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Art, Photography, Wildlife

When is an Anteater not an Anteater?

There has been a story in the news recently about someone being disqualified from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition because he faked a scene using a stuffed anteater. The photo was a winning entry, but the photographer was found out when he couldn’t provide photos taken either side of the winning one. He claimed not to have any as the animal had moved away and his camera settings didn’t allow him to take other photos. Hmm. Experts looked more closely and agreed that the photo had been faked. Apparently he’s still contesting the decision, but it doesn’t look like he’ll prove his case.

Removing a few shadows with a digital computer programme is one thing, but this is in a different league……
Anyone who has ever taken wildlife photographs will know that you end up with more missed/blurred shots than useable ones – as an animal artist, these are usually the ones I find most interesting when I’m taking photographs at conservation parks. That’s just as well as it’s not always easy to get the perfect photo. I always sketch the animals too as reference material for my wildlife paintings, and although I love it, it is a challenge when they won’t stand still!
There could be a lengthy debate elsewhere on whether the anteater taxidermy specimen was recently obtained, how the animal died, or whether it was a historical specimen, possibly obtained in what could be termed less enlightened times. All of these issues aside, the rules for this wildlife photography contest stated that “entries must not deceive the viewer or attempt to misrepresent the reality of nature.”

anteater art, anteater gift
I’m glad I don’t have to follow these rules (unless I enter an art competition with similar terms) – I rarely paint wildlife in their natural colours, as you can see from my anteater painting!

You can see the full news story and the photo here. The Anteater photo in the heading of this blog is not connected with the competition.

Have you signed up to my Newsletter? – I’m launching a new British Wildlife art collection at the end of May 2018, and there will be a special offer just for my followers (sorry, no anteaters this time!)

hedgehog, British Wildlife Centre, animal
Wildlife, wildlife conservation

British Wildlife in Surrey

Is this the biggest hedgehog you’ll ever see? It stands at the entrance to the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield, Surrey, which you can visit at weekends and during school holidays. 

My 20 month-old grandson is already mad about animals, and recently came with us dressed as a character from one of his favourite stories – a Gruffalo! Those who know the story will not be surprised that he could recognise the owls before anyone pointed them out! There is also a huge barn with mice runs that cross overhead within the building – sadly it was too cold when we visited for the mice to be running around, but we did spot a few, and he was very excited to see another character from the story!

Scottish wildcat, wildlife, catThe frequent keeper talks are informative and interesting, and give you the chance to get a close-up view of animals such as otters that come out of the water onto the bank at feeding time, and Scottish wild cats that might otherwise remain hidden from view. The wild cats might look a bit like our domesticated cats, but they really don’t like people. 


otter, British wildlife, mammal, animalThere is nothing like a child’s excitement at seeing wild animals for the first time to remind me why I support wildlife conservation charities, and I really hope that my grandchildren will still be able to experience this when they are my age…

 

 

The staff at the British Wildlife Centre are very keen on educating children so that they care about our wildlife, and they do an excellent job in helping them to develop a life-long interest in animals through the keeper talks, various information boards around the site, and hosting school trips. Adults are welcome too, so if you live near enough, or you’re visiting the area, do go and support them.

And if you can take a small child with you, even better!


resting fox, British wildlife art, animal paintingI’m currently painting a new British Wildlife collection, which will be launched at my next exhibition in Surrey at the end of May 2018. Before the official launch of these new original paintings, prints and cards,  I will be announcing a special offer just for my followers  – if you would like to be included, please join my mailing list here.

 

Hare, British Wildlife Collection, launch May 2018 A sneak peek at just 2 of the paintings- the full British Wildlife collection will be revealed in the latter part of May 2018.. watch your inbox in May for news of an exclusive special offer, only available to my followers…

Interested in finding out more?  Sign up here

 

 

 

 

Tree, Reigate Hill, Surrey countryside, nature
Internet, Nature, Wildlife

Search Online and Plant Trees for Our Future

Don’t you love it when you find something great by accident? I was looking at my website statistics this morning (I know, not everyone loves numbers!) and discovered that people were finding me through www.ecosia.org

Never heard of it? Neither had I, but if you love wildlife you need to use it!

Ecosia is a search engine that uses most of its advertising revenue to plant trees through suitable projects all over the world, helping to reduce the effects of deforestation and animal habitat loss. They plant nearly 2 million trees each month through tree planting projects in places such as Indonesia, Tanzania, Ghana, Brazil and Madagascar!

If you search using Ecosia, but don’t click on any ads, it still helps with the tree planting projects – the more active users the site has, the more advertisers it attracts!

We all need trees in all their different forms  – they release oxygen into the air; birds and squirrels nest in them; orangutans and sloths live in them and use them to travel; giraffes eat their leaves; insects use them for shelter; and animals and humans eat their berries and fruits. We also use them for wood, but we need to replace them in a sustainable way (and not with palm plantations, but that’s for another day)…..  I’m sure you can think of more reasons that we should all love trees and support these tree planting projects…

Baby Black Bear, Canadian wildlife, nature

Here’s another reason – I watched this cute baby black bear in Canada, who had climbed into a tree to escape danger, or maybe just to play up there….

 

 

How many trees will you plant today?

 

Sign up to my newsletter for more articles about wildlife and animal welfare, plus updates on my new animal art collections.

spring, Wildlife

Animals in Spring

l couldn’t resist sharing the beautiful photos on this blog – enjoy!

Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever Flowers have the most alluring smell, and not only to the impressionable bees. We have made a list of photos that show animals enjoying a whiff or two from a petal or bloom. Kittens, nature’s cuddliest critters, look even better when they’re enjoying the sweet scents of […]

via Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever — Flow Art Station

Art, wildlife conservation

Sudan and Saving Remaining Wildlife

I was driving earlier today when I heard on the radio that Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, had died. It was one of those ‘where were you when you heard?’ moments…

Like many people, I was saddened that he had died, though as he was elderly and had been deteriorating for some time, perhaps it wasn’t surprising that in the end it was kinder to let him go.

Sudan was the last male Northern White Rhino, and there are now only two remaining females, his daughter and grand-daughter. Scientists have taken some of Sudan’s genetic material and the experts think there may still be some slim chance for the Northern White Rhino in the future.

In the meantime, there are other species that could also find themselves on the brink of extinction in our lifetime. I dread having to explain to my young Grandson why we didn’t do more to prevent poaching and habitat destruction to protect tigers, snow leopards, mountain gorillas, giant pandas, Java rhinos and many more species. They include the cute ones that we romanticise and many smaller, unseen insects, reptiles and fish in vulnerable environments across the world.

It is too easy to be paralysed by the enormity of the problem. Fortunately there are brilliant organisations who have experienced teams tackling various aspects of the puzzle – from political problems that lead to habitat loss, wildlife trafficking, and education to animal welfare issues, there is so much to be achieved. We can help.

Some of you may know that I donate 10% of the price of wildlife art and prints bought from my website to the International Fund for Animal Welfare

For 3 days only, until midnight on Friday 22nd March 2018, I will TRIPLE this offer and donate 30% of ALL art sales on my art website AND my Etsy shop to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (excluding postage).

No discount codes required, I’m keeping this simple. Just buy as normal and I will confirm how much of your purchase price has been donated.

Great Art for a Great Cause – go ahead and treat yourselves today and help to give a tomorrow to wildlife.

Go to www.carolineskinnerart.co.uk

or www.carolineskinnerart.etsy.com

marchmeetthemaker, creative challenge, Instagram
Art

Instagram Challenge #marchmeetthemaker 2018

 

 

I’m joining in with Joanne Hawker’s third #marchmeetthemaker challenge on Instagram throughout this month.

The idea behind the challenge is for creative people to reveal a bit about themselves and their art processes by posting a different image each day that matches the daily theme.

I took part in this project last year, and it can be surprisingly difficult to post every day when you are busy. I’m keeping up at the moment (it’s only Day 2!) but I may need to play catch up at times. You can see my entries on my Instagram page – please feel free to comment on my posts, and if you are not already following me, please do!

Take some time to have a look at other #marchmeetthemaker posts too and comment on the creators’ posts – there is some great talent out there!

purple and yellow elephant, acrylic elephant on canvas
Art, wildlife conservation

How to Find an Elephant Painting

Have you ever tried to find a painting of an elephant online?

Search engines don’t always give you what you think they will…. Try searching for “elephant artist” – would you expect a list of artists who paint elephants?

This search term is just as likely to find artists who happen to be elephants. You will see numerous photos and videos of elephants with a paintbrush in their mouths. Tourists buy their abstract paintings almost before the paint dries. In Thailand, you can visit an art gallery that only sells paintings by elephants – they use the tagline “Help Support these Endangered Elephants.”

There may be an obscure study somewhere that shows an elephant drawing in the mud with a stick, but there can be no doubt that elephants do not routinely find paint, brushes and easels in their natural habitat.

Reports of the cruelty inflicted on elephants to get them to perform these painting tricks can readily be found online. I won’t give links here as the photographs and descriptions are deeply disturbing. Tourists are being misled into supporting these cruel practices in the name of conservation.

If you are interested in wildlife conservation projects, consider supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare instead. They are involved in some great initiatives to help elephants, including anti-poaching projects. They also have a much more constructive attitude to art and elephants. For instance, in 2017 they combined a children’s art contest and education about elephants.

If you’re looking for elephant paintings online, try some alternative searches e.g. paintings of elephants, acrylic elephant paintings, elephant wall art etc.

Have you already signed up for my newsletters? Please click here to get more wildlife conservation stories and exclusive follower discounts on my animal art.

 

 

Buy wildlife art from this website and I will donate 10% of the art price to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  IFAW protects wildlife through their valuable conservation projects.

yorkshire terrier pet portrait, acrylic pet painting
Art

Pet Portrait Prize Draw

I recently ran a free prize draw for someone to win a unique pet portrait. The prize was an original acrylic painting of one of their lovely pets, worth £150. I thought it would be a great way for one of my followers to start 2018!

The prize draw closed on 31st December 2017 and a couple of days later I randomly drew a name out of the metaphorical hat (it was a box) from the hundreds who had entered.  I was very nervous! I had no idea what type of pet they might have, where they lived, or how demanding they might be… 

I needn’t have worried, Jessica the prize winner, was absolutely lovely. She sent me lots of photos and details of the character of her gorgeous Yorkshire Terrier, Maggie. We agreed on a pose for the painting, and I then sent her some photos over the next few weeks so she could see how her painting was progressing.

Here are some of the work in progress photos:

 

pet portrait, prize winner, yorkshire terrier

 

 

Jessica was thrilled with the finished painting and she said: ” Thank you so much for sending our amazing painting. We love it!!”

 

 

 

 

 

New pet portrait commissions now include a 10% donation to the RSPCA at no additional cost to you. When you commission a pet portrait from me, you support animals who aren’t as lucky as your favourite pet.

Go to my Pet Portrait page for further details, and follow my art page on Facebook

 

 

pigment inks, lightfast inks, giclee prints
Art, Uncategorized

What is a Giclée Print?

 

Many fine art prints are sold as giclée prints, but what does this mean?

The word Giclée (“zhee-clay”), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt or spray.”

Giclée is a term used to describe a fine art printing process, involving particular types of ink and paper to produce a high quality print of original artwork. Let’s look at the different types of ink and paper.

Inks

The actual printing machines used differ significantly from a standard office inkjet or digital printer.

pigment inks, lightfast inks, giclee prints
Pigment Inks

A professional fine art printer uses at least 8 different coloured pigment ink cartridges which are fade resistant to give superior quality printing. My own printer combines 10 separate pigment inks in the printing process. It’s also more than twice the size of my standard office printer, and it weighs 25 kg!  Some printers use remanufactured inks, but there are various debates about whether the quality is good enough.  I avoid all this by using only original Canon print cartridges to give the best results for years to come.

 

Paper

fine art paper, giclee print, archival quality paper
Fine Art Paper

Each image is printed onto high quality heavy archival paper – this is museum quality printing paper and there are various types and textures available. I’ve experimented with different types of paper to find one that suits my animal art perfectly, and I use a smooth 315g fine art printing paper for my giclée prints. By comparison, most printer/photocopier paper is typically only 80g.

 

 

The combination of pigment based inks with high quality archival paper produces Giclée prints with superior archival quality, light fastness and stability. Simply put, they should last a long time! It is often claimed that Giclée prints will not fade for 100 years – however, as with any art, it is advisable to avoid exposure to strong light for extended periods of time as sunlight will inevitably eventually cause some fading.

Buying a print of someone’s artwork can be a great affordable way to own some art when you love the original painting or drawing, but the price is out of your reach or the original has already been sold. If you see that prints are being sold as giclée prints, ask the artist how they are produced – they should be happy to explain it to you.

Feel free to add your comments about giclée prints below.

 

If you’ve enjoyed this blog article, please join my mailing list to get occasional news about my animal art, wildife stories, and special offers for my followers.

 

 

Dad's cat, childhood drawing, early sketches
Art

How to get started as an animal artist

Artists often get asked how they started painting and about their art influences. This seems like a good place to start my new art blog. My earliest influences were very close to home – I’ll talk about my favourite artists another time.

 

Dad's cat, childhood drawing, early sketches
Dad’s cat drawing

I’ve drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad drawing a cat over and over for me and getting me to copy it. It was a great game, and Dad’s cat looked something like this:

 

Dad never claimed to be an artist, and I knew better than to ask about the missing legs!  But I learned to love drawing and fortunately we always had pets I could observe, so in time I learned about those missing legs …

 

While I was growing up, my Mum told me that I was like her father who had been a sign writer, and apparently a really good artist. Naturally I wanted to see his work, but sadly, he died before I was born and all of his artwork had been destroyed along with any photos, so I’ve never seen any of it. Encouraging and maddening at the same time! My young brain struggled to process these mixed messages about the value of art, and although I got a decent Art “O” Level,  I dropped formal art studies for more academic subjects. I spent most of my working life doing “proper” work, but art was in my blood so I kept coming back to it…

 

tabby cat painting, cat art, cat pet portrait, cat print
Tabby Cat

So, to get started as an animal artist, get some encouragement from your family, add in some mixed messages and a house full of pets, do other things for a living for 30+ years, but keep painting and drawing,  et voilà!

 

Oh and I hope you agree that my cat paintings have improved!

 

 

What are your earliest memories of painting or drawing? Feel free to comment below: