Wildlife art can feature a variety of elements and, perhaps surprisingly to some, not always with “wildlife” or animals as the central focus. In fact, the animals are often domesticated beasts and not really “wild” at all.
But for the purist, wildlife art is characterized by strong and vivid depictions of wildlife in their natural surroundings.
A description of this genre of art is offered by the fine artist Teresa Bernard,
“Wildlife Art is characterized as works of art which portray the natural world and the wildlife or domesticated animals that inhabit it. It is one of the earliest forms of art dating back to prehistoric cave paintings.”
Some of the most popular and renowned artists in America have been wildlife artists in addition to their works in other genres and media. Frederick Remington comes to mind, for example, and his depictions of the American Old West. These images often featured horses, ponies, buffalo, and even husky dogs.
John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and a consummate painter of birds in the wild is another. In more modern times we have been privileged to have had a wide variety of talented and prolific wildlife artists such as Michael Sieve, Bev Doolittle, Don Kloetzke, and dozens of others.
While the themes often run the gamut from bighorn sheep on sheer rock faces to cozy farm homesteads on a winter evening, inevitably it is the actual wildlife that draws people to most wildlife artwork.
Flora and Fauna: Majestic Animals at Home In the Wild
Realistic and detailed depictions of wildlife in their natural habitats present undeniably powerful imagery that captures the minds and hearts of a viewer. The best artists capture something of the spirit of both the animal portrayed and of the moment rendered. Put a bit more prosaically, their pictures “pull you in” for an almost vicarious experience.
Depending on the nature of the animals represented in a painting or sculpture, there is also a certain mood or sense of place that is powerfully evoked. Most of us may never see a variety of wildlife with our own eyes and in the wild. Wildlife art is often the closest many of us will ever get.
And despite the inherent “realism” of photography, most aficionados of wildlife art will agree that there is something far more substantial and almost tangible in a well-executed wildlife artwork. In fact, some paintings seem almost more “real’ than what a photograph could achieve.
Because a large number of wildlife artists tend to drift towards western themes and western environments in their work, the animals depicted in their art are usually those native to those regions. Horses, bears, elk, antelope, various species of deer, cougars, and wolves are staple subjects of much wildlife art.
In addition, there are the birds - ducks, geese, eagles, and even various sea birds.
While the genre is known as “Wildlife Art” there is still room for the more domesticated animals in these paintings and sculptures. Hunting dogs, hound dogs, and other canines are often depicted along with cattle, sheep, working horses, and even the occasional cat.
Scenery is wonderful and, by itself, can be both breathtaking and sublime in its beauty. Yet, the scenery almost inevitably takes a supporting role to the wildlife featured in most of this art.
Wildlife Artists and Capturing Wildlife
Some artists have the good fortune to live in or near wilderness or semi-wild areas and can do sketches and studies of various creatures in the wild. Capturing the likenesses and details “in place” can be both an advantage and an inspiration, but it is not always practical. Or possible.
Many fine artists must make judicious use of other resources to capture wildlife on canvas or in bronze. These can be photos, videos, sketching animals in zoos, or even extrapolating from similar domestic varieties such as house cats and birds in their backyards.
One of the magical paradoxes of wildlife art is that the finished product is often realistic, accurate, and wholly imaginary - all at once.
It is highly unlikely and even improbable that a given wildlife artwork was conceived, drafted, and finished based on an actual setting with the animals in place, and so on. Which is not to say that wildlife art is simply superbly executed works of fiction.
Wildlife artists as a whole are committed to accuracy in their renderings of wildlife and the surrounding depicted in their paintings. In addition, most all of these same artists are quite supportive of wildlife conservation and of wildlife in general.
Their love for, and appreciation of, these majestic animals is part and parcel of their motivation and inspiration as artists.
Wildlife Artwork from the Leader in Wildlife Themed Art
Wild Wings only stocks the highest quality wildlife artwork and our collection features wildlife prints from several renowned wildlife artists such as Terry Redlin, as well as Persis Clayton Weirs and Michael Sieve.
Wild Wings is the leader in wildlife themed art, and we pioneered the wildlife art industry with over 2,500 print editions produced since 1968.
Today, Wild Wings stocks over 1,000 outdoor and wildlife art prints representing 75 of America’s top artists and our Wildlife Art collection offers buyers the perfect combination of beauty, quality, comfort, and uniqueness.