A Buckingham artist is back on eBay with a collection of original wildlife paintings to help preserve the environment the creatures call home.
“Nature is where my heart is, and I want to keep it clean and sweet,” artist Cris Arbo said. “Nature is my passion. I love the natural world, and I hate to see it not taken care of and abused.’
Last year’s Cris’s Creatures fundraiser brought in almost $10,000 for Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine. This year, the beneficiary will be the Nature Conservancy.
Each intricate painting is created on a smooth slab of cedar. Joseph Anthony, Arbo’s husband, slices and sands the wood; Arbo applies the images in acrylics, inks and colored pencils. The couple has teamed up to create picture books written by Anthony and illustrated by Arbo; the most recent is 2014’s “The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream.”
Arbo, an award-winning illustrator, often works on several pieces with similar color schemes at a time.
“Mixing the exact colors is one of the time-consuming things,” she said. “When I can get to the details, that’s when the fun starts.”
Arbo has a loyal base of collectors, and “most of the people who have purchased things are friends of friends,” the artist said. The excited reactions of people who’ve just discovered her realistic images provide new sources of delight.
The goals are big, but the birds, amphibians, insects and mammals are captivatingly small. A flying squirrel is captured in mid-leap, while the antennae of a bumblebee moth seem to quiver.
Monarch butterflies are perennial favorites with Arbo’s collectors, as are different songbirds.
“People love the monarchs,” Arbo said, adding that she gets plenty of requests for bluebirds and cardinals. She was surprised when a bright-eyed robin wasn’t scooped up right away, but she has learned that her subjects can resonate with people at different times, and for a wide variety of reasons.
“Every once in a while, people will surprise me, like wanting a mud turtle,” she said. “Every single creature has its own sense of sweetness and color.”
Arbo said she hopes her paintings will inspire people to spend more time outdoors. In addition to encountering animals, birds and butterflies in their natural settings, people who decide to get outside can come away refreshed and changed by discovery and wonder.
“Every leaf is different from every other leaf,” Arbo said.
Each image is $100, and all proceeds will go to the Nature Conservancy, which supports taking science-based approaches to solving climate problems, destruction of natural environments and disappearances of species. To learn more, go to preserve.nature.org.
To learn more about Cris’s Creatures, go to www.crisarbo.com.