NCC teams up with David Arrigo for the 2015 Gifts of Canadian Nature (Part One)

David Arrigo, artist behind 2015's Gifts of Canadian Nature art prints

David Arrigo, artist behind 2015's Gifts of Canadian Nature art prints

November 26, 2015 | by Wendy Ho

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) recently teamed up with world-renowned artist David Arrigo to create collectible art prints for this year’s Gifts of Canadian Nature program. I recently spoke with David about his art and inspirations.

WH: You are renowned for your work in the sports world (e.g. sports helmets and live murals at events). The work you’ve done for NCC showcases very different subjects. Why did you take on this project?

DA: For me, I just love to paint. Subject matters range from hockey, to race cars, to goalies. I’m a huge naturalist and I love nature.

View of the lit up sky from my backyard. (Photo by David Arrigo)

View of the lit up sky from my backyard. (Photo by David Arrigo)

Where I live, up in Hockley Valley and on the Nottawasaga River half an hour north of Toronto, we’re surrounded by beautiful trails. I’m on the trails at least three to four times a week with my wife and dog Phoenix, just enjoying nature. When I look out in the morning there are times I see deer, along with other great wildlife — it’s such an interesting area! So when the opportunity to work with NCC presented itself, I was extremely excited!

WH: Can you tell us about your process, your style?

Limited edition art prints (Art by David Arrigo/Graphic by Fuse)

Limited edition art prints (Art by David Arrigo/Graphic by Fuse)

DA: With the Gifts of Canadian Nature project, I was provided with the images of the animals and their details. It was up to me to take that image and apply it to the canvas. It’s easy to achieve photo realism but to me, you might as well use a photograph.

At first I was a little concerned. I’ve painted wildlife but not very much per se. The challenge was conveying my own style. And that’s what I believe I’ve come up with: my style, with swashes of colour and the intermixing of background and foreground. I’m confident that people who know my work in the sports world will recognize that this is David’s artwork once they see the pieces.

When I was doing the colouring of the background, I tried to envision each of the different species in Canada. For example, I tried to bring the moose into the fall with the red and gold, and on the wolf with the blue hues. I was enjoying every moment and the inspirations involved. A little music doesn’t hurt either.

WH: I noticed the Canada lynx had yellow swashes on it!

Canada lynx (Painting by David Arrigo)

Canada lynx (Painting by David Arrigo)

DA: Yes, almost like a precursor to summer. All those colours communicate a different season. And one of the inspirations was the time of the year when I was painting these portraits. Here in the valley, the fall colours are very eclectic — the yellows, the reds — it looks like the trees are on fire! So that was a big inspiration to completing those pieces.

If someone asks me what style I follow, I can only say it’s my style.

WH: What do you wish for the viewers of your art to take away with them?

DA: I love to create conversations with my pieces. I want people to look at these pieces and to journey with me as I complete them. The different colours, seasons, time of day and what it feels like, as well as the expressions with the animals. One thing I like to capture with any of my subjects is some sort of personality; that’s what I tried to do with each of these pieces.

WH: Tune in next Thursday for Part Two of my chat with David Arrigo!

Wendy Ho (Photo by NCC)

About the Author

Wendy Ho is Nature Conservancy of Canada's editorial coordinator.

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