Robert E Fuller Wildlife Artist Blog
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The Stories Behind My Wildlife Paintings

As a wildlife artist, I spend my time watching and photographing animals in their natural habitat to gain a thorough understanding of their individual characters. Each new composition begins outdoors as I follow an animal in the wild to learn its unique story and ends in my studio where I apply a detailed, precise painting style to create my life-like portraits.

In this blog post, I hope to share my painting process for different artworks with you via a series of short films.  I hope you enjoy watching my art compositions come to life and do keep checking in since I will update this post as I produce more paintings.

 

The Story Behind Painting the Wildlife in my Garden

An increasing proportion of my animal portraits feature creatures that live in my garden in North Yorkshire. I have developed this space into a haven for wildlife, creating ideal habitats for stoats, weasels, owls, and kestrels and I follow the stories of these animal families via surveillance cameras.

Click here to read how I turned my garden into a haven for wildlife

The following short film describes how the footage inspires my art.  

Click to play video


The Story Behind Painting a Barn Owl in Flight | My Painting Story

I’ve been captivated by barn owls ever since I found a nest in an old elm tree on the farm in North Yorkshire where I grew up. They are such beautiful birds. Watching them fly across the meadows in the evening light is one of the most stunning sights on the Yorkshire Wolds. Barn owls have such soft feathers they offer little resistance to the wind and consequently, their flight is almost silent.

When painting barn owls the challenge is to capture the soft colours of their feathers. I painted this in acrylics so that I could portray these colours in fine detail. The following painting is of an owl that lives in my garden. I chose to capture the owl as it came in to land to get the atmosphere of the owl in silent flight.

The finished painting is available to buy. Click here for details

Click to play

The Story Behind Capturing the Glance of a Peregrine in a Painting

This original acrylic painting is one of many inspired by watching peregrine falcons on live nest cameras at Salt End Chemical Park in Hull. The images are relayed via wifi to my art studio more than 50 miles away and over the years I have watched this formidable pair raise three generations of chicks from their vantage point, high on a 100ft cooling tower that dominates the industrial park’s unyielding landscape. The female is a very regal looking bird with a very steady gaze. In this painting, I wanted to capture the intense way she looks at me when I’m photographing her in my hide. That ‘glance’ seemed to me an iconic ‘peregrine’ pose and so that is what I focused on in this painting.

Click here to read more about the Salt End Peregrines


The Story Behind A New Portrait of a Stoat

This is a portrait of Crackle, a stoat born in my UK garden in 2019. When she was just a young kit Crackle starred in a TV documentary for BBC Natural World and for the US station PBS all about stoats and the family of mammals they belong to; weasels. The programme was made possible after I installed cameras inside the nest of Crackle’s mother, Bandita, in order to see how she brought up her young.

I continued to follow the story of this stoat family long after the camera crews left and the following year I noticed that Crackle was expecting kits of her own. She had to fight off her mother, Bandita, in order to gain the right to raise five kits of her own in this territory and in the end both stoat mothers shared the garden. My cameras revealed so much about the character of stoats, their tenacity and their cheeky, inquisitive natures. Crackle, in particular, is a strong, proud, animal and I wanted to get that across in my painting, choosing her pose specifically in order to translate this dominance in my finished piece. Watch it come to life in this short video.

Click here to read more about Crackle

Click to play video

 
The Story Behind Painting a Trio of Puffins

Puffins are one of the most charismatic birds to watch. Each year they flock in vast, noisy, numbers to Yorkshire’s coastline to breed. During this time – and only during this time – their beaks and legs turn a comical bright orange. Watching them waddle about with their young pufflings is pure fun. I spent many hours watching on cliff tops and when I got back to my studio it was a struggle to choose which puffins to paint – there were so many perfect compositions to pick from! I hope you like the eventual painting, Puffin Trio, completed in acrylics.

Click here to find out what I learned about puffins after watching them so closely and to see all my puffin paintings

Click on image to play video

The Story Behind PaintingS of Badgers Underground

Badgers live in deep burrows, known as setts, and only come out to forage at night. Their brief daylight forays make it difficult to get a good understanding of their characters and, as a wildlife artist, I’ve always wanted to learn more. So I built an underground badger sett and installed cameras into chambers within it in the hope that I could film their secret underground world. Watch the clip below to see how the experience inspired a new painting of three playful badgers.

Click here to read the full story of these  badgers & see two more paintings inspired by this experience

The experience of watching badgers underground was so inspirational, I went on to paint more compositions. The following of the cubs curled up to sleep together is a favourite.
Click here to follow this badger painting story

 

 

The Story Behind a New Painting of a Stoat Mum

The short film below demonstrates how I was inspired to paint Bandita, an ermine stoat in my garden in North Yorkshire. Bandita recently featured on TV after being filmed bringing up a litter of kits here. In my artwork, I wanted to capture how protective she was as a mother. She would move her kits whenever she sensed danger – making it a challenge to film her. She was also a very playful animal. Watch her romp about with her young, teaching them the skills they will need to survive in adult life. I hope you like the finished artwork.

Click here to read more on the challenges of filming Bandita

Click to play


 
The Story Behind a New Painting of Oystercatchers

The following short film tells the story of a very unusual commission. I was asked by children’s author David Brazier to paint the oystercatchers that flock on the beach at Craster harbour in Northumberland. The picture was to commemorate his upcoming engagement to his fiance. I had free reign over my composition, but he asked for me to include the date of the engagement in the painting. The date, the 11th of 11th, is an auspicious one. I decided to paint it onto a boat tied up in the harbour. At that David asked me to name the boat after his intended’s mother. It is the first time I have included symbolism in one of my wildlife paintings! 

See how I traveled to Craster to gather reference material in this film below and keep watching to see how I accomplish the finished piece.

Click to play video


 
The Story Behind Paintings of Scotland’s Wildlife

Every year I make time for a visit to Scotland, where the wildlife is unfailingly spectacular. On one such trip, I got caught out by unseasonably heavy snowfall and was treated to some inspirational sightings. The following film clip tells the story of how these magical encounters inspired a new collection of paintings.

Click here to read more about the experience

 Click to play video


The Story Behind my Painting of an Industrial Peregrine 

An opportunity to watch a family of peregrine falcons nesting on a vast industrial site was the inspiration for a new portrait of a peregrine in a modern backdrop. The setting was a first for me since I usually only ever paint animals in a countryside habitat. 

The landscape at Saltend Chemicals Park is harsh and unforgiving. There’s barely a blade of grass in sight, even the air is heavy with the smell of industry. And so to watch a pair of peregrines swoop through the metal structures to their nest was inspirational. Watch this clip to see how I translated their story into art.

Click here to read the full story of this peregrine pair

Click to play video


The Story Behind my Paintings of Animals From Around the World

It is the magical moments between animals that inspire my compositions. From elephants clashing tusks to giraffes twisting necks, the following clip is a montage of photographs and films of animals from around the globe that have sparked new artworks. See how I develop my photographs and film of marine iguanas sunbathing, waved albatross clashing beaks, lions baring teeth into paintings.


The Story Behind My Wildlife Art

Learn more about my painting process in the following video which takes you through my creative journey; from my field studies to each finished piece: 

Click to play


Read More: 

 

Click here to see my latest original wildlife paintings 

Click here to see my collection of limited edition prints featuring birds

Click here to see my collection of limited edition prints featuring mammals

Click here for my worldwide wildlife collection

Click here for my collection of limited edition prints featuring owls

 

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4 comments on The Stories Behind My Wildlife Paintings

  1. Amazing! Glorious countryside, fantastic set-up, and a very talented artist. You and yours are truly living in the best place ever. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Robert- The seabird video alone was better to me than most meditations. For a short while I felt transported from the trying time of worries and concerns to the astounding and magical natural world. Your paintings and posts are an important gift and I thank you.

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