WildVisions | The Award-Winning Wildlife Fine Art of Cristina Penescu
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About the Artist

Cristina Penescu was born in Bucharest, Romania, 1988. Her family relocated to California when Cristina was a year old. Since early childhood, her passion for art and nature was very apparent. As a child she loved to collect books about animals and spend her time outside in nature. Cristina has experimented with a variety of mediums and styles and recently has made the transition to realistic wildlife art, which she feels has always been her true calling in life. She enjoys painting a wide variety of wildlife subjects, however wild canids, especially wolves, hold a special place in her heart and have been a recurring theme in her art since childhood. Cristina is has had no formal training and is a self-educated artist. She has experience working in a variety of mediums, however she prefers acrylic and scratchboard. Her artwork is very detail oriented and she aims to bring the viewer an up close, intimate look at nature. She hopes to inspire the world through her depictions of the natural beauty around us. Cristina is currently at the beginning of her career as a wildlife fine artist but has already begun to carve a niche for herself in the field. She recently was accepted as a Signature Member of the world-renowned Society of Animal Artists. Cristina is also a member of Artists for Conservation and the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society.

Artist Statement

My love for art and nature began during early childhood. Throughout my youth I possessed a strong fascination with the scientific and natural world coupled with a passion for the arts. In August of 2009, at the age of 20, I began to focus on promoting my wildlife art and developing a presence in the art community. I work in a highly realistic style because I believe that nature’s beauty lies in it’s tiny details that are often overlooked, such as the moist, leathery texture of a nose or the bent, loose hairs in an animal’s seemingly immaculate pelt.

I work primarily in acrylics and scratchboard, alternating between the two as needed to realize my visions. Scratchboard is a little known medium made up of a 1/8″ masonite panel that is covered with smooth white clay and coated with a fine layer of india ink. I use a sharp knife to scratch every single detail and hair by hand. A single scratchboard piece can be made up of tens of thousands of tiny scratches layered atop one another. Additionally, I airbrush thin coats of india ink back onto my boards before beginning the scratching phase all over again for a second time. This allows me to achieve additional tones that are not otherwise possible.

In addition to traditional media, I also paint and sketch digitally. Often, the concept art and painting ‘studies’ that I create prior to starting on a scratchboard or acrylic painting are illustrated digitally. This allows me the flexibility I need to conceptualize a piece without being hindered by the limitations that are present with traditional media. My digital works are created using the same techniques and general work flow as my traditional pieces and each illustration is hand painted using a Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid tablet.

What is Scratchboard?

Scratchboard is a unique artform where the image is engraved directly into the board. Scratchboard consists of a 1/8″ masonite panel that is coated with a layer of white clay which is then coated with a fine layer of india ink. A sharp tool, such as an x-acto knife or scalpel is used to carefully remove the ink layer to reveal the clay beneath. Other abrasive materials, such as sand paper and fiberglass brushes can also be used to achieve a wide range of effects. Each scratchboard piece consists of tens of thousands of small cuts or scratches which are layered upon one another to create a sense of depth and tone. Once the entire piece has been scratched out, it can be toned by applying ink either with a paintbrush or an airbrush. Black ink can be added and then the piece can be re-scratched in key areas to achieve an expanded tonal range, or the piece may be colored using watercolor. Finished works are sealed with a satin-finish fixative to prevent further scratching of the board. Scratchboard is archival, just like other art mediums, and can be framed with or without glass.

Exhibition History

The 52nd Annual Art and the Animal Exhibition and National Tour
When: September 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012
Where: Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, Oradell, NJ

1st Annual International Society of Scratchboard Artists Exhibition
When: July 2012
Where: ARThouse Gallery, Glen Ellen, California

The American Artists Professional League 83rd Grand National Exhibition
When: November 1st – November 11th, 2011
Where: Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

The 51st Annual Art and the Animal Exhibition and National Tour
When: September 17, 2011 – December 30, 2011
Where: The Dennos Museum Center, Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI

2010 Greenwich Workshop Smallworks North America
When: December 4, 2010
Where: Greenwich Workshop Gallery, Seymour, CT

2010 OVAL Kentucky National Wildlife Art Exhibit
When: September 18, 2010 – November 5, 2010
Where: Henderson Fine Arts Center Galleries, Henderson, KY

When: June 11, 2010 – July 18, 2010
Where: The Main Street Gallery, Groton, New York

DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010
When: May 24, 2010 – May 29, 2010
Where: Mall Galleries, The Mall (near Trafalgar Square), London, SW1

Topanga Canyon Gallery Juried Open
When: January 13, 2010 – February 7, 2010
Where: Topanga Canyon Gallery, Topanga Canyon, California

“A Scratch in Time”
When: January 19, 2010 – February 19, 2010
Where: Cloyd Snook Gallery, Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition
When: February 12, 2010 – February 14, 2010
Where: Charleston, South Carolina


Awards & Achievements

2012 – Southwest Art – “21 Under 31” 
Featured in Southwest Art Magazine’s “21 Under 31”

2011 – Helen G. Oehler Memorial Award – AAPL 83rd Grand National Exhibition 
Awarded for “Hunger Crisis”

2011 – Award of Excellence – The 51st Annual Art and the Animal Exhibition 
Awarded for “Within Reach”

2010 – Best in Show – “A Scratch in Time” – Cloyd Snook Gallery, Alamosa, CO
Awarded for “Pensive”

2010 – First Place – Topanga Canyon Gallery Juried OPEN
Awarded for “Gerenuk Study”

2010 – “Desperation” Shortlisted for DSWF ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010’
“Desperation” was shortlisted and exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London.

2010 – BBC Magazine Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 Competition
“Majestic” has been named Runner-up in the International Artists category of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 competition. “Apparition” was Commended in the International Artists category as well.

2010 – Juror’s Choice Award #1 – K-9 Special Exhibition, The Main Street Gallery, Groton, NY
Awarded for “Within Reach”

2009 – Honorable Mention – Topanga Canyon Gallery Juried OPEN
Awarded for “Great Eland Study”.

Artwork Gallery



Hunger Crisis


Into The Light






Within Reach




Cautious Observation




At Ease


Forever Faithful


Gerenuk Study






Inquisitive Nature


Interrupted Slumber


Bearly Interested









Predatory Intent


On The Prowl

















Still Life – Dog Skull




Rex – Sketches

Contact The Artist