Area artist David Groenjes uses his unique background in conservation and automotive repair in his current body of work to create lifelike masterpieces of animals.
“Well, so it’s kind of interesting… my background is not really in art,” Groenjes says. “I have a degree in natural resource conservation and so I’ve always been interested in wildlife and things outdoors.”
It was difficult for Groenjes to find work after college in conservation, so he spent the last 16 years in the automotive repair industry. This is where he learned a lot about working with metal and piqued his interest in the metal art he does now.
“I use as much recycled metal as I can, so I use old car parts and tractors and anything I can find,” he says. “Even packaging… when I send everything it is repurposed or used as much as possible.
Inspiration for Groenjes’ current body of work comes from his children, who like himself, are interested in animals and the outdoors.
“They’ll watch TV shows or be reading books and I’ll kind of follow along with what they’re looking at or reading,” he says. “A lot of times that’ll keep me interested in what my next project might be.”
He’s currently working on several pieces of work for a number of clients—all wildlife related, from a deer to a giant frog to smaller animals.
Groenjes’ creative process is quite unique and methodical.
“Everything usually starts with a photograph of the subject I’m working on,” Groenjes says. “Whether it’s a photo that I’ve taken or a photo that I’ve found elsewhere, I’ll usually start out with a photo.”
Typically from that point, if he’s working on animals like he is now, he’ll try to put the animals in a pose that looks as though the animal is moving or apprehensive—anything to make it more than a simple static sculpture to give the illusion of motion.
Groenjes has been working on his art from about 2014, but from 2014-2018 it was “few and far between.”
“I just decided I wouldn’t go back into it until I had an area I could truly work in, and it was 2018. My grandma passed away and we decided to use some money from her to buy a welder,” Groenjes says. “A newer, nicer one that I could do better work with.”
Groenjes believes his grandmother’s inspiration to be a turning point in his career, and as of 2021 he has gone full time with his art.
Check out Groenjes’ pieces @davidgroenjesart on Instagram or on Facebook at DG Sculpture & Design. —Michaela Branagan