The Wildlife Artist’s Handbook

I know I’ve been away for a while, but now… I’m back! The reason, as you’ve probably guessed, is that I’ve been super-busy writing and illustrating the Wildlife Artist’s Handbook, while keeping up with all my other projects. It’s finally with the publisher, going through all the tweaks necessary before the official publication day. Anyway, I though I’d update you with the book’s final incarnation, as it has evolved somewhat during its short life.

Front cover designThe Wildlife Artist’s Handbook is a practical guide to wildlife art. Originally commissioned as a How to Draw and Paint Wildlife guide, it soon became apparent that something different was required. After all, there are already plenty of How To books available. It was time for a new approach. My belief was that a handbook would give a more complete picture (no pun intended) of the wildlife art genre, so here is the new structure.

Firstly, wildlife art is set in context, by looking at the rich heritage of wildlife portrayal in art history – (a great excuse to show some fabulous artwork from cave paintings to the present day). Next the book keeps faith with the original concept, giving practical drawing and painting techniques. Wildlife doesn’t exist in isolation, so a chapter on fieldcraft and working outdoors follows on.

It helps to be aware of what goes on beneath fur and feather, so a look at the basic structure of birds, animals, insects and fish is the next chapter. Although the science is important, the purpose of wildlife art is to produce a piece of art, so a chapter on composition helps readers to communicate their visions to the viewers. Wildlife artists use a range of media, so a chapter about print-making and sculpture suggests the breadth of the genre while providing inspiration for future possibilities.

In these days of digital images, it makes sense to include photography. Some readers will choose to work from photographic reference, while to others it is an anathema, yet most of us have to cope with photographing our work and submitting images to competitions, websites and blogs. We all need to keep abreast of the laws of copyright. The photographic chapter covers all of this, beyond the scope of the How To books.

The final chapter helps the reader to establish their art according to their own interests, and looks at pricing work, undertaking commissions, exhibiting and using social media to connect with other artists and collectors. The concept of this chapter is to support the reader as they gain in confidence of their art skills and start sharing their work with a wider audience.

The Appendix lists organisations (with website addresses) around the world, where wildlife art can be seen and studied. A Further Reading list offers suggestions for books on both the practical and aspirational aspects of wildlife art.

Ultimately, The Wildlife Artist’s Handbook is a book that acts as a companion to the reader as they progress from the first tentative drawings of a moving subject, to being confident enough to share their work with a local, and then global, audience. It is a dual purpose book, offering practical advice, and showcasing wildlife art from history and from thirty contemporary professional artists. Whether or not the reader picks up a pencil, they will enjoy the inspiring images from this beautiful book.

The Wildlife Artist’s Handbook comprises 55,000 words and 250 images. RRP £16.99.
Publication date: 25 November 2013, but available for pre-order now.

If you’d like further information about The Wildlife Artist’s Handbook please contact me:

About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
This entry was posted in Art, Wildlife Art and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Wildlife Artist’s Handbook

  1. matthias1982 says:

    I should really buy that book – but I worry that there is no talent in me… 😉
    anyways, I would love to be able to paint like that!

    • Drawing and painting is a learnable skill, the same as anything else. Enthusiasm, effort and practice will take you as far as talent will. Though, I admit, talent helps too. Go for it – you have nothing to lose, and plenty to gain. There are stunning images from thirty artists too, so even if you end up deciding practical art isn’t for you, it’s an enjoyable book to browse through. A win-win situation.

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