This drawing of an endangered Sumatran tiger is a study for a large painting I am planning. I want the finished artwork to make you feel as though the tiger is just about to walk out of the painting so felt that big was going to be better for maximum impact.
Last year I bought a leash for Rueben as a way to enrich his old life by letting him go outside safely. He loves it and I enjoy seeing him outside sniffing plants and getting fresh air and sunshine. Even though some cats probably won't like the constraints of a leash it's definitely worth considering if you have an indoor cat. Boredom inside can lead to problem behaviour so the stimulation of a new environment can only be a positive one.
When I decided to paint the Scottish Wildcat, in fact my first wildlife subject, I quickly realised there was a lot of confusion about identifying them. Hybridisation has created a very difficult situation for those trying to save them from extinction because even some of the ones in captivity thought of as pure animals may in fact not be. This leaves a question mark over using them as a guideline in identifying wild populations so when I found this really informative video comparing the differences in deceased specimens it seemed a lot clearer. As an artist painting wildlife subjects I feel it is it is important to know the animals I am painting and to check on details that if incorrect can undermine the artwork. I always do a lot of information gathering and research before I start a work so I feel as if I 'know' the animal I am about to paint. I think it not only brings more to the finished artwork but gives it authenticity as well.
With a old cat in fact just turned 18, articles about caring for an aged pet are of great interest to me. This idea of a feline quality of life scale really helps you assess your pets health and focus on the right decision making which can be very hard when you are emotional and attached.
Scaled from 0 -10 it covers a range of health related criteria such as pain, mobility, feeding and grooming etc., helping you to focus more clearly on what is important for your cat and his needs.
As Rueben gets needier by the day I find it difficult to deal with and worry about him is never far from my mind. After doing this scale I felt a lot better realising that his quality of life is still good even though he does want loads of attention. Generally he's in pretty good shape for an oldie but I'll be doing this test weekly to keep myself on top of the situation.
These tiny and beautiful Black Footed Cats are hardly known. Sometimes referred to as the Anthill Tiger for their habit of nesting in disused termite mounds in Africa they also face many pressures to survive. These little ones born at the zoo in Philadelphia are part of a conservation program but their first outing to the enclosure is typical of small kittens having a great time exploring and playing.
It seems I've been watching the amazing documentaries of David Attenborough forever. He is truly one of the most important spokesmen for the natural world educating us showing us the beauty and wonder of this planet we call our home. If only more of us would respect it care for it and the wildlife it supports.
'An Eye on the Prize' 2014
acrylic on board 61cm x 34cm
I've wanted to paint these amazing wild dogs for some time so here they are.
The African wild dog, or Painted Wolf is a highly intelligent and social animal living in packs of up to 40 animals. A formidable and highly successful hunter like most predators they play an important role in eliminating sick and weak animals, thereby helping maintain a natural balance and ultimately improving prey species. No two dogs have the same coat pattern and it is thought that the bushy tails with white tips may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting. The hunting members of the pack return to the den where they regurgitate meat for the nursing female and pups.
Sadly these beautiful animals are another vanishing species in Africa due to sustained persecution snaring and habitat loss although efforts are being made to save them from extinction.
This truly scary story from Japan about the fallout of the nuclear disaster following the tsunami event in 2011 is enough to make you cry. Sometimes it seems to me the earth is just being engulfed by thoughtless and irresponsible humanity. The environment belongs to the whole world, all of us. It can't just be a situation of we can do whatever we like in our back yard. As this film shows the consequences of a disaster can and probably will impact of areas a long way from Japan and very possibly for a long time to come. God I weep at the thought that if even a small part of this story is true, heaven help us all.
Good news stories are few and far between when it comes to wildlife so it was uplifting to hear that a serious pledge has been given from philanthropists around the world to help big cats. At last. Can there be some hope that these beautiful animals will be saved from almost certain extinction. All of them are at risk even the ones you wouldn't expect like lions. Numbers have plummeted due to habitat loss poaching them for their skins and body parts and conflicts with native farmers who see them as a threat to their livestock. It is hard to underestimate the terrible consequences to the the natural world the loss of these top predators would mean. They are vital to healthy environments, playing an important part in maintaining numbers of prey animals. Without them the world would be a poorer place so I hope this news means the beginning of real change for some of the most magnificent animals on the planet.