Toucans are vital to keeping rainforests alive. And I wanted to celebrate their role in this colourful mixed media piece of two stunning toco toucans. The layers of collage, texture and paint reflect the life and diversity in the forest. The natural motifs mix with the manmade, to hint at the impact we are having.
Toucans eat an array of native fruits, passing the seeds through their droppings, which helps keep the plants growing and maintaining the forest’s diversity. Loss of habitat is one of the major threats to these fascinating birds.
Why do toucans have such huge beaks? This is probably not a question to keep you awake at night, but it did flit through my head, as I painted these stunning birds. When I visit a bird park, I head for the toucans first. They make me smile and wonder again at the brilliant diversity of our planet.
This is a mixed media piece, 50x50cm. I worked in many layers using collage as a foundation with the images and colours of the foliage, playing with transparent and opaque papers. I then added texture before painting the toucan with watercolour. Finally, I used stencils, stamps, printing and other techniques to pull together the teaming life of the forest. It is sealed with UV varnish to protect the surface, before being finished with wax to enhance and deepen the colours.
People often say that my paintings make them stop and smile. What a difference a smile makes to a day! A lift in your step and a boost to your energy…
Back to the beaks, are they attractive to potential mates or intimidating to predators? They certainly help in gathering fruit and they use the serrated edge to peel and eat their spoils. Toucans can regulate the blood flow to the bill, using it as a way to keep its body temperature under control so they tuck it under their wings when they sleep, so as not to cool off too much.
You might also be interested in a pure watercolour piece I painted at the same time of a durante of toco toucans. You will find it in the birds gallery.