Well, they suddenly appear out of nowhere and disappear just as fast and I did not have a photograph of a barn owl to paint so I went to the Raptor Foundation in Cambridgeshire and took several photos of this beauty you can see in my painting!