Stamp of approval
A QUINNS Rocks artist with Asperger syndrome created pictures featured on a collection of frog stamps released by Australia Post this month.
The four frog stamps are Owen Bell’s fifth set of naturethemed images for the postal authority and feature the critically endangered armoured mist frog, as well as the endangered baw baw and Australian lace-lid frogs. The fourth is the Tasmanian tree frog and a fifth, the dainty tree frog, features on a minisheet.
“It’s a great honour and privilege to have my work featured on stamps,” Bell said, adding it was satisfying to have them in collections all over the world.
Australia Post philatelic manager Michael Zsolt said the set indicated the diversity of Australia’s frogs through photorealistic illustrations.
When he was in his early 60s, Bell was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum condition, and believed that helped him produce his detailed illustrations.
“I consider it a gift, as it enables me to focus on detail and re-create it in my art,” he said.
“It also allows me to maintain that focus for long periods – I often spend 10 to 12 hours working on a painting without a break.”
Bell began working in the UK as a freelance illustrator in 1974, working primarily in gouache before he started experimenting with digital art in the 1980s.
“I paint in more or less the same way I did when using traditional media; the main difference being that now I paint with light, which is pretty magical,” he said.
Artist Owen Bell with his dog Arrow .... Bell’s affinity with the natural world is evident in his commissions for Australia Post (top left).