Washington, USA, Fortress, oil, 33 x 24" (84 x 61 cm)
The kopjes of the Serengeti create water and shelter oases on the African plains. They are also a perfect spot for lions to rest in the shade and still keep watch on potential prey.
My Design Strategy
To create a more dramatic setting and portray the height of the rock outcroppings on the African plains, I thought a vertical format would work best. The lowest part of the rocks shows the rounded nature of the kopjes and leads the viewer’s eyes up to the lions. It also gives one a sense of access—where you or the lions could climb up. In the upper left, the strangler fig tree, common to these remnant rocks, provides shade and makes the dappled last light of the day on the male lion’s mane appear brighter.
My Working Process
After drawing on the gessoed board, most of my paintings begin top to bottom, background to foreground, saving my favorite parts, the animals, for last. I work wet-on-wet, which was particularly effective for the rock details and the fig tree. Once the lions were finished, I completed the painting by going back in to the fig tree to add some of the warm color of the lions to the dappled sunlight on the tree and by softening the lowest vegetation so the focus would remain on the upper parts of the painting.
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