I have always loved the work of the naturalists: those artists who dedicated their lives to bringing to life the most intricate details of the plants an animals around us. The Birds of North America was a ground breaking work by John James Audobon, as were the works of artists such as Robert Hooke, Maria Merian and many others. The Temple of Flora, a collection of extraordinary works by numerous artists is another great example of this genre.
For the most part, it’s a lost art form. Most of the naturalists were living and working in the 1600s – 1800s. But Walton Ford is my favorite example of what I like to think of as a “contemporary naturalist” who creates giant, life-sized watercolors. His works are clearly in the style of artists like Audubon, but often with an unusual twist, and darker undertones. The life-size aspect of his works also adds to their impact. His image shown here of the elephant, for example, is two stories tall.