Well, I am almost done with my Panther portrait.  It is to the point that I have sent off pictures of my three panther paintings to my mentor for him to critique.  Hopefully, next Wednesday we will be able to conference on the phone and go over some improvements.  He lives out of state.  Enough of that for now.

     This latest painting is my Florida Panther portrait.  This was the hardest as it is very detailed down to the hair on his body!  Talk about having to have a massage for knotted muscles!  Anyway,  in this first picture I have  blocked in the basic cat.  The background is basic as well.  I brushed on a few colors, mottled them and then used the brush with first brown and then bright green to represent palm fronds, or palmettos to be exact.  This is the painting I had to get permission to paint.  This is taken from a photo I found in the book "Wild Cats".  It is not exactly as the photo was, the cat in the photo was laying down and looking back. I decided to have him sitting.  The face however is the same.  Hence the permission was necessary.  Panthers have many light points on their faces so he looks rather clownish at this point.

Now you can see his position better.  I am starting to put in details.  After I worked on him for awhile I realized that the contrast between the lights and darks on his face were too great and the clown look continued,  so I gradually darkened the light areas with tiny brush strokes of darker tan.  It finally looked more realistic!  The hardest part was getting the shadow on the neck because I was putting individual hairs on his coat.  Shadows are very hard to do that way!! Shadows usually have 3 shade or value changes to look realistic, especially on animals.  I also noticed (again looking at my photos of the painting) that his ears were not quite right.  I scrutinized the photo of the cat and realized that his ears have more curves and are more forward on his head.  Oops.  Correction time.

I made this one larger so you can see the brush strokes showing his hair.  Talk about TEDIOUS!!
If you look very closely, you will see that I moved his ears forward by putting brush strokes "behind" his ears.  I did that by extending his ear edge down into the head, and pulling paint straight over to the ear making it look like his ears had moved forward on his face.  Cool, huh!  He is not finished.  Notice he has no whiskers.  I am leaving them off until the painting is critiqued by my friend, in case I have to make some changes.  I used a #4 flat sable brush to make the hair strokes and many hours of strokes!!  I also changed his neck as I wanted the focus on his face.  I decided to make the chest area as simple as possible!  Notice how the tiny white dots in the eyes add sparkle and life!  Can you guess what he is thinking?

"Florida Panther"
Severely endangered

     Well, he wasn't finished after all.  I had my mentor critique this painting and he had several comments and constructive suggestions.  First, he said that if I wanted to enter this painting into a wildlife show, he needed more wrinkles!!  Real animals have wrinkles. Second, his eyes were too wide open.  In real life their eyes are not so open. And third, he needed to have greenery around him to settle him down into the ground.  In other words, to make him realistic, he needed a realistic setting.  So be it.
My mentor was an artist for Ducks Unlimited, and now he judges wildlife shows, so he knows what he is talking about!  So I got to work!!!


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