The Fine Art of Nature

A Keene man went to a N.H. mountaintop for inspiration and found his life’s work.

“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”

— William Faulkner

The William Faulkner quote above is one of Tim McEachern’s favorites, one that informs his work as a sculptor of birds. “The challenge,” he says, “is not just to capture the bird in exquisite detail — to exactly mimic nature — but instead to deepen nature’s beauty and mystery.”

It appears he has succeeded. Though he started sculpting birds just five years ago and is completely self-taught, the Keene resident is now a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen and winner of international awards. It is, he says, what he was meant to do.

McEachern, now 42, found his path on a peak in the White Mountains five years ago on what he calls “that day of days.” A lover of nature, he had gone there feeling unfulfilled in his job at a hotel and looking for answers: “I put it out there, asking God to guide me with what I was supposed to do with my life.” Not long after, he says, he became intrigued with birds, started to photograph them and then decided to try to capture their essence in wood.

His sculptures, done in tupelo wood and painted in acrylic and oil, require many hours of painstaking work (“a thousand or more hours for large birds”). It starts with extensive research, both in the library and in the field, into the dimensions and details of the bird. “It’s important to understand the life of each bird: its behaviors, its habitat and the changes that occur to the bird from season to season,” he says.

After carving, a burning pen is used to create details like barbs and feathers. Then, he says, the painting of it brings the bird to life: “The real artistry begins where nature leaves off.” The bird’s habitat, like the rock in the sculpture of the peregrine falcon above, is also handmade.

“It’s a deep passion,” he says. “Each piece I create is truly a work of love.”

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