supremely detailed views of the North American wilderness. But almost every
Canadian has a piece of Townsend art in their possession—in their pockets,
perhaps, or on a desktop. His is the polar bear image on Canada’s two dollar
coin, affectionately known as the "toonie."
That is only the latest acknowledgment that Townsend is one of Canada’s
favorite and foremost wildlife artists. In fact, he was both the first Canadian
and the youngest person ever to be named "Artist of the Year" by the 1989
Western and Wildlife Art Exhibition. Pretty impressive for a man who considers
himself essentially self-taught and started selling his artwork in the seventh
His lifelong fascination with the details of wilderness and the wealth of
wildlife that could be found just outside, started when he grew up in a house
bordered by a ravine on one side and a creek on the other. Inspired by Carl
Rungius, Andrew Wyeth and other independently spirited artists, he started
trying to capture on paper what he discovered in the wild. "I’d rather be out
exploring, studying, sketching, photographing and painting," he says, "than
discussing history, technique or career."
His incredibly detailed, yet clear and precise art has gained admirers across
the world. Named the featured artist at the Vancouver International Wildlife
Art Show and a participant of the World Wildlife Fund’s "Spirit of the Wild"
Show, he was also one of just five artists asked to exhibit with the Canadian
Wildlife Art Exhibition in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.