Crista Forest: Wild About Realism

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Oil Paintings

As the daughter of a landscape painter, wildlife enthusiast Crista Forest has been drawing and painting animals since she was old enough to hold a crayon.

It was probably fate. . . with her father’s old brushes and paints to play with, and a last name like “Forest” it’s only natural that animals would be the subject of Crista’s earliest paintings—and it’s a passion that continues to this day.

It’s A Big World Out There! was inspired from photographs Crista took and superimposed during a wildlife photography workshop in Montana last year.

Its A Big World Out There

The painting is also a first of sorts for Crista. “Before this painting, I relied on all the colors pre-mixed from paint tubes, owning every paint color ever made,” she said. “I’m so happy I put my tube of burnt sienna away and took a chance!”

The wonderful array of browns, grays and pinkish-orange within the burly, ropy tree trunk confirm Crista’s success at color mixing, and keep the painting—plentiful with rich, earthy tones—from becoming boring.

Moving from the ground to the sky, in Morning Quest we get an amazing birds eye view, as well as a perfect profile of majestic elegance and strength.

Morning Quest

Resting high atop the mountain peak, this bald eagle scans the valleys below for a luxurious meal of fish or mice. Its pristine white feathers are accentuated by the deep, blue-shadowed mountains and black pine trees below, while the rising sun sets its piercing gaze on fire.

And drawing us ever closer, in this final painting, Crista literally places the viewer directly eye-to-eye with a young deer.


Just a single word, “palpable,” seems like a very fitting description for this painting, specifically the wonderful texture of the deer’s fur. I also love the combination of close-up detail against a brilliantly warm, burnt orange background.

With the tree in front, and an orange glow of fall leaves behind it, this deer has all the cover it needs to feel secure. The result is an absolutely picturesque, and serenely gentle moment.

If you loved these realistic wildlife paintings, then by all means, please check out Crista’s full online portfolio, which features many more close-ups of wild cats, birds, dogs, deer, and much, much more!


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