Dan Cole’s background and training in Scientific Illustration have lent his landscape paintings an informed sensitivity to the natural world. Having observed and sketched wild birds from an early age, Cole developed his skills through a series of expeditions around South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, studying each region’s indigenous birds and honing his techniques in sketching and painting.
Having worked in London for various advertising projects, Cole fulfilled a lifelong ambition of creating commissioned work for various Field Guides on bird watching – producing anatomically detailed and vivid portrayals of wild birds in their natural habitats. Throughout the 1990s, he worked for an illustration agency that specialised in wildlife commissions, yet maintained a steady interest in self-taught landscape painting. Dan Cole also remains actively involved with The Society of Wildlife Artists, an establishment which aims to further awareness of the importance of conservation through the promotion of artists wanting to develop their knowledge and skill within wildlife art. Cole first exhibited with them in 1993, and was elected as a full member in 2005. The SWLA have been crucial in their steadfast support of Cole and his work, enabling him to exhibit in London among artists who inspired him during his fledgling years as an artist.
Working predominantly in oil on board, Cole has perfected his approach over the years to produce work that is unique in its ability to capture his passion and understanding of the environment, and combine it with an energetic foray into abstraction. His landscapes, sublime in their attention to natural detail, yet eye-catching in their dynamic line and colour, bridge an often difficult gap between the real and the fantastical.
Birds still play an important role within Cole’s landscapes, often flitting across the sky or perched delicately in the trees. His desire to give an impression of what is underneath the ground as well as what is above it lends a totality to his work, via his technique of applying paint across a textured and brightly coloured base layer and his focus on the effects of natural light. Cole uses a range of materials – among them, an etching needle – to create definition through incised line, whilst breaking through the surface of the painting to the vivid colour underneath. Referring to the accidental merging of layered colours as ‘interference’, Cole embraces this unplanned element within his work, using it to ensure that each square inch remains alive and fresh.