At this point in his training, Frédéric Back often chose to illustrate the relationship of men and women to the earth and to animals. Horses were still widely used for transportation in those days, as well as for working in the fields, and he began to draw them engaged in all those activities. When the circus came to Rennes, he set up his easel among the lion cages and elephants in chains. He also went to the slaughterhouses and drew, with a mix of fascination and repulsion, the butchering techniques and the ebbing of life. From notation to rough sketch to painting, his compassion grew with his artistic skill. The aesthetic and emotion were the same.

Once he had finished his studies, and with his teacher's encouragement, he continued to travel – painting as he went – in Brittany, Alsace and later, in Canada. The landscapes he moved through and illustrated were an unending source of inspiration: the shape of the church steeples, the colour of the forest, the changing seasons and the beauty of the gesture. Frédéric Back drew the features of a changing world he was learning to love. He feels respect for the earth and for life, and senses that in order to protect them, he will need to draw them.