Du Toit paints meticulous portraits of primarily birds and animals. She is an avid birdwatcher and has spent many hours in game parks observing nature, absorbing the interaction between man and his environment, and even countless more hours researching her subjects. Every feather, every nuance, color and texture matters and is an inseparable part of the whole. Although she began painting with acrylics, she now uses oils, preparing her canvases with repeated coats of white gesso, sanding between each application—much as Georgia O’Keefe did—to create a smooth, brilliant ground upon which to create her stunning pieces. The artist is deeply engaged with each of her paintings and it is hard to let them go when completed. Until recently she signed them “Rouaud,” her grandmother’s maiden name, in honor of her earliest role model.
It is by considered choice that duToit places her subjects against minimal manmade backgrounds rather than in their natural outdoor settings. This contrast of a living creature, portrayed with infinite detail, against a background of scarce distraction emphasizes its beauty and miraculous creation. For the artist, these are not merely reproductions of birds or animals; they deeply illustrate the plight of nature in the hands of an indifferent humanity. They give the viewer pause for thought, a quiet, contemplative space for considering how empty the world would be without diversity of life.
(Upper left, American Kestral, 24 x 30; right, detail from American Kestral)
More of Isabelle du Toit’s work can be seen at:
-- Rosemary Carstens