Naturalist Art

"Naturalist Art" is a separate branch of animal and wildlife art. It involves in-depth study of animal behavior and natural habitats. It uses the tools of scientific study to research the animal and then progresses to the regular fine art techniques and styles to report a specific activity in an animal’s life. It is a fine art form.

Beyond merely reproducing a scene with an animal in it, naturalist art goes beyond a simple aesthetic rendering of a subject. It includes a sensitivity to patterns of behavior that are associated and observed with specific species. It goes into animal body language and the various phases of development of an animal from youth to adulthood. It includes various emotional and physical reactions to situations in an animal’s life. It reports and records the various habitat settings where the animal lives and includes the appropriate geologic forms and plant species that fit with the wildlife species at certain times of the year. It takes note of weather situations and the time of day that specific activities occur. This type of artistic form requires an audience that is also interested in more than a scenic representation.

Typically, Laney spends from weeks to months studying an animal for a major painting. They become part of her life. The animals, when observed and respected, let Laney become part of their life as well. It is the greatest compliment when an animal does not run away, but instead, goes on with its activity without fear of being observed. This is the core of Jane Goodall’s success in observing the animals of the jungle.

Laney’s early exposure to the books and studies of Konrad Lorenz, the famous German ethologist, set the stage for her whole life. His books, King Solomon’s Ring and On Aggression were read and absorbed. It opened up a door for Laney and she realized that all the animals had fascinating lives and it became a passion for her to observe nature and its inhabitants.

Having pets as a child, at home, was a critical factor because animals were viewed as equal individuals with the human family. That beginning cannot be fully appreciated, but it is well recognized that humans tend to be less sensitive to animals as they grow older and they loose the ability to relate to them. The animals can feel that as well. Naturalist Art is on the cutting edge of contemporary wildlife art.

Naturalist Art is a fascinating art form and becoming more and more popular.

Suggested Reading:

  • Endless Forms - Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts (Edited by Diana Donald, Yale University Press)
  • The Peerless Eye - Bruno Liljefors by Martha Hill The Allen Publishing Company Ltd.