Realistic watercolor paintings of birds (and occasionally, other things!)
Grandma Moses was 78 years old when she began her iconic career as an artist. "Poppy" (what his granddaughters call him) Hammer started painting realistic images of birds in watercolors at the relatively "young" age of 68. He did have a head start, painting in oils while in college, but his degree was in landscape architecture, and he made the pragmatic decision to earn a living in his new profession (and to raise a family). His interest in art went on the back burner.
Walking through Michael's arts and crafts store in 2014 with his wife and granddaughters, he spied a starter watercolor set; bought it on impulse....and his passion for art quickly returned, a half-century after he had given up watercolors as a teenager.
For reasons he cannot explain, he chose birds as his first subject, interrupted only by portraits of his granddaughters, a red fox here, a cat there, and more recently, landscapes. His early efforts were based on photos from the web until he learned that photos published online are presumed to be copyrighted, and creating derivative images of such material is a no-no.
Enter Brenda Robert, his daughter Alison's mother-in-law, who is a supremely talented wildlife photographer. Her hi-res images of a wide variety of bird species became Nelson's subjects for more than 25 of his paintings. Other sources appeared: friends, family, his own photos, and three professional bird photographers (Glenn Bartley, Jess Findlay, and Peter Brannon) who were gracious enough to grant him permission to interpret their stellar imagery into watercolors.
Nelson's goal is to create accurate renditions of bird form and coloration, with the hope that a viewer will say "Hey, that's a Screech Owl!" when they see his work (provided, hopefully, they are not looking at his Blue-footed Booby, never mind another species of Owl).
With the help of his photographic contributors, he has created realistic imagery in watercolors of many birds of prey (ospreys, eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls); waterfowl (ducks, ibises, egrets, and herons), colorful tanagers from the tropics, and more common species such as pigeons, turkeys, sparrows, blue jays, and robins, among others.
Nelson is a member of the Needham Art Association, the Wellesley Society of Artists, and a Signature Member of the New England Watercolor Society.
40 William Street, Unit 306
Wellesley Hills, MA 02481-3915
Nelson Hammer's "Sunset on the Ocean", 1969
Mute Swan, Preening