married to Michael O’Brien, how do you two complement each other in your art
and I work together a lot but we have a relationship that allows us to be
individuals. We met in Cape May almost 14 years ago. Since that time we have
worked together as co-leaders on many workshops and tours, teammates in various
birding events (particularly the World Series of Birding), and mentors for ABA
Youth Birding Conferences. Many have said that our style of teaching is quite
complimentary. Michael has been birding since he was 5. I have learned so much
from him. He has a real talent for taking complicated subject matter,
simplifying it, and making it interesting and fun. He is an amazing mentor. I’m
more of a people person. I know my birds, of course, but tend to shift my
priorities to things like watching out for the best place to have lunch or when
to take the next bathroom break or, oh, look at that cool such and such over
there! Did you know that…
and I don’t really interact as much as you would think about our artwork. I’m
happiest when I do full paintings with birds or butterflies within a scene.
Michael likes his birds a la carte and he’s totally into his photography and
writing these days.
some of the best ways for young artists to improve their skills?
is good to learn how to use your tools and techniques. There are so many
options like: kinds of paper, types of pencils and brushes, and how to mix
colors. That is where going to art school really helped me.
What suggestions do you have for people learning to draw birds from life?
is it that they always say? Practice, practice, practice… The more you get out
there, the more you see, the more you understand, the better you’ll become. I
was lucky enough to spend time in the field with Lars Jonsson recently on a
VENT tour to Antarctica. Lars is a bird artist beyond compare. I could tell by
watching him work that he has spent his whole life pursuing his passion to draw
and paint birds. He took his sketchbook and paints with him every time we went
out in the field, regardless of the weather. When he was not painting, he was
photographing and studying.