|The Original Art of Cameron Bird||
About Cameron Bird
I’ve spent time at Moraine and I tend to be drawn to scenes such as this over the big ‘drama’ scenes that we see in photos. This boulder outcrop grabbed at me with its abstract shapes and patterns set off against a part of the ‘Valley of Ten’ peaks. I tried to produce a powerful painting that goes beyond its borders and will seem larger when framed on a wall.
This piece is one I love to paint. A big game animal in an abstracted powerful backdrop suggesting a mood. Having worked as a guide on horseback in the mountains I was able to get close with grizzlies and study their movements and structure. On this one I wanted a cooler backdrop contrasting with warm tones on the bear. I n order to have the confidence to paint in such a manner it took years of gaining knowledge of the animal itself as well as learning brushwork alone.
Grizzlies have always been a favorite of mine and I continue to learn ways of portraying their many moods and structure. It took years to have the confidence to paint in such a manner and I’m still learning. I try to simplify as far as possible without losing the structure and some part of reality. I played with some interesting textures on this one and love the yellow and contrasting purples. Hoping this piece will hold its own on any wall.
I completed this small dramatic sketch after an evening walk with my dog near my studio. The Cariboo region is famous for powerful and dramatic skies and this piece showcases such an event. With the naked eye the foreground sidehill went black and the scene turned into somewhat of an abstract which I loved. I think this is a powerful rendition which caught what I was feeling that evening and hopefully the viewer will sense the same awe of sunset patterns and colours.
Every now and then I break out of my norm and abstract the scene as far as I can without losing the essence. Grizzlies provide a perfect subject for such a style and I love doing layer compositions like this as well. One must know their subject inside and out in order to get maximum impact and let the piece ring true. I think this is a unique piece that will hold its own on any wall.
A number of years ago I was able to go on a pack trip into the Ram River Basin and this is an area Carl Rungius frequented as well. I could recognize many mountains and foregrounds that were depicted in his animal paintings. After crossing the Saskatchewan River we were riding into the mountains and I was inspired at every break in the trail. I was gathering reference and soaking it all in while animals could be seen up every valley. This small study came from one of those valleys where we snuck up on a herd of sheep as they were laying about this small alpine lake.
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
“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.
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
“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