The star of wildlife artist Laurence Saunois’ winning entry is a rather dignified-looking fantail dove. Saunois snapped several photographs of the feathered beauty for reference before tackling her hyperrealistic painting in the studio. “In this sometimes chaotic world, I wanted to convey a message of peace with the strong symbol of a white dove looking out at viewers,” she says. “I chose ESPERANTO as the title because it’s a universal language. I want viewers to see this bird as a message of hope.”
Also a sculptor and photographer, the self-taught artist first learned to paint with oils in 1994, but she didn’t begin painting full time until about 12 years later. “I started with landscapes and portraits, but I hadn’t yet found my way,” she says. “After participating in an animal art exhibition 10 years ago, I decided to specialize in animal art. I’ve always loved animals, and I’ve always had animals.”
In fact, Saunois is an ardent conservationist who works to safeguard the biodiversity of both flora and fauna. At her home in southwestern France, the artist maintains an organic garden that has become a sanctuary for some 60 species of birds, and she spends hours observing them. “The birds in my paintings are the birds in my garden,” she says. “The Earth is increasingly polluted and overexploited. Many living species are becoming extinct by the direct or indirect fault of man. I’m trying to convey these messages in my paintings. Showing the fragility and beauty of the world is important.”
ESPERANTO is currently on display at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s Birds in Art exhibition. Find Saunois’ work at Lovetts Gallery in Tulsa, OK.
This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
• Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
• Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
• Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook