Society of Wildlife Artists blog: A big impression

This week, Darren contemplates how to capture on paper one of the biggest animals of all...

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Whales painted by Darren Rees for BBC Wildlife

It’s probably an apocryphal tale – one regarding a sculptor and a stone carving of an elephant. When asked how he achieves a likeness, his response is ‘chip away the bits that are not elephant.’

 

Now an elephant is a big thing that the artist can look at, wander around, view from all angles and get a good feel for. So what of something even bigger and more elusive?

 

Something that performs in the blink of an eye and you just hope you are looking in the right direction when it does its thing. Oh, and just to make working conditions more interesting, you are in a boat bobbing up and down on the open sea.

 

How does an artist make an honest interpretation when witnessing 40 tonnes of humpback whale propelling itself out of the water in a spectacular breach?

 

Last week, I had the great fortune to watch whales in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy, and, as an artist, I need to make some sort of mark. Splash out even. I’ll need a big canvas...

 

But before working large, I first turn to a sketchbook, to explore possibilities on a smaller scale in a series of working drawings and rough compositions. Now, which bits are not whale...?

 
 
 

Darren Rees has been painting for over 20 years and is one of the UK's most highly respected wildlife artists. His first solo book Bird Impressions was published in 1993 to much critical acclaim. He is a knowledgeable naturalist and also acts as a guide on wildlife tours around the world.

 
To visit Darren's website click here.

 

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