International Artist Magazine
Art Challenge #115
Bear Pose, oil, 24x36" (61x91 cm)
I’ve always been fascinated by animals, and wildlife in particular. I watch David Attenborough’s many nature series with relish. And animals have always had a special place in my personal life. I respect their intelligence, their special sensitivities, and their unique consciousness. In my paintings, I try to portray a sense of how an animal might be perceiving, thinking and feeling, to reflect or highlight what I see as that animal’s personality. Having emigrated to Canada from the UK a few years ago, I am struck by the incredible variety of wildlife that abounds here, and in particular by the presence of large and powerful predators.
My Design Strategy
I felt incredible respect for the assured strength and power of this amazing creature—his sheer size, let alone that stare of potential menace. I liked the simple solidity of the triangular shape sitting within a rectangular canvas. I wanted him to dominate the canvas, but with enough his surroundings to show where he belongs, firmly on the earth. The sky, painted with broad strokes, gives a sense of the immense wilderness that is his home, as well as how open he is to all the elements. With a piercing stare, his eyes fix firmly on the viewer, from whom he demands respect, awe, and maybe even fear.
My Working Process
I don’t go through any set process. I like to take risks and to leave some things to chance. This is my creative process— between the deliberate intent and the unconscious response. I began with big, broad sky strokes, drew in the form and features, then blocked in the main areas with an underpainting, approximating the colours and values of the “hidden” fur. The claws are also deliberately prominent. The eyes are the first detail to be painted in, as this establishes the character of the animal and helps me to connect with and portray him. I like to balance abstract and detail, which is why this painting becomes more abstract as it moves away from the focus of the face and claws.