Art Feature - Ajax Atlas
“I am a Wildlife Artist and I travel the World extensively to better understand my subjects above and below water, so I can create the most captivating Art possible.”
I have spent the last several years traveling the world indefinitely with my wife, bringing my experiences and references to my studio today.
I can honestly say I have loved the underwater world since I can remember, but have only recently started to use it as the central theme in my art. I have no idea why I took so long to incorporate these animals into my Art!
Swimming with these incredible creatures throughout the years has taught me so much about life, which has taught me so much about myself.
Spending time in the Ocean with these amazing animals has truly enriched my life in ways I would have never anticipated.
This in turn, has led me to create my strongest works of art to date.
If I want to create a new work of art, then I want to be able to understand these animals the best I can. - How else can I accurately portray a shark if I haven’t seen it glide freely through the blue waters, showcasing its confidence as an apex predator perfectly designed for hunting. Seeing the inquisitive eyes of a sperm whale as it investigates my existence evokes more deep emotion than I have probably ever felt in my life. Witnessing a massive humpback whale mother show the utmost tenderness towards her newborn calf allows me a chance to rethink what defines ‘compassion’.
I take all of these incredible moments, and I bring them into my studio to create an electric atmosphere to work from. I relive these moments, and I create stories that will hopefully powerfully resonate with people near and far.
These stories are based on our relationship with our environment, and more specifically our relationship with our Oceans.
Before each piece, I ask myself a series of questions about how we are connected to the animals in the Ocean.
How can I tell a story through my art that can help shed light on the importance of conserving our Oceans?
For me, my Art is a vehicle for understanding and exploring something larger. And I love creating large pieces that engulf the viewer, allowing them the chance to fully invest in the story and all the little details in each piece.
These stories I create are generally quite simple, but require a very complex network of animals within the piece. And once I start introducing more and more animals into a piece, then things can get very complicated!
I have to understand the sizes of the animals, and the relationship each animal has in the wild.
I need to understand how they naturally behave in order to bring my story to life. How will the orca act around the whale? Is it a transient, resident, or off-shore orca? The size of it versus the size of a tiger shark?
That being said, I absolutely love the difficulty of my process because it requires so much more than simply painting or drawing an animal. Since I am not just simply replicating an image, I need to understand each animal before I can use it in my stories.
And this understanding almost always comes from personal experiences with them in the wild. I feel these experiences fuel my Art, which in turn, hopefully offers my viewers a connection into a fascinating underwater world.
If I can open just one set of eyes to the wonder of our Oceans through my art, then I would absolutely consider it a “success”.
As a Wildlife Artist, absolutely everything I do is connected to the environment.
In my work, I not only want people to be captivated by the absolute wonder the animal kingdom offers us, but I also want people to better understand our intimate relationship with animals. Wildlife is under so much stress from exploitation and climate change, yet it's difficult for many of us to connect the dots and see how our actions help or harm our environment.
My work strives to help connect some of those dots in an intriguing and raw way.
My most recent piece, “The Day The Ocean Freed Itself From Man” seemed to do just that. It was amazing to see the reactions from people, especially since I did not know how this piece would be perceived. It was a risky subject matter and I did not know if people would invest time in an artwork whose central figure is a mother Humpback Whale entangled in fishing line, with her calf not far from her side.
The other animals in the piece come together to try and free this helpless whale, our beloved Humpback Whale, from the “invisible” hands of Man.
It struck a chord. It seemed that people were first pulled in by the sheer abundance of animals, then they were pulled in by all the details within the piece. They were further pulled in by the large and small stories they started to see within my artwork. Then they would follow with an array of incredible questions about the specific animals in my piece, followed by more precise questions about our Oceans.
It was more than I could have ever hoped for. I poured my heart and soul into this particular piece, and I finally unveiled it for the world to see. The perception of this piece can sometimes be very different than I intended. But to me, that is the real beauty in Art.
I honestly feel creating a more sustainable future for our Ocean is so much easier than we realize.
And this in turn gives us a much better quality of life. Eliminating plastic as best we can has to be first and foremost.
Unfortunately, plastic is not getting recycled the way we previously thought.
Whenever I go jogging at beaches, I end up spending more time picking up plastic and styrofoam from the beaches than I do actually running! Plastic seems unavoidable at this point. But, I try very hard to eliminate as much of it as I can in my life.
It is surely a work in progress though.
But our power as a consumer is one of our greatest strengths.
We have the power to make change simply by making carefully calculated purchases. I love to research companies before I make purchases from them. If they seem legit, I feel comfortable making the purchase.
No company can survive if they have no clients. The companies will listen to our voices, if there are enough of them!
Here is an easy one:
I refuse to drink from plastic water bottles at all costs.
Keeping a reusable water bottle with me during the day is such an easy solution, and it turns into a habit immediately. And bottled water is not cheap, so it makes financial sense to stick to a reusable water bottle.
I love to ask a company to ship my purchase to me in paper and/or cardboard instead of plastic and/or styrofoam. If they are unwilling, then I shop elsewhere. You would be surprised how many companies will eagerly meet my request.
Also, on a personal level I eat nothing but plants.
Plants are my power. This is so important to me, as I have done so much pointed research over the years on this topic. I have avoided animal products for over 6 years, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Not only am I healthier and happier than I have ever been in my life, but I also limit my environmental impact on our Planet. Not only that, but how can I be passionate about protecting one species, only to eat another?
“If I can open just one set of eyes to the wonder of our Oceans through my Art, then I would absolutely consider it a “success”.”