Canadian Wildlife Artist Denis Mayer Jr. was born and raised in the province of Quebec and he was fortunate to have a father who worked hard to provide for his family. The father was strict and expected his children to follow his work ethic. Many people are of the opinion that artistic ability is inborn, passed down in our DNA....and there are numerous examples of this phenomenon to give weight to that theory. Denis is a case in point. Right from the very first time he could hold a pencil and before he knew or fully understood anything about his father's occupation as a sign-painter, he wanted to draw. It was an inborn desire. When he first started school, he really wasn't very interested in anything except drawing and so the teachers quickly learned that if they gave him a piece of chalk and let him draw on the board, that would keep him quiet and happy.
After leaving school he went to work for his father and gradually learnt the skills of sign-painting under the guidance of the master. Those skills eventually led him into the realm of high-end home illustrations, an occupation that was lucrative and challenging. He excelled at this new art-form and stayed with it for a number of years. In order to advertise their designs in catalogues for potential buyers, home designers and architects needed realistic pictures that looked like photographs of the finished product. It was the same with another branch of commercial advertising that he also undertook shortly after he moved with his parents and siblings to beautiful British Columbia. (refer to the "Commercial" website below).
Before advertisements were created digitally, we needed expert illustrators to draw and paint all the ads for TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. Denis excelled at that and produced amazing illustrations for many internationally-known companies. The advent of the digital age brought an end to the need for that skilled work. At some point, Denis, realising that his days as a commercial illustrator were numbered, had the good fortune to meet someone who suggested he would sponsor Denis to produce some wildlife paintings. Denis had always loved animals and wildlife but had never thought of being a wildlife artist. He had always viewed that as a hobby rather than a way to earn a living. Nevertheless, there was an opportunity knocking at his door. He realised that if he wanted to continue to use his skills as an artist, he was really left with no alternative but to accept this new challenge. That was how it all began. Since making that brave move, all Denis's paintings have been commissioned. He retains the right to sell limited-edition prints of each painting, which he does in large numbers.
Some years earlier, Denis had met and married his beautiful wife who just happened to be a talented graphics designer, and they settled down to raise a family. As the children arrived one by one, he always made time to walk the woodland and mountain trails with them (there are now three) to share with them his passion for wildlife and nature. In order to work in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, Denis set up a replica wood-cabin studio in his residence, and while he worked he liked to play his favourite music....Italian opera. Without realising it he gradually learnt the correct pronunciations of the words of the various operas. He began to quietly, almost subconsciously, hum and sing along with virtuosos such as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and others. He would sing these songs in the shower and in the bath and kidded himself that he had a good voice. It was certainly powerful, and his family often wished that the bathroom was soundproof. Eventually, he decided to overcome his shyness of appearing on stage in front of people and one day sang at a small church. The congregation loved it. And so began his passion for singing opera. To date, he has not been "discovered", but he lives in hope. It's a slow process, but he does perform on stage at various local venues, sometimes singing before many thousands of people. (refer to the "Music" website listed below).
Denis continues to receive fruitful commissions and spends most of his days sketching and painting in his studio. A single painting can take months to finish. To date, he has received various prestigious acknowledgements and awards, including BC Wildlife Federation "Artist of the Year 2011", BC Wildlife Federation "Artist of the year 2018", Ducks Unlimited "Artist of the year 2012", Ducks Unlimited "Artist of the National Portfolio 2007-2018". On a few recent occasions, The Royal Canadian Mint has commissioned Denis to submit specific artwork for use on their Collectable Coins Collection. For about thirty years, Denis worked exclusively with gouache water-based paints, but recently he decided to experiment with oil-based pigments. He has since found to his surprise and joy that this medium enables him to create specific effects that were not obtainable with gouache.