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Top tips and insights from artists

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

There are just a few days left to enter DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022 in association with BBC Wildlife. Not only will you be in with the chance of winning some fantastic prize packages, but your entry will also help us in our fight against species extinction. We look forward to welcoming back our wonderful longstanding artists and also encourage first time participants to get involved!

Entries close 11.59pm (UK time) on the 31st March 2022.

Hear from our previous finalists and winners

From experimenting with different mediums to figuring out which category you might like to enter, we’ve pulled together some of our favourite tips and insights from artists to help spark your inspiration. Find out more below!

Nick Oneill

Nick Oneill has been selected as a finalist every year since 2010. He explains how using mediums such as art resin and silver leaf allow him to achieve a unique look in his artwork.

“I’ve found it really allows me to create new effects that just wouldn’t be possible with traditional paints. As a marine life artist, getting water to reflect and the colours to bounce back around the room has been really important – resin allows me to do this.”

Alicia Hayden

Alicia Hayden won the ‘Human Impact’ category last year with her piece ‘When the Whale Sang’ which investigated the issue of noise pollution and its devastating effect on whales.

 “If you have an issue that you’d like to communicate about wildlife art, you should definitely enter the Human Impact Category because DSWF’s competition is world renowned and the feeling of other people seeing your work and for it to incite change is just phenomenal.”

Javier de la Rosa Alarcón 

Sculptor and ‘Urban Wildlife’ category winner Javier de la Rosa Alarcón discovered DSWF when he moved to London in 2018.

“I entered the Urban Wildlife category because I think that the species living closer to humans are more vulnerable and suffer more directly from our actions. We need animals as much as ourselves.

I encourage you to participate, do not hesitate!”

Cole Stirling

Cole Stirling has always been drawn to the nostalgia of monochrome imagery, especially in photography, and this informs his approach to art.

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, his passion for the wilds of Africa started at an early age. 

“The Facing Extinction category is an amazing opportunity for us, as artists, to raise the profile of so many species that are in vital need of conservation support.” 

Sophie Green

Wildlife and conservation artist Sophie Green explains how important it is to put yourself out there and push boundaries within your work. 

“I enjoy looking at all the different styles, mediums and techniques that other artists are using within their work. It’s really inspired me this year to push myself outside my comfort zone, be a bit more creative and try out some different styles and techniques.”

Tom Middleton

In 2020, Tom Middleton’s piece ‘Silver Lining’ bagged him the top spot in the ‘Into the Blue’ category.

“I’ve always been drawn to sea life as it creates a real challenge compositionally. The subject is always in danger of appearing as though it’s floating around on the page in a big pile of nothingness and it’s your job as the artist to find ways around this and attach the subject to the page through various situation. I’ve always enjoyed that challenge.”

Ze Ze Lai

Watercolour artist Ze Ze Lai has been involved with DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year since 2014.

She shares how a more minimalist style can be just as effective in capturing the beauty and essence of an animal.

I love painting wildlife to show the beauty of nature through the artworks I create. I paint in a free and abstract way that brings movement and life to the subject.”

Martin Aveling

Wildlife artivist Martin Aveling was the first recipient of the David Shepherd Art of Survival Award and has been a finalist in DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year no less than 13 times!

“In recent years, we’ve seen more art that has a conservation storytelling angle to it, what I like to call Wildlife Artivism. I think these kinds of works are really important, especially in the current climate.”

Nichola Hope

Nichola Hope was the first recipient of the Elizabeth Hosking ‘Watercolour’ Award with her vivid green and yellow ‘Tansy Beetle’.

“Watercolour is a medium that offers vibrancy of colour and boldness of statement. It’s fresh, direct, sensitive and responsive. I enjoy the fluidity of the medium because it allows me to express the movement and energy I observe in the natural world.

Watercolour also allows me to convey the beauty and feeling that I see in nature.”

Matthew Polluk

Matthew Polluk works with a variety of mediums, specialising in graphite/charcoal, pen and ink drawings.

“The ‘Wings’ category really is one of the most exciting in the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition because you’re able to explore the beauty of nature from a perspective that you would otherwise never experience. With over 11,000 different species of bird, you really are spoilt for choice and the sky literally is the limit on what you can create!”

Cy Baker

2019 prize winner Cy Baker explains why ‘Earth’s Wild Beauty’ is his favourite category and why you should consider entering.

All my ideas come while I’m out in the wild – sometimes, in not necessarily beautiful conditions – but all my ideas come from there.

If you’re an artist that’s passionate about wildlife, about helping wildlife as well as capturing it in art, just enter – don’t even think about it, just do it.”

You can find out more about how to enter by visiting our FAQs page. Best of luck!

Entries close 11.59pm (UK time) on the 31st March 2022.

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