British Artist Paints Masterpieces on Swan Feathers

Artist Ian Davey has found a natural and sustainable canvas to paint his masterpieces on – swan feathers. Now his light works sell for thousands of dollars.

Each individual piece can take up to a week to complete, but Ian Davey’s delicate feather paintings really are something special to look at. The 46-year-old artist, who lives in a converted farmhouse in Snowdonia National Park, Wales, paints on swan feathers collected from a nearby swannery. He only uses feathers that naturally fall on the ground during the birds’ annual shedding period and starts the artistic process by cleaning and individually straightening them with tweezers. He always draws a sketch of what he means to paint on the feather, because he only has a one-foot-long, three-inches-wide canvas to work with so he has to know exactly what goes where. He applies a primer and works with a special acrylic paint that protects the feather. To nail the most detailed parts, Ian uses a specialized 000-size brush.

Incredibly enough, Ian Davey first picked up a brush six years ago. He started out with a traditional canvas and discovered he had a talent for painting, but it wasn’t until he traveled to New Zealand, where he also met his wife Tracey, that he discovered his real calling – painting on swan feathers. It was here that he got to see the beautiful feather art of the Maori, and realized he had seen hundreds of bird feathers in Wales, all of them blank canvases. Now he is well respected in the art world and his works sell for thousands of ┬ádollars.