Boldly unique in the field of wildlife art are the paintings of artist and naturalist Peter Darro. His rare ability to achieve meticulous accuracy in his subjects, without sacrificing any of their vibrant color and exciting vitality, is the result of a lifetime of intimate observation of nature and an incomparable mastery of his art. Born in 1917, he grew up in Chicago, finding his greatest boyhood delights in summers in the forests and fields of his uncle's farm in Michigan. He pursued his art career as a student at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. After graduation, eager for adventure in the wilderness, he set out in his old Hudson sedan to travel throughout the western states to the coast, camping as he went, sketching, painting and studying the American landscape and its' creatures in all their infinite variety.
Upon his return to Chicago, his reputation as an artist rapidly became established. His intense interest in American history influenced many of his works, among which the portrait of Lincoln and paintings of pioneers migrating west have been widely reproduced. As a portrait painter, his ability to transmit the essential character of his subject won him national fame. He painted Senator Everett M. Dirksen in his chambers in Washington, D.C. The portrait, as well as the portrait of Mrs. Dirksen, now hangs in the Dirksen Memorial Library.
Successful as he was in that field, he found his deepest artistic fulfillment in the many paintings done on his holidays in the woods of Wisconsin. He loved the challenge of capturing the intense purity of color in fur or feather, the incredible brilliance of sunlight on leaves and water, or the airy subtlety of a hazy day. His familiarity with the creatures of the wild and his passionate concern for their well-being inspired him to go out into the fields and blinds to sketch and take color notes of wildlife in all weather and seasons, studying their color, form, and habits under every conceivable condition. His work won immediate recognition in the highly specialized field of animal art. He is a member of the national Society of Animal Artists, an eminent group of the finest wildlife artists in the United States and Canada. An active conservationist, he is a member of the Illinois Audubon Society and has contributed a large number of his prints to the society for their use in fundraising. Articles about the artist and re- productions of his paintings have appeared in Illinois Wildlife, the monthly of the Illinois affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. His painting is featured in National Wildlife Magazine, along with anecdotes by the artist, who is an articulate writer as well. He paints with enthusiasm and authority, but more than that, Darro's paintings say something special. Detailed but never picky, subtle but not timid, they are joyous and bursting with life, never confining the creature stiffly to the canvas, but rather freeing the viewer to the wondrous scope of the wilderness.