ABOUT THE ARTIST

 

Desmond has always relied on his personal interactions with nature as the primary source of inspiration for his paintings. Essentially a self-taught artist, he worked in acrylics for years but eventually gravitated to oils to express his passion for wildlife and nature.  

Desmond was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1962 but the young McCaffrey family settled in Saskatoon for a few years before heading to Edmonton, Alberta in 1966. Looking back on those early years of grade school in Edmonton, the weekend fishing and hunting trips with his father were of great influence. When they returned home from those outings, Desmond would immediately grab a pencil and paper to recreate, from memory, the scenery and wildlife they encountered. Desmonds mother, Theresa and grandmother Helena Phaneuf recognized his talent early and provided constant encouragement and support for the budding artist.  This contributed greatly to his ever growing confidence with his artistic endeavors.  

In 1973 his father found work as heavy-duty mechanic in the oil patch town of Grande Prairie, Alberta and the McCaffrey family, Henry, Theresa, Desmond and his 5 younger siblings packed up and moved north. At first the move proved to be a culture shock for the eleven year old boy, fitting in was difficult to say the least. The school he attended was plagued with cowardly oil town thugs eager to prove themselves by picking on the "new kid" and finding pleasure in verbally and physically abusing him at every turn. Being somewhat of a introvert and the youngest and physically smallest kid in his class didn’t help much either, and school for Desmond in those years was a living hell.  It certainly was a tumultuous time for the young artist, but he was determined not to allow it to crush his spirit or erode his dreams.  The family home was situated near the banks of “Bear Creek”, there he could escape to the woods in solitude and find a wealth of inspiration for his art. After school when his homework was done, Desmond would grab his Cooey single shot .22 and head out to the creek banks hiking or snowshoeing for hours, taking in his surroundings and studying the wildlife he encountered along the way.  It was a place of peace and solace for the young artist and in those woods he found his calling in life and abounding love for nature.

The years passed, and after graduating from high school in 1980 he attended college briefly to study architecture, but he soon dropped out, as the yearning for creative expression wouldn’t wait. While honing his paintings skills he held numerous jobs, including working in Alberta's oilpatch, as a cargo agent with a local airline and even as a big game hunting guide. He also ran a taxidermy business for a few years, which enabled him to study and understand the anatomy of animals such as moose, elk, deer, wolves and bear from a very in-depth perspective. His stint as a taxidermist also provided valuable business experience that served him well when deciding to become a full time artist. 

Finally in 1989 Desmond took a huge leap of faith and began his career as a professional wildlife artist, and hasn't looked back since. His paintings of wildlife have graced the pages and covers of many publications across the country and he's earned numerous awards and special commissions along the way, including work with the “Royal Canadian Mint”. Many of his works have been published as limited edition prints and are proudly displayed in the homes and offices of a constantly growing list of collectors. Desmond's artistic journey has come a long way and continues to this day with his original works often selling before they leave his easel.

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