I realized they’re turning the deer back into new life, they’re these really peaceful alchemists flying around cleaning up after us all. I love them for that.
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THE INTERVIEW

Tell me about the process of how you create your artwork. 

My goal is for every piece to be a story, because I really want that emotional moment of seeing a bird and seeing it as a living thing to be seen in the piece I make. My rule is I can’t paint a bird until I see it. Otherwise I would just copy it out of a field guide, because they do it perfectly. 

What usually happens is I go out and I have an amazing day and I see something that really changes my life in a way. I think about it and I remember it and I go and try to draw the experience as I remember it, not looking at pictures or anything. 

Then I throw down a lot of watercolor. I love using ink and watercolor and stuff that really runs. It’s out of control and you can let it do its own thing, kind of like the experience of birding where you have no control over anything and you hope that it works out.

Then I fill in the anatomical details so people know what it is. I want to make sure the bird gets recognized, because it’s their picture too. 

Do you have a favorite bird to paint?

I love Turkey Vultures. They were a bird I really misunderstood. I grew up with the Lion King, and thought they were going to eat Simba, so they were mean. 

I watched them soar and they were so amazing! They were sort of goofy when they walked around, and I watched them eat dead deer. I realized they’re turning the deer back into new life, they’re these really peaceful alchemists flying around cleaning up after us all. That was a really peaceful thought. I love them for that.

Birding is…

Life.