Outdoorsman, naturalist, wildlife rehabilitator and artist are words to describe Ernest C. Simmons. He is a man who produces signature works of art based on his innate knowledge of the laws of nature in tandem with a meticulous touch at the easel.

Born in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Simmons and his family settled in Clearwater, Florida during his senior year of high school. During these formative years his natural artistic talents began to blossom. A fascination with sketching combined with a passion for photography and wildlife, especially birds of Florida, created an opportunity for his adventurous life outdoors.

Simmons received no formal training. Instead, using his great eye for detail, he ventured into swamps and barrier islands to learn in nature's classroom. There, in blinds high in trees or knee deep in lagoons, he spent thousands of hours drawing, studying and photographing wildlife and their vanishing habitats.

Not long after moving to Florida, Simmons began volunteering as a wildlife rehabilitator, helping a wide variety of injured seabirds. "I've had hands-on experience with just about every bird you can name in Florida - eagles, cormorants, ospreys, doves, oyster catchers and cranes," says Simmons. "Through this experience I've had the opportunity to closely observe my subjects. I've probably handled more wildlife than any other artist, but they are more than just subjects to me, they are my friends; living creatures that must be protected. I have also been face to face with man's cruelty and irresponsibility toward animals. When you hold a pelican and feel it die in your arms, poisoned by man's pollution or horribly choked by monofilament line, it deeply affects a person."

Simmons reached a pivotal point in his career when in 1980 his vivid portrait of the Pintail Duck in flight was chosen the winner in the Florida Duck Stamp competition. He was at that time the youngest artist ever to win a duck stamp contest in this country.

Later in Simmons' career he was commissioned to paint 28 Florida waterbirds for an international poster project to help students and nature enthusiasts identify birds.

In 1997 Simmons was chosen as Florida Ducks Unlimited artist of the year. In both 1999 and 2000 Simmons was commissioned by the Florida National Parks and Monuments Association to paint the Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. Due to his tireless efforts and continued dedication to wildlife, Simmons' paintings have raised thousands of dollars for scientific, educational, historical and visitor service programs.

As a result of all of these efforts and his unique talent, Simmons is a very well known and highly admired exhibitor in galleries and fine art shows throughout the Southeastern United States. His limited edition catalog is widely respected and characteristic of an artist with a loyal following of collectors and art enthusiasts.

Ernest C. Simmons' status as a Florida wildlife artist is unparalleled as his work deftly touches and stimulates our emotions - from the core of our psyche to the full appreciation of God's feathered wildlife. He is also that rare artist who has the talent to capture the beauty of his subjects in extraordinary detail; truly an ability to create life on a canvas. Ernie Simmons is one of the profound wildlife artists of our time, and without a doubt, generations to come will continue to honor the man and his outstanding works.

Click here to listen to an NPR interview with Ernie.

Ernie Simmons can be reached at:

602 Douglas Ave.
Dunedin, FL 34698
e-mail: anhinga@tampabay.rr.com



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