Join artist-naturalist Walt Anderson at the NHI to learn how he integrates his love for painting and his commitment to conservation.
Evolution is the ultimate designer, and each organism reflects a winnowing creative process. Good design is beautiful, whether the product is as elegant as a gazelle or as comical (to our biased eyes) as a squat toad. My goal as an artist is to interpret an organism with love, respect, and fidelity to essence. I love the delicacy of watercolor, which, though typically unforgiving as a medium, allows me to depict the softness of feather and the hardness of beak and claw equally well. I am now experimenting with other media (pastel, acrylic, etc.), as the artistic process is enriched by media diversity the way a forest or grassland is enhanced through biotic diversity.
We often don’t see nature clearly; we may apply a name and then cease to observe closely, depriving ourselves and our subject of earned intimacy. I want you, the viewer of my paintings, to look more closely, to discover something that would not be apparent if you met an organism in the wild. If we can see clearly, we are blessed with priceless discoveries. Our human world is filled with distractions, many of them not good for our psyche. But marvel at the beauty of an animal well portrayed, and you can for a moment escape the confusion of modern society and connect with something much bigger and grander. Then it’s time to show your love through your actions.
Walt Anderson is a naturalist, educator, wildlife photographer, painter, and passionate advocate for conservation. He is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at Prescott College where he taught for 27 years and a founder of the nonprofit Granite Dells Preservation Foundation. An expert in the field, he has led natural history and photography tours of domestic and international destinations for over 35 years. His wildlife artwork has been commissioned and displayed by such organizations as Artists for Conservation, Artists and Biologists Unite for Nature, and the Highlands Center for Natural History. “Art in the Service of Conservation” is his second solo exhibition with the Natural History Institute. His writing, illustrations, photography, and paintings have been featured in numerous publications over the years, and he currently publishes a weekly natural history photo essay “Wild Wednesday” on his Facebook page and through email. You can contact him at email@example.com to join his mailing list.