This week's featured artist is a young woman based out of Edinburgh in the UK named Tori Ratcliffe. She is an accomplished watercolorist who paints wildlife and pets. Her colorful, expressive style was born out of her "impatience with the traditional method of painting."
"This lively painting style enables me to express the life and vitality of my chosen subject, with the pen strokes working to contradict the chaos of the paint, anchoring the piece together."
Her deep love of animals and the planet has led her to donate large portions of her profit to better the world. You can see the many organizations Tori supports at the end of the article.
I am inspired by animals even outside an artistic context. I am always so grateful and delighted that we get to share our planet with these furry, feathered and scaley creatures. They are all so fascinating to me, and so it is that I enjoy painting them because I love examining them in detail. Imagine how excited you’d be to meet a unicorn (if they existed!) you’d be in awe that something like that could exist… I have that attitude to every animal on the planet even cats and dogs!!
I have always loved drawing horses in particular - the chiseled curves .
I work in watercolour and fineliner – the paint is applied first to get the colour down in a loose expressive manner, the details are then drawn on top with pen along with some further touches of paint.
I have always been someone who enjoyed drawing and being crafty, but I only officially ‘became’ an artist when I was taught how to use watercolours by my aunt when I was 21, and began to start developing my own style in my spare time at university. I was lucky enough to have developed my business far enough that I could take it on as a profession when I graduated.
I would have to say that I love my ‘Leopard At Rest’ painting the most. This is because it was one of the first large A2 paintings ( 420 × 594 millimeters or 16.54 × 23.39 inches) that I successfully completed, and believe me it was a long difficult process learning how to translate my painting style onto such big pieces of paper! The Leopard painting was scaled down to an A3 print (297 × 420 millimeters or 11.69 × 16.54 inches.), which means the level of detail in the prints is incredible. It has gone on to become my most successful print, which is great as it donates 50% to the UK registered charity Helping Rhinos (www.helpingrhinos.org).
I am always envious of galloping horses, so I think perhaps a horse as it must feel incredible to run with such speed, especially in a herd! Or, I would love to be an eagle or a dolphin, again to experience the speed… it would be incredible!
I am involved with quite a lot of animal and wildlife conservation charities! We have lost half our species in the last 40 years, even animals like lions and cheetahs and the Asian elephant are endangered. We lost the Western Black Rhino to extinction the other day, I don’t think people quite grasp the urgency of the term ‘endangered’. I would like my nephew to grow up into a world where incredible animals exist, and not just pigeons and rats which are about the only animals that can happily survive the spread of urban sprawl! Supporting conservation charities is the singular most important job I feel you can do as a human being. What will become of us if we destroy nature? The only way to save our planet's animals is to save their homes.
There are several charities I support through sales of prints and specific artwork. I prefer to go for the more independently run charities as you can guarantee your money is going straight to the cause rather than being spent on advertising etc. or large wages for CEOs.
Trees for Life – Working to restore the Caledonian Forest across the Scottish Highlands and reintroduce wildlife. In the last century Britain has lost 97% of its lowland meadows and 90% of coppiced woodland so it’s HUGELY important we work to get some of that back! I am excited to volunteer with them at the end of this month! www.treesforlife.org.uk
World Land trust – Working to protect rainforests from deforestation, and in doing so protecting the thousands of plant and animal species within them. David Attenborough is their patron and believes WLT to be one of the most effective conservation charities. www.worldlandtrust.org
Helping Rhinos – working from all angles to help save the Rhino from poaching. They have several carefully selected field projects designed to tackle the current crisis, from supporting the Black Mambas, an all female anti-poaching unit, to working to educate people about the price animals are paying for ivory. www.helpingrhinos.org
OuTrop – Working to protect the Orangutans in Indonesia. Unfortunately a lot of their time is putting out forest fires that have been started illegally by farmers, mostly to clear land to grow grain to feed cows across the planet (which is why of all the meats to eat, beef is the most damaging to the planet!) www.outrop.com
Turtle Island Restoration Network – our oceans are in a very vulnerable state – overfishing, coral bleaching, climate change, ocean acidification. Turtle Island is one of the most effective charities for looking after our seas and their contents as they work alongside people in communities all around the world. www.seaturtles.org
Besides all of the beautiful wildlife paintings, Tori also creates custom pet portraits. Example above.
To have your own pet portrait created or to see more of Tori's work, visit her on the web at:
Twitter : @torirats