Columbus bird artist flies high with two pieces in upcoming Indiana State Museum show

It can be tough to imagine Columbus native Alex Warnick ever really picking any career other than painting birds.

You’d have to be, well, birdbrained to think otherwise.

She grew up on Mockingbird Drive. She called herself an artist as far back as kindergarten. She had her formal high school senior picture shot while holding a pair of binoculars.

She built bird mobiles of hawks that hung from her childhood bedroom ceiling.

You want more? Her twin sister, Shae, also is an accomplished avian artist.

See? We could be here all day on this topic.

“It is kind of funny,” Warnick, 34, acknowledged. “Everything kind of led me to where I am today.”

Lightheartedness aside, here are some serious points. Two of her watercolor works have just been included in the Indiana State Museum Gallery’s fine arts collection (same as her sister, whose work was included earlier) in downtown Indianapolis. And those new pieces will be part of its latest exhibition, “Collecting Indiana: Recent Art Acquisitions” running Feb. 5 to July 17 at the venue at 650 W. Washington St.

Warnick is one of only two artists to have two pieces included in this recent addition. One is “Passenger Pigeon.” And the other is “Eastern Screech Owl.”

“This really is a great opportunity,” Warnick said. “This has been really special to be able to do something in Indiana, where I grew up and where I was first inspired by the nature here. … So to have something in there really is in many ways more special even than some of the other things I have done.”

She is accustomed to many people locally and elsewhere unaware of her creative work.

“I’m pretty good at flying under the radar,” she said. “Most of the work I do is in other states or even in other countries.”

Yet she is known in the field of natural history artists. One of her paintings of a red-faced warbler graced the cover of Bird Watcher’s Digest two years ago. Three years ago, she produced a series of paintings in the Dominican Republic for a book on the country’s endemic species. Her paintings eventually were displayed in a large public park in Santo Domingo at an event attended by ambassadors and heads of state. The artwork and publications it appeared in focused on the importance of conservation.

“I felt like that really made a difference,” she said.

Part of the difference she wants to make in the future involves encouraging people’s interest in birds in general.

Normally, she spends at least a couple of days researching a bird she will paint. The actual painting can stretch from one to two weeks. Her work has impressed plenty, including painter and podcaster Andrew Tischler, who has interviewed her.

“She’s got a really precise and accurate way of detailing her paintings,” Tischler said.

That often begins with her Canon DSLR camera with a 100mm to 400mm zoom lens for most of her shots.

“Birds don’t let you get too close,” she said. “And I have a really great respect for photographers, because that’s an art form in and of itself.”