This artist’s exotic avian paintings
capture the natural beauty and spiritual essence of these winged wonders
text Sara Linda
Photography Courtesy of Slonem Studios, New York, NY Photography by Ian Epps, Brooklyn, NY


Lights of fancy” occur regularly in the works of Hunt Slonem — literally. One of the world’s most renowned painters of exotic birds and other wildlife, the artist and his avian art bring the beauty and spiritual essence of a variety of winged marvels to life. “The colors, forms and personalities of tropical birds have always held a fascination for me,” Slonem says.

While his current inspiration comes from the 30 “models” residing in his New York loft — Slonem has kept a colorful mix of parrots, toucans and more throughout his career — his early interest originated from his exposure to multiple exotic locales.

Born to a Navy father, Slonem spent his childhood in a variety of different states, including Hawaii, where he first noticed exotic birds and other animals. “As a teenager, I spent six months in Nicaragua as an exchange student, where I explored its jungles,” Slonem says. “Later, during college, I lived in Mexico for a year.”
It was there that Slonem first incorporated cultural and spiritual influences into his paintings — elements that turned into ongoing themes in his art. “My present works actually evolved from my early paintings of birds with saints,” Slonem says.

Thus, his initial subject matter transformed into a focus on birds and butterflies as ethereal symbols, displayed through a subtle grid pattern that represents more than just the bars of a cage. “The grid symbolizes a breaking down of form, pure energy and higher consciousness,” Slonem says. “And the vibrant tones of the animals themselves, as seen through the grid, communicate a plea to protect such natural beauty.”

Locally, Slonem is represented by the Elaine Baker Gallery in the Gallery Center in Boca Raton, who is showing his work through April 13, 2006. Visit their website at, or call 561/241-3050. Or, visit

above: Painted in 2004, Hunt Slonem’s colorful oil on canvas,“Blue Pearl,” measures 78 inches by 78 inches.
“The Gift” shows Slonem’s hallmark subtle grid pattern. This oil on canvas, painted in 2005, measures 52 inches by 66 inches.
The vibrant hues of the 79-by-83-inch oil painting, “Red Picul,” pop off the canvas. This piece was created by Slonem in 2003.