Matthew Hillier's extraordinary wildlife paintings offer the viewer a unique vantage point. His paintings express more than the physical characteristics of a species; they reveal the artist’s passion for his subjects.
Although he now resides in the U.S., Hillier was born in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1958 and has spent most his life on the south coast of England. Drawing and painting animals is something he has loved to do since he was a child. Hillier’s father was a museum designer who taught his son the rudiments of painting with watercolor, a medium Hillier used during his years as an illustrator, along with gouache. He is now best known for his acrylic paintings, although he loves the challenge of oils.
Traveling widely in search of subjects to study and paint, Hillier has visited Africa many times, India, other parts of Europe and throughout Southeast Asia. He loves the big cats and rhinos and finds himself drawn to water birds. Since moving to the States, he has begun painting marine subjects and North American animals in addition to the dramatic African and bird subjects for which he is renowned.
Hillier studied at Dyfed College of Art in Carmarthen, West Wales, graduating with distinction. Three of his paintings were accepted by the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition before his 18th birthday, and he has exhibited regularly at the Pastel Society. He is a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, The Royal Institute and the Miniature Society, as well as the Paris Salon, the Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Biarritz Salon. He is a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, a member of the Society of Animal Artists, & has participated in Christie’s Wildlife Art Auction, He has been selected to exhibit at the prodigious “Birds In Art” exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson for many years. He has had one-man exhibitions throughout Great Britain and has illustrated many books & magazines. In 1995, he won the World Wildlife Fund Fine Art Award. In 1998 he received The People’s Choice Award from The Florida Wildlife and Western Art Expo, He was also a featured Artist at that show in 1999. In both 1997 and 1998 & 2001 he received The Society of Animal Artists’ Award of Excellence. He received the “people’s choice award at the Plainsmen Gallery/Raymond James Financial in 2002 & 2004. In 2003 he won the “Artists for the Next Century” Publishers award at the Bennington art museum VT. He has appeared on the cover of “Wildlife Art Magazine in 2000 & 2003. In 2002 one of his paintings was chosen by “US Art” as one of their top 50 paintings of that year.
For many years he was a regular contributor to the Guinness Book of Records illustrating the wildlife section. Hillier spent two years illustrating The Rhinoceros, a monograph published by Basilisk Press. This entailed traveling to Africa and Sumatra to study rhinos, after which he produced 20 large plates of portraits and paintings of five species of rhino, in addition to behavioral sketches. Rhinos are, he says, “wonderful subjects to paint.”
Teaching is becoming an important part of his life. He has now taught “Life Painting” for several years at Montgomery College & has just returned from teaching a “Wildlife Art workshop at the Beartooth School of Art in Montana. He lives with his wife (the artist) Julia Rogers, two step children & his young son, not to mention two ghastly Chihuahuas & a German Shepherd, on the eastern shore of Maryland.