This month's trial is micro-formatted. I'm now on my third painting of two for an upcoming miniature show! The first two were simply not good enough. In fact I seriously pondered taking my ax to relentlessly hack them into sawdust. As they say, third time is a charm. I have put aside the other two for a later time. They have redeeming value, but to be honest, I let my head get in the way. Good design, but something else went awry. This is the good fight...to remain positive.
I can get jacked up when I come across a great looking animal just doing its thing. This happened last year while on a reference gathering trip in Montana. I returned from a hike and was driving down a gravel forest road towards town when I spotted a great looking grizzly across a ravine. He was digging through timber looking for insects. What an opportunity! I stayed well after the light dimmed just enjoying. I must have spent over an hour with that guy, snapping pictures and sketching. It was just me and the bear. Golden moment. The ravine was deep but the distance across to him was incredibly close. What a great end to a beautiful day!
I later worked this oil sketch using photos from my encounter with this fine grizzly. I have always counted myself fortunate to encounter animals in their natural habitat. Although there is nothing wrong with using animal handlers, I prefer to paint animals I have experienced in the wild.
And so back in the studio, this is the challenge for a wildlife artist! I think most of us would simply prefer to be out there in this awesome beauty that's a rare privilege to view and paint! Wildlife artists have some add-on requirements that make our job, I think, a little harder. We are required to remember all the fundamentals of great art, but in addition, we must have anatomy, gesture and scientific environmental facts correct. Unfortunately, our live models do not hold a pose for us. We must know what animals forage on and when, what they look like during different seasons, their habitats and seasonal foliage. The list is long and it's rather easy for something to go amiss.
I have been told art is a life endeavor. I believe so and that makes two small paintings not coming together as effortlessly as I envisioned a little more tolerable.
Painter of western wildlife and landscapes, constantly seeking to balance impressionism and realism sans trickery. Brian works as a full time artist in Central Texas. Exhibited at Rockwell Museum, Briscoe Museum, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and National Museum of Wildlife Art.
September 7, 2018