Carel Brest van Kempen’s artistic mission has always been to deepen awareness of the natural world and how it functions. He grew up in the Wasatch Mountains of northern Utah, a land he has explored obsessively since childhood, trying to understand its ecology and how it’s changing over time. These studies have profoundly informed his paintings, the creation of which has been his full-time occupation since 1990. Uncompromisingly detailed and realistically rendered, his work tells stories rooted in real-world nature and twists them a bit with an exaggeration, an unexpected juxtaposition, or an impossible point of view, casting suspicion on old preconceptions. These paintings are carefully composed, with an eye to the viewer looking from across the room as well as the one whose nose hovers an inch from the canvas. They reward close scrutiny, just as the natural world does. Brest van Kempen’s solo exhibition has toured museums across the U.S. since 2003. He has been awarded the top honor given specifically for animal art, the Society of Animal Artists’ Award of Excellence, a record nine times, a record shared only with British Columbia’s Robert Bateman and Washington state’s Leo Osborne. Brest van Kempen also writes and blogs about natural history topics and authored the book Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding. He is currently working on a comprehensive field guide to the birds of Utah.