Wildlife paintings and article by Patricia Griffin
There is a tingling sensation throughout my body when I witness an animal in its native habitat. I travel from the Arctic to the Equator in relentless pursuit of this experience. It occurs in the last strongholds of our diminishing wildlife.
I am a wildlife painter, photographer, researcher, naturalist, and conservationist. I use my work as a billboard for awareness — a vehicle for the awakening of the human soul to the necessity of protecting and preserving that which does not speak a human language.
Sixty percent of wildlife has disappeared since my birth in 1967. There is an urgency in my work. I hike, swim, ski, drive, fly, and boat to the areas that have been preserved by forward-thinking leaders and activists. I study the diets, footprints, scat, behaviors, history, and environment of the animals I paint. I observe them with a quiet, meditative calmness, and patience that has taken me years to develop. I am intoxicated by their untamed presence, and in awe as they enter my view. The elation that pulses through my veins is not contained within me, and my aura expands out to greet that of the animal I am experiencing.
I strive to capture the subtle glance of a species comfortable with my presence, the recognition of our forms existing in a shared space. The moment the windows of our souls connect is essential to the art I create. The rewards for my perseverance are great; the witnessing fuels a continuum of an experience from the animal to oil paint — an everlasting, archival documentation of an observation preserved for humanity on linen. I am the conduit, the interpreter, the observer, and the medium. I recreate my reality in a way that embodies a connection to the animal kingdom on an intuitive level, to be perceived by viewers as their own awakening to the animal spirit — the totem that exists within, to draw strength and knowledge beyond the human existence.
Oil painting is the declaration, the testimony, that fuels my choices of composition, light, and shadow. Layer upon layer of luscious color creates atmosphere surrounding form, with strokes that bring a moment into perpetual life, the wild extracted into vibrating painting on linen. The resulting image is a window to a broader understanding of shared, universal consciousness.
The work I create is collected internationally, represented by galleries, shown in museums, and published in books. The sale of my work has allowed me to contribute 10 percent of the proceeds to a broad platform of conservation efforts.
My commitment to conservation started in first grade with a crayon drawing, in a contest for wildfire awareness. I can still see the drawing in my head: Smokey the Bear, in his quintessential hat and blue overalls (what he wore in the 70s), standing with a shovel in hand next to a blackened, burned-out tree with flames at the base, a puff of smoke reaching to the sky, and the cream color of construction paper. I won first place and received a bobblehead Smokey, a blue ribbon, and some papers of accomplishment. All gone now, except my memory, the message, and my blue ribbon standard, to protect all that is wild from human degradation.
I began donating close to home, to the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center. In 2004, I acquired the Wesley Church, a 1900s brick building whose rafters house one of the largest brown bat maternity colonies in northeastern Pennsylvania. The protection of this particular bat species is significant, as they have only one or two pups a year. The church’s peaked roof and rafters, and hot summer temperatures, act as an incubator for hundreds of developing pups. The colony at Wesley Church can consume more than three quarters of a million mosquitoes each night. Students from both Pennsylvania State University and East Stroudsburg University research and collect data on site.
In 2012, I joined Artists For Conservation (AFC) as a Signature Member. Their vision is “to lead a global artistic movement that inspires individuals and organizations to preserve and sustain our natural heritage by uniting the talent and passion of the world’s most gifted nature artists.” Currently, two of my paintings are traveling in the Silent Skies Mural project. “Silent Skies” is an international collaborative super-mural mosaic, featuring all 678 endangered bird species in the world; 160 AFC artists from 15 countries participated in the project. The 100-foot installation formed the artistic centerpiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress in August 2018 in Vancouver, BC. After the Congress, the mural is touring internationally.
For the last six years, it has been an honor to be an invited to participate in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), the largest event of its kind in the nation. SEWE promotes wildlife and nature conservation and preservation. Over 40,000 attendees come to see artists, exhibitors, and wildlife experts from around the world.
In 2015, I purchased a twenty-acre plot of wetlands (otherwise available for development), to preserve the skunk cabbage, an essential early spring diet for a mother black bear who returns yearly with her cubs in April to feed.
Recently, I was a participating artist in the Sketch for Survival 2018 exhibition and auction, sponsored by Explorers Against Extinction. The Sketch for Survival touring exhibition and auction consisted of 26-minute sketches and other signed artworks, all of endangered species. Profits from the auction are donated to African parks, to help establish a program for safeguarding elephants and other iconic species against poaching.
I will continue to use my work as a billboard for awareness — a vehicle for the awakening of the human soul to the necessity of protecting and preserving that which does not speak a human language.