Showing posts with label animal painting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animal painting. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2013

Meditation and Mystery

Jeff Cochran explores the natural world of landscapes and primates.

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Transformation 48"x34" oil on canvas
by Jeff Cochran
Many painters like to switch back and forth with their favorite subjects. I find that I tend to go from interior settings with many details to still lifes, which are much more relaxing. 

Jeff Cochran focuses on two very different subjects: landscapes and chimpanzees. You might wonder if there is any connection between the two. I certainly did, so I gave him a call.

Obviously, interest in the natural world is a link. But, mystery is also the common thread. Jeff says that chimps have a certain mystery – they are human-like and can connect with the viewer, who wonders what they are thinking. His landscapes have a sense of mystery, too, painted in a dreamy idealized style.
When I looked at some of Jeff’s paintings, I was reminded of the Hudson River School, a mid-19th century American art movement of landscape painters whose vision was influenced by romanticism. He agreed that he, too, liked to portray pastoral settings. “My paintings look like a place where you could go and sit and think,” he said. Instead of New York’s Hudson River Valley, the land around his home in Taos, New Mexico is Jeff’s inspiration.

Late Summer Irrigation, oil on canvas 54" x 68"
by Jeff Cochran
“I like to do plein air studies in the alfalfa fields that are in this area,” he said. “The rolling mountains and irrigation washes also become subjects for my paintings. There’s a certain atmosphere around here that gives a soft glow to the surroundings.” You can see examples of these places in his paintings entitled “Irrigation at Patrick’s Place” and “Late Summer Irrigation.” These works are larger paintings, taken from his studies and done in his studio.

Irrigation at Patrick's Place oil on canvas 32" x 33"
by Jeff Cochran
Although Jeff paints from nature, he is not interested in being a purely representational artist. His paint palette does not always reflect local color; rather, he prefers to use muted hues that convey his romantic view of the scene. “A Soft Summer Afternoon” and “Pasture in Talpa New Mexico” both have that dreamy quality that draws people to Jeff’s work.

A Soft Summer Afternoon, oil on canvas 46" x 56"
by Jeff Cochran
Pasture in Talpa New Mexico, oil on canvas 40" x 48"
by Jeff Cochran
So, then, you might wonder why he likes to paint chimps. According to Jeff, about 20 years ago, he visited the San Diego Zoo, and was impressed by their amazing chimpanzees. “I started painting them, and people responded very well,” he said. The eyes of these creatures and their soft, fuzzy fur are very appealing. Since he seems to know them so well, he has humanized them in portrait form. “Transformation”(shown at the top of this post) and “Psychedelic Chimp #9 are good examples of Jeff’s skill in getting up close and personal with these creatures, and adding some humor as well.

Psychedlic Chimp #9 oil on canvas 50" x 46"
by Jeff Cochran
His fascination with chimps and their portraits led to his acquaintance with the renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall. Jeff’s relationship with Jane Goodall came about when he found out about her Institute’s annual fund raiser. Uninvited, he sent them a four-foot chimp painting. Jane Goodall loved the painting and didn't want to auction it so she could hang it in her office. “I sent a second painting to donate to the auction, and later on, I attended her 70th birthday party.”

Jeff has a third area of interest. He’s also an organic farmer, selling vegetables at farmer’s markets, as well as opening his farm to young people interested in gardening and farming. Cochran thinks of his farming as art, and that what he is really doing is creating a giant land sculpture. Maybe we can look forward to seeing some romanticized vegetable gardens!


You can view more of Jeff Cochran's art at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Zooming In

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

There are many different ways of catching the viewer’s eye. In painting, obviously, subject matter, color choices and brushstroke all work to render a work more or less interesting. But composition is just as, or even more important to a painting’s success.

Watching Over You 19" x 30" watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter
Some artists use a close-up technique in their compositions. Instead of trying to get a lot of information in their painting, they zoom in to an area of interest. You can appreciate this technique in Patricia Hunter’s work, especially her images of exotic animals. When she started painting these animals a while ago, she decided that she didn’t want to do typical animal portraits; she wanted to show something real in an abstract way.

“By painting close-ups of the animals, I can achieve a different kind of composition, and focus on design and texture,” she said. “This technique also enables me to include considerable details in the work, such as the animals’ hair and whiskers.” By the way, Patricia is a watercolor painter, which makes her technique even more amazing to me!


Family Gathering 22" x 30", watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter


Walk With Me 8.25" x 10.25"
watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter
Although we can discern the two zebras in “Watching Over You,” this painting has a definite abstract quality, and the patterns and shapes of the zebras’ stripes could easily be a textile design. “Family Gathering” has the same compositional style: we know there are several giraffes portrayed, yet the main interest is in the patterns of their interesting hides.


Downtime 18.5" x 24" watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter

Lately, Patricia has been focusing more on domestic animals. Her dog, Sunny, appears in “Downtime” and “Walk with Me.” Although they are realistic impressions of the subject, you can see Patricia’s interest in pattern by the way she paints the details of her dog’s coat.


Moo Bull 5" x 5" oil on canvas
by Sheridan Brown
Sheridan Brown likes to zoom in on her subjects’ eyes. “They have an expressive quality that I want to convey in the painting,” she said. Like many Wilde Meyer artists, Sheridan’s subjects frequently have fur and four legs. Often, they’ve met at the local dog park! Sheridan likes to combine an abstract background with her close-ups. Many of her paintings are small sizes and have a loose, painterly style.


Bright Eyes 6" x 6" oil on canvas
by Sheridan Brown

In “Moo Bull” the background and the subject are equally arresting, but the way she pulls the colors together make this 5”X5” painting work.


Anticipation 24" x 24" oil on canvas
by Sheridan Brown

“Bright Eyes” is another example of how Sheridan unites an interesting abstract background with the focal point – the cat’s face and eyes. In “Anticipation,” the colors of the dog’s ear and mouth reflect the floral pattern in the rug.
Background design is not of great interest to Stephano Sutherlin, except to offset his subject. His dog portraits speak to the viewer – literally. They have catchy titles, like “Do I Amuse You?” and “Can I Go, Can I?”. He zooms in on their faces - which take up most of the square canvas - and somehow gets an expression that has a human quality. His bold use of color makes the paintings pop – we really can’t ignore them!

Do I Amuse You? 24" x 24"
by Stephano
acrylic on canvas


Can I Go, Can I? 24" x 24" acrylic on canvas
by Stephano

I Dare You To Lift Your Leg 40" x 16"
acrylic on canvas
by Stephano


Stephano generally favors a square format, but his choice of a narrow 40”X16” canvas for his painting “I Dare You to Lift Your Leg” pushes the cat and the fire hydrant into a tight frame. Are they actually having a conversation? It kind of looks that way!


Bedroom Eyes 9.5" x 9.5" oil on canvas
by Sarah Webber
Sarah Webber also likes a close-up perspective. She says she has an “intense” personality, so zooming in to a subject appeals to her. By getting “in the face” of the animals she paints, she can give them a personality of their own, and often with humor.

For example, the owl she portrays in “Bedroom Eyes” has a “come hither” look! The rest of his face and chest are painted in a loose colorful way, so the eyes are all the more riveting.

A Room with a View 21.5" x 21.5" oil on canvas
by Sarah Webber
Pig in the Straw 19" x 22.5"
 oil on canvas
by Sarah Webber
In “A Room with a View,” we see the humor in the donkey peering out from his stall. By painting the cropped image of his head and the stall opening, Sarah conveys the situation this fellow finds himself in. “Pig in the Straw” attracts my attention because the pig’s head and upper body are portrayed in such a painterly way, with a beautiful shadow cast on the straw. I don’t think any of these paintings would be nearly as interesting if they were ordinary views of the animals.

I guess you could say that close-up views are the painter’s way of making the ordinary into art!

You can see more by Sarah Webber, Stephano, Sheridan Brown and Patricia Hunter at www.wildemeyer.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Who Needs Reality...

What you see isn’t always what you get (in art, that is) . . .  

You Drive Me Cuckoo 30"x30" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula 
An artist’s "style" often emerges from an interest in a certain subject. But what characterizes his or her paintings is the interpretation of that subject. Is it abstract or figurative? If it’s the latter, does the artist portray realism, or a more personal means of expression? 
The Effects of Diet on Pattern
48"x36" acrylic on panel
by Timothy Chapman

At Wilde Meyer, it’s safe to say that many artists are interested in animals. A visit to the gallery will include sightings of horses, dogs, chimpanzees, zebras and other varieties of fauna. However, not all animals are portrayed in the same way. 

Timothy Chapman’s animals are a unique group. Many of them are floating – and they’re not always birds. Their hides do not have the traditional markings, and some appear to be a newly created species (by Timothy). A sense of wonder as well as humor is the thread that ties his work together.

According to Timothy (who studied biology in college), his paintings owe a lot to his fondness for earlier styles of depicting animals, particularly the copperplate engravings that illustrated Buffon's Natural History, as well as Victorian animal portraiture and old scientific illustration. Since there was no photography at that time, the images are not always correct.

The Antlered Lagomorphs of Western North America
16"x12" acrylic on panel by Timothy Chapman


"I have tried to present similarly earnest, but basically inaccurate, renderings of animals by using humor, irony and surrealistic sensibility that’s not available to the scientist," he said. 

For example, in his painting entitled "Recent Addition to the Genus Equus," we don’t know if it’s a horse or a zebra, but its floral markings are so exotic! Decorative giraffes are another favorite subject. A seemingly tattooed giraffe is reaching for fruit in a beautiful painting he donated for the Arizona Cancer Center auction. In "The Effects of Diet on Pattern," a patterned giraffe appears to float on a trip to another place.  
Recent Additions to the Genus Equus
48"x72" acrylic on canvas by Timothy Chapman


Since Timothy gives himself permission to be creative with his animals, he has painted "The Antlered Lagomorphs of Western North America," depicting four hares with different antler-style head gear. Could this be a new breed, like the Jackalope?

"What I want most is to impart to the viewer a sense of wonder and strangeness that nature photography and video, in spite of their inherent capacity for precision, cannot," Timothy explains.

Animals also are a favorite image for Trevor Mikula. His creatures bear a faint resemblance to their realistic sisters and brothers, but for the most part, they are all fantasy and humor.

Gossip Girls 20"x60" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula
I often start with an idea for a title, usually a play on words, and then I take off from there," he said.
"Often, my friends give me inspiration for a painting.  I get a lot of ‘Oh, you should do this, and you should do that,’ he explained.

Bulldog 36"x36" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula

According to Trevor, there is a narrative in his paintings, but he says it’s up to the viewer to create a story. "Gossip Girls" is a good example. Just what are those three birds saying to each other?

He is drawn to "crazy ideas that make me laugh," such as the fierce "Bulldog" with the annoying bird on its head. "You Drive Me Cuckoo" (shown at the top of this post) is definitely open to interpretations, although the gist of it is very clear!

Alice the Camel 13.75" x 13.75" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula 

Trevor has a youthful, naïf style that is very happy. His colorful images painted with palette knifes always put a big smile on my face. He can take a plain camel, name it Alice and give it a special look that’s far better than reality. Who needs reality, anyway, when you can have art?