Jeremy says he likes nature in general but also loves the “spontaneous, wild energy seen in nature that works cohesively with the technique he’s been developing over the years – the splatters, the erratic spontaneous linework, the ebb and flow, that wild energy.”
He adds, “I always stay true to the design elements and principles that we see in nature and by which we recognise beauty.”
Jeremy first started playing with watercolour and ink mixed media in his last year of university in 2012.
“It was just fun and experimentation at the time, coupled with a chance relationship with working for a New Zealand music band called The Esther Melody Band. They approached me to make a music album for them that would visually communicate their music. It was this graphic design and art project that launched me into an exploration of visual arts, particularly with watercolours and inks, as they are so emotive, expressive, and visually captivating.
“You can throw the liquids, splatter it, bleed it, and do all sorts of stylish spontaneous things with it, which would flow from my inner connection to the subject. In the band’s case, it was their music, but that design project led me into a career as a mixed media artist, which I’ve been practising for more than 10 years.”
One of Jeremy’s standout works is his Print Series, which crosses four categories: Native NZ (the first in the wildlife series), the Australian Outback, Wild Canada, and Iconic NZ Fish.
“It started because my sister inspired me to look beyond my focus on international sports art and to paint what was most loved around our home and our community – our native bird life.
“We grew up surrounded by huge 150-year-old oak trees, which have been home to much beautiful birdlife, including tuis, silvereyes, fantails, even kingfishers.
“My first painting in this series was a tui singing away, casually sitting on a branch and giving you a curious look. When I finished the work and put it online, the art immediately received a lot of great feedback; everyone seemed to love it. I then went on to paint other beloved birds – the silvereye, kingfisher, and kea. Fast forward a few months and I had finished a full series of New Zealand birds.”
Jeremy put the series on display at the local Howick markets, and soon enough, people were wanting to collect prints of them for their walls.
“My work eventually captured the attention of Jason’s Placemats, who wanted to license the series for their placemats and coasters to be sold throughout New Zealand. I said yes, and the series ended up being sold at major locations, including popular tourist locations, such as Queenstown and Wanaka. So many of the birds will be seen on tables around the world.
The Australian outback
After finishing the New Zealand Bird series and going back and forward to see his brother in Australia, Jeremy says his curiosity shifted to Australian animals.
“Just observing how powerful and vibrant their wildlife is, I thought this could be a great project to explore in combination with all the splatters, inks and bleeds in the art style I was developing,” he says.
“I could see it; the huge croc leaping out of the water to grab the viewer, all that power and raw energy. And the incredibly bright colours of their iconic animals such as the Galah and Rainbow Lorikeets. So, I began the project painting 12 iconic Australian animals, which got quite a bit of attention online.”
The project was featured by Behance, a social media platform owned by Adobe, in their “Best Of Behance” front page gallery.
While he’s never visited Canada, Jeremy says he imagines snow, mountain ranges, pine trees, and the warmth of the sun.
“My friend Dusty was born there and has lived there most of her life. I began talking with her about the best way to capture the iconic animals of Canada. I wanted it to be well-balanced in colour palette, having those beautiful blues and winter tones that would be so representative of the spirit of Canada,” he says.
“Each animal composition needed to be worked in a way that the personality of the animal is clearly seen, like the beaver building his dam, the polar bear protecting her cubs floating on the winter ice caps, and the classic grey wolf howling in the winter’s wind.
“In reflection of this Canadian series, I would say my favourite was the Red Cardinal. Although it’s missing the winter blues, I painted it in such a way that it looks similar in overall composition to the Canadian maple leaf as seen on their national flag.”
Iconic NZ Fish
Jeremy’s most recent wildlife series is his Iconic NZ Fish collection, which was a personal commission.
“He wanted a collection as a feature series for his living room showcasing the iconic fish of New Zealand,” Jeremy says, adding that it’s one of his most exciting series, having been a keen fisherman growing up. He’d often go out with his dad and brother fishing for snapper around Waiheke Island and elsewhere.
The commission involved seven iconic New Zealand fish – the striped marlin, snapper, John Dory, yellowfin tuna, blue cod, rainbow trout, and gurnard. Jeremy says he’s hoping to do an exhibition showcasing this series at some point.
The wildlife series has proven to be popular, with Jeremy’s customers favouring the vibrant natural colours. He says people often come back for a second or even third piece of work.
On top of his wildlife series, Jeremy has painted for some high-profile clients, which he calls his “dream clients”.
“Painting for the Chicago Bulls to celebrate their 50th anniversary, that was super huge for me. In fact, it was my dream brand since I was a kid,” he says.
“That project was featured to millions of people; some of the art hangs in the presidential suites at the United Centre stadium and some of the players even have some of the art. And, of course, the icing on the cake for me was to be written back to by my childhood hero, Michael Jordan, who encouraged my work and creative abilities.”
Jeremy also made art for the United Nations.
“I was honoured to create a series of artworks explaining their agenda for the humanity project being put forward by the Secretary-General at the time, Ban Ki-Moon, in 2016. The project was seen by millions of people and was even featured on CNN,” he says.
“To this day, I still am amazed at all those amazing commissions that happened that particular year.”
To view more of Jeremy’s work, visit his jeremykyleart.com.