Friday, November 28, 2008

Two wildlife art competitions and a snow leopard

Snow Leopard by Gayle Mason
(mixed media)

I know lots of people working in coloured pencils and pastels are really interested in wildlife art so I thought I'd highlight a couple of competitions for wildlife art which have deadlines for entry in the New Year - plus an auction which will benefit the endangered snow leopard. These are:
Wildlife Artist of the Year

The Wildlife Artist of the Year, run by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), is open to amateur and professional artists alike from anywhere in the world. Artists must be aged 17 by the closing date - 30th Jan 2009. Full details are available in the rules and conditions (pdf file) and the Frequently Asked Questions.
Entries must be completed by the artist within the last five years by the entrants themselves and must be their own original work. Artists using exact reference from another professional artist or photographer risk having their work marked down.
‘Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009’ Rules & Conditions of Entry
The major change for 2009 is that pre-published work is now ineligible. That means it cannot have previously published as a print.

Work can be in any medium excluding photography, film and electronically created images. Film, photography and electronic images will be disqualified by the judges. I'm guessing, but this presumably includes any work which starts from a print of a digital image onto a support.

There are five categories for entries
  • Endangered Wildlife - featuring any wild animal or plant that is threatened or endangered nationally or internationally
  • Wild Places - any scene or landscape showing the natural environment at its most beautiful or dramatic
  • Wildlife in Action - any wild animal jumping, fighting, flying or any other interesting behavior
  • Wildlife in 3D - sculpture in any medium
  • Open - anything to do with wildlife which doesn't include the above!
The prizes are:
  • Overall Winner £10,000 cash prize and title 'Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009'
  • Overall Runner-Up £1,000 cash prize and a personal art workshop with David Shepherd
  • Remaining Category Winners £500 each
Last year "Hope of Sepilok", a coloured pencil portrait of an orang utan from Borneo by Richard Childs won the Wildlife Artist of the Year. This has previously been exhibited at the UKCPS Annual Open International Exhibition in 2007.

The deadline for entries is 30th January 2009 - and you can enter as many pieces as you would like. You can use the online entry form to submit a jpeg file or download a postal entry form from the website. The jpeg file size must be no larger than 7MB and it must have an easily identifiable file name.

Finally, the short-listed selection from each category will be exhibited at the Mall Galleries, London in summer 2009. You can view the 2008 exhibition online.

BBC Wildlife Magazine

A competition to find the first ever BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year Award has been announced.

Like the Wildlife Artist of the year, the competition is open to both professional and amateur artists - and there are no fees and charges to enter. Each category will have a winner chosen by our panel of expert judges (see the website for details). Details of the rules are available on the website - here's a short extract
4 The artwork must not have won any prize in any other competition anywhere in the world, or been previously published.
5 The artwork must have been created within the past year and be your own original work.
6 You must be the sole author and owner of the copyright of all artwork entered, OR if your work is copied from a photograph(s) that is/are not your own, you must have sole permission in writing from the copyright owner to use his/her work. Copies of published photographs or paintings are not eligible. Source material or proof of permission to use must be made available on request by the judges. BBC Wildlife does not accept any liability in the publication of unlawfully reproduced art.
7 All artwork must feature wild natural subjects: domestic, captive and feral animals will not be accepted, nor will cultivated plants. Wild mammals, birds, freshwater and marine life, invertebrates and wildflowers are acceptable subjects.

BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year Award - extract from Rules
There are 14 different categories for the entries
  • British mammals (behaviour and portraits)
  • British birds (behaviour and portraits)
  • All other British wildlife (behaviour and portraits)
  • The wonder of plants (British and worldwide)
  • Beneath the water (marine and freshwater)
  • Animals in their environment (British and worldwide)
  • Dusk to dawn
  • World mammals (behaviour and portraits)
  • World birds (behaviour and portraits)
  • All other world wildlife (behaviour and portraits)
  • Black and white nature (pencil, lino cuts, etchings, wood block etc)
  • Visions of nature (innovative, creative impressions of wildlife)
  • Frozen planet (please note, entries must feature animal life)
  • Endangered species (entries must feature species listed by the IUCN as ‘endangered’ or worse)
The deadline for entries is 28 Ferbuary 2009.

The selected artwork will be displayed in the annual exhibition of the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society and published in BBC Wildlife in August 2009.

The overall winner will be awarded the title ‘BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009’ and will also win a place on the 2010 Festival of Wildlife in Brazil

Snow Leopard Trust

The image at the top of the page has been produced by Gayle Mason for The Snow Leopard Trust the world's leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard.

The Trust is opening it's first ever online art auction live on December 3rd at 12:01 am PST. Work by SLT's artist partners- painters, photographers, sculptors have contributed work to the works for sale and the snow leopard is Gayle's contribution. The auction will end at midnight, PST on December 13th. Pre-viewing of the art is not available but Gayle will doubtless be reminding people on the 3rd!


  1. Thanks once again for the invaluable information, I sometimes wonder how I could keep up with all these without your blog!

  2. Hello Katherine

    I'd like to ask a question. I have been mulling over your earlier post on copying other's art and calling it your own. You left us with the admonition "go make your own art". This wildlife competition now ongoing, I doubt very much that these artists get that close to a snow leopard, or any wildlife they will draw or paint. One sees plenty of wildlife art about and I always wonder how they get that close to draw every hair on their beautiful heads? Do the artists copy some photograph? Visit the zoo and take lots of pictures? How DO they make their art original when the subject is "wildlife"?

    Janna Kumi

  3. Janna - in my experience all the best wildlife artists spend a lot of time getting their own reference photographs. I've spoken to a number of the prizewinners and they've told me about their trips to get what they wanted.

    For example Gayle travels all over the country and abroad to the various wildlife zoos, wildfowl trusts and places where you can wildlife "in the wild" to get her reference photos. (Similarly she has very good relationships with various cat breeders in the UK re her domestic cats and dogs).

    Her photography gear is incredibly impressive and she's very good at getting excellent shots. Her idea of a big treat is a big new lens!

    She's also done some blog posts in the past on her blog Fur in the Paint about how she gets her photos.

    The thing is, wildlife art, like any other art requires a whole load of work which isn't obvious to people looking at it in the gallery. That's the ingredient which makes the best art stand out and be a cut above. The artist has actually sat and watched the animals and how they behave for a long time

    I know some people create wildlife art from the photography of other people. Some have even won prizes copying the artistic vision of another person.

    So to answer your questions, my perspective is
    * virtually all wildlife artists who are creating photorealistic artwork are copying photos - that's simply because the animals won't sit still
    * a lot of the good artists - but not all - generate their own reference photos from visits they make at home or abroad to places where they can see and watch animals and get to know how they behave
    * the originality comes from the way you choose to portray the animal.

    If you copy hair for hair the photo of another person, in my eyes, that choice in essence was made by another person - ie the photographer and not the artist.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.