Holmes Art Prize – Steve Hillier Finalist

Stephen Hillier, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Oil on Canvas, 92x80 cms
Stephen Hillier, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Oil on Canvas, 92×80 cms

This is my partner, Steve’s entry for the Holmes Art Prize, a stunning painting of the Black Shouldered Kite. It was an education to see the meticulous dedication that goes into painting a work like this. Long after I thought it was finished, Steve was working away, adding details and making subtle adjustments that I could hardly see. Very unlike my own slap-dash approach. But hey, vive la difference!

You can see more of Steve’s work, including some of his un-feathered birds at Visual Emporium – https://visualemporium.com.au/artists/steve-hillier/.

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Finalist in the Holmes Art Prize – The Art of Riding the Wind

The Art of Riding on the Wind, Oil on Aluminium Composite sheeting, 9x panels 40x40 cms, overall size 135x135 cms
The Art of Riding on the Wind, Oil on Aluminium Composite sheeting, 9x panels 40×40 cms, overall size 135×135 cms

Here is how my bird panels look when put together as a single work. I am very honoured to have had this work selected as a finalist in the inaugural Holmes Art Prize run by the Regional Art Gallery of Caloundra. It is a specialised art prize calling for “excellence in the realistic representation of Australian birds”. They have attracted entries from the top nature and wildlife artists from all over Australia, so, without undue modesty, I am still wondering how I managed to get in. The show will be on from the 12th to 30th August at The Oakes Resort, Cnr. North Street and Landsborough Parade, Golden Beach. My partner Steve also has a work in the show – a beautiful painting of the Black Shouldered Kite, which I will post next.

The Art of Riding the Wind, No. 9.  Sandhill Cranes.  Oil on composite aluminium panel, 40x40 cms.
The Art of Riding the Wind, No. 9. Sandhill Cranes. Oil on composite aluminium panel, 40×40 cms.

When I did this panel as part of my cloud atlas, I found that it was my favorite one, but I couldn’t fit it into an arrangement with the others,because it was too dominant. I think it works very well just on its own, in company here with a romantic pair of Sandhill Cranes. It reminds me that while searching for enlightenment is all well and good, it’s so much more pleasant in the company of a like-minded companion.

The Art of Riding the Wind – No. 8 – Australian Crow

The Art of Riding the Wind No. 8 - Australian Crow - 40x40 cms oil on composite aluminium panel
The Art of Riding the Wind No. 8 – Australian Crow – 40×40 cms oil on composite aluminium panel

Crows get bad press, and I admit they are not the most tuneful of birds, but when it comes to flying, they do it with style. I love the sound their wings make – like the rustle of taffeta and the nonchalent way they skim through the air reminds me of a rower on one of those racing skiffs, just effortlessly flicking over the water.

Nevertheless, crows do have their ominous side, and I thought a stormy sky would be appropriate for him.

The Art of Riding the Wind continued.

The Art of Riding the Wind No. 7 - Kestrel Oil and acrylic on composite aluminium panel 40x40 cms
The Art of Riding the Wind No. 7 – Kestrel
Oil and acrylic on composite aluminium panel 40×40 cms

Here is another of my bird series, titled “The Art of Riding the Wind”. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the expression “riding the wind” is a way of describing the experience of enlightenment in Zen Buddhist and Taoist philosophy. Riding the wind is very difficult for people, but comes naturally to birds.

The work started out as one of a series of paintings of the sky in various moods. I was interested in trying to depict the boundless power and mystery of the sky. If you’ve ever looked out of an airplane window with your mind in neutral, you’ll know what I mean. Using composite aluminium panels, I airbrushed gradated layers of colour, and afterwards used oil paint to try to suggest cloud formations. The birds were later added to these panels, trying to match something of the feeling for each species of bird with the sky in each case.