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Daniel DavisDaniel Joseph Davis   AFC Daniel Davis
Watercolor Paintings of Tropical Birds
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Since I was a boy, the natural world has always been a source of inspiration and wonder for me. I grew up in what was once rural Maryland, and spent my summers and time after school exploring the woodlands and streams. I was also fortunate to spend vacations at my Grandparents; those on my mother's side owned a small farm in western New Jersey and those on my father's side owned a lake cottage on Seneca Lake in western New York. Both localities offered different opportunities to explore, climb, swim, sail, hunt, and collect fossils.
My interest in art developed alongside of my love of the outdoors. My high school art teacher (Miss Thorn) was very supportive (though she warned me never to go into art) and let me use the art room and materials whenever I wanted. At that time, I was more interested in painting science fiction and scenes from Lord of the Rings than wildlife. In my senior year I took first place in the high school art show and I was thinking of studying art in college, but in the end my father encouraged me to pursue the sciences (he was a polymer chemist and always practical). After graduation, I went on to major in geology and biology at the College of Charleston.
It was as an undergraduate that my love of natural history developed into an intense interest in evolutionary biology. The history of life and the complex interactions that have evolved over the eons is one of my major sources of inspiration. I starting working at a local florist as a driver to pay my way through college, but soon became a designer and began painting flowers and wildlife in the little free time I had. I also volunteered at the Charleston Museum's vertebrate paleontology lab and prepared fossil whales. I made extensive sketches of the fossils to aid in their construction and used illustration as a way of studying vertebrate anatomy. My anatomy professor mentioned biological illustration as a possible career path, but I was still enthralled with paleontology, and didn't seriously consider art. Later, I was fortunate to be working at the museum when a major exhibition of Audubon's work was being assembled. Seeing a large collection of Audubon's originals, as well as original works by Louis Agassiz, had me wondering if wildlife art or biological illustration could indeed be a possible focus for me. However, by this time I was accepted into a doctorate program in Paleontology at University of Texas, and off I went. Within a year, I transferred to Louisiana State University due to financial difficulty, and continued to pursue paleontology.
I hadn't been able to paint in any meaningful way while in graduate school and I began to find myself in the art section of the library when I supposed to be studying sedimentary petrology. I missed painting, and became increasingly dissatisfied with academia. I decided I needed to take a break and reassess where I was going. Not satisfied to merely "chill out", I joined the Peace Corps to save the rain forest and see a different part of the world. As fate would have it, I ended up working with the Honduran Fish and Wildlife Department in the Rio Platano Reserve. My site was a village of 500 people of Garifuana, Mestizo and Miskito descent. There were no roads, no running water, no electricity, and no phones; in short, it was the perfect place to paint wildlife. I fulfilled my obligations as a volunteer by teaching environmental education and assisting with patrolling the reserve, but there was ample time for bird watching and painting. It was here that I realized what I wanted to do with my life, study and paint tropical wildlife. I also enjoyed teaching at the local "high school", and decided that teaching would be a way of staying in touch with natural history and sharing my love of biology, while at the same time providing me with a way of living in the Neotropics. I returned to the United States and completed my masters in teaching and after teaching in the states for six years, I eventually returned to Central America to teach and paint. I currently live in Guatemala City with my wife Margie and my Blue and Gold Macaw Cho (domestically bred in the USA of course), and have spent the past ten years teaching biology at the American School of Guatemala. I have quit teaching and I now spend as much time as possible in the field photographing and painting birds. I use only my own source material and I feel the personal connection with the subject matter comes through in my work. It is my hope that my art will express the grandeur and value of the natural world, and assist in its preservation.

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