Natalie Wright’s Animal Artistry

Natalie Wright’s Animal Artistry
Animal portraits by Natalie Wright at Johnson Public House

Wolves, foxes, rabbits, bears, crows and owls. These might not seem like the best café companions, until you settle in for a cup of coffee at . There, the wild animals seem right at home.

These large-scale portraits (and a few smaller prints) are the work of local artist Natalie Wright, who never planned to start an animal series. But when a friend suggested she paint a blue heron and a grizzly bear, she did—and something clicked. She began painting wild animals, cats and lots of dogs, usually on a giant scale.

“I wanted the work to really stand out at the café, so from that point it became all about the large-scale portraits,” Wright says.

With beautifully textured furs and feathers, Wright’s animals also feature soulful or piercing eyes and distinct personalities.

The exhibition at Johnson Public House is ongoing, and Wright is constantly refreshing it with new works.

But that’s not the only place to see her animal art.

Her latest exhibition, Shelter Dogs, is a series of portraits of pups she met at the Dane County Humane Society, running through July 2 at the Madison Public Library’s Alicia Ashman branch.

“I do have a very specific mood I’m inspired by when making these paintings. My focus is on the eyes,” she says. “I’m really interested in portraying emotion and I’m a sucker for a sad pup.”

Next month, she’s at the Firefly Coffeehouse in Oregon, where The Regulars, running July 3–31, includes portraits of loyal customers’ dogs.

There’s more to find online, at and Wright’s Etsy shop. (And read a short profile on Wright and her art on page 13 of the June issue of Madison Magazine.)