Depicting nature’s beauty—particularly its wild beasts and birds—has long been an important way to convey a message, tell a story, and connect with and interpret the world around us. Throughout time, wildlife and animal artists have captured everything from the smallest of insects to the largest of mammals in a variety of styles, from the most rudimentary to the hyperrealistic. Fierce and furred, winsome and winged, surreptitious and scaled … there’s no shortage of subjects in the animal kingdom to portray. Brought to us by the editors of Southwest Art, this trio of award-winning contemporary wildlife artists, painters Christina Dunzinger, Ann Goble, and Cindy Sorley-Keichinger, share their own sublimely creative interpretations of creatures both great and small in this special portfolio of wildlife art.
Dunzinger’s authentic passion for nature, animals, and conservation are central to her work. The artist, a signature member of Artists for Conservation, sums up her commitment, saying, “I feel an urgency to convey humanity’s need to connect with the planet, nature, and wildlife; we’re so codependent. I try to open a window, if you will, between the viewer and the wild animal, so that the viewer really ‘sees’ the connection and recognizes another living thing.”
Key to each subject’s sensitive portrayal is Goble’s deft brushwork. “I try to keep the birds’ feathers loose and subtle,” she notes, “as it’s the patterns that are interesting, not the individual feathers.” Meanwhile, because a horse’s movement “catches light and shadow in beautiful ways that can be tricky to convey, rendering the coat can be a challenge,” she admits. “Each muscle and tendon shows and has to be accurate.”
Cindy Sorley-Keichinger’s representational wildlife art is fueled by three Cs—curiosity, color, and contrast. “I’d be bored out of my skull if I painted the same critter over and over,” the Alberta, Canada-based artist says with a laugh. Her diverse work ranges from animals just outside the doorstep of her grain farm to big prey found in the wilds of Africa. All are expressed masterfully with vivid color and light. “Wishy-washy colors aren’t for me,” she continues. “I like things to really jump and have contrast.”
A version of this article originally appeared on SouthwestArt.com.
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Jan Martin McGuire
Jan Martin McGuire grew up in Colorado, clambering in the treetops and catching reptiles. Today, those early experiences inform her artistic passions and her wildlife painting. McGuire is an artist, naturalist, and conservationist who expertly channels her painting expertise and world travels into art and wildlife conservation efforts.
I love observation, which is how my process begins. I sketch and I photograph, and hold onto these resources and memories, because my “creative spark” may not happen right away. This can be immediate, or years later.