Artists who include animals in their work

The Portugese/British artist Paula Rego often positions animals and humans together in her drawings, prints and paintings, creating mythical narratives firmly based in her own culture and personal history. Look for other contemporary artists who include animals in their drawings; these can be imaginary as well as real creatures. Make notes on their materials, methods and ideas and test some of these in your sketchbook, then reflect on what you’ve discovered in your learning log.

I looked around for contemporary artists who use animals in their work.  I was looking for artists who use animals in unusual ways- alongside people or other less obvious contexts.  however, I struggled to find that many,

Paula Rego is referred to in the course book.  In the Young Predators it is interesting to decide whether the children or the dogs in the background are being referred to (or all of them).  It definitely hints at a story or a message.


Paula Rego Young Predators (1987) Etching and aquatint 24,6 x 25 cm

Paul Reid is a contemporary scottish artist who is greatly influenced by the old masters such as Rubens, Velazquez and Titian.  His subjects include creatures from Greek mythology and are painted in a very photorealistic style.  You are aware, as the viewer, that these are illustrations of part of a story.


Paul Reid  “Actaeon”-2009, oil on canvas, 70cm x 85cm. Actaeon was a young hunter who tragically stumbled across the Virgin Goddess Artemis whilst she was bathing with her nymphs. In her fury, she transformed him into a stag and he was hunted and killed by his own dogs.

I also enjoyed looking at the work of Franz Marc (1880-1916).  In a lot of his work the animals are abstractly included into the picture-  In the case of the deer in the forest the elements of the picture are broken down into colour shapes that lead your eye around the picture.  There is a depth of colour and shade that reflects the mood of a dark thick forest.



Franz Marc wrote: “Every color must say clearly ‘who and what it is, and must, moreover, be related to a clear form.”

In the Red Horses bold colours are used to depict the animals.  The vibrancy is added to by the use of complementary red/green colours, which agitate the eye slightly.


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