Pride (above)

Ducks Unlimited Canada selects Creston Valley wildlife painter’s work

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  • Jan. 21, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Wildlife artist Guy Hobbs has once again had a painting selected by Ducks Unlimited Canada as part of its National Art Portfolio program.

Bath Interrupted, a closeup of a grizzly bear, was one of 12 pieces of art selected this year from among more than 1,000 submissions.

“DU has been nothing but good to me,” said Hobbs, who works out his home studio on Fox Tree Hill. “They are great people to work with and have a great program for artists.

He is a self-taught artist who has only been making his paintings/drawings (he has developed his own process to portray wildlife with photo-like detail) for five years. This Ducks Unlimited selection — the first was in 2014 — is only the latest accolade as Hobbs’ reputation grows.

“The DU connection helps with the challenge of getting my name out nationally,” he said. “My market is more geared toward wildlife enthusiasts than art collectors and this is a great way to reach it.”

Hobbs said he enjoys the solitude that painting offers, but the recognition is important, too.

“It’s good for the ego,” he laughed. “And I have to thank Ducks Unlimited art buyers for that.”

Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Hobbs’ passion for art and wildlife started early, during long childhood walks with his parents. As a young man he worked at a safari lodge in the Kafue River Reserve in Zambia, which teems with some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife.

With encouragement from his wife, Kerry, he moved away from graphic design and illustration to take up wildlife painting after the couple moved to Creston. A large variety of birds, as well as deer, bears, coyotes and mountain lions, share his “backyard”, and he finds inspiration (and photographic references) locally and in his travels.

By combining the use of acrylic paints, coloured pencils and transparent acrylic inks, Hobbs has a remarkable ability to create life-like paintings, accurate depictions that make his subjects look like individual beings, and not simply representatives of their species.

“To do a job that makes people smile is awesome,” he said. “It’s a nice way to earn a living — so different from my past job.”

Not that financial success has mirrored the accolades — he was the BC Wildlife Federation 2014 artist of the year — he has earned.

“There is still a long way to go before it pays all the bills,” he said with a smile. “But now people are starting to find me — that’s what Ducks Unlimited has done for me.”

Bath Interrupted was completed in the spring of 2015. His most recent piece is an African lion — “a tribute to my dad,” the man who spent time with him in Africa.

“It was kind of like making a commission piece, with his spirit watching over me. Dad (an airplane pilot) was a massive fan of all things Africa and African wildlife. I spent six months with him in Zambia.”

Hobbs continues to describe himself as a newcomer the art scene, and says that it has taken time to redefine his self-image.

“The Ducks Unlimited and BC Wildlife awards gave me external validation, permission to see myself as an artist,” he said.

There is no room for complacency in his art, though.

“Sometimes you have to take risks,” he said. “I had more failures last year than ever, and I have become more willing to push myself. But I am so lucky to have a wife who supports what I do. At the end of day this is a business, not only for fun. So that support is really important to me.”

More of Hobbs’ work can be found on his website, guyhobbs.com.

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