The best piece of advice that I ever received with regards to my art came from my secondary school art teacher, Mrs O’Donavan, and the advice was to draw/paint whatever you are passionate about!
That is something that has stuck with me down through the years, and even more so since 2008 when I started to paint with oils. My passion is wildlife, whether it is native to Ireland or the more exotic animals of Africa or Asia. For me and millions of others a world without these incredible animals would be a very dull place indeed.
However, from my experience wildlife art is not hugely sought after by potential art buyers. The few times a year that I do exhibit I receive great feedback and my paintings put a lot of smiles on faces. As the old saying goes, “if I got 50cent for every compliment I’d be a successful artist”
There are a lot of wildlife programmes on the TV and a lot of books and magazines on the subject too, so there is great interest and fascination out there in the whole area of wildlife and conservation. The down side to this, for a wildlife artist, is that while people have an interest, they may not have a connection.
The reason I’m a wildlife artist is that I have a huge connection. Over the past 10 years I would choose wildlife destinations as my holiday destination in the hope of seeing these incredible animals in their natural habits.
So I continually ask myself do I change to a more commercial subject? I’ll be honest, I have tried. I’ve painted some landscapes in the past, but after the first one or two, I started to add the odd animal here and there. Before I knew it the animal was becoming the main focus of the painting and the landscape just became the background.
I have painted a few commissions outside the wildlife spectrum, and quite successfully too. These would mainly be in the area of portraits, both people and pets, which I enjoyed very much. But if I’m not working on a commission I have hundreds of ideas for wildlife paintings and drawings just itching to make their way to the canvas.
I’ll end with this, in the words of Andy Warhol:
Don’t think about making art, just get it done!
Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it,
And while they are deciding, make even more art.