SB: Let’s start with your background. Tell us about yourself.
Edwards: Well, I first started painting in 1969. Before I started painting, I was developing black and white photographs and came down with a rash from the developing chemicals. So, I quit developing photos and began painting. I was working for a calculating machine company in Monroe at the time, and I wanted a hobby that I could do outside of work. So, I decided to get some paints and start painting on the side. After a few years, I started making more money painting on the side than I made as an employee. I painted on the side for about seven years before I quit my job. I started to wonder what I could achieve as an artist if I worked on painting full time. I was just crazy enough to quit my job and try to make a living as an artist. I’ve been painting full time since 1976, and I’ve had fun with it. Painting has offered me opportunities to travel to amazing places all over the world. Art opened a huge door for me.
SB: How have you developed your career?
Edwards: In 1969, when I first started painting as a hobby, I couldn’t give my paintings away for free. My kinfolk wouldn’t even take my paintings because they were so bad. Then, when I got my first digital camera, I began going out and capturing my own images to paint. An artist can learn from other artists, but I didn’t want to copy other artists’ works and try to sell the pieces as my own. I began creating originals once I took my own photographs and worked up my own composition. The original digital images I captured from my own experiences while traveling helped me develop my career as a painter.
SB: What inspires you to paint?
Edwards: I enjoy taking photographs just as much as I love painting. Going out on my own to photograph, research, and study animals is something I just have to do over and over, and I learn from the animals. It’s just a matter of going out and capturing the moment that I can use to create an original painting.
SB: Which piece of artwork are you most proud of? Why?
Edwards: I am very proud of my rhino painting which sold for $25,000. But ducks and deer are my favorite subjects to paint because I sell more ducks and deer pictures than anything else. I love to paint the animals that people like.
SB: What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Edwards: I like acrylic paint, and I like watercolors, but if I had to pick just one medium, my choice would be oil paint. I love to blend with oil. Oil paint has a rich look to it, and people understand oil on canvas. I love the details oil paints add to paintings. Also, I can’t go without a small liner brush. I want the canvas to look like a person could walk into the picture. I love realism.
SB: All of your paintings are based on your own unique wildlife photographs. Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Alaska, and Africa are just a few places to name that you have visited to photograph wildlife for painting. You have captured so many amazing moments in nature across the world. What is your favorite place from your travels, and what was your favorite moment to photograph?
Edwards: I have traveled to many amazing places, but Africa has to be my favorite. The animals, the wild lions roaring at night, the bird sounds, the quiet, and the milky way and billions of other stars I am able to see from there. Africa is an incredible place to experience wildlife, and I love photographing nature there and then painting the animals from the photographs I captured.
SB: Who is the person you turn to most when you need someone? Do you have a travel buddy during your expeditions?
Edwards: A good friend from Montana, Rony Kidwell, has traveled with me all over the United States. He is a good artist and easy to get along with. But my best friend is my beautiful wife, Sandy. She travels with me and is an important asset to my achievements.
SB: You have quite a few great achievements under your belt as well. Artist of the Year for the Louisiana Wild Turkey Federation for the Stamp and Print Program in 1981, Artist of the Year for Ducks Unlimited of Louisiana in 1987, Commissioned by the Red River Wetlands to paint a commemorative painting to promote the preservation of Bodcau and Loggy Bayou in 1987, Artist of the Year for the Louisiana Wild Turkey Federation for the10th anniversary in 1990, Artist of the Year for the Louisiana Duck Stamp Design in 1994-95, and the Louisiana Turkey Stamp 25th anniversary in 2006. You were also named Conservation Communicator of the Year by the 20th Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award Program. What has been your most rewarding achievement, and which one meant the most to you?
Edwards: The achievement that meant the most to me was when I received Artist of the Year for the Louisiana Wild Turkey Federation for their Stamp and Print Program in 1981. Winning Artist of the Year that year gave me the opportunity to present the print to President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office at the White House. But the most rewarding experience in my life is teaching my 6th grade Sunday School boys.
SB: Where can readers view your artwork in person? Where can your paintings be purchased?
Edwards: Artwork may be seen or purchased at Nature Art Gallery located at 2837 Summer Grove Drive Shreveport, Louisiana 71118. Artwork can also be seen on my website at DonEdwardsArt.net.