Painter Michael Dumas captures the beauty of wildlife and the natural world in this exquisite collection from his portfolio. See more by visiting his website.
My art evolves from drawing and my paintings are simply extensions of it. I draw nearly every day—numerous sketch books, drawers and boxes are filled with decades of sketches and studies from life.
I don’t seek out any particular thing to draw. What does come, most often comes unexpectedly. If it is especially strong and lingers, it may well inspire me to express something of it in paint.
A good example is a painting titled Looking Out. The initial sketches and studies are of Bellamy’s Mill, a 19th Century working flour mill. I was attracted to the light flaring on white flour sacks and the deep shadows hiding in the corners of the room. The brief appearance of an eastern phoebe while I sketched turned out to be an important event, despite the tiny size of the bird. The idea that guides Looking Out’s arrangement of objects, light and shadow, and the attitude of the phoebe alludes to the distinct feeling of my being confined to the interior of the room. This directly contrasts with the open window and the phoebe’s easy access out and away. The areas of most interest are also those being influenced by the light from outside.
At times, the free form arrangement of several sketches on a single page is carried over to finished studio work. Hybrid Falcon for example, has the medium of graphite balanced with a painted area.
This is carried one step further in Flight of the Kestrel. Here the composition is reminiscent of a study sketch, but is developed as a completely finished painting.
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Although I paint a variety of things—from people, rural objects, wildlife in general and an occasional landscape—birds seem to dominate much of my work. The presence of sparrows and other common birds is especially noticeable. I hesitate to even suggest why this might be, but the interest goes back as far as I can remember.
I grew up on the eastern entrance to Algonquin Park, and later worked there as a forest ranger to pay my way through art college. The natural landscape and the things in it have been companions my entire life, so it seems altogether fitting that most of my art would reflect it.
Upon graduating art college, I apprenticed under one of my instructors in his Toronto studio, followed by two years as an illustrator for a book publisher.
During those two years I painted for myself every evening, plus one day on the weekend. I launched my full-time art career while in my mid-twenties, painting the things I loved, and in the way I was compelled to paint them.
Despite many obstacles, including the shifting preferences of the art world, it is my pleasure and satisfaction to have met these challenges on my own terms. Be that as it may, I am both aware and thankful for the many supporters of my art, without whom I could not have pursued the dream.
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