Every story of any artist has a beginning. In my case my first drawings came from other peoples photographs. My sense of achievement was limited to having captured a likeness of the photo. I set about getting my own reference where the choice of light, angle, … was all mine. I wanted my art to be all mine. Many of the animals that fired my passion I had only seen in zoos, books, and movies. My vision of them as wild creatures was limited to the experiences of others. As my work progressed I strived for more than just a likeness of a particular photo. I made changes to lift the image to add what I saw as the essence of the creature. Despite my passion for African animals I had not experience them in the wild. The instant fire from your first wild sighting will change you! It lifts your courage, your expectations and passion to capture what you have seen and experienced. You notice things that surprise you, make you smile, gasp and your heart beat faster. Your expectations for your art will be raised by your experiences. I talk to people who buy my paintings about my experiences. Nearly all buy my paintings because my work brings to life their personal encounters. I have no doubt that knowing my personal experiences with the creatures adds to the pleasure they get from my paintings. I have seen the changes in confidence of the people who have travelled with us to Africa. Many would not have made the journey without Steve and I to allay their fears. It gave them courage and confidence in themselves that changes their lives and their expectations of their art and photography. I smile when I hear them proudly sharing their stories of close encounters with elephants and lions. They have a confidence that contrasts with the trepidation I saw on their faces the first time an elephant got close and then a whole herd. This heightened experience lifts their courage and expectations for their art and life. They are different, they glow with confidence! If you want to paint wildlife see painting from other people’s photos as a step along the way. If you want to improve your paintings nothing comes close to a personal wild encounters. A month in Africa can cost as little as $4500 including flights. It will change your life and your work. I still have my first drawings of elephants done from other people’s photographs. At the time they gave me the encouragement to keep drawing. I now have 7500 photos of elephants some dramatic, some playful and some stunning. My elephant experiences are too numerous to count. I was proud of those first drawings but my expectations and skills have moved on. Without those first drawings and others of zoo animals I would not be an artist, wildlife artist, art teacher or African tour guide. Those first tentative steps changed my life. They were however just a step not the whole journey. My first drawings from other people’s photographs and experiences were the beginning of a journey. Even if they were admired by others they were not all mine. The gorilla painting attached was taken from my reference taken at the zoo. I still love the painting but when I talk about it now I always include my face to face experience with the wild gorillas of Rwanda. I’m sure that for gallery visitors my zoo painting is enhanced by wild encounters. My vision of gorillas was changed by the contemptuous look a huge silver back gave me as he passed ‘very’ close by. I have no doubt that my next gorilla painting will be enhanced by the wild experience and the satisfaction I get will be also be greater. If not for the use of other people’s photographs I would not have taken my first steps as an artist. My drawings were improved by the qualities of these photographs. This early achievement was essential to encourage me to continue with my art. It was however just a step along the way. With every step and wild experience there comes a greater expectation and your work will reflect it. Without other people’s photographs and zoo animals I may not have begun. But it was just a beginning!
Stephen Powell Wildlife Artist judging the Upwey South Primary School Art Show 2013.
It is vital to encourage young artist as they will enhance our world. So once again I had the great pleasure an honor of judging the Upwey South Art Competition. A great display of variety, style, hard work and passion shown by all the artists.
I came across these images taken in Tanzania in 2012 and the questions in my mind then and now were about the misguided priorities of the builders. The church is maintained in pristine condition for services. Within sight of this church is a school with inadequate water, rudimentary classrooms in need of repair, over worked staff and almost nonexistent resources. The only thing the school has no shortage of is hundreds of eager students.
Maasai village School classroom.
Unlike the church our small group of travelers saw a different need. We all chipped in and arranged for the installation of an additional large water tank, exercise books, pens and pencils and footballs (Every one deserves some fun).
The water enables a meal to be prepared for hungry children. As a result more children will come to school and be able to focus on education rather than their hunger. All of the children now had their own exercise book and pen. May be their first!
Oblivious to the new footballs getting a work out. The impact on this young man of a simple exercise book and pen brought a tear to my eye!
The impact of the water tank would be felt for years but there was an immediate result with the staff, students and surrounding villages. The looks on their faces and their response was overwhelming and warm.
I am an atheist but do recognize the support that a belief in a god can bring. However my impression from my limited knowledge of the bible is that if Jesus had visited this village he would not have built a church. If he rather than his picture was staring down from the alter of the empty church he would not approve. I can’t see much evidence of him needing or wanting churches let alone cathedrals to pass on his Gods message.
If my atheism turns out to be wrong I’m sure that our groups actions, motivated by a desire to help will not have gone unnoticed!
Brad Battin MP, Anne Elizabeth & Stephen Powell. Brad unveiled a new banner featuring my Powerful Owl Drawing.
As part of our 4th Birthday celebrations of Friends of Hazel Vale Valley Tecoma , unveiled a new banner, with a drawing that I did in 1994 of a Powerful Owl. It features on all their brochures, flags, bags and fridge magnets. Reference photo coincidentally taken in the reserve they are looking after. I’m pleased to be able to support these hard working people. My involvement with a hills environment group – Wildlife Watch way back then was the trigger for me to ‘do some drawings’. A life changing decision.
Brad Battin MP for Gembrook to officiated at the ceremony
Stunning landscapes then add Elephants. That’s what Africa is about.
Did you miss
Stephen Powell & Steve Morvell Artist Photographer Guided African Safari 2012?
It’s not too late to join us in South Africa 2013
ARTIST PHOTOGRAPHER GUIDED SAFARI 15th Oct. – 28th Oct.
The Famous Kruger National, Balule Nature Reserve,
Pilgrim’s Rest, Waterfalls, God’s Window & Blyde River Canyon, Drakensberg Mountains, Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, Boat Cruise -Game viewing with a difference. Hands on at Predator Walk & Elephant Whispers… BOOKING NOW See details Africa 2013
Stephen Powell with what may be all that’s left of Leadbeater’s possum’s. This was one demonstration I had to attend. The loggers are circling the last of our great forests.
How bad does it have to get before people get angry!
The Baillieu Government did very little but still managed to scrap just about every environmental protection law it could find. Now the Liberal/National Party – Napthine Government with the support of Australian Labor Party is about to remove all controls on logging what’s left of our native forests. The Government and its agencies lost lawsuits brought by community groups to force
it to stop ignoring the lax existing laws to protect the forests and the species that live in them. The Government lost and its response is not to ensure the laws are complied with but to scrap the laws and give unlimited powers to the loggers.
The lone voice in the Parliament was the Greens member that spoke of the madness of giving away our great forests and subsidizing a loss making industry, producing a product that its one customer is saying it doesn’t want. Paper manufacturing is turning to plantation timber because of public pressure and the quality of the timber.
The changes would:
1. Promise unlimited logging contracts (currently licenses have 5 year reviews).
2. Remove government oversight of VicForests’ activities.
3. Effectively privatise the exploitation of the state’s most valuable public natural asset.
4. Promise to supply logs into the future that may not exist, due to fire, drought regeneration failure and so on.
5. Expose the tax-payer and government to paying hundreds of millions in compensation when/if the trees can’t be provided .
6. See forests managed by purely commercial interests with token to no concern for environmental, tourism, heritage, aesthetic or water values.
7. Make it impossible to alter the law if the wood/trees have been promised to a private company by VicForests. The government must provide the logs or pay massive compensation.
8. Allow VicForests Board of Directors to decide when, where and how much it will clearfell .
9. Override and ignore the Auditor General’s current audit of VicForests’ management and the recommendations that will come from it.
10. Remove environmental oversight of logging in native forests.
Environment East Gippsland Inc
Locked Bag 3
ORBOST Vic 3888
(03) 5154 0145 www.eastgippsland.net.au EAST GIPPSLAND – our breathing space
Some people somehow manage not to see the beauty and complexity in ‘dry scrub country’. Just drive through on the way to somewhere! Now the beauty and grandeur of a sunset most can appreciate but with a little more curiosity and searching eye the ‘dead’ country comes to life.
Little jewels like pardalotes can be difficult to find in the upper branches of the taller trees in higher rainfall areas. I the short Mallee Scrub however this Striated Pardalote and I came eye to eye.
Spotted Sand-Dragons (My best guess) scuttle around. This one approximately 19cm long. Flocks of White-browed Woodswallows rest in the top branches briefly before joining hundreds of others wheeling overhead.
Spotted Sand-Dragons (My best guess)
The endless variety of flowers, reptiles, birds and mammals can keep you enthralled for days. Sunrises and sunsets a stunning beginning and end to each day and star filled night sky’s in between.
Mungo Dunes as the sun sets.
Collen and I took a tour around the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area in Mungo National Park. Human occupation for over 40,000 years. Our aboriginal guides pointed out a fireplace that had emerged from the sand- carbon dated at over 7000 years.
Colleen and I were fortunate to be able to help launch a visionary plan to place Wildlife Art in its rightful place in the world of art. Wildlife Art Museum of Australia will be an Australian first. A showcase for art, inspired by nature, wildlife and all its glorious diversity. Set in native gardens and wetlands in the Grampians. WAMA is destined to be a major destination for lovers of art and nature. The launch reflected the professionalism of the WAMA team, the venture and its grand vision. Congratulations to all involved.
Wildlife and nature has been excluded from our National Galleries. Galleries showcase a diverse range of art whose inspiration and styles seem endless. Wildlife and the natural world are absent. There are some landscapes but these generally depict scenes altered by man. There are some paintings include animals and birds but as bit players in a work or dead on a table waiting to be cooked. Try to find one with wildlife as the feature, the sole inspiration, alive in all its splendor.
I have no doubt that once established WAMA will be embraced by the public. Dare I suggest its success may even encourage or shame our gallery curators into including the works inspired by nature in their collections! Whilst blockbuster exhibitions attract large numbers of visitors attendance for the permanent collection is flagging. National Gallery collections should not only aim to make celebrities of the curators and their ‘superior’ understanding of what art they deem we should view. It should reflect the interests and passions of the whole community. Satisfying the curators personal agendas should not be the goal of our National Galleries. They should aim to bring art into the lives of all people of the world. The curator’s failure to include art inspired by wildlife and nature is inexplicable. Not recognising its potential to attract this untapped source of visitors is inexcusable!
Just a sample of my travel images & video from 2010 to tempt you to join Steve Morvell & Stephen Powell Wildlife Artist Photographers on our Artist – Photographer Guided African Safari. 2012
Lake Victoria, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Masai villages.
14 days ex Nairobi:
September 24th to October 10th 2012
& October 15th to October 29th. 2012
A fourteen day exploration from the largest lake in the world, through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro ecosystem, east towards the Tarangire, canoeing, game viewing, walking safaris and remote Masai villages and night drives.
Steve Powell and fellow master wildlife artist Steve Morvell are in the planning stage for a 2012 Artist Guided African adventure. This is an opportunity to experience Africa with a group of like minded fellow travelers. Your African Wildlife Art safari guided by wildlife artists – photographers eager to share their knowledge and skills. Learn the art of sketching animals direct from life, in the field with Steve Morvell as your guide. He is a master of the art with decades of experience creating thousands of stunning images. A trip of a lifetime!
This lyrebird is just 1 of 10 lyrebirds heard during a late afternoon walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. I was able to film 3 birds from as close as 2 meters. There appears to be an echo but is is in fact a second bird singing close by. My apologies to the video purists as it is not very steady. Unfortunately I was not equipped for filming. I don’t normally carry a tripod but prefer a Cullman 080 Shoulder-Table-Pod used as a shoulder stock. This is great for getting grab shots and is much steadier than hand held. However it is not suited to filming. Combined with the weight of the 7D and zoom is a strain and the results are less than perfect. The conditions were also difficult. Cloudy and late in the day. High ISO also diminished the quality. None the less I was very pleased with what I managed to get. Filmed on a hand held Canon EOS 7D Lens EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Postscript to this outing: I have a legacy of this lyrebird excursion. I learnt from previous expeditions that spiders like biting me on the legs so I now wear gaiters to the knee. Undeterred the spider this time bit me on the wrist. I did not notice at the time but an itch developed. Over 3 days this has progressed to a weeping 7mm sore. A hot and swelling area 12X6 cm. Just back from the doctor!
Just another day in the life of a Wildlife Artist – Photographer
I participated in a lyrebird survey during which Balangara Films shot some this video. I discovered they have included a brief clip of me in the trailer! Look for me looking old in a beanie ‘I had one mimic my son’
Stephen Powell Wildlife Artist - Yellow-billed Hornbill Painting
OPEN STUDIOS EXHIBITION
NAKED BEAST: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Opening at 6:30pm Friday 20th of May 2011,
on display until 26th June
The annual Open Studios exhibition features a key work from each participating studio. This exhibition is a unique opportunity to see and experience work from each of the artists in one gallery, making Burrinja a great place to start your studio tour.
Contact: (03) 9754 8723 firstname.lastname@example.org www.openstudios.org.au
Steve’s and I take what appears to be quite a quite different approach to how we create our art. However frequent discussions have revealed more similarities than differences in the thought and methods that are the basis of our work. To teach others we have both struggled with first understanding how we create our art and then how to explain it to others. This was an opportunity to share and reinforce the core elements of our work and teaching.
My presentations also aim:
To deconstruct the process into steps from reference selection to finished work into manageable stages and then into simple tasks with few variables.
To dispel the myth of the ‘gifted artist’ or ‘God given talent’. I do this by telling my story and that of my students with examples of our humble – ‘apparent gift less’ beginnings and what we have achieved.