Spectacled Bear (Jukumari) (2015) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 54in x 52in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
I’m very excited to share my first bear portrait. I’ve wanted to paint a species of bear (turns out there are 8) for a few years now. After a little research, I discovered—and fell in love with—the South American Spectacled Bear.
On a sheer aesthetic level, the golden markings around its eyes are just beautiful and make for nice contrast against it’s dark fur.
But what’s interesting about this particular animal goes beyond it’s beauty. Even though the spectacled bear is technically the largest land-dwelling carnivore in all of South America, only about five percent of its diet is actually meat. So you could say it’s more vegetarian than carnivore. Its also the last remaining species of short-faced bears in the world, with a conservation status classified as “Vulnerable.” Which happens to make Spectacled Bear my first “threatened” animal subject.
Spectacle Bear in the studio
The original reference photo I worked from was taken by the talented Tambako the Jaguar, who was also the inspiration behind Otter, my first painting of 2015.
I have a hunch more bears are to come so stay tuned for an additional species or two.
Until the next painting, thanks as always for reading,
(*This entire paragraph is brought to you by Wikipedia.)
If you’d like to be the first to see new work as it’s completed, subscribe to my newsletter and posts like these will be sent straight to your inbox.
Otter (2015)| ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 42in x 52in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
Historically, hot pink has rarely found its way onto my painting palette (except for Piglet). So when the urge hit—seemingly from out of no where—to use that color in Otter, I was surprised. And wary.
Combining a potentially cute color with a cute subject could result in a…well…a “cute” painting. While I’m a big fan of cute in general, it’s is the exact adjective I’d like to avoid when it comes to my work. There in lies the challenge as someone who paints animals for a living.
But back in December, I declared 2015 The Year I Experiment More (gulp). So I grabbed the appropriate paint tubes and mixed up a batch…
In retrospect, I think the painting did call for a little levity, color-wise. Otters are curious, smart and super playful. Which is why they’re one of my all time favorite critters.
The voice that said “use pink!” is the voice (and the side of my brain) that I’m constantly re-learning to trust as an artist. It requires that I experiment more though. Which, as someone who doesn’t like to have a piece “fail,” is a little scary. But I suspect if I can get more comfortable with the discomfort of failing, (say, for instance, with a giant horse painting), my work might just improve. Here’s hoping anyhow!
Otter (2015) in the studio.
As for the otter image itself, it was taken by a very talented, animal-loving photographer who goes by the name Tambako the Jaguar. Here’s his original image:
Original image by Tambako the Jaguar
Tambako has photographed a TON of different animals, but he has a special fondness for big cats (tigers, snow leopards, lions). If you do too, I highly suggest spending some time looking at his beautiful photos here.
Since I’m a lucky girl, I get to paint from a few more of Tambako’s images this year, including a baboon and a bear, just to name a few. So stay tuned.
Until then, and the next unexpected color choice, thanks as always for reading,
Lion (2014) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 44in x 70in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
The latest painting is of a subject I actually had no plans to paint.
I love lions and big cats in general, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to paint one in a way that wasn’t…what’s the word here…expected? Plus, in 2012 I moved away from dog and cat portraits in order to begin my current work, and painting another feline didn’t quite feel right yet.
Then, as it seems to happen lately, I was looking for a entirely different animal when I stumbled across an image that completely changed my mind:
Original photo by photographer Webb Burns
As soon as I saw it I thought to myself…”that’s how I could paint a lion.”
The image was taken by photographer Webb Burns. I contacted Webb for permission to use his image (which was kindly granted), and asked him a little bit about the photo. He told me that he had spent a lot of time with smaller cats in Africa, such as Leopards and Cheetahs, before he came across lions:
I think what impressed me most was how large and how powerful they were. To see a male lion lying across the entire width of a one-lane, dirt road—and then to see a lioness walking directly toward me, seemingly looking directly at me—made deep impressions…
Suffice it to say, Webb’s image made a big impression on me. Here’s a few more pics of the piece…
To see more of Webb’s work, you can check out his flickr page.
Until the next subject, which I probably won’t even be looking for, thanks for reading…
Selected works on view at the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery – Santa Barbara, CA
I’m happy to announce that my work is currently on view at the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. If you’re in the area, stop on by. It’s a great space and I’m honored to share it with talented artists like America Martin, Sherri Belassen and many more.
Shuffling paintings around (including Bighorn) for the window display.
Six pieces are on display, including the latest painting, Reef Shark (2014), Deer (2014), Bighorn (2014), Piglet (2012), Cow No. 1 (2012), and Goat (2012).
Elizabeth Gordon Gallery
15 W. Gutierrez Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93010
Until the next painting, thanks for reading…hope to see you at the gallery!
Reef Shark | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 52in x 52in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
With each painting, I strive to somehow make my subjects feel personal to you, the viewer. I want you to feel like you’re getting to know that particular cow, hyena, or deer. That specific animal.
This typically requires that my subjects display an emotion or a look that we as humans can recognize in ourselves (and therefore relate to). So when the idea of painting a shark presented itself, my first thought was, how the heck am I going to make a shark…emote?
But the idea was intriguing enough to do a little research. Which I did.
Let me tell you about shark photo research—photographers LOVE to capture those creatures with their impressive mouths open, ready to chomp down on a chunk of bait. I filtered through thousands and thousands of shark action shots in chum-y water.
Then, I found an image by photographer Alastair Pollock.
Original reference photo by photographer Alastair Pollock
Serene. Curious. Beautiful.
I asked Alastair about the image and this is what he had to say…
I took the shot on the first day of a 8 day diving holiday on a boat sailing around the Bahamas. We were diving with Tiger sharks and the water was very murky on the dive. As we were coming back up a column of clear water appeared near the surface within which the shark floated over. Was a really beautiful moment with the afternoon light bouncing off the shark’s back.
If you like sea life and under water photography, I highly suggest you check out Alastair’s work. It’s phenomenal.
Here’s a detail shot of Reef Shark’s eye…
And if you’d like to see the entire Reef Shark in person, he is currently on view at the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery in Santa Barbara, California, along with Bighorn, Piglet, Deer, Cow No. 1, and Goat:
Until the next painting, thanks as always for reading…