Born in Torquay, England, an area of tremendous biodiversity, wildlife has always been part of my world. Expressing my interest in animals through art quickly became a favourite hobby whatever the medium. In 2001 I entered my acrylic paintings in an art competition held at Paignton Zoo and won in the 14-17 age group, and became thoroughly hooked on painting wildlife!

Diving with the Coral Restoration Foundation in 2014
 

I graduated from Plymouth University in 2008 with a Bachelor's degree in Media Arts. Seeking to blend my communication skills with my love of animals, in 2008 I became a presenter at the UK’s only coastal zoo. I moved to the United States at the end of 2009.

In addition to donating my artwork to silent auctions that support wildlife conservation, I have also created educational materials for special events such as International Whale Shark Day and Sea Otter Awareness Week to get children actively engaged with animals and the environment. I have also designed logos for non-profit organisations and events. In July 2015 I launched a month-long project, Sharks and Rays for 31 Days, in which I created daily artworks and auctioned them off. 100% of the proceeds were donated to Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation.

In 2012 I was inducted into the Ocean Artists Society, a unique organisation formed by Wyland, Guy Harvey and Bob Talbot which unites of some of the world’s most prominent marine life artists, photographers and filmmakers to raise awareness of ocean conservation. Away from the canvas, I like to put conservation into action and in 2014 I volunteered to help restore coral reefs in the Florida Keys with the Coral Restoration Foundation. I was also a partner of Shark Defenders' successful "Shark Stanley" campaign, which sought support for the global protection of manta rays and several shark species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in March 2013. I also love taking part in environmental clean up events!

Art Gone Wild 2016 at Zoo Atlanta

I was selected to participate in Zoo Atlanta’s Art Gone Wild event in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to paint alongside the zoo’s living collection and support their work.

My hope is that my art will inspire a greater awareness of, and respect for, the natural world. When I spend time with animals I'm so utterly fascinated with their evolutionary history, behaviour, and in some cases their personal stories that I feel the need to share them with everyone I can. If seeing one of my paintings encourages someone to take more of an interest in their own role in the environment, then I've done my job.

It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.

- Sir David Attenborough

 

Copyright © 2016 Jen Richards
Member of the Ocean Artists Society