After so many paintings of the Hunt, with its speed and violence, I wanted to paint a total contrast of mood evoking a scene of peace, stillness and mother love. Lions are both passionate and loving and form strong bonds with each other - and, on occasions, with humans too!
AT PLAY; WILD DOGS - PAINTED WOLVES
These pretty and colourful wild dogs hunt in packs. They are highly social and work and play together.
I have been doing a series of Cheetah studies - drawings and watercolours. What cheetahs do best is to run - at speed!
I have done a group of half a dozen drawings of cheetahs breaking the speed limit. And here, on my website, are also my four latest watercolours of Cheetahs pursuing prey - both Thomson Gazelles and Impala
Both cheetahs and gazelles share an exquisite grace and beauty, and both predator and prey run, leap twist and turn, faster and more beautifully than any other animals on the planet, as they engage in a dance of death.
These four paintings are studies of cats and gazelles at their extremes: the one hungry, possibly to feed her cubs, the other desperate to save its life. It is a fascinating paradox of horror and beauty to behold.
These studies have given me the opportunity to delve further into how to visually express the emotion aroused when we become excited by speed. And speed combined with agility and grace is particularly wondrous and captivating. I, like all artists from the beginnings of photography, have been influenced by the revelations of the camera, but I seek to go further still than what the camera can tell us about speed. I try to capture the 'force lines' and 'energy arcs' that underlie a burst of thrilling speed. It is an endless, hugely satisfying challenge.
I made this painting in watercolour to start with. But I realised that, only in oils, could the full power and strength of the male Lion be expressed. The colours would need to be strong and vivid to match his majesty. So, I began again in oils with, hopefully, good results. I am quite pleased with this image of LION.
But, in some ways he speaks the same message as Apparition in the Himalayas, the Snow Leopard, who appears and disappears, like a ghost in the snow clad mountains, or ‘Out of the Darkness’, the Amur Leopard who emerges from the complete dark, but fearfully, might disappear back into it at any point. In this new painting, the Lion, also, is half in shadow. It could be the cool shadow of a tree, or, more sinisterly, it could bring to mind, metaphorically, the waiting fate for the Lion, if we don’t leap to its rescue.
Lioness closing in on her prey
As I painted this piglet, I was acutely in touch with the pain of sadness and sorrow for this young baby animal and his cruel end. In this painting, unusually, my feelings were strongly identified with the prey animal. This tiny vulnerable creature gasping his last breaths in this hopeless and fatal chase. The piglet is gawky and ugly compared to the glorious beauty of so many prey animals - the delicate Thomson and other Gazelles, for instance, whose grim but beautiful imminent deaths I have portrayed with an aesthetic pleasure, have, for some reason, not affected me as much as the little blue piglet.
Two Lions play fighting
No sadness in this joyous painting. I have tried to capture a truly lyrical fight - if two such words can possibly be juxtaposed. The Lions fight lazily, and even gracefully, in the hot sun, and its a happy evocation.
There are further Fighting Tigers watercolour paintings in progress.
These paintings are created in very thin gouache. Although I try to convey the transparency and clarity of glass and the myriad shapes of the vessels, in the end, the idea morphs into abstraction and sheer pattern. But the spirit of Glass and Vessels is always present.
These paintings are, in so many ways, the complete opposite of my watercolours of Big Cats, cats and horses, which are filled with energy and movement. Glass Vessels speak of stillness, silence and meditation.
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