Saturday, May 07, 2011

Amazing animal art of self-taught, colour-blind artist - Kevin Hayler

I have often glanced at the man hunched over a battered, makeshift drawing board in East Street, Brighton, and simply walked on by. He seems to be a fixture in an area that’s not exactly short of wannabe artists, singers and musicians.

Indeed, there is so much going on near this entrance to the world-famous Lanes, with its cafes, trendy shops, melodic jazz from street musicians and general touristic buzz, that it’s easy to miss a talent under your nose.

A sideways look at Kevin Hayler’s drawing board and display gives you the wrong impression... yes, the images look very good, but isn’t he just blindly copying someone else’s photos? Wrong!

Move in closer for a proper look and you’ll see why one of his pictures took three and a half weeks to complete - they are extraordinary portraits of lions, wolves, tigers, monkeys, elephants...

Kevin, who prefers to call himself a wildlife illustrator, specialises in fine pencil drawings of his favourite birds and animals. They are, indeed, exceptionally fine after Kevin has studied photographs through a magnifying glass and transferred some extraordinary detail via his pencil.
He observes most of his subjects in the field, taking his own photographs while travelling to reserves and national parks to track them down. When that’s not practical, he will visit good zoos, breeding programmes and orphanages - ‘I don’t do cold’, he said when asked about a superb picture of a polar bear, ‘It was in a zoo’ - though he still seems to have captured the right habitat beautifully.

Kevin, who comes from Bognor but lives in Brighton, is clearly very talented - and, amazingly, self-taught. ‘Yes, I can just do it, I’m afraid,’ he says. He also happens to be colour-blind, hence the reason he gave up painting and now concentrates on black and white studies.

Clearly, the next time I wander down East Street, I had better keep my eyes open... don’t want to miss another tiger, lion or even elephant strolling by!

Check out Kevin J Hayler’s website (where he sells stunning, high-quality lithographic reproductions), or, better still, visit his stall in Brighton - the website doesn't really do justice to his work.


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