Wild Life Painter - 20 of the Best Wildlife Artists
Famous Wildlife Painters
Many of the most well-known and most exhibited wildlife painters such as Robert Bateman, Carl Brenders, David Shepherd, Alan M. Hunt, and George McLean are naturalists and conservationists. While their paintings are beautiful on their own, they also aim to educate viewers about the natural world and inspire them to build relationships with nature.
Original painting of a Canadian Goose by wildlife artist Robert Bateman. Bateman began birding in the 1940s, which inspired many bird paintings throughout his career. His paintings have been featured in international exhibitions and are highly sought after by collectors.
"Dozing Lynx" painting by artist Robert Bateman.
These artists grew up in the early part of the 20th century. They were part of the first generation that recognized a need to engage in activism around protecting endangered animals and the environment. They would often trek into the wilderness, make sketches or paint small studies from life, and take photos that would be used later as reference for a larger canvas painted in the studio.
“Full-Curl Bighorn” painting by renowned wildlife artist Carl Brenders. Brenders is committed to preserving the environment and will often paint larger known animals along with smaller and overlooked animals with hyperrealist detail.
“In The Mists of Rwanda” original painting by wildlife artist David Shepherd. Shepherd had a fondness for Great Apes and African Elephants and used his paintings to bring awareness to conservation efforts and the ivory trade. Every year, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which is based in England, features a Wildlife Artist of the Year in an internationally acclaimed art competition and exhibition. Half of proceeds from art sales from the exhibition go to conservation efforts.
Alan M. Hunt
“Himalayan Love Song” painting by wildlife artist Alan M. Hunt. "Rather than become a famous painter," Hunt says, "I would like to be remembered as someone who tried to make people aware of the need to protect the environment, wildlife, and the planet." He has traveled extensively throughout his long career and through his painting raises awareness of African animals.
Cover of The Living Landscape, a book about artist George McLean. McLean decided to be an artist at an early age. He largely depicts animals from North America and his body of work includes many predator and prey scenes.
Contemporary Wildlife Artists
Certain artists from the next generation that followed, such as Terry Isaac, Kathryn Hansen, J.R. Hess, Lindsay Scott, and Darren Rees, focus on depicting the majesty and magical moments of the animal world in their paintings.
“Swan Family” painting by wildlife artist Terry Isaac. In his artist statement, Isaac says that “as a youngster, exploring the world in my backyard was a daily adventure, always finding a new treasure to look over and study. I have never lost the intrigue of daily exploration and discovery." He hopes that his paintings encourage viewers “to appreciate the true wonder and beauty of the natural world.”
“Egrets, I’ve Had a Few” drawing of an Egret by artist Kathryn Hansen. The artist creates depth in her art with colored pencils. On her website she states that she hopes her artwork “inspires each viewer to realize their connection to all living things, and to have a positive impact on this planet.”
John Perry Baumlin
“In His Element” painting by artist John Perry Baumlin. In his artist biography he states that his “travels through the American West and Africa have provided him with a rich source of inspiration and material for his paintings, and most of his current work is the result of those experiences.”
“Close Encounters” drawing by wildlife artist J.R. Hess. Hess lives and works in the Southwest and is inspired by the people and animals in his surroundings. View more of his artwork here.
Painting of a lynx in snow by BK Lawes. An award-winning and well-known equine and wildlife painter, Lawes is a versatile artist whose work is internationally collected. Explore more of his work here.
“Orcas” by artist Darren Rees. Rees is a rising talent and was named Wildlife Artist of the Year by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation in 2021. The artist paints a wide variety of wildlife. In his biography, he states that he “is a knowledgeable naturalist and travels extensively leading tours to Europe, the Americas and the Arctic.”
While other painters, such as Nikita Coulombe and Teresa Elliott, create wildlife art that focuses more on the beauty and intensity of the subject.
“The Philosopher” painting of an Eagle Owl by wildlife painter Nikita Coulombe. Coulombe often portrays birds of prey with vivid color and a direct gaze. She says of her art, “I begin a painting with the eyes. I believe the intensity of an animal’s eyes expresses the balance between the kindness and warmth and the cruelty and harshness of nature.” The artist is a rising talent in the western art scene. Shop her original paintings here and explore her entire portfolio here.
"Winter Bull" painting by Teresa Elliott. On her Instagram account, Elliott has many portraits of cows and bulls painted with vivid colors and detail. This thoughtful layering process creates the texture of each animal's coat.
Black and White Wildlife Art
Artist Kenneth Peloke creates beautiful wildlife art almost exclusively in black and white.
Oil painting of a horse by Kenneth Peloke. Peloke works in different mediums, such as charcoal on paper and oil paint on canvas. The main subjects of his artwork are horses, buffalo, and cowboys. He says of his art that he “identifies with the elemental priorities embodied by free-range animals—providing for their young and themselves, protecting their territory—completely opposite from the world we live in today… To be in a field, free and alone, I’ve always been drawn to that ideal.”
Abstract Wildlife Artists
Artists Emma Swift, Debbie Boon, David Frederick Riley, James Morgan, Carrie Cook, and Dominique Salm make abstract wildlife art that incorporate stylized and impressionistic elements.
Painting of a jackrabbit by artist Debbie Boon. Boon employs an impasto technique and uses heavy body acrylics to achieve a lively look in her paintings. The artist is especially inspired by observing the animals and landscapes of Eastern England and thinks the countryside is the most beautiful part of the world. For her, painting is a “symphony of colour.”
"The Boss" painting by Emma Swift. Swift's artwork combines hyperrealist detail with splashes of color, which reflect the energy of her subjects and their surroundings. On her site she says she is "hugely inspired by the natural world" and through her work participates in vital conservation projects.
David Frederick Riley
“A Slight Pause” painting by artist David Frederick Riley. Riley says of his art, “a lot of my work is about trying to balance opposing forces. Traditional subject matter presented in a modern way; offsetting realistic handling of form with big, loose blocks of values and shapes; balancing realism with abstraction.”
“Clear and Cold” painting by James Morgan. Morgan has been painting wildlife art for many years. He focuses on playing with light, brushstrokes, and texture in an impressionistic style.
“Jam” painting of an orangutan by artist Carrie Cook. Cook does many paintings of primates with bright colors, balancing cool and warm colors. She was named Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2018.
Contemporary wildlife painting of zebras by artist Dominique Salm. Salm brings a playful quality to her paintings. The artist says that she has “always seen the human side in animals, the way they induce amusement or sympathy with a particular action or expression.”
I hope this collection of artists has been inspiring. If an image stood out to you or you’d like to see more paintings, the website of each artist mentioned is listed below: