People know my work best for my dramatic, large-scale paintings and murals of photorealistic birds. It’s a passion that I have had since childhood. However, it would be wrong to consider me a naturalist or wildlife artist. When I do a painting of a bird, I am not aiming for realism. I am trying to capture not only their image but the stillness of their souls.
Visualization is key for me. It is a kind of zen process. I have to see the painting as a completely finished piece, in my mind. I establish the subject, the layout, the colors and the size… I even sometimes see it hung in a particular setting or establishment. If it’s street art, then I visualize it as part of the whole environment and everything around it.
When I do a painting of birds, I always start with the eyes because I feel like they need to communicate to me. I need to be able to relate or communicate with the subject and then it morphs from that point on. Because the bird is a single theme for me, I always put a plain background in a solid colour. I really want to emphasize the bird. I want its true character to shine through.
Birds have long been strong symbols for aboriginal people throughout the world. The crane has represented longevity, the owl wisdom, the parrot word magic, the cardinal power and enthusiasm, the canary illumination and the crow prophecy. Birds have also been symbols of spiritual growth or transcendence and man’s striving to attain that goal. Their flight has symbolized our own journey of release, renunciation, atonement and compassion.
For me, birds have always symbolized freedom and our awareness of our own forever-fleeting present. I feel that my paintings of birds not only show us the beauty of the bird itself, but are also telling us to enjoy each of life’s individual moments – “Carpe diem; seize the day!”