Yellowknife artist Shawna Lampi-Legaree is currently in Australia to have a family reunion with her oldest son. While she’s there, she found a perfect reason to keep up with her painting while on the go.

And she has the birds to thank for that.

Lampi-Legaree has been out and about taking photos of various avian species to put together what she calls The Great Australian Bird Adventure. She brought a sketchbook with her to paint a variety of birds based off of the pictures she’s taken so far.

This photo of a laughing kookaburra became the first bird in the sketchbook of artist Shawna Lampi-Legaree. Photo courtesy of Shawna Lampi-Legaree

She started the project as soon as she arrived — the very first photo she took was a laughing kookaburra, which became the first bird she painted in the sketchbook.

To make sure all the painting supplies didn’t take up too much of luggage space during travel, she decided to scale down to the sketchbook idea

Lampi-Legaree said the book it is nice and compact and easy to carry, but that can be challenging because she had to work with a smaller-than-normal canvas.

“Partially to keep my up my skills, but then I gain a greater understand of Australian birds through drawing and painting them,” she said. “I am sure that continuing to paint will help when I finally do get back to the easel. Maybe I won’t feel so rusty.”

By the time she’s done, Lampi-Legaree plans to have 27 birds painted throughout her sketchbook and each spread will have a different species of bird.

“It is going to be very hard to choose which 27 birds to paint (because) there are so many beautiful birds here in Australia,” she said.

She plans to continue to paint the birds in Australia — the birds give her a lot of enjoyment, she said — but the main goal is still to enjoy the time with her family.

Lampi-Legaree said she is expecting to complete the book when she retutns home.

Kaicheng Xin

Kaicheng Xin is a Multimedia Journalist with NNSL Media. You can reach him at

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