The Forager
Grey Squirrel
mixed media
private collection, Minnesota
It’s hard for me to believe, but I painted this almost twenty years a ago now, in my Ohio studio in 1994. Squirrels are ubiquitous in the Midwest, but as an Australian they were still quite a novelty, and I based this on a particular critter we fed a Nutter Butter cracker to in a park outside of Cleveland. I re-located him onto the beautiful stone steps for the painting, and loved getting into all the weeds and lichen, nature, as ever, beginning to reclaim our efforts.

Keeper of the Barn
Barn Owl
private collection, Minnesota
Birds of prey have long been a favourite of mine to paint, and I’ve done many barn owls over the years – this is one of the earliest. The location is a barn that I’d sketched in Georgia, at a historic homestead on the outskirts of Savannah. The plumage of these owls is a gorgeous lacework of buff, white and black, and I’ve shown him slightly fanning his wing – a mantling position, which raptors often adopt to shield their prey from crows and other would-be thieves.

The Journey Downstream
River Otter
private collection, Minnesota
This is one of my favourite paintings from that period, showing a North American river otter cautiously exploring an Ohio creek. I remember painting this well, I’d long been intimidated by painting water – always a tricky subject – and with this one I jumped in head-first tackling standing water, tumbling water and frothing water, and in quite steep perspective. Once again I enjoyed the rocks, moss and vegetation, creating a little slice of the otter’s world. These first three paintings are in a private collection in Minnesota, a ‘bulk’ sale I made in 1995 to a collector at a show in Minneapolis. The sale financed a move form the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest – an area of immense natural beauty and a great inspiration for my next few year’s work.

Red Tailed Hawk
private collection, Canada
This was one of the first paintings to come form my new Seattle studio, once again a mantling raptor, this time a red-tailed hawk. These are very common birds in North America, most often seen on telephone lines along highways – and their distinctive ‘shrieeek’ is heard on the soundtrack of any desert scene in American movies…I’ve painted him in an Aspen forest I spent some time in en-route to Seattle, just outside of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Sailing the Sound
Sea Otter
private collection, Washington
Another western animal, the gorgeous sea otter found up and down the west coast of America and Canada. This was one I’d seen not too far out of Seattle, in Puget Sound, and I’ve cropped the scene heavily because I just loved the expression on his face! Tricky water again here, and just to clarify the ‘mixed-media’ of these, I used water-soluble pencils and gouache – essentially any white you can see is zinc white gouache, and it was always the last step in the process.

Midnight Wolf
private collection, Ohio
I think there are more wolf paintings in America than there are wolves, which is understandable because that are such beautiful, enigmatic animals. With the landscape covered in snow, the light from a full moon bounces around and is so reflected that it’s practically daylight, and this is how I’ve painted this particular beauty.

Safe Haven
Snow Leopard Cub
private collection, Hong Kong
I’ve not been to the Himalayas, where these magnificent animals are found, but in this case I needed no background, the cub was one of four that were nestled into their mothers luxurious coat. This was a Melbourne Zoo animal, but I painted it in America, and it sold at a Bonham’s auction in Hong Kong in 1997.

Indian Rhinoceros
private collection, Australia
Another exotic creature, the near mythical one-horned Indian rhinoceros. My title comes from one of the sub-continent’s great rivers that winds through the animals territory, a place I’m yet to visit – but on the agenda one day, purely to see one of these giants in the wild. I’ve painted them many times over the years, they have such a presence about them, that mighty horn, and a dimpled, cascading hide that is like a landscape in its own right. Amazing animals.

Safe Passage
Koala and Young
private collection, Australia
By 2001 I was back in Melbourne, and keen to paint Australian wildlife again – what better start than the wonderful koala! I’ve chosen to paint this mother on the ground – in the bushy undergrowth of the Grampians in central Victoria. This was my largest painting in my 2005 ‘Gondwana’ show in Tokyo, and featured on the invitation(as seen in one of my blog entries). I loved returning to the blues and golds of the Australian bush, and the colourful eucalyptus trees synonymous with the our forests.

private collection, Australia
Perhaps the ‘stateliest’ Australian bird, the brolga is an elegant sight whenever seen, and these two were a pair I spotted in central Queensland on a trip through the Outback in 2006. They’re a lovely pale blue, and against the vast sky they looked just magnificent.

Black Swan
I do love seeing wild black swans, I’ve watched them gliding on lakes in Western Australia, up on the Murray River in northern Victoria, and nesting in marshy paddocks on King Island – this was a rather more urban encounter – on Albert Park Lake in central Melbourne, surrounded by joggers and sailboats. Exquisite birds, the frills of their wing feathers, the elegant ‘S’ curve of their neck, and the scarlet bills – a great beauty of the avian world.