Australian Artist Brings Bird’s Soul to Life on the Canvas

– A Lifelong Journey Inspired by Birds –

'Peek A BoobookOwl' painted in oils by Nicky Shelton

Australian birdlife artist Nicky Shelton has a gift for capturing the unique charisma and personality of feathered subjects in spectacular oil paintings.

This remarkable artist, hailing from Perth, Western Australia found her niche painting realistic Australian birds.

“Capturing the beauty, unique personality and magnificence of Australian birds ignites my passion for painting in oils,” says Shelton.

'The Catch' - White-bellied Sea Eagle painted in oils (76x153cm)
‘The Catch’ – White-bellied Sea Eagle painted in oils (76x153cm)

“I love interpreting each bird’s quirky characteristics, and over weeks of developing layers of oil paint, I capture the charisma and detail of every composition,” says adds.

Australian birds come to life with each stroke of Shelton’s brush.

It’s as if they jump off the canvas when you look at them.

And you have to look twice to make sure they’re not real.

‘Fernando - the Australian Blue Wren by Nicky Shelton
‘Fernando – the Australian Blue Wren by Nicky Shelton

Birds Inspire Artist Journey

With the ability to create such lifelike paintings, you’d think Shelton has been painting all her life.

She embraced her artistic journey of fine art in 2012 after a successful corporate career.

“After retiring I reignited my childhood dream to become an artist,” Shelton explains.

Shelton swapped a desk for an easel, and attended a series of local TAFE art classes.

Now she dedicates every spare moment to developing her artistic skills.

Shelton is an up-and-coming artistic talent.

She was was named as a finalist in three 2017 art awards.

Nicky Shelton’s painting ’Nelly' was a finalist At the Midwest Art Prize 2017
Nicky Shelton’s painting ’Nelly’ was a finalist At the Midwest Art Prize 2017

Including the Asia Pacific Cliftons Art Prize, Holmes Art Prize for Excellence in Realistic Australian Birdlife and the Midwest Art Prize.

Nearly all of Shelton’s work includes birds.

She says she loves portraying feathered friends as her subject because of their freedom, individuality, majesty, and beauty.

Connection Between Birds and Art

She sees the connection between birds and art as a level of awareness.

“I try to capture the uniqueness of my subjects by spending hours focusing on detail and try to bring that bird’s soul to life,” says Shelton.

“Each of my subjects has a story to tell, and I try to bring that story to life,” she adds.

READ: ARTIST JAMES ‘JIMBOT’ DEMSKI PAINTS BIRDS AND BOTS THAT COEXIST

Birds Provide Inspiration

Shelton says birds are quite inspirational to her.

“I love their sense of freedom, their ability to see the world from above, their uniqueness and different characteristics between the species. I also adore their beauty.”

'Sugar and Spice' -Singing Honeyeaters oil on canvas board by Nicky Shelton
‘Sugar and Spice’ – Singing Honeyeaters oil on canvas board by Nicky Shelton

Why Birds Matter

She regards birds as one of Mother Nature’s treasured jewels.

“I’m quite fortunate to live in Australia and share the continent with a wonderland of diverse bird life.”

But says birds are like many of Mother Nature’s gifts that are taken for granted and are often mistreated.

Shelton believes all creatures on this planet are here for a reason and should be recognized for their purpose and beauty.

“The biggest issue birds face today in the loss of habitat due to urbanization, and we have a responsibility to look after and cherish the gifts we have been given,” she adds.

Nicky begins work on 'Born to Fish' oil painting
Nicky begins work on ‘Born to Fish’ oil painting

Supporting Australian Bird Advocacy Groups

Besides being a gifted birdlife artist, Shelton is an advocate for conservation and is an active member of Birdlife Australia, Australia’s largest bird conservation organization.

Birdlife Australia is an independent, not-for-profit and its objective is to create a brighter future for Australia’s birds.

She donates a percentage from each bird painting she sells to the organization to help protect the many species which are under threat.

It’s a fair assumption that Shelton is creating a brighter future for Australian birds because of the popularity of her work.

Shelton’s supports Western Australian Seabird Rescue, a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates over 400 birds last year.

She’s also an exhibiting member of the Wildlife Art Society of Australia.

'Born to Fish' - Fairy Tern oil painting by Nicky Shelton
‘Born to Fish’ – Fairy Tern oil painting by Nicky Shelton

A Bird Advocate is Born

Shelton became an advocate for the protection and conservation of wildlife at an early age.

One of her earliest childhood memories is waking to the dawn call of the Australian Magpie or the Laughing Kookaburra.

“I would sit on the front step of the family home and watch the Robin Red Breasts flit in and out of the rose bushes.”

“Then one day the Robin Red Breasts disappeared,” she says.

“My parents later told me these little birds had fallen victim to the local government’s decision to poison overabundant pigeons on the local railway track.”

“I was devastated, and from a young age I quietly vowed to assist with the protection and conservation of birdlife,” she says.

'Fergus' – Australian Tawny Frogmouth painted in oils on canvas board by Nicky Shelton
‘Fergus’ – Australian Tawny Frogmouth painted in oils on canvas board by Nicky Shelton

Now, Shelton paints every day on the front veranda of her family home overlooking Lake Monger, a wildlife reserve in Perth, Western Australia.

She considers the garden to be an extension of this reserve which gives her the opportunity to share her space with a variety of birdlife.

“Birds are very inquisitive and come and say hello, and some are very timid even though they know me.”

“Some of my bird friends are highly intelligent creatures, some are very funny to watch, and some can be extremely resourceful,” she says.

Favorite Place to See Birds

She goes birdwatching every day.

Her favorite place to see birds is bushwalking where she can smell the eucalyptus trees, enjoy the natural bush and watch the birds be free.

Nelly – Australian Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

Shelton has created many fabulous paintings of Australian Birdlife, but her favorite piece of art is the painting “Nelly,” an Australian Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

This piece has been a finalist in two major competitions.

She named painting after an amazing, beautiful, regal 92-year-old woman who was an Olympic rower and gave up competitive rowing at the age of 89.

'Nelly' - Shelton's oil painting of an Australian Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (61x91cm)
‘Nelly’ – Shelton’s oil painting of an Australian Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (61x91cm)

READ: Wildlife Artist Helps Us See Nature

Shelton’s Art Shows

In May 2018, Shelton held her first solo exhibition called “A Birds Perspective.”

The exhibition was a huge success.

Shelton sold many pieces of art.

She obtained several commissions and raised hundreds of dollars for Birdlife Australia to help support threatened an endangered birds.

'Lilly' - South African Lilac Breasted Roller oil on canvas board by Nicky Shelton
‘Lilly’ – South African Lilac Breasted Roller oil on canvas board by Nicky Shelton

Her works of art are also represented by Jah Roc Galleries a prestigious art gallery located in Margaret River, Western Australia.

She completed painting a Western Rosella called “The Visitor” and two Splendid Fairywren paintings for a fine art exhibition at one of Perth’s leading private schools.

Shelton’s artwork is just stunning.

We encourage you to visit her website or Instagram account to marvel at the vibrant colors, attention to detail and realistic beauty she brings to the canvas.

You’ll find yourself taking third and fourth looks in amazement because you’ll swear you’re looking at a photograph.

She’s a fantastic artist inspired by the most beautiful gifts from Mother Nature – the incredible diversity of fascinating birds.

Visit Nicky Shelton’s website at www.nickyshelton.com.au and follow her on Instagram

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