Editor’s Note: David Tomb is one of many talented artists whose work is featured in GGAS’s first ever online bird art auction, which runs from May 17 through June 1, 2020. We hope you will support David, all of our artists and GGAS, by purchasing their beautiful work!
By Melissa Ramos
Birds mesmerized David as a child.
His mother often recounted his habit of staring at the Turkey Vultures hanging out in a dead Oak tree behind his childhood home in Oakland. David was particularly fascinated with how the vultures sunned their wings in the early morning sunlight. This rather Gothic image is an indelible memory and certainly was the image that helped spark David’s long career in the arts.
David always enjoyed drawing but loved drawing birds especially. This natural fit led him to eventually pursue life as a professional artist when he was an adult. Art making always stuck with him. He studied art in college and put in 20 years as a figurative artist, focusing less on birds. After the tragic events of 9/11, David made promise to himself: he would bird more.
His new, intensive birding habit naturally circled back into his art; since 2007, David’s work has focused entirely on birds and conservation.
Like many birders, David’s process begins by going out in the field. He birds as much as he can locally. Observing birds in their natural behaviors is a big inspiration for David’s creative process. He supplements his process by visiting museums, galleries, and reading about birds as much as he can. While contemporary and modern art inspires and informs his work, he also allows birds to guide his content and aesthetics.
For your viewing pleasure, here’s a gallery of David’s work, highlighted below.
A major source of David’s inspiration happens to be one of his favorite natural history museums, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. He also frequents California Academy of Sciences and the Museum of Natural History when he’s in New York. The drawings of birds he sees in these museums are some of the foundations of his paintings. In recent years, David’s work has developed with cut-out collage strategies and paper based installation versions of natural history dioramas, but at a full scale (such as the pieces pictured above).
In all of his art making, David tries to keep things simple and have fun.
Among his favorite birds include the iconic and critically Endangered Philippine Eagle (formerly known as the Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle). In 2011, David traveled to the Island of Mindanao with several friends to see this legendary beast. They eventually found a year old youngster in a humongous nest after a two day search.
David has been a long time fan and member of Golden Gate Audubon and was happy to help contribute his art to GGAS’s online fundraiser. In his words, “What’s better than helping with Golden Gate Audubon’s mission and getting cool art? Twofer!”
If you’d like to learn more about David’s art and work, please check out his website and here. You can also follow him on Instagram. David is also passionate about bird conservation, and helped to found his own bird conservation group, Jeepney Projects Worldwide.