This is the first of an on-going series in which I get to introduce you to some of my colleagues in the animal art world.
Hap Hagood and I, although we are both Signature Members of the Society of Animal Artists, “met” and have become friends via Facebook. I really admire his work and asked if he would tell me a little about his approach and share some images of his work:
“Because it has always been my desire to capture and express the essence of the animals I portray, I abandoned the strict, realistic style in which I once worked for a more contemporary one. By leaving out what I consider unnecessary detail, I feel I am better able to capture this inner spirit, in much the same manner as the ancient indigenous carver…whose work today would be considered contemporary rather than primitive. Carving in this fashion, I feel my art is not modern, but is simply a continuation of an ancient art form, giving me the feeling of kinship with the storytellers of old.”
“Within every block of wood and stone, there dwells a spirit, waiting to be released.”
I had gone out very early from the research camp at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve this past July and had settled down on a rock to see who would show up at the water hole.
I looked up and saw these two rams checking me out as they scanned their surroundings.
The sun was just hitting the cliff tops, so they really stood out against the morning sky.
For the painting, I wanted to give a sense of the landscape that they live in and how comfortable they are on tilted surfaces that would make most of us somewhat nervous.
Soon after I took this and some more photos, they came down onto the valley floor and joined up with some buddies for a drink and a graze.
I got to watch them for about half an hour.
And yes, after 2 1/2 years, I’ve updated the look of my blog with a new theme. I finally found one that I liked and that has new features and functions the previous one lacked. Let me know what you think!
Wait for Me! is a study of a baby elephant I saw in the Samburu in Kenya when on an art workshop/safari in October of 2004. The herd had crossed the river right in front of us and a couple of the “little” ones were hurrying to catch up with the adults, who were engaging in a morning dust bath. Click to bid here
I had never heard of William D. Berry until I read a post about him over at James Gurney’s blog, GurneyJourney. Holy Cow, was he an incredible field artist! There is a book that covers three years of his field “sketches”, which you can buy here for the princely sum of…$8.50. This really is a book that should be in every animal artist’s library. One of the nice things he did was note whether or not a drawing was done from memory. If not so noted, they were done from live animals. To say that he thoroughly knew his subjects would be a serious understatement. Here’s a quote from the book on how he did it. Simple, really….
“What this meant was that I devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to simply recording the facts of animal life – hundreds of hours and thousands of drawings in the zoos or in the forests, on mountains, in deserts, or plains. A caribou, for example, is never going to hold still for you, and a photograph of him, though useful for many reasons, is never going to show him doing exactly what you want him to be doing for a particular illustration (Berry also illustrated a number of field guides and other animal books) . You have to learn the beast inside-out and upside-down, so that you can put him together on the page from scratch and still have him look like he would if you did see him doing just that. So – instead of learning to paint, I was learning a hell of a lot of animals, birds, plants, whatever. I don’t feel I ever did master any mediums, except pencil – the medium I used to make field sketches.”
He used an Eagle pencil on Cameo paper (anyone know what that is or if it is still available?) which was supported by a clipboard, then sprayed the finished drawings with fixative. Here are a few pages that I particularly liked. Remember, these are all drawn from life (Sigh.):
I’m doing both weekends of North Coast Open Studios this year. People were very interested both in my upcoming trip to Mongolia and hearing about what the country is like. I had my computer going and was able to show people pictures of the takhi, domestic horses, gers, camels, Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar with the new government building and the statue of Chinggis Khan that graces the front of it.
Towards the end of the day, a young woman came in who was riding by on her bicycle, saw the signs and came in to check it out. By the time she left, she had decided that she wants to throw in with me on my art/conservation initiative, Art Partnerships for Mongolian Conservation. She has experience and skills that will be extremely helpful. Plus, having traveled widely, she has an excellent grasp of the issues involved in coming into someone else’s country and working with people in a constructive, culturally sensitive way.
I also sold two originals, some cards and signed up almost everyone for my email newsletter. If you’d like to get Fox Tales, just go to the contact page on my website, fill it in and let me know that you want the newsletter. You can one-click unsubscribe at any time if you change your mind.
All in all it was a fun, successful weekend and I’m looking forward to this next one. If you’re in Humboldt County or heading this way, you’re invited to stop by between 11 am and 5 pm this Saturday and Sunday. Here’s some photos I took Saturday morning.