Wildlife artist and naturalist Marie Rust is a life-long Michigan resident whose love of nature began as a child. Hours spent on the shores of Whitmore Lake taught Marie how to be still and observe the natural world.  Over the years she developed a deep connection to natural rhythms and to the lives that share our world.  A self-taught artist, she has taken her observational skill and applied it to her artwork, creating carefully wrought portraits of wildlife.

Now living on five acres outside of Bitely, Michigan, Marie is a partner in Bear Track Studios, LLC, a business she started with two other nature artists with whom she also lives.  She is a member of the National Parks Conservation Association, Michigan Audubon, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, the American Birding Association, and the American Bird Conservancy, and has done volunteer work with the Michigan DNR through their Stewardship Program, the Kirtland's Warbler Alliance, and with the North Country Trail Association.


Artist Statement


“Alternating layers of colored pencils, ink, graphite, and other drawing media, and working almost exclusively from my own photography and field experience, I create finely detailed and intimate portraits of wildlife.  Through composition and cropping my work is meant to reconnect viewer and subject, a primal connection I feel has been lost in our hectic and overly-mechanized world.  I believe it is important to present these amazing creatures as individuals in order to remind us that we are all sentient beings deserving of life.”

Awards and Honors

  • Second Place, 2D, 2024 Orange Beach Festival of Art, Orange Beach, Alabama
  • Honorable Mention, 2022 Petoskey Art in the Park, Petoskey, Michigan
  • Second place, Painting/Graphics, 2022 Crosby Festival of the Arts, Toledo, Ohio
  • Jim Kemp Craftsmanship Award, 2021 Fourth Street Festival of Arts and Crafts, Bloomington, Indiana
  • Judge's Choice Award, 2021 Leeper Park Art Fair, South Bend, Indiana
  • Best of Drawing, 2019 Sun Valley Art Festival, Ketchum, Idaho
  • Award of Distinction (First in Category), Drawing/Graphics, 2019 Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival, Fairhope, Alabama
  • Second Place, Drawing, 2018 Outdoor Art Fair, Fairhope, Alabama
  • Award of Distinction, 2018 Bonita Springs National
  • Third Place, 2D, 2018 Suncoast Arts Festival, Wesley Chapel, Florida
  • Award of Distinction (first in category), 2017 and 2016, Three Rivers Art Festival, Covington, Louisiana
  • First Place, 2017 Chastain Park Art Festival, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Honerable Mention, 2017 Grand Haven Art Festival, Michigan
  • First Place, Two-dimensional, 2017 ArtFest Fort Myers, Florida
  • Second Place, Drawing; Duane Walters Memorial Award "Best in Tawas Bay;" and People's Choice Award, 2016 Tawas Waterfront Fine Art Festival
  • First Place, Fine Art, 2016 Cadillac Festival of the Arts
  • Third Place for "Splish Splash," (Green-winged Teal), 2016 Ohio Decoy Carvers and Collectors Association Flat Art Competition
  • Second Place, 2015 Frankfort Art Fair, Frankfort, Michigan
  • Best in Show, 2015 Blueberry Arts Festival, Ely, Minnesota
  • Best in Show, 2015 Pentwater Jr. Women's Club Art Fair, Pentwater, Michigan
  • Award of Mastery, 2015 Queeny Park Spring Art Festival,
    St. Louis, Missouri
  • Third Place, 2D, 2014 4th Street Festival, Bloomington, Indiana
  • Honorable Mention, 2013 Outdoor Art Fair, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Cora Bliss Taylor Award, 2012 Waterfront Invitational, Saugatuck, Michigan
  • Honorable Mention, 2009 Art in the Park, Petoskey, Michigan
  • Best in Show, 2006 Art in the Park, Pinckney, Michigan


  • Cover art, November/December 2021 Bird Watcher's Digest.
  • "'The Porkies'--An Artist's Ramble Through Michigan's Old-growth Forest," Special December 2021 Travel Edition of the American Birding Association's magazine Birding.
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