Gemma Gylling

Cal­i­for­nia, USA, BFF’S – Save the Ele­phants, col­ored pen­cil, 16 x 24" (41 x 61 cm)

International Artist - - Art Challenge - Con­tact De­tails Email: [email protected]­ Web­site:­

My In­spi­ra­tion

This piece was done from one of sev­eral pho­tos I took of a cou­ple of ele­phants at a sanc­tu­ary called Per­form­ing An­i­mal Wel­fare So­ci­ety, where I vol­un­teer. Their names are Mag­gie and Mara, and it seems as if they are al­ways to­gether. Mag­gie and Mara were born in Africa and were or­phaned when their mothers were shot in a cull (a killing of adult ele­phants by the govern­ment, to con­trol ele­phant pop­u­la­tion). Both ele­phants were later placed in zoos. After Mag­gie’s ele­phant com­pan­ion passed away in Alaska, there was an out­cry to bring her to a more ap­pro­pri­ate cli­mate where there are more ele­phants for her to reach out to. Mara has a sim­i­lar story. This type of story is what re­ally in­spires me.

My De­sign Strat­egy

Mag­gie and Mara now en­joy the Cal­i­for­nia weather, ex­pan­sive habi­tat and other African ele­phants. I’ve been on a jour­ney to seek spe­cial trea­sures, spe­cial mo­ments and above all spe­cial emo­tions. A hint of light com­ing through the leaves, caus­ing the beau­ti­ful warmth and shad­ows on their faces, is one of the things I look for in my de­sign de­ci­sions. That very spe­cial mo­ment is what I try to cap­ture and then, to pass on to the viewer, the emo­tion I felt when I laid my eyes on that mo­ment in time. I de­cided to do a close-up of the two ele­phants, so the viewer could ex­plore the emo­tion and un­der­stand what these mag­nif­i­cent be­ings have been through and how much hap­pier they are to­day.

My Work­ing Process

After tak­ing nu­mer­ous pho­tos I go through them to find the im­age I like best. Some­times I will com­bine sev­eral pho­tos but, in this case, the one im­age was what I wanted. In my photo-edit­ing soft­ware, I had to re­move bars and ca­bles that were run­ning in front of their faces. After do­ing so, I then use that photo to cre­ate a con­tour draw­ing, us­ing a grid sys­tem. Once my con­tour draw­ing is done I then trans­fer that con­tour to the Suede Mat Board. I start in the up­per left-hand cor­ner by lay­er­ing sev­eral lay­ers of col­ored pen­cil and con­tinue to work from left to right and top down.

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