Category Archives: News From The Aviary

Painted in oils “Waratah” Awarded 2nd Place in international Wildlife competition held by International Artist Magazine USA.

It is always a great honour and very validating to receive an award, particularly when the artwork is jury judged against incredible competition.

“Waratah” is an oil painting depicting a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets sitting on one of Australia’s most iconic flowers, the floral emblem for New South Wales.

Acknowledgement to photographer David C. Simon for graciously providing the reference photo used as inspiration for this oil painting.

My painting called “Jacko” is now the label for delicious Korijekup Honey created by Exploration Honey, Harvey, Western Australia.

The land around Harvey was named Korijekup by the Nyoongar people, which means “place of the red-tailed black cockatoo”. Exploration Honey bees have foraged from the forests around Korijekup to produce this beautiful raw honey.

Black Cockatoos have a very special place in our hearts and we need to do everything we can to help them. Exploration Honey have planted tree plantations to help feed the black cockatoos and provided a Cockatube nesting box for them to breed in. All with the assistance of the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council.

Exploration Honey comes from around the South West of Western Australia. They take pride in producing and supplying delicious and healthy honey to the very best locations in their area, ensuring sustainability along the way.

Finalist – Holmes Art Prize for Excellence in Realistic Australian Birdlife 2023.

Australia’s preeminent bird art competition.

“Waratah” painted in oils is one of 40 selected finalist artworks. This painting depicts a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets sitting on one of Australia’s most iconic flowers, the floral emblem for New South Wales.

Rainbow Lorikeets are known for their bright colours and vibrant personalities.  Their boisterous and playful behaviour reflects the larrikin spirit of Australia itself.

Huge thank you to David C. Simon for graciously providing the reference photo used as inspiriation.

How absolutely fabulous to be the featured as the avian artist in the January – February 2023 edition of Parrot News Magazine.

The article gives some background on my bird art journey and features many of parrot and cockatoo paintings all lovingly painted in oils.

Hude thank you to Parrot Society of Australia Inc. for choosing me.

A great honour to have my oil painting called “The Stockman” selected as a Finalist in the Collie Art Prize 2023 – theme being Identity.

This is the only portrait ever painted of Ray Macnamara – an iconic Australian Stockman was selected as one of 47 finalists jury selected out of 377 national submission.

Ray’s image has been displayed on billboards in the Kimberley. He has also featured together with RM Williams in a book dedicated to The Stockman – Australian Outback Heritage.

Born in Quilpie, South West Queensland, Ray left home at age 14 and worked as a Station Hand throughout the district. At age 17 his uncle invited Ray to travel to the Kimberley region of Western Australia where he was employed by Lissadell Station and Argyle Downs as a Stockman, Boss Driver and Horse Breaker.

Ray returned to Queensland in his mid 20’s where he obtained his own cattle property. After the success of his enterprise he decided to give something back to the cattle industry serving as the Queensland Chairman of the Cattleman’s Union and as a member of the Cattle Council of Australia.

Ray is now 94, a retired great grandfather of the Australian cattle industry, living just outside Ipswich, Queensland. He has become a good friend.

Ray has written a book called “The Way it Was” about his times as a young Stockman youth in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. It is an incredible story of the region’s history and Ray’s endurance and tenacity as a Stockman – a man made of steel.

It is is always an honor to be re-invited to teach at the annual Albany Summer School.

This year I returned for a third time to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of one of Australia’s longest running Summer School Events.

Once again my class was fully booked with a team of 12 talented and enthusiastic students – all at different levels of oil painting experience. Together we mastered the art of painting in oils and enjoyed a fun week of creative learning with lots of laughs and amazing results.

Thank you to my fabulous team of artistic students, some of whom have joined me each year and become friends during their artistic journeys.

Once again I was overwhelmed by everyone’s enthusiasm and very proud of your spectacular results.

Huge congratulations to each of you.

My oil painting of a female Gang-gang Cockatoo called “Cherry Ripe” received an Award of Excellence at Australia’s preeminent bird art competition the Holmes Prize for Realistic Australian Bird Art 2022.

Just to be chosen as one of the 35 competition finalist is a major achievement. To receive an Award of Excellence amongst Australia’s leading bird artists is a great honour and very validating.

“Cherry Ripe” took nearly 7 weeks to paint in oils. She was painted specifically as my entry in this competition.

I have to send a huge thank you to my photographer friend Perry Cho who graciously allowed use of his photo as a reference for my interpretation.

“Chick Pea” my painting of a smiling Carnaby Cockatoo is now the Currambine Primary School Emblem.

Thanks to Natalie Heartcliffe – Art Specialist at Currambine Primary School a print of my painting of “Chick Pea” will be the face that welcomes everyone to the school.

With my permission the print of “Chick Pea” has received a new name “ERIC” which is an acronym to help inspire Currambine Primary School students to use their Excellence, Respect, Integrity and Kindness.

Special thank you to photographer Mark Molinari for graciously providing the reference photo used as inspiration for this painting. Sadly Mark passed away 2022.

Together lets raise $5K for Australia’s endangered birdlife.

I have been nominated for the 2022 APIA Get Set.60 Awards. There are 11 nominees and voting is exclusively online.

APIA will donate $5K to the winner’s charity of choice.

As an Australian birdlife conservationist and artist my charity of choice is Birdlife Australia, specifically to assist with the conservation and rehabilitation of our beautiful and unique endangered birds.

In support of our feathered friends PLEASE vote. Every vote counts. Just click on HOME link below:

This year a record 168 artists will be participating in the largest Open Studio event in Australia, possibly the Southern Hemisphere. This is a fabulous opportunity to meet the artists in their creative space and discover what drives their passions.

My studio – “The Aviary” the creative home of my birdlife artworks painted in oils will be open 10am to 4pm every day during the event 10th to 25th September. I am number 88 in the Event Guide

I look forward to seeing you during your Margaret River Region artistic discovery.


It is a great honour to announce my oil painting of a female Gang-gang Cockatoo called “Cherry Ripe” has been selected as one of 35 finalist artworks in one of Australia’s premiere bird art competitions – Holmes Art Prize for Excellence in Realistic Australian Birdlife 2022.

This painting was created to raise awareness of an iconic Australian cockatoo.

Gang -gang cockatoos are one of my favourite Australian birds, they are the animal emblem of the Australian Capital Territory and one of the more distinctive and charismatic members of Australia’s avifauna. This gorgeous female epitomises their sheet beauty.

I feel it is important to recognise the splendour of our Australian Birdlife and use my artworks to promote birdlife conservation.  With each painting created I strive to capture the character and majesty of every subject.

 Sadly these beautiful birds have recently been uplisted to the endangered species list.

Acknowledgement and huge thank you to photographer Perry Cho for graciously providing the reference photo used as inspiration for this oil painting.

“The Art of Birds – Meet Nicky Shelton”

A few weeks ago I was approached to do an interview with Bird Buddy . If you haven’t heard of Bird Buddy the product is a smart bird feeder that notifies you of bird visitors, captures photos of birds who visit the birdfeeder and organises the photos into a beautiful collection. This innovative product was invented by some cleaver people in Europe, and is taking off like a rocket. The team behind the product are devoted to birdlife conservation. Just like me.

If you would like to discover more about me and my passion for birds click on the link below:

Noongar bird stories – from an article by Peter Hancock, Sydney Morning Herald, April 5, 2014

When the birds were competing for their colours, the most difficult colour to obtain was blue, which was kept in the sky. The birds realised that only the highest-flying bird would be able to snatch some of the sky’s blue, so all the birds flew as high as they could until one by one they fell away, leaving only the eagle to soar above them all.

Warlitje the eagle was elated and was just about to claim his prize when Chiriger, the little grey wren, who had hidden among the feathers on the eagle’s back, suddenly fluttered up that little bit higher and in a flash stole the blue, becoming the beautiful splendid wren. The eagle was so angry at being condemned to be dull brown that he swore to attack and kill Chiriger if he ever again flew higher than the low scrub, which is why splendid wrens stay close to the ground to this very day.

Every West Aussie is familiar with the melodious chortling of the magpies’ “dawn chorus”, but few know that in Aboriginal stories these birds are credited with creating the very first sunrise.

According the Noongar Dreaming, the sky was once so close to the ground that trees could not grow, people had to crawl and all the birds were forced to walk everywhere.

Working together they managed to prop up the sky with sticks, but it threatened to break the sticks and collapse to earth again – with potentially disastrous consequences. The clever magpies, however, took a long stick in their beaks and pushed it up and up until the sky sprang into its proper place, revealing the sun and, with it, the first dawn.

The magpies’ boastful singing each morning is to remind everybody of their important role in creation.

Its unique song is reflected in its Noongar name: “Coolbardie”. The mining town of Coolgardie means “magpie” in the Goldfields Aboriginal dialect.

There are two subspecies of Australian magpie in WA – each identifiable by its markings.

The gender and age of the South-West subspecies (dorsalis) can be distinguished by their different black and white liveries. The adult dorsalis female has a glossy black head and her feathers are edged in greyish white. Her underside is mainly black with a grey rump and her bill is blueish white tipped with black.

Young adult males look similar to the female but lack the grey-white feather edges. As the males grow the distinctive white patch on their shoulders expands down their back until, by five years of age, their entire back from neck to tail is pure white.

The tibicen subspecies, which dominates the remainder of WA, differs from dorsalis in that the adults have more black on their backs.

The Australian magpie abounds in lightly wooded country in all but the driest and wettest parts of Australia.

It is partial to farmlands and suburban lawns, where it is commonly seen in family groups hunting insects and other small creatures.

The birds’ beautiful “carol” is a communal song which reaches its peak in June and July, at the start of the mating season.

In Perth magpies breed from July to early November, the females building a large, bowl-shaped nest of sticks and twigs high in the fork of a tree and lining it with grass, bark, wool and leaves.

Unfortunately for pedestrians and cyclists, spring also hails the start of the magpies’ “swooping season”, when male magpies become aggressively territorial in trying to drive away what they see as threats to their nests and chicks.

But, despite this unsociable streak, when most people think of magpies they think of the glorious melodic chorus that is as intrinsic to the sounds of Australia as the kookaburra’s laugh.

Peter Hancock

Sydney Morning Herald

March 8 2013

“Swoop” – Wins his second international Award.

He has been awarded Hon. Mention in the Traditional category of USA based Fusion Art – 4th Into the Wild Art Exhibition. This is a jury judged competition and the second international award this painting has received. “Swoop” has previously been jury judged “Best Painting in Show” by US based Camelback Galleries.

“Swoop” has also featured on the front page of a European art magazine.

Thank you “Swoop” and Muneer Al Shanti for allowing use of his image used as inspiration for this oil painting.

As a thank you to all who visited my studio during the September 2021 Open Studios event, I ran a competition to win a print of The Chaperone.

We had nearly 400 entries, and estimated our total number of visitors at around 500.

Charlie and the other fur kids (Goblin and Spike the Alpaca’s and Sheep) were exhausted after greeting and engaging with so many people.

Congratulations to the competition winner – Robyn Kennedy.

All the print orders have been placed and they are in the process of being dispatched. Those you bought a print should have received tracking numbers by now.

That done, I am now starting work on the many commissions that I have been asked to complete.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding of the time pressures an event like this puts on us.

Thanks again to  all who visited, and a reminder that I am open for visits all year round by Appointment.

Selected pieces are also available from Jah Roc Galleries, on the main street in Margaret River.

A reminder also that you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Enjoy the Spring sunshine!    

2021 will be my first year as a participant in the Margaret River Region Open Studios.

This year will be the largest and most exciting Open Studios event in Australia. With over 140 artists opening their doors to the public showcasing a huge diversity of amazing artistic talent including glass blowers, tattoo artists, carpet makers, contemporary artists and me a realistic bird artist.

My studio will be open from 10am to 4pm during the entire event from 11th September to 26th September. I am look forward to showing you my artworks!

It is a great honor to be selected as a featured artist by USA based Artsy Shark.

Artsy Shark are a US based artist support and promotional organisation who jury select and “Feature amazing artists, sharing their stories with the world”.

The Artsy Shark selection process is a highly competitive curated process. Artists in every medium around the globe compete to be selected as a features artist.

Exciting News for “Lenny” the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

“Lenny” the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo has been successfully selected for inclusion in the Capecare acquisition project 2021.

Capecare is today the largest regionally based independent aged care provider in Western Australia. They are an organisation dedicated to supporting the local art community by acquireing and displaying art throughout their residential care buildings for residents, their families, visitors, staff and local community to enjoy.

“Lenny” was one of the artworks selected from many submissions for the acquisition project. He will hang on permanent display in the newly completed Capecare residency in Dunsborough where residents, visitors and staff can enjoy the artworks of local artists together with the artist’s biography and artist’s statements supporting each individual artwork.

It is a great honor to be included in the 2021 acquisition project.

Thank you Arts Margaret River for co-ordinating this very special project and thank you Capecare for the acquisition of “Lenny”.

The conversion of our old rustic stables into my new artist studio is a dream come true! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would one day have my very own dedicated creative space (40 square meters) to splash paint, display my Birdlife artworks and share my oil painting techniques with like minded creative enthusiasts.

It has been an all consuming project under the supervision of our totally domesticated rescue Sheep (yes that is her name) who together with her Alpaca friends enthusiastically greet all guests to our property.

Gallery visitors are always welcome – just drop me a message so I can warm up the kettle.


“Marty” – Carnaby Cockatoo painted in oils was Sold and shipped to his new home in Italy on 26th September 2021. “Marty’s” new owner was so thrilled with her acquisition, telling me how excited she was to be receiving a painting that would brighten the dark time of living through Covid in Europe.

Both Marty’s new owner and I kept a close eye on his movements across the oceans to his new home. Touching base with one another when we both received confirmation he had arrived in Italy approximately 2 weeks after his departure from the shores of Australian. That was 14th October 2021.

With much anticipation we continued to track the whereabouts of “Marty”. Milan – December 4th 2021 is the last Tracking record of his location.

There has been no news since then.

Sadly all endevours to locate “Marty” have failed. We can only hope with fingers and toes crossed he will arrive at his new owners destination or be returned to his artistic creator.

Where are you “Marty”?

It is an honor to be re-invited to teach at the annual Albany Summer School. This year the school celebrated an anniversary of 61 years an achievement giving the school recognition as being one of Australia’s longest running Summer School Events.

This year I taught two classes over the second week of the school curiculum program.

The morning class was titled “Understanding Light Dark Harmony” where students were shown how to identify value and tone. The afternoon class was titled “Mastering the Art of Colour Mixing” where students created their own colour wheel and learnt how to match colour using 3 primary colours plus white.

All students were encouraged to create their own artwork using the oil painting techniques learnt in class.

The results were remarkable with nearly every student completing their own oil painting within class time. To my amazement some students had never used oils or even painted before.

We laughed, cajoled, shared learning moments, but most importantly had fun.

I am so proud of all my students, who’s results speak for themselves. Thank you for joining me at Albany Summer School 2021.

Congratulations to each of you!

What a wonderful surprise to discover I am a featured artist in the June 2020 addition of ArtBaazar’s Online Magazine.

Even more of a surprise to discover my painting of “Swoop” has been featured on the front cover of the magazine.

Acknowledgement to photographer Muneer Al Shanti for graciously providing the reference photo as inspiration for my painting of “Swoop”.

ArtBaazar Online Magazine #8 June 2020

It was an honor to have been invited to tech “Oil Painting Techniques” at the 60th anniversary of the Albany Summer School.  The school – one the longest running Summer School programmes in Australia.

My class was fully booked with a team of 12 talented and enthusiastic students – all at different levels of oil painting experience.  Together we mastered the art of painting in oils and enjoyed a fun week of creative learning with lots of laughs and amazing results.

Thank you to my fabulous team of artistic students.  I was overwhelmed by your enthusiasm and very proud of your spectacular results.  Congratulations.

I have been asked to return for the 2021 Albany summer School and look forward to teaching not one, but two courses in “Oil Painting Techniques”.