|The Original Art of Cameron Bird||
About Cameron Bird
This head and shoulder study of a coastal grizzly happened over a period of time in my studio. I completed my initial layer then began simplifying brushwork and shapes trying for the essence. Once the bear began to take shape I played around with the background which at one time contained autumn foliage. I eventually realized I was trying to say too much in a small canvas so again simplified. To make the piece come alive I did some glazing and this was the most important step.
Banff is such a beautiful mountain town in the Canadian Rockies and I love heading out along Vermilion Lakes and gather various references. I sketch after using a crayon and also I will bring if I have time my small paint box and do an oil study. This piece was inspired by a sketch I did where I was looking at the mountains and alpine slopes surrounding the lakes. I love all the angles on this piece and felt I could make a strong composition. Often some of the best paintings come from out of the corner of my eye, away from the classic scene that are so often photographed.
I tend to treat 16 x 20 canvasses like I’m painting a study. I tend to push the colour and paint load which adds to the power of these works. Painting high alpine slopes with all the angular shoulders and abstract patterns is a unique part of what I do. Pieces such as this are at the edge of abstraction with just enough information to hold it all together. One thing I do find is having a strong angle in the composition is important for eye movement as well as power in the piece
“The region around the Fraser River in the Cariboo-Chilcotin is such beautiful rugged country. There is so much history mainly of First Nations culture along the river as well as ranching. The big Gang Ranch sits high upon benchlands above the Fraser and is a beautiful place. They keep everything in such good shape and the red/white buildings can be seen from great distances. This is a painting of the Gang Bridge which cattle have been herded over. Most ranches in the area are large and quite remote even in this day and age. I love painting the dry country and special lighting.”
– Cameron Bird
“Jim Simpson was a unique character in the opening up of the mountains near Lake Louise and further north. He guided and ran horse pack trains from (Laggan) Lake Louise north towards Jasper. He came across Bow Lake and realized its beauty and power. He guided from this spot first building this Ram Pasture Cabin from logs around Bow Lake. The cabin has a unique shape due to short logs and I thought doing a painting would preserve it forever. There is so much history in the area and eventually Num-Ti-Jah Lodge was built for clients and tourists which continues to this day.”
– Cameron Bird
Moraine Lake is such a beautiful oasis among a series of rugged peaks. I love to portray the many moods of the region and especially the reflections. This piece is a play on that theme and I grabbed acrylic as a medium because I wanted to be spontaneous but also do many layers of glazing After the series of glazes I put in the opaque touches especially the snow patches that give another dimension and power to the piece. I find I try to see the regions in the shoulder seasons when things are quieter and not so many tourists.
There isn’t too much to say about such a scene other than moose are ugly and beautiful all at once. As a painter I feel I can really showcase my personal style when portraying them and I think this piece will hold its own on any wall. The background is a colourful memory of days in aspen groves seeing moose going about their business. This piece becomes more of a contemporary portrait of a big bull and I tried to use contrasting colours to give it more mood.
The Bow River has many facets and I always love studying the quieter moments where colour and patterns make the scene. There is an abstract quality to such compositions and I think they can be powerful. I grounded this piece using a big boulder in the river and gave the feeling of the country beyond through the mountain reflection with touches of snow. Hopefully the viewer will appreciate the beauty that I saw when approaching the river’s edge away from the grandiose.
I’ve spent many a fall day on the Skeena, Bulkley, Morice and Kispiox River spey fishing for steelhead. Almost daily there is a story of an encounter with a bear. The foliage is usually thick around the river edge and it’s easy to surprise a big black bear. I sketched in this small bear study with memories of such trips. It doesn’t seem like fall if I haven’t cast a line in that beautiful country. Someday I don’t concentrate much on fishing but sit on the river edge coffee in hand and just soak it all in. This all becomes a part of the paintings created back in the studio.
“I love painting these alpine slopes that are almost an abstraction of trees and undergrowth. Being out in the high scree slopes in autumn colour with an early snowfall approaching is inspiration enough for a return to the studio. This piece I did from memory from hours of studying the landscape and I try to simplify, producing a unique and powerful statement. The composition I think is strengthened by the angle of view which I don’t see after in painting. Most landscapes are based on a flat horizontal however certain themes can benefit from powerful angles.”
– Cameron Bird
“This is a scene of the big old barn at Kelly Lake Ranch and I came across it again when I was on a picnic with my family. I walked around doing some crayon sketches and a few photos then I decided to try an oil study when back in the studio. I also love bringing my paint box along and doing an oil study on site. This ranch recently sold and the new owners want to keep it historically accurate and they know it has so much history. The stagecoach used to come by here enroute to Barkerville. Some of the cabins have some”
– Cameron Bird
“I never know when I’ll put the oils down and grab acrylics, however, sometimes there are certain effects I just can’t achieve with one of them. This scene began from a crayon sketch I did on site and the colouring was in my memory. I wanted that high alpine lighting where it’s arriving into a steep valley and just “kissing” certain spots. The play of warm cool is important and I think the angles and patterns make for a powerful painting. If I only have my crayon studies to work from I find I do more inventive colours than if a photo is involved”
– Cameron Bird
“This is a very distinctive mountain in Yoho National Park rising above Lake O’Hara. Decided to try a high alpine viewpoint with contrasting yellow larch trees which provide a beautiful scene in early autumn. I tried for a nice warm-cool colour relationship creating a true silvery (colours) alpine feel. I’ve worked on horseback in high country and when traveling at a slower pace through such surroundings one has time to study the colours and patterns. I seem to like using big strong boulders to ground the scene especially using such angles of composition.”
– Cameron Bird