Carving, drawing, and painting were always a part of life for wildlife artist Michael Van Houzen. Art was a favorite class during elementary and junior high years and an area in which he excelled. Much of his free time was spent creating and expressing what he visualized. When he entered college it was then that he decided to major in art. He was exposed to every art medium and realized his love of sculpting.
Van Houzen received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University. Upon graduation he worked in the design studios of Chrysler Corporation. In 1969 with prompting from his father, both began carving duck decoys and entering contests. He continued to work in a variety of media, but sculpting with wood soon become his area of expertise. When asked why he chose wood as a medium of expression, Van Houzen responded, "I can make something realistic from raw material." In 1976, he began his professional career as a wildlife sculptor, focusing on birds.
Van Houzen's sculptures are carved of Basswood with each feather cut in separately and textured with a pyrographic pen. The birds are painted with acrylics using a technique of washes and fine brush strokes to achieve softness and life-like characteristics. The legs are shaped from copper and bronze wire. Many of the pieces are set in natural habitat. The free form bases are carved from Cherry, Oak or Walnut. Van Houzen has won many awards for his work and his sculptures are in many private and public collections. The business name, Songbirds of Wood, depicts these uniquely realistic, hand carved birds.