Artist profile - Simon Eardley

Many of Simon's subjects are spotted while out walking

Many of Simon's subjects are spotted while out walking - Credit: Archant

Wildlife portraiture came naturally to Lancashire firefighter Simon Eardley, writes Barbara Waite

Simon has been a firefighter for 20 years

Simon has been a firefighter for 20 years - Credit: Archant

A passion for painting goes back to Simon Eardley’s schooldays and, bolstered by his love of the great outdoors, he naturally followed the path of wildlife portraiture and drawing.

‘I remember as a child, visiting museums and art galleries and being mesmerised by the images that had been put down on canvas. I am completely self-taught and began by using coloured pencils but now I favour pastels,’ he said.

Simon has been a full-time fire fighter with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service for 20 years, the last three with the Urban Search and Rescue department based at Bamber Bridge and Chorley near where he lives with his family and a multi-cultural set of dogs – two German wire-haired pointers and a Hungarian vizsla.

Although still on call as a front line firefighters, the team specialises as heavy rescue technicians and deal with major incidents such as train crashes, explosions and building collapses. His art is a perfect foil for such demanding work.

A grizzled border terrier

A grizzled border terrier - Credit: Archant

Exercising his dogs gives Simon the opportunity to get out in the field and take reference photos for his wildlife paintings.

‘Living in Bamber Bridge gives me easy access to some of the most stunning scenery that Lancashire has to offer and I spend a lot of time on the moors around White Coppice, Darwen, the Trough of Bowland, the Flyde coast and Brockholes. Really, the list is endless.

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‘We have such stunning scenery and wildlife in the British Isles so there is no shortage of material to work with. There is nothing more satisfying than getting an idea in your head for a new painting and then going out and taking your own reference photos, bringing them together in the form of your original idea.

‘The switch to pastels allows me to work quicker than I used to and they’ve also given me the confidence to tackle larger canvases than I normally would have,’ he added.

An owl watching out for its next meal

An owl watching out for its next meal - Credit: Archant

A large part of his work involves pet portraiture, predominately dogs. ‘People really love their pets so it’s a great feeling to see someone’s reaction when you’ve completed a commission and immortalised their cherished companion.’

Commission prices for portraits start at about £150 for single studies. See Simon’s website for further pricings, limited edition fine art prints and original artwork at

At present Simon, with clients in South Africa, America and New Zealand, is building up a portfolio of British Wildlife works with a view to holding a solo exhibition and is looking for a gallery.

Photographs for this article were taken by Dave Byers