International Artist

WILDLIFE

Grand Prize

Stephen Jesic

Queensland, Australia, Morning Reflections, acrylic, 43½ x 38½ cm (17 x 15")

Grand Prize is a four-page editorial feature in American Art Collector magazine

Artistic Harmony

In the late 1980s, artist Stephen Jesic found he was captivated by the colors and vibrancy of Australian birds and added them to his oeuvre of still lifes and landscapes. Working in a traditional realistic style, Jesic paints with a high degree of detail right down to the feathers and found a need to transition to acrylics so he could obtain faster drying times to rework intricate components. Within a few years wildlife became his primary subject and acrylic his go-to medium.

“By the late ’80s I worked solely in acrylics developing my painting technique to a point now where my hand, eye, color mixing and application of paint is seamless: That is, I don’t have to consciously think about the color and application of paint onto the board,” says Jesic. “This confidence allows me to take risks in my latest works knowing no matter how complex and detailed the subject matter is I can succeed.”

The animals themselves usually inspire each painting. “I have thousands of photographs of species and habitat,” he explains. “I remember most photographs that I have taken and usually what triggers a design is when I reach a point where I have gathered sufficiently high quality photographs of both bird/animal and habitat that match and complement each other.”

Jesic uses traditional design principles, such as line of thirds, golden mean and controlling how the viewer’s eye moves around the painting. He prefers to paint a foreground, middle ground and background, with the focus primarily being at the middle point and the other areas being secondary and not interfering with his main motive. “It’s all a compromise to create a depth of field by keeping to the principles of atmospheric perspective; cooler, greyer and lighter as you go back in the distance,” Jesic shares. “Then there is color and color harmony: with birds an absolute symphony of vibrancy of color. Finding the correct setting, complementing colors counterbalanced by the subtleties of nature is quite a juggling act to achieve harmony between subject and scene.”

My Inspiration

A friend of mine is a local bird breeder. He asked for my wish list of bird breeds to photograph. The top of the list was a scarlet macaw and he managed to borrow one from another breeder. Well there is nothing better than being one-to-one in a large aviary for a total of three days with a magnificent, pristine scarlet macaw. It didn’t take long for the bird to accept my presence and started playing up to the camera. It wasn’t surprising as his name was Elvis and what a performance. I took nearly 3,000 photographs at different times of the day allowing downtime for the bird to rest. On reviewing the photos it was overwhelming and there was so much to choose from.

My Design

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