Darren Rees SWLA is a self-taught artist and sits on the council of the Society of Wildlife Artists. Inspired by nature, he travels all over the world throughout Europe, the Americas and the Arctic to sketch and paint all varieties of flora and fauna.

He has created this wonderful Polar Bear design for a Christmas Card which we will be selling in Mall Galleries’ Bookshop this festive season. We caught up with him to discuss Christmas, acrylics and Arctic expeditions.

How did you go about capturing the bear in the moment?

It was one of the several bears on pack ice in the Barents Sea, southeast of Svalbard. I sketched it from the ice-worthy ship I was on. It was originally sketched from life with watercolours, and I then I reworked some of the images with acrylic in the studio on my return.


I have read that this year you are doing some naturalist tourn with Speyside Wildlife Company to really exciting destinations - where has been your favourite so far? Where are you most excited about visiting next?

I lead nature tours for about ten weeks every year. So far for 2017 I have been to see bustards and eagles in Spain, grizzly bears and wolves in Yellowstone Park, and lions, rhinos and cheetahs in South Africa. By the time this interview is published I will have also been whale watching in Nova Scotia!


Can you explain how you create your subtle yet striking brushstroke technique using acrylics?

For this polar bear, I used a loaded brush on a very smooth panel as I wanted the brushstrokes to keep their integrity. Integrity is sometimes lost on woven canvas, and I wanted the bold brushstroke effect to remain to emphasise the softness of the polar bear.


Finally, how will you be spending the festive season?

I will spend this Christmas with the family in Scotland - I hope there will be some snow!