Sunday, July 16, 2006

Painting at Nature in Art.

Those that came to see me as Artist in residence at the Nature in Art Museum a couple of years ago might remember me sketching this leopard in pastel. It's very different for an Artist to work infront of an audience compared to working in the solitude of your own studio, and for this reason I had decided to just start sketching freehand without any idea of what the result would be.

I usually have access to lots of photographs that I've taken when composing a picture but for this one, all I initially wanted to do was a leopard in a characteristic pose with it's paw hanging down so I started freehand without any reference whatsoever. I figured that if things didn't work out by the end of my week then at least I'd have entertained people as I struggled with the pose. To my suprise as much as anyone elses though, the leopard began to look pretty realistic and for a moment it was quite a scary feeling as I hadn't considered any background elements at all.

You might notice from the pictures, that I considered adding the leopards back foot but decided against it as I felt it upset the composition and drew unecessary questions about the leopards anatomy behind the rock and I felt I was pushing the limits of belief as it was. I'd initially thought of a branch for the leopard to be on, but each one I tried seemed to alter the composition of the painting in a negative way, and so I settled on a rock to cover a multitude of sins and keep the simplicity of the picture which I instinctively felt was it's strengh. I could so easily have become over ambitious and ruined things at this stage. I also considered a second rock to the bottom right, but again, decided this was unecessary and brought the sky down to the bottom.

It was these final decisions that made all the difference between this picture working or failing.
It could so easily have ended up in the dustbin but by keeping the picture simple and true to the initial sketch it worked and has now become my third best selling image!

~In Art, Sometimes less is more.~

It's difficult to teach such intuitive things. Teaching technique is basic and easy, but understanding the philosophy of why one painting works and another fails is something all serious Artists should meditate upon.

As a matter of Interest I will be painting once again at Nature In Art Next year.


At 5:17 am , Blogger Kekaak Pet Portraits said...

I've always wondered weather you did most of your paintings from your photography or not.

This is amazing and one of my favourites of your work! It's very inspiring that you can create such an artwork using only your knowledge of composition, anatomy and lighting!

(sorry if this comment posted twice, I don't think I logged in last time)

At 11:58 am , Anonymous FLUC said...


At 12:01 am , Blogger Robert & Ari said...

It's so neat when you've done a subject so many times that you can do it accurately from imagination. I'm getting there with a few things and it's a great feeling.

I love this leopard.


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