2007 Wilson’s Snipe (Shaw)
Morning Post – Wilson’s Snipe
There has rarely been a time in Nigel Shaw’s life when birds and wildlife have not played an important part. From an early age, as a schoolboy in Blackpool, England, drawing and birds were a part of most days.
Nigel’s ability to capture the aura and personality of his subject was evident from the beginning. His first professional show took place at the age of fifteen, when the Davidson Gallery of Toronto, Ontario discovered his work. A sold out show was an indication that his passion for birds and painting was acknowledged by more that just family and close friends.
His first works were done using watercolors, but he felt it lacked what he needed to achieve the effects he desired. Experiments with other mediums brought him to acrylics, which he still uses today. Nigel’s approach to his work has led him to paint birds and animals, which are not as well known to most people. He feels there are a lot of birds, which rival the more common species in both beauty and color. He explains “that if I can pass on a piece of knowledge about the bird in my painting, I have accomplished what I have set out to do. I have found that people like to ask questions about the birds in my paintings and I enjoy explaining how and why the painting came about.”
Nigel’s drive for accuracy has been both beneficial and imperative to achieve his own satisfaction from his paintings. This drive also led Nigel in another direction, to his knowledge of birds themselves. From the age of eighteen, Nigel has held a bird-banding permit with the Canadian Wildlife Service, which had benefited his painting immensely. Not only has he learned about the habits, moults and idiosyncrasies of each bird, but as the saying goes “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!”. Attention was paid to feather detail, light, shadow, and expression of each bird. For Nigel this was invaluable for his style of painting. Incorporating this with photographs, sketches, and actual materials, his finished pieces become a moment captured in that bird’s life.
About the Painting
“Morning Post” was inspired by visits to a nearby marsh during the spring courtship. The male snipe was heard more than seen as he did his high-flying serenade. The idea for the painting came about after he was observed on more than one morning sitting on an old fence post, bordering the marsh.
A combination of cryptic markings and rich browns and grays make the Wilson’s Snipe an interesting challenge. I decided to paint the bird in an early morning light with the fog just starting to burn off in the first rays of sun. Dew is still lingering on the wild grape that has conquered the old fence line, as the snipe is poised to take flight.
– Nigel Shaw