An interview with Deb Knowlson, the artist who painted “Sweet Rosie”

Want to know more about Deb Knowlson, the artist painted the stunning portrait of “Sweet Rosie”? We did! So, we interviewed her and are sharing the interview here. Her beautiful watercolor painting truly captures the complexity of Rosie’s personality, and hints at the varied life she had led.

“Sweet Rosie” is a painting being auctioned off by Phoenix Landing to support Indonesian Parrot Project.

Go to Auction – “Sweet Rosie,” to learn more or place a bid. 

Tell us about yourself, and your background as an artist. How did you get started?

Deb Knowlson

I wish I could say I’ve attended years of art school but the truth is I am fairly new to painting and mostly self-taught.   I began watercolor painting by checking out library books on the subject and experimenting with techniques.  I’ve taken an online botanical course and spent some time in the studio of a local Oregon watercolorist who explained some of the basic rules but didn’t hold me to them.  I learned the value of breaking the artistic rules sometimes with happy results.

Your art seems tied to your interest in conservation. Tell us about that connection.

I am only motivated to paint due to my interest in wildlife and conservation.  This goes back a long way to my childhood in London, England, where visits to the countryside were a fairyland of hedgerow creatures including hedgehogs, birds, and even badgers.  Upon immigrating to the U.S., a whole new world of national parks and variety of species was fascinating to me.   Cities and suburbs can be home to wildlife, but its where the wild creatures are in their natural habitat that they flourish best.  Its an especially challenging time for many species so I’m pleased to help the little I can.

Other than “Sweet Rosie,” of course, what pieces are you most proud of? What about them do you like, and what are their stories?

My favorite piece other than “Sweet Rosie” is a recent painting I did of a lioness called, “Reaching the Heart.”  The watercolor painting was inspired by the words of the amazing Jane Goodall.  She said, “Once you’ve reached the heart, you’ve got somebody for good.”  This painting was accepted into the exhibit for Jane Goodall’s 85th birthday celebration coming up in Austria.  I’m thrilled Jane will see my painting and it will be part of her mission to reach hearts for the good of wildlife.

What would you like others to know about “Sweet Rosie”? What drew you to paint her?

“Sweet Rosie” by Deb Knowlson

I am one of those people that animals seem to like.  I was once visiting a parrot rescue in British Columbia, Canada, when a gigantic blue hyacinth macaw flew from above and across the room and landed with a thud on my back while I was in a tour group.  Staff were horrified I was hurt or might panic but there was no serious damage and he proceeded to crawl over my shoulder into my arms laying upside down like an infant.  We were good but he would not let go.  You see, sometimes, they like you and you like them.  When I saw Rosie’s photo I thought, “Oh, I like her.”   Animals and humans may not be the same, but they each have feelings as individuals and deserve respect and love.

Where can people go to see your other works?

To see my other works, which are mainly wildlife paintings, please go to my instagram profile, artisindebsnature2.   I can be reached by DM there and also through my email, artisindebsnature2@gmail.com.   I mainly sell originals.  I donate some to worthwhile wildlife conservation efforts and I donate portions of sales to wildlife charities.  That is why I paint.

What else would you like to share about yourself or your work?

I’m thrilled that the painting of Rosie will potentially benefit the Indonesian Parrot Project because of the need for protection of endangered Indonesian cockatoos and awareness of trafficking of wild cockatoos along with education and resources.  I think Rosie would approve.  I once was owned by a rescued wild-caught Congo African Grey called “Couscous.”  Parrots are complex individuals who wish to remain in their wild homes. Take my word for it… I’ve been informed.

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