Burntisland-based landscape and nature artist Leo du Feu uses his art to help raise funds for a number of wildlife charities.
He regularly donates paintings to charity raffles and auctions to raise funds for worthy causes such as the RSPB, OneKind and the British Trust for Ornithology, as well as taking painting sessions with classes at Burntisland and Newcastle Primary School in Glenrothes, giving talks to local groups about his work... and hosting workshops.
But he says that, equally as important as the money raising aspect of his art, if not more so, is the work he is doing to help spread his love of nature to the next generation which he hopes will take up the conservation baton.
“It is wonderful to see children inspired by going outside to paint. They just love seeing birds and insects in their natural environment and it is great when they come to you saying I saw a bird doing this or a bat in this place. If I can help inspire them just a little to look into nature a bit more then that’s worth a huge amount to me,” he explained.
Leo says his love for landscape and wildlife art developed gradually after leaving Edinburgh College of Art in 2006.
“I have always been inspired by nature and grew up in a family that spent lots of time outdoors but, at college, most of my work was fantastical, based on nature, but taking small parts and developing it into a hidden world.
“It was only later, when I was doing some gardening for a wildlife photographer where I grew up in Linlithgow, that I became really interested.
“I realised two things – one, that I really loved Scotland and there was so much of it I hadn’t explored. I wanted to travel around by train visiting places I hadn’t been to and writing about and drawing the wildlife from them. The second thing was that I could do my drawing and painting outdoors.”
Leo approached ScotRail with his idea and received backing from it to help finance his travel by rail around the country.
“It supports me to travel and I write a blog entitled landscapeartnaturebirds.blogspot.com where I write about the places I visit by train, the wildlife, the cafes I visit, with links to things and drawings and sketches I have done of them.”
He is also planning to take space at Burntisland railway station’s Platform One studios, where the disused railway buildings are being renovated into artist’s and craft workshops.
“I am immensely lucky to do what I love as a job,” he said.
It was happy childhood memories of times spent in Burntisland which attracted Leo and his wife, Jennifer, to live in the town.
And they have been living happily in Ferguson Place for five years now, joined last year by their beautiful son Oren.
Leo was born in Edinburgh and lived in Linlithgow from when he was two until after leaving art college.
While looking through the property pages of a newspaper after deciding to buy a place of their own, he and Jennifer came across a photograph of their current house’s living room and fell in love with it.
“We both had very happy memories of Burntisland from our childhoods and we just decided to come across and see the property.
“The whole place seemed lovely, having the sea was a great attraction for us and, after going into the former Potter About and chatting to people,we decided to put in an offer, which was accepted.”
And Leo says the town is a great base for his art which he regularly exhibits around Scotland.
“I keep myself busy and as well as my Scotland by Rail project, which encourages people to travel and see the country by train, I do private commissions, run school sessions, do workshops, talks and workshops,” he explained.
“I help out with the RSPB birdwatch and other projects and every year I spend two weeks doing the wild bird count on the Isle of May which I combine with my art.