This was a favourite subject matter for Dad, but usually executed in characteristically free-flowing pencil drawings and watercolour. This is a rare oil painting on the subject.
A peanut feeder has hung on the wire balustrade outside the dining room window since the house was built, feeding many generations of robins, chaffinch, nuthatches, a great many species of tits and (unfortunately) squirrels.
Here we have the gregarious family of long-tailed tits happily feeding together. An opportunistic blue tit has joined them, but the great tits and robin are biding their time.
John Busby’s characteristic use of subtleties of colour is evident in the vibrant background showing the shrubbery behind in glorious tones. These are not birds overly concerned with camouflage but he shows how their markings serve to confuse the eye as they dart back and forth in the ‘greenery’.
John was always encouraging us to observe carefully (and he did have a great sense of humour), so full marks if you had already spotted the blackbird before reading this! see below
The picture is 45 x 35 cm, oil on canvas. No signature or date visible, although from the partial sticker on the back it looks as though it was exhibited at the Mall Gallery on one occasion.
In 2011 I made a video of John drawing the birds which can be seen here: