Steve Kestrel acquired a strong interest in and consequently an extensive knowledge of wildlife through his many outdoor childhood activities. As a student enrolled in Eastern New Mexico University, he studied natural sciences. Although he also studied sculpture at Colorado State University, he never completed his degree due to what he believed to be the creative restraints placed upon him by professors. Upon leaving Colorado, Santa Fe sculptor Boris Gilbertson offered Kestrel a position as his apprentice.
Kestrel prefers to carve directly in granite, slate, limestone, and sandstone – materials that are both extremely sensitive and difficult and require great strength and concentration. His stone carvings forsake the use of a prior constructed model as Kestrel believes this method helps preserve “the soul of the stone”. While his sculptures clearly evoke his animal subjects, they usually retain the natural shape of the raw material with which he is working. Kestrel has also applied his talents to casting in bronze, which permits him to create more delicate forms not possible to create in stone.