I feel that some of the most beautiful art made by an “environmental” artist is the biological and wildlife drawings of Terryl Whitlatch.  Terryl Whitlatch is most famous for her drawings of animals and wildlife, as she commonly illustrates for field guides and manuals.  Her most notable client George Lucas, as she has worked as a concept artist for several of the Star Wars movies and has produced several books chronicling the life forms and habits of the creatures she has created.  Terryl also creates visual representations of the life forms in our world, and her work is extremely accurate and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

Terryl’s work, or even her personal goals, does not necessarily have an environmental agenda, which is to say that Terryl doesn’t really create her artwork to achieve or promote a certain message.  However, I feel that an environmental message can, indirectly, be pulled from her art.  Her creations are enormously scientific and exact, but the manner in which she shows them and in the way she constructs her guides is powerfully natural.  Her guides have the feeling of the old time field guides, like the ones in days before the internet and information overloaded references, in which explorers would take as they ventured out to discover new life.  It is the feeling of old world ideals and a certain stillness in time that allows her work to feel natural and real.  She speaks true to what she is drawing and painting and she does the wildlife justice by showing a naturalism that is uncommon in today’s world.

Her work stands as my favorite because the animals and wild life she illustrates feel unforced and flowing.  Although, there is no substantially profound theme that she is striving for, Terryl’s ability to show life, in the sense of biologically sound and accurate studies, on a two dimensional surface is where her reflective and deep significances stand out.  She captures a feeling that these life forms, even her fictitious extraterrestrial creations, have actually been studied in person by her and that she has spent an extreme amount of the time documenting these animals in the wild.  It is quite extraordinary how she conveys life in a medium that is extremely difficult to show such dynamism.

That is where one can pull an environmental message out of something that may seem purely academic.  Terryl is preserving the natural qualities in these animals in her artwork so that those who view it can fully appreciate and value the life that her work is based on.  The viewers can then make strives to support and further reinforce the importance of taking care of a planet that not only houses themselves but also and grand variety of abundant and beautiful life.  Many species of animals are dying daily due to the actions of humans and so far little is being done to reverse these actions.  However, if those in power could learn to appreciate what this world still has, and realize that once lost it can never be brought back, then Terryl’s artwork has done a great environmental deed.

Ryan Schnee

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One response »

  1. tetchist says:

    On the other hand, if we have good enough illustrations of the animals, we don’t need real ones, do we?

    So the real goal of environmentalists should be to immortalize all of the animals as drawings before they go extinct.

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