Cristina Penescu's animal artwork looks so realistic, it's really easy to mistake them for photographs. What's even more unbelievable is that the Romanian is self-educated and has no formal training.
“My love for art and nature began during early childhood,” says Penescu. “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 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.”