About the artist
Desmond McCaffrey has always relied on his personal interactions with the natural world as the main source of influence and inspiration for his paintings. Essentially a self-taught artist, he works with oil paints to express his passion for wildlife and nature.
Desmond was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1962 but the young McCaffrey family lived in Saskatoon for a few years before moving on to Edmonton, Alberta when he was about four years old. Looking back on those early years of grade school in Edmonton, the fishing and hunting trips with his father were of great influence. When they returned home from those outings, Desmond would immediately grab a pencil and paper to recount the experience and to draw the wildlife and scenery he had observed. His mother was a stay at home mom and provided a constant source of encouragement for the budding artist, along with his grandmother, who dabbled in oil paints herself.
In 1973 his father found work as heavy-duty mechanic in the oil patch town of Grande Prairie, and the McCaffrey family packed up and moved to northern Alberta. At first the move proved to be a culture shock for the eleven year old boy, fitting in was difficult to say the least. The school he attended was plagued with cowardly oil town thugs eager to prove themselves by picking on the "new kid" and finding pleasure in verbally and physically abusing him at every turn. Being somewhat of a loner and the youngest and smallest in his class didn’t help much either, and school for Desmond in those years was a stressful hell. It certainly was a tumultuous time for the young artist, but he was determined not to allow it to crush his spirit or erode his dreams. The family home was situated near the banks of “Bear Creek”, there he could escape to the woods in solitude and find a wealth of inspiration for his art. When his homework was done, Desmond would grab his .22 rifle and head out to the creek banks to check his rabbit snares and hike or snowshoe for hours while studying the wild birds and animals along the way. It was a place of peace and solace for the young artist and in those woods he found his calling in life and abounding love for nature.
The years passed, and after graduating from high school in 1980 he attended college briefly to study architecture, but he soon dropped out, as the yearning for creative expression wouldn’t wait. In his twenties he held numerous jobs, including working in the oil industry and even as a big game hunting guide. He also ran a taxidermy business for 5 years, which enabled him to study and understand the anatomy of animals such as moose, elk, deer, wolves and bear. It also provided valuable business experience which served him later when deciding to become a full time artist.
Finally in 1989 Desmond began his career as a professional artist and has not looked back. His paintings have appeared in the pages and on the covers of many publications across the country and he has earned numerous awards and special commissions along the way, including work with the “Royal Canadian Mint”. His works have been published into limited edition prints, which has enabled the reach of a broader and constantly growing list of collectors, while his original oil paintings are often sold before leaving the easel. He currently resides with his wife Marlene and family on a piece of land in their handcrafted log home.
Simply, my goal is to create exceptional wildlife art, and to strive everyday to learn more about the animals I paint and their habitat. I want to present them at their best in a natural setting and a well balanced composition. Ultimately, my hope is that the finished painting translates the same powerful emotions to the viewer that provided the initial inspiration to create the work.
Awards & Special Commissions
2017 - SPORTING CLASSICS MAGAZINE July/August cover artist
2017 - FUR FISH GAME MAGAZINE July cover artist.
2015 - FUR FISH GAME MAGAZINE August cover artist.
2015 - FUR FISH GAME MAGAZINE May cover artist.
2014 - ROYAL CANADIAN MINT COMMISSION design of two whitetail deer coins in silver and platinum.
1998 - JUNE/JULY U.S. ARTIST OF THE QUARTER Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
1997 - PACIFIC RIM WILDLIFE ART SHOW Exhibit in Seattle, Washington.
1995 - OFFICIAL ARTIST of the Canada Winter Games.
1995 - COMMISSIONED by the Bradford Exchange to create a series of plates with wolves and the Aurora Borealis.
1993 - ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION elk conservation stamp print artist.
1993 - ART AWARD WINNER British Columbia Ducks Unlimited.
1992 - ARTIST OF THE YEAR Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Canada.
Des working on a moose painting in his studio
The start of a new wolf painting.
The artist performing the art of taxidermy in his shop.
Des sketching a large whitetail buck brought in by a local hunter.
This artist won't be starving!
Whitetail deer outside the artist's studio.
The artists taxidermy diploma from the early '70's.
The artist's home based studio.
The artist's northern Alberta log home.
Where the artists heart resides, in the north woods of Canada!