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Helmeted Guinea Fowl by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Nakuru March"
12.5 x 11.5"
Graphite, Nero, & Colored Pencil on Crescent Watercolor Board, 2016
Helmeted Guinea Fowl

When I was a boy there was a funny little breakfast joint in Lafayette, CA, called Millie’s Kitchen. The restaurant is still very much in business, but Millie is long retired, and when she retired, she took with her my favorite part of the restaurant, her birds. Across a narrow parking lot from the converted cottage that was the restaurant were several aviaries (converted carports and sheds if my memory serves) that housed an outrageous collection of unusual birds including a massive Rhinoceros Hornbill and about a dozen Helmeted Guinea Fowl. These were not, I should mention, the fat, washed out, domesticated guinea fowl that many people keep today along with their backyard chickens, but full-on African Guinea Fowl, lithe, sleek, and wild; when I would approach their enclosure to peer over the railing and through the chicken wire they would crowd into a thundering, nervous jumble at the far end of the aviary. The noble hornbill, whose beak was longer than my arm at the time, would look on impassively.

It should come as no surprise that I could hardly contain my excitement upon seeing great numbers of wild guinea fowl when I first visited Kenya in 2012. They are far from a rare bird, and most Kenyans hardly give them a second glance, so I’m certain my paroxysms of joy at each sighting raised a few eyebrows. Unperturbed, I followed each flock we came across, often obsessively, hoping to shoot good enough reference to inspire a painting. “Nakuru March” is only the first of those efforts. This particular bird strutted slowly and elegantly across my path during a visit to Lake Nakuru National Park, next door to our home base of Soysambu Conservancy. These birds have a wonderful shape, with their prehistoric-looking heads and dramatic casques, but it was really the intricate pattern of the feathers that excited me in this piece, hence the primarily black and white composition. Still, that shockingly blue head refused to be represented in monochrome, so the colored pencils had their voice as well.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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