Art for Conservation

As a child, and I confess even as an adult, it is the work of people such as David Attenborough and Jane Goodall that warm my south, and inspire me to believe that there is good in this world, and we are making positive steps towards change.

In the face of climate change, globalisation, war and overpopulation, animals are under greater threat than ever before. However, in 2017 we are in a better position than ever to protect and conserve them. Conservation has never been easier than it is in the 21st Century: we have social media, email, worldwide broadcasting and many other forms of media to share stories of struggling species, but also to share success stories and to encourage people and communities to work together.

David Attenborough Art Conservation
David Attenborough’s Planet Earth 2 was an epic explosion of art inspiration and admiration. You too?

For me, art is just an extension of this means to spread the word of conservation and its importance. David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey and Peter Singer (to name just a few) each have their own unique platform, presenting to use conservation not necessarily through heart-wrenching images of suffering or tragic tales of failure, but through provoking in us a sense of awe, wonder and hope.

For just one example, read about Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Programme, a  marvelous initiative helping communities to learn about the environment, and actively participate in it.

For me, art is conservation, Through paintings of rare and unique animal species and presenting them at exhibitions, showcasing them online and turning them into wonderful stationery and household products, wildlife is taking centre stage in a medium previously reserved for landscapes or religion. Beautiful paintings, just like those of Franz Marc, or those that I myself am painting, give us a unique insight into the world, and encourage us to care.

Through the promotion and sales of such paintings, we can also actively participate in conservation projects, through donating a percentage of sales and commissions to worthy conservation projects. It is your choice. This is why I paint, to inspire, to conserve.

Albatross Painting for Conservation

 

Advertisements

The Value of Art in Our Troubled World

People have been making art for centuries. We are the only species that creates something purely for aesthetic value. As beautiful as the bower bird’s boudoir may be – its function is purely sexual. And whilst throughout the centuries art has been and continues to be used as currency, trade goods, allegory, decoration, status symbol, advertisement, memento and even sexual suggestion, its primary function remains purely aesthetic.

Whilst I am in no way undervaluing the importance of aesthetics in our lives (we all love a beautiful piece of furniture, fashion, fine wine, music etc), but in today’s fractured, full-of-despair yet -full-of-hope society, I feel that art has a much deeper role to play in promoting awareness of some very important issues; from migration to climate change and conservation. These are three themes that recur continuously in my works, because, from my point of view, through my paintings I can not only educate others, but myself.

What other medium can travel through the vacuum of social media, language, culture, age and values better than a visual statement? Art can break political barriers, language barriers; art can reach children where words may not. We need to see, to feel something in order to believe it.

511IbHWA0AL
Available on Amazon, well worth the read!

We can’t all stand and watch the glacier cracking just a few feet from us.

Justin Fenech, a Maltese author, uses literature to explore and engage with the world; and no clearer is this than in his novel The Last Adolescence, in which the protagonist ditches his hedonistic, selfish lifestyle to discover an untouched world where he contemplates his own future and the future of the planet as a whole.

We don’t even have to wait until we’re all grown up; the reality of a changing world is already upon us. Just ask Bria Neff; she’s only nine years old but already a passionate conservationist and stunning young artist. Her carefully constructed paintings are honest and full of love and hope, and have been helping to raise money for conservation, and she’s already raised over $1,600 . Please show your support and admiration on her Facebook page.

 

Morning Song by Bria
Morning Song by Bria

 

It’s not just painting that can work as a powerful visual medium for transporting ideas across the world, I’ve seen countless talented and inspiring individuals using literature, music, even dance and performance arts, as a way of reaching out, grabbing us by our brains and telling us: this is happening.

Simon Kerr uses the power of music to provide listeners with a whole new understanding of climate change, at a concious, engaging level. His music speaks of freedom and empowerment, and is an innovative way to express a topic which can, at times, be to fact-ridden and statistics heavy for us to want to engage with. Find out more: https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2016/07/18/music-and-hope-in-a-warming-world/

Art is not about placing blame, or guilt, but about opening our eyes wide, letting the subject wash over us, and giving us no other choice but to want to know more.

But for me, the most fundamental aspect of art is bringing far-flung societies, peoples and minds together. To inspire positivity. Humanity is its own worst enemy, but we also have the power to do truly wonderful things.

If it wasn’t for Attenborough, I wouldn’t be an artist…

 

attenborough
David Attenborough, Oils on Board, 2014

If it wasn’t for Attenborough, I wouldn’t be a painter

and I think this same sentiment is true for a lot of wildlife artists, photographers, filmmakers, zoologists, biologists and more.

As David Attenborough turns 90, it seems clear that his time for documentary film-making is far from over; I personally cannot wait to see what comes next. But it is the legacy that will linger; his legacy of inspiring, educating, as well as pressing on some much more sensitive and political issues; but never dictatorial, never inciting blame. Instead, his aim was always to show us the wonders of the natural world, so we can truly understand what we are missing.

Not all of us will get the chance to stand on the South Pole, swim alongside a blue whale, watch the unfurling of the world’s largest flower, have to conduct a serious interview while Konrad Lawrence gets pooped on by a goose, or get sat on by a rambunctious baby gorilla, but thanks to Attenborough, at least part of us thinks that we will.

Thanks to extraordinary insight, captivating filmography and dialogue that hooks you in and makes you want to care, David Attenborough has in no small way helped to raise awareness of the state of our planet for future generations (and there are many other heroes in this arena – just watch The Selfish Green, where some of the finest minds come together to discuss how to save the planet).

Thanks to growing up glued to BBC One, visiting every zoo and bird park and wildlife reserve I could and devouring animal encyclopedias, I have come to understand just how much we are shaping our planet; both negatively and positively. There is a carefully composed mix of dedication, drive and also, hope. And those are the same values that drive me to paint, so that I can maybe touch a little upon that legacy. I hope to recreate just a tiny bit of that magic in my paintings.

Happy Birthday, Sir David.

 

Here is just a small selection of some of my favourite moments:

David Attenborough – What a Wonderful World

The incredible Barnacle Goose – The Hunt

Penguins and a Life of Crime – Frozen Planet

Africa – Epilogue

Unknown Social Behaviour in Rhinos – Africa

The Conservation Conversation

Through discussing, sharing ideas, sharing inspiration and encouraging others, we can help the plight of threatened species and habitats everywhere. From Borneo’s shrinking cloud forests to wildlife havens torn apart by civil wars and religious conflicts, there are countless issues and countless stories.

Which is why I am asking you to join in the Conservation Conversation. Whether you are a wildlife artist, activist, environmentalist, vegan, travel writer, photographer, filmmaker…if you have a passion for conservation and would like to spread the word, get in touch to start the conversation. I will give you the opportunity to guest post on my blog, and I would love to have the opportunity to do similar, all in aid of a worthy cause.

Simply send me an email on cjwaterfield@gmail.com or leave a comment with your ideas! And please feel free to share and re-blog.

We already have two contributors coming up; a nature photographer and a stunning African wildlife artist. Stay tuned for the upcoming posts, and if you haven’t joined yet, this is your time to contribute!

#ConservationConversation

Sketchbook Explorations – The Arctic & Antarctic

With the temperature hitting 38 degrees plus, is it any wonder I crave snow?

I’ve always been fascinated and enamoured by the polar regions of our world; something about the glimmering ice, the constant change, and of course, the penguins. Now I’m working on some new paintings and watercolours focusing on these beautiful wildernesses. I’ve already begun a few watercolours which will hopefully be sketches for canvas paintings. I want to explore the dynamism of the ice, the shifting landscape, and the lives of the Arctic and Antarctic animals that are intimately bound to it.

11828645_885987984801464_1409338270310852543_n
Ursus Maritimus, Watercolours, 2015

Then I’ll be producing some more abstract paintings, exploring the features and different states of ice, and the animals that call it home. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this theme whilst hopefully pushing my painting boundaries to discover new techniques and frames of mind along the way.

To find out more about commissioning a painting or to inquire about specific paintings for sale send me a message through my Facebook Page or take a look at my website: cjwaterfieldart.com

 

The Art of Looking

I’m used to seeking inspiration for my art from grand, sweeping landscapes and detailed scenes, but with a new series of works in the pipeline, I’m going to change the way I look at things, focusing on the details and analysing anatomy and the senses with a new purpose.

Because when we stop to think about it, what is  it that really makes a species unique? Not its base anatomy surely; most vertebrates are made up of a head, body, limbs, an obvious front end and back end. Most have eyes and other sensory organs, most have a mouth. But the way that each species has evolved  has provided a pretty stunning collection of differences, ones that are often overlooked. Perhaps we overlook the elephant’s incredible sound-detector feet because we are distracted by the iconic trunk and ivory pricetags.

 

elephantPhoto by Matt Nelson

These new paintings will focus on the small and seemingly insignificant, almost abstract qualities, but each with its own unique story to tell.