Wildlife Artist, Photographer and Filmmaker
Robert E Fuller’s gallery in Thixendale is visited by up to 7000 people each year. He is one of Britain’s foremost wildlife artists with paintings sold all over the world and his trademark, highly detailed images have been adopted at home by the RSPB and the National Trust.
Q What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be a wildlife artist since I was 13 years old.
Q What’s your background? What inspired you to take up art?
I have dyslexia and schoolwork was really difficult for me, but art was something I did get good marks for. It was a natural progression from there to artist really.
Q What motivates you to produce art relating to nature?
Wildlife was always my first love. I grew up on a farm and my father was a keen naturalist and photographer. He encouraged me to observe the natural world around me. I find, through my art, I can also share my fascination with the natural world with others.
Q What has been your most memorable project, and why?
I once filmed inside a kingfisher nest. Kingfishers build their nests in underground tunnels and to be able to see into this secret world for the first time was magical, especially when these brilliant birds disappeared into the dark to feed their chicks.
Q What are the main challenges of a wildlife artist?
Mostly it’s getting up close to an animal in the wild. Most wildlife can be elusive, and there are lots of frustrating moments before you finally get close enough to learn more about the individual.
Q What are your top tips for capturing wildlife in its natural habitat?
It’s all about observation and getting to know not just a species, but an individual animal. Once you’ve learned everything there is to know about that animal it becomes possible to recreate that in a painting.
Q Is there a local bird or animal you’d like to paint but haven’t yet?
I’d really like to paint a long-eared owl. They are very elusive, but I have had one visit my garden in Thixendale before.
Q What would be your dream project?
My ultimate dream project would be to film golden eagles in their nest for a painting, or
even a series of paintings. I have a few other dreams too, like filming otters in their holt and pine martens.
Q How do you get inspiration for starting a project?
I’m fascinated by the secret world of wildlife and am always trying to see what is hidden, so if I get an opportunity to be able to follow an animal this usually becomes the start of a project to watch and understand that animal before filming and then painting it.
Q What are you currently working on?
The painting on my easel currently is of a stoat named Crackle. She was born here in my garden, and I watched her grow up. She was quite a character and watching her gave me hours of pleasure. The painting is almost finished. I’ve just got her whiskers to paint on. I hope I’ve done her justice.
Q With climate change very much on the agenda, how can wildlife art play a part in improving our planet’s outlook?
Art, as well as photography and film, can help to raise awareness for species and hopefully encourage people to value them. I feel that if I can tell the stories of wild animals then people will empathise with them and understand that we must protect their habitats too.
Q When is your next exhibition?
My gallery in Thixendale is open every day to visitors so there is always an exhibition of my artwork here.
Q What advice would you give to anyone starting out as a wildlife artist?
It’s not an easy career path and I’d say you have to be pretty determined, but I think the thing that people most value in a work of art is authenticity and for this, you need to get to know your wildlife subject, understand how it lives in it its habitat, and get a feel for its individual character.
Q Any long term goals?
I hope to keep on telling the stories of wildlife through my films, photography, and my paintings, especially from the perspective of revealing their secret worlds. I suppose in the long term I would like my work to inspire people to value wildlife, especially the younger generation.
Q Owl or lark?
An owl, unless I am on a wildlife watching project and then I’m always up before dawn.
Q Favourite artwork/artist?
Two artists inspired me as I was growing up, Charles Tunnicliffe and the New Zealand artist Ray
Q If you were a British animal, which one would you be and why?
An otter because I like swimming
Q What’s your favourite holiday destination and why?
Antarctica. If I only had one trip left in me, I’d go there. You can get right up to the wildlife.
Q Favourite food?
Q Cooking for yourself or a meal out?
Cooking for myself
Q Who would you have at a dinner party and why?
David Attenborough, for obvious reasons
Q What is your proudest moment?
I am dyslexic and spent many years being afraid of anything that involved reading or writing. I feel really proud of myself for overcoming these fears