Meet some of Australia’s amazing birds photographed by husband and wife team Steven and Susan Willemse living in Canberra, Australia and painted by Susan using airbrush and acrylic on stretched canvas.
The birds painted are a reaction to everything experienced in life, from watching a country develop a trillion dollar note, to seeing a city surrounded by water without any, to experiencing Private pathology in Australia, all have had a significant impact on my decision to find something more mindful, healing and beneficial to the world.
After studying neuroscience for extreme pain aka CRPS in 2016 it was though creating “Hope” Rainbow Lorikeet that I managed to start the healing process and on that journey discovered meditation, but I discovered a lot more: Art is a universal language, it is the very thing that allows communication between people not linked by geographical location, it is the reason that people smile.
Why birds? When leaving Rhodesia as a young child with a cockatiel on my shoulder my Dad said “Don’t worry for where ever you go in this world there will be birds for company- you will never be alone” he was right, Cockatoos in South Africa led to all the wild birds here in Australia, something that delights, teaches and inspires us every day. I acknowledge a person that can have empathy for something smaller than themselves can have empathy for mankind, would it not be nice for everyone to discover this beauty and music that surrounds them to create a more caring and kinder world?
I have found the trick in life to create something better each time something is lost, in losing my first country I found the most amazing person to share my life with, in losing the second I discovered Australia’s wild birds literally the most intelligent, beautiful and musical to me, in losing my cytology career, one that I really did feel was contributing to a healthy community I discovered art again. So when saving lives is deemed not cost effective in a tried and tested manner and removed from the health budget as has happened with the Cervical Pap screening in Australia to prevent Cervical cancer renewal in 2017, the creation of Zimbabwe’s currency and Cape Town where basic necessities like water for health and hygiene were not blamed on lack of infrastructure development but that of global warming, one learns from each experience.
So I ask just one thing for all those reading this, please share the love of art and birds, lets connect and build a brighter world together and value members of mankind too. May politics worldwide communicate for destruction is quick but experience and knowledge is valuable, each life is worth saving a trait I appreciated at Groote Schuur Hospital where I worked for 20 years when much larger issues needed to be addressed and were.
But what about the art technique you may ask? I did Art in High school where I discovered the freedom to explore, experiment, to observe and create, something I enjoyed immensely. I was still experimenting and exploring in medical school, with my first airbrush used to paint a car. This led to more refined tools. In the background the first computers we being trialled at work, I still remember climbing ladders to retrieve patient information and the excitement of discovering email and the internet. We could not afford to purchase a computer, my husband built one from parts. Fast forward to Australia where my husband’s dream of buying a camera became a reality with DSLR, this was a game changer- the birds that were so far away could now be seen just like under the microscope- close up. Texture, colour, light, contour, shape, and patterns all things that made cytology an art and a science could be studied and Art Australian birds was created.
I do hope that this story inspires all those that are going through significant change, may you all find happiness for in this state we can all give back in little ways, for here lies the secret to humanity. I will continue to paint these amazing birds and will try share them where ever I can afford to so others can be inspired as well.
Birds have been my saviour, in acknowledging them I can help a little towards their conservation as well for everything in nature is connected.
Steven and Susan Willemse
An article written by Susan Willemse – Owner of Australian birds Art Gallery