When artist Shawn Zheng arrived in Regina from China in 1989 he was struck by an iconic Canadian bird, one that Zheng believes captures the very essence of the country.

'For awhile there people nicknamed me Shawn Bird.' - Shawn Zheng 

"Canada geese really impressed me when I first came to Canada; this bird is very, very strong," he told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

The impression was so powerful, that when Canada's 150th anniversary approached he set to work to capture what he considers this "royal" bird using ink and rice paper.

Canada geese art

One of the images of Canada geese created by Saskatoon artist Shawn Zheng. (CBC)

Zheng created 10 works that feature 150 Canada geese. The images, Zheng said, are a medium between realistic and impressionistic, and as complex as they are, they are also quite simple. Zheng leaves the background details out, leaving the viewer to complete them story.

"I just leave white and people can imagine what is there," he said.

Bird displays Canadian values

Zheng said he hopes the viewer comes away with a new understanding of how important it is to protect bird habitat in Canada. In addition, the artist hopes that Canadians see themselves in these birds that he considers a "deeply cherished treasure."

"They [Canada geese] live in harmony and freedom and they share space."

Zheng is now making plans to show his work in a gallery. The images capture Canada geese in all four season and took him more than a year to complete.

"For some time people nicknamed me Shawn Bird," he laughed. 

with files from Saskatoon Morning