I think the phrase “go big or go home” is highly appropriate here…
I have wanted to do a painting of a lion for the longest time and it has taken me quite a while to locate my ideal reference image. It goes without saying that lions are incredibly tough, rugged creatures, I’ve been looking for a photograph that sufficiently captures that. I am so very pleased to have finally found the right image.
The individual in the reference photograph really is just the guy I’ve been looking for, his posture, the penetrating focus of his gaze, his scarred face and scruffy mane -he has all the ingredients that go into creating an enjoyable and fulfilling painting process, hopefully producing an end product that is both captivating and effective. I’m thoroughly looking forward to creating the rough texture of that gorgeous mane… there are after all, no beauty salons in the wilds and I don’t want to paint a lion that looks as though he’s just been for a fancy blow wave!
I’ve actually worked on paintings of lions twice before, back in high school, little 24 cm x 24 cm pieces. The first piece was done as my “term project”, intended to be gifted to my Gran once the term was complete. The second piece was a replica of the first, done for a teacher who had requested to purchase the first one (which is still hanging proudly on a wall in my grandparents home today). So in actual fact, the first painting I ever sold was that of a lion! Fun fact!
It was a fantastic feeling applying the base layers to the canvas on Monday. Under layers usually take me an hour or two to complete but, with the sheer size of this work, the process took me the entire day!!! It may be hard to believe that an entire day’s work has gone into the product you see below , it looks very messy and weirdly coloured now but I can assure you that there is definite method behind the madness of it all and after the next layer has been applied the piece should start to look a little bit more realistic.
This painting is the largest I have ever taken on, when deciding on the canvas dimensions the old cliche’ “if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it PROPERLY” came to mind. A piece like this should not be small!! The canvas measures 1200 mm x 700 mm which is in fact just about the average height of a male lion, so whilst the lion itself is a little bit smaller than it would be in real life, you still get a very clear size perspective, believe me.
After applying the base coat I placed the canvas at the front door in the hopes that the through-draught would speed up the drying process… my husband had to think twice before entering our home upon his return from work, walking to my studio he greeted me by simply saying, “There’s a lion at the front door???” – Oh the joys of living with an artist!
I never know how long a piece is going to take me to complete, I don’t stop working until I am wholly satisfied with the end result, this one is certainly going to be a challenge and I know I’ll learn a lot along the way, once complete it should be a piece to be proud of (if everything goes according to plan).
I shall definitely keep you posted on the progress.