It takes one to know one, as they say, and that certainly comes into play when looking at the wildlife art of Cynthie Fisher. An avid hunter, she not only searches out deer, antelope and elk to fill the freezer, but also enjoys an annual African hunt to fill her desire to connect to the species that exist within that habitat. Therefore, when it comes to sporting art, as a hunter with more than 125 mounts hanging in her trophy room, she understands and relates to what her collectors are drawn to.
“I hunt as well, so we speak a common language and have a respect for the animal and what it’s like to pursue it,” says the Hamilton, Montana-based artist.
The realistic nature of Fisher’s art is certainly one of its appeals, and with a background in wildlife biology, including a degree in zoology from Humboldt State University, her approach is perhaps more scientific than whimsical. But then there are the vibrant colors she uses to highlight the animals and landscapes in which they exist, offering a flair of creativity that makes the familiar figures striking. On top of that, she creates scenes in her head as opposed to painting directly from a photo, adding a touch of whimsy. “I’m not an artsy-fartsy type,” she laughs. “I’m more of a biologist and scientist who just happens to paint.”
After graduating from college, Fisher wanted to learn to paint as a way to connect with the animals that she’d studied and felt a deep connection to since her childhood in Denver, Colorado. She moved into a mountain cabin and painted every day for a year.
“I knew the animals — I’d studied them all my life — but I didn’t know how to paint, and to me that was a technical thing,” she says. It took her three months of trial and error to complete her first painting. By the end of the year, she was hooked; she entered a duck stamp contest in Ohio and won. Sometimes it takes that kind of life sign to know you’re on the right path.
“I went to college thinking I’d be a wildlife biologist, but then I found out I would have to narrow down a topic of study to focus on one particular subject,” Fisher says. “I wanted to be broader in my scope, and this way I could study the animals and put the behaviors in my paintings.”
Fisher has since hit a nerve with collectors of wildlife art. She’s had a booth at the SCI Convention for 25 years and appreciates that her work helps generate income for conservation. “It makes me feel good to know that my work is being used in that way,” she says. “I also enjoy painting rare species, and only a big game hunter would know what some of those are. This venue appreciates these rare animals.”
Since her start in that mountain cabin, Fisher’s mediums have also expanded to include sculpture, scratch board, murals and other media. And the realistic nature of her work is still based on much time spent in the field. The muscles are bulked in the right places, the animal’s position, whether resting or in action, is accurate and convincing, the behaviors depicted are developed from years of study. Her passion for the animals and their way of life is ever-present in each of her works of art and that, in turn, is present for the collector.
“I like to think that my work represents a memory or a wish for the collectors,” Fisher says. “A memory of what they have seen or a wish for what they would like to see in the wild.”