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.


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.


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.

The interactive image below shows an extreme closeup of a scratchboard piece. A lot of detail is possible with this medium, making it a wonderful choice for realistic representational artwork.