Wildlife and nature have long captivated our imagination. For many, being out in nature and experiencing the wild feeds the soul and renews the spirit. Wildlife artists capture the sensation of being close to nature and allow us to bring it home. 

In our first fully virtual Art Discovery, artists Paul Rhymer, Cathy Sheeter, and Trevor Swanson share the adventures they’ve lived through to capture the beauty of nature and their passion for wildlife. 

For wildlife painter Trevor Swanson art and wildlife have always been in his blood. Coming from a family of artists, he essentially picked up a lot of skills through osmosis. Combining that with his love for nature, Trevor now draws so much of his inspiration from his travels around the world and his time in the wild. 

“From being outdoors somewhere, whether it’s Montana, Alaska, Africa, or my own backyard, I find inspiration,” he said. “Every little element of seeing and being close to wildlife lends itself to the atmosphere and feel of the artwork. For example, the lichen on the rocks and the wear and tear on the trees — it all lends itself to the story. And you need all of those elements to give your subject the importance that you wanted in the end.”

And that sentiment is surely echoed by Cathy Sheeter. As a scratchboard artist, Cathy has a passion and appreciation for the intricacies and the detail that nature provides when creating beautiful pieces of art. 

“If I’ve seen the animal and watched it and observed it, as well as photographed it, I have much more appreciation for the actual underlying structures that are so important to the detail and accuracy,” she said. “Anybody that’s seen my artwork knows that I’m sort of a detail freak. The anatomy of animals and understanding things like feather structure and the ways the wings move on a bird or the fur on a bear when it shakes, those are the elements that are incredibly important to me.”

But for sculptor Paul Rhymer, his artistic journey has taken him from once detail-oriented to more of an “impressionist critter sculptor”. Early in his career, Paul worked as a taxidermist for the Smithsonian, a role that involved intricate detail. But when he turned to sculpting more than 20 years ago, he told himself he didn’t want to do that.

“I was inspired by a post-expressionist exhibition at the National Gallery of Art that I visited when I was 17. I was blown away by it. So, when I started to sculpt I decided I wanted to do with clay what those post-expressionist artists did with brush strokes,” Paul said. “I think to myself, ‘if Claude Monet were to paint a wild turkey, what would it look like?’ That’s what I’m trying to do.” 

To learn more about how nature inspires each of these artists and to hear some wild stories, watch the full Art Discovery below. And to learn even more about each of the featured artists, check out the following links:

 

Paul Rhymer:

 

Cathy Sheeter:

 

Trevor Swanson:

 

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