Nanaimo artist Nicholas May is presenting his latest exhibition, ..And Such: Nicholas May’s Drawings of Birds and Such, at the White Room on July 14. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo artist Nicholas May exhibits surreal bird drawings at the White Room

Exhibition lasts one night only and gets ‘weirder and weirder’

Since being introduced to birdwatching, Nicholas May has become more aware of the colour, movement and beauty of birds and their environment. The Nanaimo pen and ink artist said he’s been injecting those observations into his work.

“It was something that was always surrounding me that I never really paid much attention to and as soon as I had someone kind of crack it open for me and show me this beautiful thing that’s constantly around you, I immediately got into it,” he said.

May became inspired to start on a new exhibition dedicated to drawings of birds. But after a while he found his other influences, like pop art, comic books and movie posters, began seeping into his work. While May acknowledges that the show’s original focus got away from him, he said he’s “rolling with it.”

“I mean, drawing birds is fun and all that but I kind of tend to lean more towards the more macabre and surreal type of art,” May said.

“All of my influences are traditional pen and ink artists and a lot of that is folklore and biblical and all of that, so I just got bored with the kind of pedestrian nature of birds and started melding it with just a bunch of other weird stuff.”

The result is the artist’s new exhibition, ..And Such: Nicholas May’s Drawings of Birds and Such, which he is presenting at the White Room on July 14. The show features around 40 drawings that gradually morph from photo-realistic images to human-bird hybrids.

“The ultimate plan is to have it start out pretty regular and then as you go around the room it just gets weirder and weirder,” May said.

“That’s an idea that also appeals to me. Just the transformative nature of art in general. It starts as one thing [and] ends up being something completely different by the end of it.”

May said his approach to his work has transformed over time as well. He used to feel that drawing was an unenjoyable “slog,” and only felt satisfaction after holding a completed piece.

“These days it’s changed. My style has progressed to something a little bit more detailed. Obviously pointillism is heavily featured in my stuff,” he said.

“It’s more about meditation now and so it’s absolutely the journey through the drawing that I find the most rewarding aspect of it rather than the finished product.”

WHAT’S ON … Nicholas May presents ..And Such: Nicholas May’s Drawings of Birds and Such at the White Room, 4 Church St., on Saturday, July 14 starting at 6:30 p.m. Admission by donation.

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