More About Mouse



Mouse Macpherson was a quite extraordinarily gifted wildlife artist and a remarkable human being.  She had a boundless zest for life.  Her infectious enthusiasm, vivacity and passion for nature touched everyone she met.  Through her paintings and sketchbooks she left a remarkable legacy, a library of images that reveal the innermost secrets of the natural world.  Her paintings sparkle with joy and life, her subjects imbued with rich detail and vivid colour.

Born in Suffolk, Mouse grew up on her parents’ asparagus farm.  Roaming the East Anglian countryside, she developed her life-long fascination with wildlife.  Over the years her pets included: a hare, red squirrels, a chameleon, weasels, several owls and kestrels in various states of repair, a peregrine falcon, a goshawk, a peacock that regularly came into the house, plus all the more normal  pets such as cats, dogs and ponies. Insatiably curious, Mouse collected and drew the plants, animals and insects that she found around her.

At 15 she left school to attend art classes with Cavendish Morton, an influential local artist who taught her the skills of drawing and painting. In 1957 Mouse had an oil painting entitled “Winter – a still Life” selected to hang in the Royal Academy.  She was just 16, the youngest artist since Turner to exhibit at the Summer Exhibition.

She could turn her paint brush to any subject but it was always the natural world that was her focus.  Her meticulous botanical studies are exquisite in their detail – from hedgerow berries to natural grasses and the wild flowers of meadows and fens, through to luscious portraits of garden flowers.  Rich in colour, Mouse’s paintings lift the lid on the hidden world of plants.

Her studies of animals, birds and fish reveal her deep empathy with living creatures.  Through her brushstrokes, crabs scuttle amongst the kelp, butterflies flit from  flower to flower and triggerfish take on distinct personalities.

In 1957 Mouse met her future husband Tim Macpherson, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.  Tim was a rather wild red-head who shared her love of wildlife and nature.

Tim and Mouse spent the first couple of years of their married life in Germany while Tim was still in the army.  There, Mouse painted a wide range of wildlife for private commissions and large backdrops for the various Officers Mess parties.

After leaving the army, Tim was employed in the Malting Industry.  Together with their three daughters, Louie, Kate and Iona, the family moved to rural Lincolnshire. Mouse set up her studio in the attic of their farmhouse where she loved to hide away and paint most days using gouaches, ink or oil paints.  The girls were sent out into the local meadows, woods and ponds, to find treasures such as owl pellets, feathers and eels and tadpoles to bring home for Mouse to paint.

Local people would bring injured birds to the farmhouse.  Mouse splinted broken wings and nursed her charges back to health on perches set along the kitchen dresser, releasing the birds back into the wild whenever possible. As a result, a Peregrine falcon, various owls and kestrels and a crow joined the Macpherson family.

Mouse’s interests were eclectic ranging from gardening to clothes-making, restoring antique furniture to home decorating and cooking feasts for parties. She curated her own museum collection of hundreds of artefacts from flint arrow heads, to fossils, and shells to antique clothes. She enjoyed ice skating, archery, fencing, and tennis and was an accomplished horsewoman.

Despite being hugely dyslexic she was an avid reader, tireless letter writer to her many friends and a fastidious diary keeper.  Her hectic writing style matched her personality:  words were crammed onto the page and all her correspondence was sprinkled with amusing sketches. Her signature, whether on paintings, letters or her cheque book was always a mouse.

Mouse never went anywhere without her paints, so she could record everything new that she encountered adding to her ever mounting reference collection. Her meticulous eye for detail and precise brushstrokes led her to develop a vivid natural style. Her pictures made her wildlife subjects come alive on the page.

Summers were spent beachcombing along the wild coastline of Loch Hourn, on the west coast of Scotland, accompanied by a menagerie of hawks, the family peacock, Mckillop, and a German pointer, all of whom travelled to Scotland crammed together into their small Ford Fiesta!

Idyllic days were spent exploring the shore, puttering around in a clinker boat or clambering up to hill lochs to hunt and fish for crabs, lobsters, mackerel, trout, and starfish, seashells, kelp, wild flowers, butterflies and beetles, for Mouse to paint. Most of these trophies were either returned to the wild or cooked over a fire on the beach for supper, whilst listening to stories of dragons, fairies and ogres, and washed down with hot Ribena and whisky.

The family grew up in a loving atmosphere full of fun and laughter.  The Macphersons enjoyed a very happy-go-lucky life.  Meals were rarely on time but everyone was fed eventually.   Mouse painted prolifically, Tim rose to become Managing Director of Associated British Maltsters and the girls went to school, rode ferociously and slowly grew up.

In May 1986 tragedy struck.  Mouse, Tim and their youngest daughter, Iona, were killed by a terrorist bomb in Sri Lanka whilst they were on a holiday flight to the Maldive Islands.  Mouse was just 45 when she died.  She had so much more to give as an artist, wife, mother, daughter and friend.

Mouse typically painted on commission or sold her paintings through regular exhibitions. Most of the pictures on this website are from her encyclopaedic artist’s sketchbooks.   These reference works were not always fully completed but capture the essential character, shapes and colours of her subjects.  They remain a tribute to a remarkable and intuitive artist.

Mouse with collie dog by Loch Hourn. Scotland

Mouse with Louie, Kate & Iona, Loch Hourn.

Mouse family looking for interesting creatures by Loch Hourn. Scotland.

Mouse with Hamish the Peregrine, who had lost a wing.

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