Thursday, April 14, 2011

A short leopard story

 Travel can be unsettling. A few days in Paris, a weekend in Derbyshire. All well and good but each time I seem to get into the swing of walking and working I flit off again and then have to settle. Add to this the fact that I am almost 50 and increasingly menopausal and some days painting doesn't go as it should! 
Take one leopard. So far through this painting and frustration with how it went was crippling my fingers and judgement to screaming point! Not quite bad enough to 'know' for sure it wasn't right and not good enough to go on with.
Sometimes when this happens I take a photo and look at the piece of a screen, or sneak off and then sneak up to it when it isn't looking. Is it me, or is it really not working? When does self doubt kick in and when am I just being to self critical, given that I would if time allowed rip everything up and paint it 20 times?
This time I put my rubbish painting on facebook and got back the very best and most precise crit that I have ever had for a piece of work, that was just so incisively 'right on the button' that I want to quote it here. Made me laugh so much! Many thanks Debra Morse, you star. Here is what she said:

'You know I think this piece is perfect as it is. It's obvious the leopard and swallow have had a bitchy fight. 'Eff you' is all over each of their faces. The piece is unfinished. The irritation is palpable. Even the tree is heaving a sigh.... the other swallow fled so abruptly as to leave a hole in the sky. You have captured the frustrated menopausal fatigue brilliantly. I say label it accordingly, and start a collection of raw bits of emotion captured in colors.'

So, having skirted around the piece all afternoon and tried and tried to redraw I returned to the original text and the original leopard, not an African leopard but an Amur leopard, rarest of all. Only 40 now are known to man in the wild. It could be that there are a few more, but only a handful. Wild leopard of heat and snow the Amur's coat changes in length from 2-7cms from summer to winter. By the time this book is published there may be none left in the wild forests where Russia borders China. Logging, farming, hunting, all have taken their toll.
Painting all day, having begun in the evening yesterday and she is a much more noble creature. 


  1. Nothing like a good honest crit! The new painting is just beautiful, she has a self possessed dignity, a real spirit of leopard...

  2. On that top picture, I would have moved the swallow up until the line of his back was even with the leopard's butt where his/her tail hooks on, and moved it over a bunch (probably right in the middle of where the text would go!) so that it carried on with the diagonal line set up by the lefthand tree branch and the leopards body. But I'm glad you scrapped it because I like the new one better.

  3. This beautiful Amur she-leopard. Oh! You have her perfectly depicted! I can feel her fur she is so sensually rendered. I can smell the snow. This picture soothes my irritable menopausal soul.

  4. Wow.... the new piece is quite extraordinary... and I love the unfinished first image of it, too - a leopard emerging from sunlit glow...

  5. the second one is by far the better I think, it showcases the Amur much better giving her grace and beauty - she looks like you enjoyed the making much more, the tension is in the Amur's movement now not in the picture. It's beautiful.

  6. this beautiful,, looks like he's walking right off the canvas,, the first one looked a bit muddy,, to me that is,, I don't think you could paint crappy if you tried,,,