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Bird’s eye view

Artist goes big for new exhibition



What: One Man’s Perspective — Paintings by Cameron Bird

Where: Adele-Campbell Fine Art Gallery

When: Aug. 27-Sept. 8

Artist demo Saturday, Aug. 27, 2-3 p.m., artist reception 5-9 p.m.

Artist Cameron Bird returns to the nest this weekend.

Almost one year to the day since his last visit, Bird is coming back to the Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery with a new collection of strong oil paintings depicting rugged alpine landscapes.

The collection will be showcased under the title One Man’s Perspective, starting Saturday, Aug. 27.

Whistler art lovers have had the opportunity to watch Bird grow and develop since he was "found" by Adele Campbell founder Paula Campbell 11 years ago, the first year the gallery opened. Now 33 years old, Bird was "barely out of high school" and working in watercolours at the time.

"I think it’s great they stuck with me," he says. "I owe them a lot for that."

He’s also passionately vocal about owing much to late mentor Keith Smith, alongside whom he painted for a period of 10 years, and to whom he credits his current status as a self-sustaining artist working out of a new home studio in Lac La Hache.

"It’s been a long road but I think the fortunate thing for me was I had mentors," Bird says. "You can go to school for 20 years but I think you still have to find your own way."

Bird’s way these days is to go big. The new "dream studio" has the space for bigger and more canvases and he’s making the most of the situation.

"It’s been a good year. I’ve been a slave to the studio," he says.

Bigger canvases certainly suit his subject matter – bold, alpine scenes, full of power and might.

"I’ve always thought the mountains have such power," Bird says. "I’ve painted over many a painting where they just look pretty, the landscape looks too perfect. So I try to make everything look angular so there’s more power."

Not surprisingly, the strength of his work has found an affinity with the corporate culture in Calgary – a city where he has gallery representation – with oil companies latching on to entire collections for both local and Houston offices.

Aside from the new emphasis on size, Bird says he’s been focusing on evolving his use of colour, studying the mastery of Van Gogh for new ways to bring the mountains he knows, loves, works and resides in to life.

True to his appreciation for mentoring he will present an interactive painting demonstration at Adele Campbell on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 3 p.m.

The refined gallery space is a world apart from his normal majestic wilderness vantage, but there’s no need to worry about the venue suppressing his inspiration.

"I can do a painting wherever I am, because I can do it right out of my head," Bird says. "That’s why I don’t paint boats and harbours. I worked up (in the Chilcotins) for seven years guiding and I think it just becomes a part of you. I can remember colours, I can remember the way the rocks look at night, how things just look.

"I think that’s how artists can be successful in the studio," he continues. "You don’t have to be right there as long as you know your subject. And that’s why I focus on what I’ve been a part of, the mountains, the game animals and things like that."

Bird’s scheduled demonstration also reflects his desire to be open about the creative process. He willingly displays preliminary sketches and his works characteristically include a write up detailing his own response. Not surprisingly, he says he has ambitions to mentor others.

"I think the next step for me is I’d love to be able to teach," Bird says. "I’ve always kept notes of everything I’ve learned from my mentors, and now I think it’s neat that I can help other people and pass those things on."

Following the Saturday afternoon demonstration, Cameron Bird will be in attendance at an artist reception in the gallery from 5 to 9 p.m.

One Man’s Perspective will be featured in the gallery until Sept. 8.

For more information go to www.adele-campbell.com.

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