I’ve really enjoyed painting magazine covers of wildlife. It seemed like a natural progression from fashion magazine covers and a good chance to explore another kind of beauty. The subject matter has allowed me to work with a wider variety of textures and colours and to develop a greater understanding of the grid and how it operates.
The upright pose in this image from the magazine, Alaska, was immediately appealing to me. The one time I've actually seen bears in the wild was in Alaska. I was in a boat just offshore while honey bears were plucking salmon from the shallows. So this image of the wet bear in summer grass with the ocean in the background really reminded me of that amazing moment. The grid I use in my paintings is more apparent in this piece as I abstracted the textures of bear, grass, and ocean. Some paintings just go a certain way and it makes sense to try different techniques. This is one reason why even when painting from a predetermined image, the process is still engaging and surprising.
I was drawn to the arctic colours in this image - the cool blues, greens, and shades of white. My paintings are an homage to the photographers who take these amazing photos but also a reflection on how many of us will experience nature - secondhand via a magazine. The fact that magazines themselves are quite ephemeral adds an extra layer to how I think about the subject matter as I paint.
This is one of the largest pieces I've painted in recent years at 72" x 48" The two bears standing up makes them seem almost human. The males are fighting for dominance which makes for an alpha male painting, but the soft tans and creams of the fur, the raking purple light on the snow, and the arctic blue of the sky combine for a subtle mix of colour. The painting also really benefited from the chromatic zip of the National Geographic yellow border. Blue and yellow was a favourite colour combination of Vermeer, I couldn't help remembering while painting this one.