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INSPIRED BY NATURE Wildlife Artist Neil Patey


old is known amongst his friends for his love of football, and he managed Dartmouth AFC for some years. To them he’s a quiet, affable chap who enjoys fishing and makes a living from picture framing. Few realise that Neil is an accomplished wildlife artist, whose paintings are collected internationally, and whose work has been commissioned by the National Trust and prestigious natural history illustrators the Wildlife Art Company, who work with clients including the Collins Field Guides and Natural History Museum in London. A visit to his home near Old Mill provides few clues.


T Peregrine at Beesands


he expression “hiding his light under a bushel” could have been coined especially for Neil Patey. Born and brought up in Dartmouth, the 38-year-


He doesn’t display his own work at home because “I never think any of them look right. There are thousands and thousands of brush strokes in each painting and I see the ones I’m not happy with. I suppose I’m too critical, but with the standard of work required by the people I paint for, that is a good thing.” The wildlife of the Dart and surrounding countryside


is Neil’s main inspiration, but he also paints more exotic species from around the world – birds mainly, but also fish, frogs and some landscapes, though “I try to steer clear of painting people” he shudders. “Most of the time I don’t choose what I paint, I’m told what to paint. I work a lot for an agency in the Middle East and they email me requests, so at the moment I’m doing a lot of hoopoes and cuckoos. They don’t tell me who the clients are (they don’t want me to go to them direct!) but apparently my work is hanging in Oman and Dubai, and a Sultan has been mentioned.” The trademark of Neil’s work is the detail. His paintings could almost be photographs, every feather, hair or scale individually shaded. He exhibits throughout the South West, often raising funds for The Barn Owl Trust. It’s the attention to detail which appeals to his clients. He explained: “I painted properties for the National Trust and one property manager was counting the bricks! The illustrations for the Wildlife Art Company have to be exact even to the number of feathers. Birds can lose a feather but they can’t have too many. In the early days I had a painting of a kingfisher sent back because it had one too many feathers on the wing. It set the standard.” His pictures are painted in acrylics, but sometimes for a


Dartmouth Castle


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