Gabrielle on art and the animals that she cares for

Gabrielle Theilmann is both a talented artist and a skilled care-giver for injured and orphaned birds in the Phoenix area, working with Liberty Wildlife, a busy almost all-volunteer organization that takes in about 10,000 birds a year.  Here she reflects on her art and its connection to her work with wildlife.  In addition, Gabrielle finds time to serve as secretary for the Tempe Artists Guild.  Thankfully, that leaves time for outstanding artwork, like the piece featured here.


Please tell us a bit more about this accomplishment- what inspired you? How did you choose the format and materials?  Where can readers see it?

This painting entitled “On The Brink” was juried into the Grand Canyon State Group Exhibit at the Herberger Theatre this past February 3-April 2, 2023.  When contemplating my trips to the Grand Canyon over the years, the one thing that came to mind to capture for this exhibit was the California Condors who reside there.  It is not a certainty that the Condors will survive to amaze future generations – we only have about 530 currently (although it is a huge improvement from the 27 that remained in 1987).

As a bonus, there are two California Condors that reside here in Phoenix at Liberty Wildlife where I volunteer.   It is a privilege to tell their story to visitors and give people a chance to see how large, beautiful, and personable they are.  Marble and Millie served as my models, and it was lovely to imagine them living where they should.  Their injuries preclude their release, but they are wonderful ambassadors and living blood donors for their wild cousins when needed.

More broadly, what draws you to making art?

I enjoy trying to capture the spirit and the light of the subjects portrayed.  I am always trying to improve the technical aspects of my painting or challenge myself to choose things I find hard to paint, likewater or, in the case of this painting, rocks. However, I also enjoy the happy accidents that sometimes occur with the speed that painting with acrylics demands.

Do you have any favorite media?  

My preferred media is acrylic paint.  I tend to work more on wood panels than canvas as I prefer the smoother surface.

Are there themes you like to explore?

My first forays into paintings were often landscapes, places I’d visited.  I find I enjoy painting quiet landscapes, nearly empty vistas.  Recently I’ve really enjoyed painting birds, probably because I have access to so m

any raptors and songbirds that I see close to me at Liberty.  My volunteer work as an educator at Liberty Wildlife, an education and rehabilitation center in Phoenix, allows me to get to know the personalities of the raptors, and to get nice close photos in all different lights.  When I work in Liberty’s “orphan care” feeding all the young songbirds, I get to see the babies and nestlings and all their fun mannerisms.


How do you hope that a viewer will respond to your work?

I hope the solitude of the subjects allows for a quiet contemplation and peaceful moment.  I also really want to foster an appreciation for the feathered friends that share our world.