Matteo Grilli [wildlife artist]

To make a claim that there’s beauty in nature, might be one of those grand over statements. Yet, sometimes, it’s the shy individual that allows us to see this beauty in a new light.

The exquisite watercolour paintings of Matteo Grilli do just that. His detailed study of birds and nature, allow him to create almost life-like representations through his paintings.

Matteo grew up in Italy and started painting with watercolours at a young age. He’s now based in Brisbane and in the early stages of pursuing his career as a watercolourist.

Like many of us, Matteo starts his creative process taking photos and collecting things that inspire him. He often collects feathers, leaves and shells for inspiration—and also dead insects or skulls that are interesting or useful.

His collection of paintings include many Australian birds such as Rosellas, Kookaburras, Lorikeets, Emus and Honeyeaters—as well as butterflies, owls and crustaceans.

Perhaps one of Matteo’s most interesting projects includes his series, Avian Faces, a study on the various facial expressions of birds. See further down for his study of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Currently, Matteo is planning a series of Gicle’ prints of his artwork and looking for a publisher to perhaps use his artwork for greeting cards or something similar. He is represented by the Irish art gallery, Russell Gallery.

Subscribe to Matteo’s blog to follow his latest sketches and paintings.


Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – From the series Avian Faces, study on facial expressions in birds.


How have you got to where you are today?

As every child I drew, and I didn’t stop. I spent some years of my childhood living in the country and I remember I used to spend hours lost in a blissful solitude watching birds with my binoculars.

Around the age of 11 I decided I wanted to become a water colourist and represent the animals living around me with this medium. But at that stage I did not think of being an artist for a living. It was just a process of self teaching.

Things changed after my trip to Ireland at the age of 24, which was actually done for musical purposes. After being inspired by the natural beauties of the west coast of the country, I started taking my artworks to galleries to hear their opinions, I was then represented by the Russell Gallery in the Burren, County Clare.

Life events eventually brought me to Brisbane, where my creativity started to just pour out.

I think the reason that drives me to draw and paint has been always a will to understand life around me and to pay and draw attention to the beauty of nature, to its fleeting essence, to inspire its contemplation, discovery and enjoyment, therefore its understanding and care.


In a few words, describe yourself…

Regarding my artwork, passioned, enthusiast, focused, steady and consistent.

What are you spending your time on at the moment?

At the moment I’m spending my time on building up my body of work, and also on starting up my career as a freelance artist. I’m working on producing Gicle’ prints of my artworks and also researching the licensing market.

By the end of last year I started a series of paintings called Avian Faces focused on the different facial expressions of some species of birds, this study wants to bring out the fleeting and subtle differences that I could notice after observing those species.

ShellsMatteoGrilli WoodDucksMatteoGrilli

Do you have a ritual for getting into the creative mindset? Or a creative process?

Going out and observe the subject, looking through the files of photos I took, looking at my journals, designing in my mind and on paper, making colour charts, and just starting to draw, it all happens consequently.

What or who inspires you?

Any moment spent observing nature, animals, birds, small overlooked natural things, my watercolour box, light, art books from Marjolein Bastin and Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and my favourite art supplies shop.


What are you most proud of?

Every new idea that comes to my mind inspired by the first-hand experience of an encounter with wildlife. Any new painting that has that something that tells me I’m moving in the right direction. The ability to reach people through the wonders of nature.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to own a pet shop, then I wanted to be a vet. None of that happened, but many other things.

Written by Jenica Smith

Passionate about storytelling, design and creativity, Jenica is a Brisbane-based digital designer and founder of Design Montage. Follow on twitter.

One Response to “Matteo Grilli [wildlife artist]”

  1. Tupilak

    lovely work and talented artist i am privileged to have one of his paintings myself