Day 28 of my one a day resolution: “What big eyes you have, Grandma!” Those famous words uttered by Little Red Riding Hood would make you think that a wolf’s eyes are somehow absurdly large. I think the truth is that they are unusually enticing. Or is the word haunting? Nothing communicates the essence of the wolf as concisely as the eyes. They can be gentle and docile, sharp and penetrating, curious and playful, or intense and calculating. The eyes are where you can see the wolf’s intelligence and get a small glimpse into his soul. When I paint or draw a wolf, I try to capture the flame that flickers within the eyes. Sometimes it takes only a splash of color and sometimes, acute attention to detail. But always, it’s all in the eyes.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t get away from the fact that I just LOVE painting wolves. They are perfect subjects: mysterious, expressive, beautiful, fierce. They embody all of the characteristics I love in art.
I made another attempt at painting a figure this weekend. I have had this “picture” of a woman dancing in my head forever and I just can’t get it out onto the canvas. This is my most recent attempt. Nope! Not there!
So, back to my comfort zone. I dug out an old photograph that I shot years ago at Lakota Wolf Preserve of an arctic wolf. This time I changed things by trying a new surface, something called Gessobord, It’s interesting! Very smooth, not texture, just a hint of tooth. I used brushes and a palette knife. While it was a lot of fun to paint, I’m not completely sure I love the result. It is definitely better up close and in person than in a photo. It is hard to capture the texture and the subtlety of color. I may go back and rework it a little bit when I get past my “figure drawing frustration”. We’ll see…
A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited the Lakota Wolf Preserve. One of my favorite photos from the day is that is of a young wolf licking an alpha’s muzzle. While the technical quality of the photograph is awful, the feeling that the photo captures always makes me smile. This photo was the inspiration for my most recent painting, Proper Respect.
Several years ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to win a photographic tour of the Lakota Wolf Preserve. While I don’t pretend to be much of a photographer, I did come away with some amazing pictures! Whenever I need reference material for my paintings, I go back to the stack of images from that day. I will likely never run out of inspiration from that day!
I started this painting months before I finished it. It sat in the corner of my room next to my bureau waiting to be finished. I really didn’t even like it. The nose was wrong and the tail wasn’t placed properly. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to finish it. Then one day, I saw what it should look like. I got out my paints and literally picked the wolves out of the mess of paint on the canvas. After months of staring at it, the painting was finished in two hours. I still haven’t figured out my process. It just seems to happen when it happens. Wish I could learn to force it or focus it or what ever you want to call it…