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Matthew Bird - Have Brush, Will Travel

Realist artist Matthew Bird didn’t know much about the small town of Ménerbes in southern France, outside of a Ridley Scott film and a book by Peter Mayle. But he was immediately intrigued by a collector requesting a special still life for her petite château in the heart of Provence.

Whether painting a portrait or a still life, Bird will typically travel to the client’s location which provides an understanding of their unique style and the surrounding for the painting. “I like to get a sense of the individual, their personality, and living space, if possible.”

In this case, the commission was for a still life featuring local, Provencal items. The client was also partial to the color red. “It was almost a blank canvas,” Bird recalls, “and my goal was to merge her affinities with my painting style.” Bird traveled to the home, which was on a hill overlooking the town of Ménerbes, a village in the Luberon Valley.

Once all the reference sketches and photos are complete, Bird’s travels end back at his studio where he creates the final portrait or still life. Depending on complexity, this process can take many hours.

His style incorporates chiaroscuro techniques (the use of strong contrasts between light and dark) coupled with careful attention to detail. His artwork reveals the inherent beauty of his subjects, each carefully studied with precision and clarity. Portraits that capture the soul, and still life paintings that reveal overlooked beauty – Bird’s work demands contemplation.

Curators agree: Galleries, museums, and exhibitions in North America, Europe, and Asia have hung his paintings. Iain Stewart writes, “Matthew’s work is not defined by the subject, but rather by the painter himself, orchestrating what emotional response the viewer will take away, while allowing the freedom to explore and glean the hidden gems within it. It’s a joy to behold.”

Bird understands that paintings, no matter how grand or humble, are inherently significant as human expressions of what is praiseworthy, and deserve the skill, time, and knowledge required to paint them.

No matter where his travels take him, Bird strives to create beautiful artwork that reflects his client’s interests, affinities, and personality. Whether it’s a traditional portrait or a still life of collectibles, he will elevate and highlight the inherent beauty of the things you enjoy most in life.

Start a conversation about creating a unique and timeless artwork for your family or institution. Reserve your commission today, now filling the calendar for 2021-2022. | 410-581-9988


22 x 30 in.

“One of the things I’m continually drawn to is texture,” Bird explains, “and still life painting allows me to explore that in great detail.”

The concept for Magnolia Still Life started with his interest in the condensation which forms on silver julep cups; not just because it perfectly captures the quenching ability of an icy mint julep, but because it was a new texture to explore.

Next to the cup is the very different texture of the crystal decanter. Crystal is challenging to paint for a number of reasons. Like any glass object, it’s translucent so you see what is behind, and also reflective of the things around it. But crystal also refracts the light like a prism, creating interesting colors and patterns. It’s beautiful to observe and challenging to understand.

To round out the composition, Bird used magnolias in various stages of blooming. “I don’t paint flowers that often,” he says, “but here the waxy leaves and delicate petals provide lovely complimentary textures.”


22 x 30 in.

Matthew Bird’s still life paintings are inspired by the great Dutch and Flemish masters, employing a dark background which allows light to starkly reveal the beautiful textures and colors on the table, each carefully studied with precision and clarity. The Dutch Golden Age of painting was very much tied to symbolism, luxury, and wealth, often depicting exotic fruit, seafood, Persian carpets, and Chinese porcelain.

The composition of Branzino For Two reveals simple kitchen ingredients transformed into exquisitely observed objects that demand contemplation. The gentle arch of the fish and marble veining in the mortar and pestle encourage one’s eye to move around the objects. The playful twist of lemon, gleam of copper, and water droplets on the leeks are a feast for the eyes.

The ingredients for a humble meal are elevated, allowing the viewer to pause and enjoy the beauty found in everyday objects.


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