Wildlife artist Alan R. Young is well known throughout the south for his birds of the Appalachian illustrations. His artistic objective, however, was not realized until age forty. Primarily self taught and facing the disadvantage of being partially colorblind, he overcame adversity to attain his success. Around that time, he was also an artist in search of signature work. Having moved his family from Atlanta to the North Georgia Mountains in 1994, he needed to look no further than out his back window, to the panorama of forest trees and mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians. His very first encounter with the magnificent and striking Pileated Woodpecker was an actual turning point in this process. He would become a wildlife artist, specializing in birds, not only for the variety of species, but for his new-found love of nature. From 1994 to 1998, in his spare time while working for the State of Georgia, he built a portfolio of fifteen pen and ink sketches; primarily hawks and eagles. His first showing in the summer of 1998 was an instant success.
Since that time, Alan has won numerous fine art awards, with works in private and corporate collections from the United States to Europe; both prints and originals. Included are the New York, Ohio, and Georgia Audubon societies, Coke-Cola, Georgia Power, and others. He is now considered one of the top wild bird artists in the southeast, often featured in national and regional publications. But unlike other artists, Alan has chosen to remain independent, publishing and marketing his own work. Aside from the obvious control, the purpose was and remains to make originals, prints and cards affordable for everyone, not just a select few.
In 2001, Alan began to include color in his renderings. He also began dabbling in watercolor as his color vision began to improve. Soon he discovered that his ability to see a world with and without color could work to his advantage. His values first, color second approach helped create a softer, more natural effect to his paintings. Many of his collectors describe it as “looking the way nature should look”, compared to a more forced, sometimes superimposed look created by other artists. His technique is sometimes mistaken for pastel, when the correct application is dry-brush watercolor; yet another way he separates himself from other artists.
In 2004, Alan decided to make a full-time commitment to his art. He retired early from state employment, purchased a custom frame shop and began teaching more frequently. Among his loyal students, pen and ink remains his area of expertise.
Other noteworthy accomplishments include the creation of the North Georgia Wildlife Arts Festival, and the judging of various other art festivals and events, including the Junior Duck Stamp competition. Yet, art is only part of the motivation for Alan. Appreciation and concern for the environment are equally important to him. “To play a small part in our crusade to save our planet is reason enough to continue painting.”