“I was born and raised in Portland, Western Victoria, where from the age of eight I developed an overwhelming interest in nature, particularly birds and mammals. Thirty-four years later my passion for observing wildlife and visiting special environments around the world and within Australia continues.
Experiencing animals and birds in their habitat is a huge buzz so I often divide my time working between my studio and the field either painting or as a research assistant on various wildlife projects. From1987 voluntary positions in south-eastern Australia presented valuable opportunities to visit off-shore islands and experience up close Australian fur-seals; Sea lions; Australasian gannets; Southern right and Blue whales to name a few, animals that I literally “grew up with”.
The most awe-inspiring and dramatic environment I have ever painted and worked, as a research assistant was Antarctica when in 1996 I spent five months working on a Weddell seal project in the Vestfold Hills. I was fortunate enough to join more expeditions several years later to observing and record marine mammals and birds in East Antarctica. 1998 was the start of four major expeditions cruises to the eastern tropical Pacific studying whales, dolphins and seabirds. The cruises covered all countries and political boundaries in the diversely rich tropics where stimulation for new paintings was never in short supply.
I specialise in oil on canvas; the medium I find allows smooth natural blends, glazes and rich colours that best replicate nature. As a painter of traditional realism, I find creating scenes that would exist in nature, replicating textures and enhancing light make an attractive talking piece and very satisfying within. I feel strongly that it is my ethical responsibility to make each painting as accurate as necessary otherwise every day I have spent in the field would be simply meaningless.
Close to my heart are animal cruelty issues and I have been a long-time supporter of animal welfare organizations and conservation groups. In April 2005, under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Charles and supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, two illustration plates from the award-winning book “A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife” were donated to the Save the Albatross Campaign. Auctioned at Trinity House, London, the paintings reached the sale price of AUD $40,000, twice the price of the next highest works by some of the United Kingdoms best wildlife artists.
Released in 2006 I worked full-time on the highly popular field guide: “Whales, Dolphins and Seals” as co-author and principal illustrator. It is the first ever, natural history book to illustrate all known races and species variation of the world’s marine mammals. Published in several languages, this groundbreaking work has over 500 illustrations based largely on my own personal field experience from many parts of the world.”
Brett specialises in cool climate animals and birds. Brett commenced painting professionally in 1991. His interest in wildlife started aged eight where winter beachcombing often revealed rare subantarctic seabirds along remote wind-swept western Victorian beaches while today after many years of expeditions as an artist, field biologist, guide and lecturer to remote regions, his expert knowledge on bird and mammal identification and behaviour is second to none. He spends 6 months of every year in the Arctic regions of the world studying wildlife. The other 6 months he paints – Reproducing these cool climate birds and animals for identification and publications that are printed in the UK and distributed worldwide.
Many painting and scientific projects have taken him to numerous regions of the Antarctic and throughout Australasia while the Northern Hemisphere proved equally alluring with scientific expeditions covered the entire eastern tropical Pacific from Midway Atoll to Peru’s Humboldt Current studying the behaviour and abundance of whales, dolphins, seabirds and other marine life.
Brett is renowned for his works being anatomically correct and this is what
sets him apart from many other wildlife artists. Brett says, “For natural history
Brett’s “Whales, Dolphins and Seals”, for example is the first ever natural history book to illustrate all known races and species variation of the world’s marine mammals. Published in several languages, this groundbreaking work has over 500 illustrations based largely on my own personal field experience from many parts of the world. To date, a thirty-three year passion for bird and mammal watching has allowed extensive travel through twenty-eight countries with the most visited regions being the Southern Ocean, Antarctica and the eastern tropical Pacific studying marine wildlife.
Brett is renowned for his works being anatomically correct and this is what sets him apart from many other wildlife artists. Brett says, “For natural history paintings to be accepted and appreciated as serious collectable art, it is important for the subject and habitat to be faithfully accurate… My artwork mostly represents non-commercial subjects influenced by little known and seldom seen species. It provides a unique and attractive way of documenting and recording wildlife that otherwise may only rarely or not at all exist through other mediums such as photography.”
“Just like a portrait artist, any bird or animal painted in the realism genera deserves to be accurately portrayed. As an artist, know your subject and try your best to represent it as beautifully as nature does”.
He has co-authored and illustrated several books dedicated to field identification and anatomical accuracy:
Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, volumes 2 and 3.
A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife.
Whales, Dolphins and Seals: A Field Guide to the Marine Mammals of the World.
Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide To Their Identification.
Feather and Brush: Three Centuries of Australian Bird Art.
Through his book contributions and as an award-winning artist, Brett’s work is invariably connected with Australian and marine wildlife however he is equally recognised as one of Australia’s best equine portrait artists and often commissioned by clients who desire accuracy and authentic realism in their work.