As an avid naturalist and environmentalist, D.J. Cleland-Hura found long ago that wildlife had captured his heart. For a time, it became the focus of his professional work and drew him into the rich and fascinating world of painting. Nature, in its infinite variety, remains his primary subject matter, although he also studies and paints the figure.
Cleland-Hura grew up on Grosse Ile, a small Michigan island in the mouth of the Detroit River. In 1993, Cleland-Hura received his Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan School of Art. Shortly after graduation, he and his future wife, Rikki, moved across the country to settle in the Seattle area.
To begin his professional career, Cleland-Hura's focus was working with environmental groups in support of conservation. In 1996 he won the South Carolina Duck Stamp contest, the youngest winner in its history. Since then he has captured several more. "I am extremely proud that my artwork has helped raise funds as well as awareness for conservation". Cleland-Hura's paintings have also served as inspiration for Pixar Animation Studio's movie Finding Nemo and are featured in the book The Art of Finding Nemo.
Working out of his Pacific Northwest studio, Cleland-Hura paints originals for galleries, shows, and commissions. He is a member of the Society of Animal Artists and the Worldwide Nature Artists Group. He participates annually in a number of national and international exhibitions as well as invitational shows in many prestigious galleries.