Every creature artist has a favorite animal. We all grow up drawing dinosaurs, horses, big cats and whales. We constantly look to animals for inspiration and ideas so it is a privilege to have a chance to give back to them in some small way. Expedition Art has pulled together some of the top concept artists in film, games and TV to create a book of endangered species. I am so thrilled to be included among this excellent group of artists.
An interesting aspect to this project was that we were allowed to choose the animals we'd like to illustrate. I chose two animals; the Sierra Nevada Big Horn Sheep and the Asiatic Lion. I chose the Sierra Nevada Big Horn because they are the fearless mountain climbers. Sheep and goats that inhabit these unreachable worlds are incredible athletes; navigating sheer cliff faces and trotting on unstable rock. I have a special place in my heart for the wilderness of California and the Sierra Nevada Big Horn embodies the spirit of that completely. The piece I produced features a lot of environment and I wanted the mountain itself to have a big presence in the image. I wanted there to be a silence about it as the sheep moved through the space; calm and in control. The piece was produced using pencil and gouache.
I learned to draw by opening up a book on drawing big cats and tracing the images inside. The book was called Big Cats in Action and I wore the book out until it was just pages I kept in a folder. Big cats have always been dear to me so I had to choose one from the list. The Asiatic Lion is lesser known than the larger African Lion but it is just as beautiful. Asiatic lions once prowled from the Middle East to India. Now, only a fraction of these magnificent animals survive in the wild. The Gir Forest's dry teak woods were once a royal hunting ground. Today they are a reserve where these at-risk big cats are heavily protected. In my piece, I wanted to depict a glimpse the dirt roads that you so often see these lions on. So often as artists do we depict animals in pristine environments and completely wild places when the reality is the opposite. We forget that many of these animals are living right up against human activity and I think it is important to show it.
It was an absolute joy to produce these images and to be involved in a project like this. Keep an eye out for the book. You can follow updates from Expedition Art via their social media and their website, here.