There’s something inherently beautiful about birds, whether it’s their colors, shapes, behaviors or all of the above. That’s why it’s not surprising that many artists try to capture and interpret their beauty through paintings, drawing and photography—including John James Audubon. I recently stumbled upon a British artist Chris Lodge whose oil paintings .
Tell me a little bit about yourself, such as where you’re from, what you do for a living, etc.
I was born and grew up in Essex, UK. After I left school I began working for the RSPB, assisting with research projects into threatened birds throughout the UK. I have therefore been lucky enough to live and work in some beautiful and wild locations in Britain such as the Scottish Islands and the Lake District. I have also travelled more widely in recent years – my passion for birding taking me to every continent on the planet during the last decade. I have also lived for two years in Massachusetts, enjoying the fine birds to be found in that state!
Firstly, I’d like to just say your artwork is absolutely stunning. When did you first become interested in creating art?
I have always enjoyed art. As a boy this was mainly expressed in drawings of natural objects such as insects, birds and even animal skulls! I developed artistically during my teenage years, experimenting with different painting mediums and subjects.
Currently, all of the artwork on your site is focused on birds. Why do you find birds to be such compelling subjects to paint?
My passion for birds has become the real driving force that inspired me to want to paint more. As I became more engrossed with watching birds, I increasingly began to observe their great beauty and diversity. As I grew to know my subject more intimately, the urge to capture or reflect this beauty became stronger. I think this has changed the way I watch birds – I now get more excited about seeing a familiar species in a new light or beautiful setting, than I do seeing a new species for the first time.
How do you get your inspiration for your artwork?
This is the fun part! I am constantly inspired by the birds I see. Every time I go birding there is always something new and fascinating to see. Every day and indeed moment is different. On a seasonal basis the bird’s plumage and the environment they live in will be different, and minute by minute the light, colours and composition of a scene can change dramatically as the birds, light and weather all interact with each other. This constant change and movement provides an abundance of inspirational images – the only difficult part is deciding which one to paint!
What is your method for composing these pieces of art? Do you go to parks to observe birds?
The basis for any of my compositions is usually a beautiful moment I have seen. This beauty could come from the position or colours of a single bird, a group of birds interacting with each other, or often the way that light falls on the birds and their habitats. Translating these sightings into a composition for a painting can often involve adding or subtracting birds from the scene to help make the image more pleasing to look at. I often sketch out a number of different birds and then move them around to see how they look in different positions alongside each other. In many cases I can spend several hours just ‘messing around’ with alternative compositions until I am happy that I have achieved the right look for a painting. Usually I will leave my final composition for a day or two and then reassess the composition with fresh eyes before committing to begin painting.
Do you find that there’s an inherent beauty in birds?
I do think that there is an inherent beauty that runs throughout the natural world. We are all very lucky to be able to see and appreciate so much natural beauty all around us, be it a leaf, flower, insect, bird or fish. We live on such a beautiful planet and I’m glad to have had the chance to see so many wonderful species.
How do you decide which birds to draw?
I do have favourite groups of birds that I return to often as subjects. Amongst these are the terns, gulls, waders and ducks. I find the way these birds deport themselves to be particularly elegant, and often the watery and wild environments they live in add to their beauty by creating wonderful light, patterns and reflections.
I’d hate to anthropomorphize the birds, but do you see or try to bring out their personalities in your paintings?
I wouldn’t say that I try to capture individual bird’s personalities, but rather I try to depict the character of each species. Each of my paintings is inspired by connecting with birds directly in the field. I try to translate the feeling of a specific moment I have seen in life into every painting, hopefully capturing the essence of the bird, light and environment.
Where can people buy your art if they’re interested?
People can view and buy my original oil paintings and signed limited edition prints directly on my website: www.chrislodgeart.com
I would love for people to view and comment on my work on the Facebook page devoted to my art, where I post work in progress and new paintings as they are completed: www.facebook.com/ChrisLodgeArtist