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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Exploring the Wild Heart

"Making a difference to the welfare of Animals doesn't require a massive effort; it requires

small actions that can make a significant impact." Paul Oxton, Founder and CEO of Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation. Artist Fred Krakowiaki started his small actions for significant impact in a midsize northwest Ohio town. By age six, his grandfather convinced him not to be concerned with the coloring book boundary lines, "Just be creative with the colors!" Taking this advice to heart, Fred blew past the boundary lines in his adult life when he moved to Tempe, Arizona, to attend Arizona State University. The experience encouraged him to push the limits further when he took up watercolor painting studying for three years with a master watercolor artist from England and a master artist from Shanghai; an East meets West experience which would have far-reaching implications.

Fred was destined to make another boundary-expanding move; upon completing a career managing over 110 million dollars in assets as a successful Certified Financial Planner for thirty years, he decided to become a wildlife artist. Fred explains, "As a wildlife artist and walking safari guide, I now can canoe down the Zambezi River for forty miles and engage all my senses; the smells, the taste of the air, the sights and sounds in power and passion of unscripted adventures to paint wildlife."

Fred's process is to sketch what is happening before him, allowing the wildlife to come to him. He then returns to his studio to transpose that experience on canvas. The in-the-environment style brings Fred into the animal's natural habitat, where he closely studies the subject's motion, survival behavior, and life in an untamed world. The images he brings to life are described as "My artwork is all about spontaneity and movement; what is missing is as important as what remains." Fred explains, "This technique allows viewers to participate in the artwork by filling in the missing details. The viewer's imagination and experience senses the power of action at the exact moment of passion."

Fred is passionate about sharing his experiences in the wild with young people. "I lecture and teach young adults art worldwide, including the continent of Africa, across the United States and Canada, etc. Sharing my experience and knowledge with these students is an important way for them to learn to use their creativity and imagination." Fred exhibits in numerous zoos and museums around the globe as well. He is a recognized leading wildlife artist, author, safari expert, and a popular speaker on wildlife. Fred has worked in various mediums throughout his career; each one embodies numerous qualities he strives to introduce to his viewers. "I pride myself on bringing the viewer into the work by encouraging them to fill in missing details with their imagination enabling the viewer to experience the power of the passion of the exact moment caught in bronze, glass, Sumi, or oils." As a result, Fred's artwork is now commissioned internationally by private collectors.

"My artwork is all about spontaneity and movement; what is missing is as important as what remains."

In addition to reproducing wildlife as individual sculptures, paintings, glass, or Sumi, Fred is the author of numerous books of his work. The volumes are described as a "feast for the eyes" by the Virginia Quarterly Review, Africa: An Artist Safari."

He considers his books an invitation to participate in his artwork and share his passion for the animal kingdom. His work received the prestigious Ben Franklin Award for large format cover design and Best First Book for Nonfiction in 2008. As a motivational speaker, artist Fred Krakowiak says, "I weave stories of my travels throughout Africa over the past decade with unscripted adventures such as facing bull elephants and lions lurking just a few feet away." Undoubtedly, his audiences leave inspired to step out of their comfort zone and experience life head-on, beyond personal boundaries. Fred also generously shares his creative art techniques through demonstrations using dye on silk to paint wildlife at zoos and museums nationwide. Artist, author, and educator Fred Krakowiak is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and creates from his home studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. His work reminds us, "Wherever there are wild animals in the world, there is alway an opportunity for caring, compassion and kindness.


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