SCI Foundation has named Linda Besse as the 2014 Conservation Artist of the Year. Being named Conservation Artist of the Year is about more than just the art; the award recognizes world-renowned artists who also distinguish themselves as leaders in conservation.
Besse is truly “First for Wildlife” and works diligently for conservation through her art and travels. When asked about her involvement in conservation projects Besse said, “The importance of charitable giving is something I grew up with. My love of wildlife and their habitat dovetailed beautifully with conservation projects.”
An unconventional artist, Besse studied geology in college, but did not have the opportunity to pursue it as a career. “My husband and I were in Hawaii, and I saw a guy painting outside. Once home, I bought art supplies and started painting,” said Besse. The discovery of her talent was a natural high when this self-taught painter focused on wildlife. “Ever since I can remember I have loved animals, so painting wildlife was the logical choice. I am always inspired by the animals. Whether it is seeing a lemming or an elephant in its habitat, I get excited,” said Besse.
Most would consider Besse an adventurer. She has traveled the world seeking unique first-hand experiences with wildlife to inspire her artistic abilities. It’s now up to 33 countries, every US state, and all seven continents where Bessie has walked with wildlife. Although she cannot pick a favorite place, what she cherishes most is being “in the moment,” whether it be with wildlife in the bush of Africa, capturing the crisp light breaking on the backs of marine mammals in Antarctica, or the fog-shrouded rolling heather at the hooves of red deer in the Scottish highlands.
Besse is in the process of creating an original painting of woodland caribou, a memory from a frolic through Labrador’s Boreal Forest, for SCI Foundation to auction at the 2014 Hunters’ Convention. “Being surrounded by caribou was intense and inspiring,” remembered Besse as she photographed them. Woodland caribou in the Boreal Forest is not a new issue to SCI Foundation’s conservation efforts; the foundation has worked with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador on a predator-prey study that aims to examine the relationship between woodland caribou calf recruitment and predator management.
Ever modest she said, “I am less concerned with what [the award] does for me. I am hopeful of how it will benefit the conservation work of SCI Foundation.” She continued by saying, “I am honored to be recognized for my past conservation efforts. More importantly, it means the efforts I make will have a broader reach.” Besse hopes that her caribou painting will not only raise funds for conservation, but also bring an awareness of the importance, beauty and distinct wildness of the Boreal Forest.
Follow the progress of Linda Besse’s original caribou piece on the SCI Foundation blog, www.firstforwildlife.wordpress.com, until it is auctioned at the 42nd Annual SCI Hunters’ Convention in Las Vegas. The proceeds will fund SCI Foundation’s ongoing conservation efforts around the world.– Michelle F. Tacconelli