ST. GEORGE — From intricate buffalo paintings to birds amid cattails, this artist is bringing wildlife into homes across the country.
“It’s what I love,” artist Daren Wilding said. “For me, my inspiration comes from the creations we have around us — the mountains and the red rock and the animals.”
Simply “getting into art” wasn’t a thing for Wilding. Instead, he never grew out of it. He’s had a pencil and paper in hand for as long as he can remember.
Growing up in Idaho with an outdoorsman father, Wilding spent time camping and taking part in other family outdoor activities. That led to his primary artistic focus — landscape and wildlife.
“The outdoors – hunting, fishing, hiking — were always a big part of my youth,” Wilding said. “I hope I can communicate some of that back to the viewers. When I see an animal out there, when I see a sunset over a high mountain lake, it’s incredible to me. I just love the outdoors and want to share that with others.”
In high school, he sold his first work of art. Wilding said he drew a calendar, then went door-to-door selling them for $2 apiece. After high school, he went on to graduate from Ricks College with an associate’s degree in illustration. He continued his education at Idaho State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree.
Most of his wildlife artwork starts with photos he’s taken while exploring the great outdoors. He uses these reference photos to create final projects that have included bobcats, bears, foxes, birds, moose, elk and more.
When he and his wife moved from Idaho to Utah, he began to teach art in the Weber School District. In 2004, he was named Utah Art Educator of the Year and Outstanding Art Educator for the state of Utah.
He was inspired to sell his artwork on a professional level by another artist at the school who was selling his work. The St. George Arts Festival was one of the first places he ever showcased his art. That was 24 years ago and he hasn’t slowed down since.
From outdoor-inspired imagery to figure drawings, portrait drawings, watercolor, charcoal, pastels and more, he’s done it all. As far as showcasing his work at art shows and galleries, he mainly works in oil paints.
Wilding’s work is featured in many collections throughout the United States, including the Logan Fine Art Gallery, the Montana Trails Gallery in Bozeman, Montana and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He has participated in many art shows throughout the West, including the Park City Arts Festival, the Beaver Creek Art Festival and the Jackson Hole Art Festival at Teton Village in Wyoming.
He’s been included in the prestigious Western Master’s art show in Great Falls, Montana, and invited to participate in Arts for the National Parks, Paint America, Paint the Parks, Springville Spring Salon, the Dixie Invitational and the Thanksgiving Point Invitational Plein Air Art Show.
Wilding is a resident of Willard, Utah, where he lives in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains with his wife Mellonee. His ties to Southern Utah are strong through both his art and his family. He was the featured artist at the St. George Arts Festival in 2007. Currently, his work can be seen inside the Sunset Gallery and the St. George Art Museum.
Even more, he participates in the Sears Dixie Invitational Art Show & Sale every year and showcases his art at many art festivals such as the Kayenta Art Festival and the Zions Bank Art Show. His aunt and uncle, daughter and brother all live in Washington County, and his son graduated from Desert Hills High School.
“I have a lot of connections to Southern Utah,” Wilding said. “I remember the first time we drove down there. We just fell in love with the country. The red rocks, the cliffs, the petroglyphs and the deserts. It’s just so beautiful.”
This year, he’s been invited to participate in two national shows: the South East Wildlife Expo in Charleston, South Carolina and the Charles Russell art event in Great Falls, Montana.
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