Waratah 34cm x 36cm $1200

Helen Fitzgerald

Wildlife and Botanical Artist
Watercolour on Fine Art Paper

Helen says, “I have painted birds for over 10 years now, until then I painted landscapes. I have always painted. My mother was an artist, and so pots of paint and all that, has always been a normal life for me.” Helen was born in Sydney 1945.

From her home in a bush setting outside Queanbeyan near Canberra, Helen uses wild birds in her garden, photographs and dead road kill bird specimens, kept frozen in a second freezer, to create her delicate, finely detailed paintings of Galahs, parrots and magpies. (Her magpies are often comical and arguably her signature work.) “Dead birds won’t pose but they are vital to getting the colours exactly right. Colours like that are too subtle for film.”

“A bit of birdseed is a cheap modelling fee”, she says. “I think it is the colours which draw me back to the birds. They are just outrageous if you think about it. I mean, just think of the eastern rosella. Then think if you were asked to put it together would you put purple next to lime green, next to red, next to blue, next to white: I don’t think so. It ‘s the sort of things kids would do!”

Helen’s other great love is wildflowers. She and her naturalist husband, Ian Fraser have worked on and published several botanical books together. With this work Helen tends towards the scientific and the technically correct. But Helen says, “Your painting can get too tight if you only do the botanical painting… I can do these paintings quickly, whereas working on a bird is much slower. It is good to have variety. It keeps me fresh.”