Women Painters | Top 20 Female Wildlife Artists
Women artists on the rise
Wildlife paintings are an important tool for conservation, as artists use their work to raise awareness of threatened and endangered species and their habitats. Wildlife art is often used in zoos, national parks, museums, and institutions to educate and connect the public to the natural world and the importance of preserving it.
Historically, wildlife art has been dominated by male artists, yet the art world is embracing an increasing number of female artists.
Below is a list of 20 inspiring women artists producing exceptional artwork today:
Female wildlife artists
West Texas based artist Teresa Elliott is known for her richly colored paintings of cows and mud-covered portraits of the female body. Her choice of subject and color palette are largely influenced by her family’s history of farming and working with livestock in the countryside. She regularly participates in the annual Prix de West show at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma, where just one out of nine artists is a female artist. Her paintings can also be found in many fine art galleries across the United States. Learn more about Teresa and her paintings here.
Through the Leaves (Barn Owl)
Fellow Texas based artist Nikita Coulombe is recognized for her bird of prey paintings, owls in particular. She began creating art at a young age alongside building a personal relationship with nature through camping and skiing during her childhood in Canada and Colorado. She is a participant in the Birds in Art show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum as well as the annual Western art show at the Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson. See more of Nikita’s paintings here.
Mary Ross Buchholz
In her own words, Mary Ross Buchholz is dedicated to preserving her Western heritage. She comes from a pioneering ranching family in rural West Texas and seeks to capture the daily experience of ranch life in her paintings. Mary has been in the fine arts for over 25 years and her work has been widely publicized. View more of Mary’s paintings on her site.
Odd One Out
A young woman based in Missouri, Rebekah Knight paints a variety of animals with an emphasis on waterfowl. She believes that wild animals are nature’s masterworks. When she was 15 years old she won the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest and from that point on has dedicated herself to painting. She says the program has increased her knowledge and appreciation for wildlife conservation. Learn more about Rebekah’s paintings here.
Pawsing to Reflect
Kathryn Hansen decided to create art at a young age and soon focused on animals and nature. She says that she hopes her artwork “inspires each viewer to realize their connection to all living things” and would like “to have a positive impact on this planet so that together we can help preserve the exquisite complexity of our earth for many years to come.” Kathryn is a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists and donates a portion of sales to animal sanctuaries and rescues. Learn more about her work here.
Zoe Fitchet is a wildlife conservation artist based in the United Kingdom. She mainly uses colored pencils and acrylic paint to create realistic portraits and uses her artwork to "raise awareness and support wildlife conservation projects around the world." Learn more about her work on her website.
Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo
Belinda Kurczok is an award-winning Australian artist that focuses on native birds and likes to paint her subjects life size with acrylic paint and gouache. Her paintings have a naturalist quality and call to mind John James Audubon’s illustrations. View more of Belinda’s work here.
Annie Drew paints wildlife in a hyperrealistic style, often painting each individual hair of the animal. She feels painting is a form of storytelling, like a self portrait. “It can make you think, question, and feel any emotion that you can name. I choose to paint animals when they’re in a state of “being”. Not unlike contentment in a human, the animal isn’t showing any signs of hunger, fear or stress. They’re not sleeping, or chasing, they’re in a natural state of mind that people find difficult to achieve. By immortalizing this moment in artwork, building on what the photographer has already deftly captured. Making it bigger and more impactful, the viewer can feel themselves connecting with that feeling.” Learn more about Annie’s artwork here.
Debbie Boon incorporates techniques from both the abstract expressionism artistic movement and realism in her paintings. She works quickly at the initial stage to block in the main elements of the composition then layers her paints to create depth and vibrancy. See more of Debbie’s paintings here.
Carrie paints large colorful portraits of primates that live at the Center for Great Apes sanctuary. She remarked that, “every one has a story, whether once used for experimentation, trained in the entertainment industry, or victimized by the illegal pet trade. Their stories are inextricably linked with our own, and like ours, are filled with both loss and hope.” Carrie is a member of both Artists for Conservation and the Society of Animal Artists. View more of her work here.
Dominique Salm paints realistic portraits of animals with a playful twist. She seeks to capture the personality, charm, and grace of each animal with humor and character. She says she has “always seen the human side in animals, the way they induce amusement or sympathy with a particular action or expression.” She frequently travels to Africa to study her subjects. The BBC named her Wildlife Artist of Year and her work is regularly featured in many international exhibitions. View Dominique’s artwork here.
A Colorado native, Peggy Judy often depicts animals that are typically found in the West such as bison and horses. Her paintings contain elements of both abstract art and modern art and she considers herself a contemporary Western artist. She says that “using a more graphic approach to composition and design… comes from my illustration background. I try to describe the intensity of the West as it was lived in the past and still is today by a select few weathered souls.” Check out Peggy’s paintings here.
Emma Swift creates vibrant painterly portraits of animals. She incorporates bold brush strokes and blocks of color to make her paintings feel alive. She won the Animal Behavior category at the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation show and was awarded at the Explorers Against Extinction show. She frequently donates to conservation causes. Learn more about Emma’s artwork here.
South African artist Holly Kavonic tries to tap into her subject’s inner nature in her paintings. She feels a “subtle, almost sub-conscious beauty can pervade the most unlikely subject matter – something I see, or rather feel in the weathered stature of an old man, or through the steady gaze of a still and silent wolf….a beauty and nobility in spirit of all living things that surpasses understanding and defies simple explanation. You cannot describe it. You cannot put it down in words. Neither can you say exactly where you might find it. But you know it when you see it, and it is that beauty that I seek to record on canvas.” View more of Holly’s work here.
To Dust You Shall Return
Chloe Donovan is both an artist and veterinarian and currently resides in Cambodia. Many of her subjects are exotic animals. Through her work, she has “the privilege of working closely with all kinds of animals across the world. I have had the immense pleasure of seeing wild animals in their natural environment, and… my intention is to bring the wild to your walls.” She was recently a finalist in the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year competition and donates a portion of proceeds to the organization. See more of Chloe’s work on her website.
French artist Nathalie Daigle pursues connection to animals through detailed texture. She has been an animal enthusiast since she was young, but it was during her biology studies at Universtiy that she became an environmental artist. She enjoys observing wildlife in their natural habitat and draws inspiration for her paintings from those observations. Learn more about Nathalie’s artwork here.
Belinda de Maid
Safe and Sound
Austrailian artist Belinda de Maid has an affinity for native birds and animals. She was recently a finalist in David Shepherd’s Wildlife Artist of the Year. View more of Belinda’s work here.
Time for Action
Belgian artist Annik Janssens has a passion for capturing all animals from pets to wildlife. She spends as much time as she can outdoors, preferably in the forest where she can observe and photograph nature in solitude. See more of Annik’s artwork on her site.
With a childhood spent in various parts of Africa, artist Carla Grace was able to experience wildlife intimately. She became a determined artist in her teens and has participated in many exhibitions around the world. Now located in South Australia, Carla draws inspiration from her early experiences as well as the native wildlife in her current environment to create vivid portraits and scenes. Learn more about Carla and her work here.
With a background in biology and anatomical studies, Suzanne Moseley feels she has a deeper understanding of form and shape, allowing her to render realistic depictions of wildlife. She works in a variety of mediums and enjoys painting different kinds of animals. View more of Suzanne’s works here.
Museums that feature female artists
There are many museums and organizations that specialize in or support great female artists. Below you’ll find some examples.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art
The National Museum of Wildlife Art has a collection of over 5,000 works of wildlife art and features many female artists including Georgia O’Keeffe. Learn more here.
The Brinton Museum
The Brinton Museum features a permanent collection of Western and wildlife art, with a special focus on female artists. The museum contains four oil paintings by Catharine Critcher, the only female artist among the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists. Learn more here.
The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum hosts the annual "Birds in Art" exhibition, which includes the work of many female wildlife artists. Learn more here.
The Society of Animal Artists
The Society of Animal Artists is an international organization that is dedicated to promoting the work of wildlife artists, many of whom are women. Learn more here.
Women Artists of the West
Women Artists of the West is dedicated to promoting the work of female artists in all genres, including wildlife art. Learn more here.
Cowgirl Artists of America
The Cowgirl Artists of America is dedicated to showcasing Western art from women throughout the United States. Learn more here.
Female painters in an evolving art world
When it comes to art history, representation of female artists is overdue.
Like their male counterparts, each of these artists brings a unique perspective to the field of wildlife art. Whether it's through their use of color, texture, light, their attention to detail, or their ability to capture the spirit and beauty of the natural world, these women are discovering new and innovative ways of creating and experiencing nature.
If you’d like to find out more, below is a list of the female painters discussed in this article along with links to their websites and Instagram profiles:
List of female artists
Belinda Kurczok | Instagram
Belinda de Maid | Instagram