Saturday, October 31, 2009

Capturing Animals on Location part 2

“Wapiti Study: Opus 1”,

The National Parks

September 30, 2006

Today the fall colors of the trees blanket the hillside with a palette of green, crimson and amber foliage signaling that the seasons are changing. Bursts of air blow through the groves of aspen trees tickling the golden yellow leaves making them quiver. Light breezes start from the foothills and briskly float upwards to the peaks of the mountains. In the distance, I can hear the faint whisper of the streams of air moving through these beautiful trees. The leaves tremble, making quaking, rustling sounds, and all at once, they serenade me with a grand symphony of song. Millions of leaves let go of the safety of their summer resting spot in the trees high above the forest floor and rain down upon me in a turbulent whirlwind. Millions of leaves fall spontaneously like the confetti at the finale of a political convention, covering the forest floor with a thick carpet of yellow interwoven leaves. Against the background of Blue Spruce, massive Douglas fir and the White Bark Pine, these bright leaves shine like golden diamonds on a dark green velvet backdrop. I am aware that I am just an observer of a moment of the symphony of seasons that has existed for thousands of years. In the distance I hear the call of the Wapiti (Elk) echoing throughout the canyon as the males gather their mates and begun their rut.

Placing Animals in Your Paintings, Part II

When I was painting this painting, “Wapiti Study: Opus 1”, I was in a meadow capturing the fall colors, and all at once, a massive elk came out of the aspen trees to check out what I was doing. We locked eyes for what seemed like minutes but probably was only for several seconds, and after he was satisfied that I was not another bull elk that might be interested in invading his territory, he retreated into the woods. When composing a painting in nature, artists imagine and hope to have living creatures included in their composition. Occasionally, an animal will comply and grant a brief but most appreciated opportunity to see and paint them. Artists who are interested in adding wildlife in their paintings spend hours practicing, drawing, and painting studies of animals to use in future compositions. These studies (small renderings in pen and ink, pencil, and paint) become invaluable tools and a vital resource for adding animals to their paintings in the future. I recommend that artists start by drawing people because all the techniques needed to draw anything are practiced when drawing the human form. Next, practice drawing a dog or cat. Many quadrupeds have similar characteristics of their counterparts in the wild.

“The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colors, lights, and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts. ”
This verse is on a plaque hanging at the Moose Visitor Center at Teton National Park in Wyoming. The original message was etched on a gravestone in Cumberland England. This humble and unselfish message describes my dreams and efforts with The Grand View, my art classes and workshops along with the national PBS television show over the past 25 years. I have devoted my life to touch, move and inspire others to see and appreciate the beauty of art and its relationship to nature. And, as we travel through this great land with our 1970 Silver Streak trailer following behind our truck, I passionately desire to share the power and beauty of nature and art with others.
For a FREE book on everything I know about painting go to


Blogger kathleen said...

You so captured the Spirit of the "Wapiti" Stephan...
I can hear your Aspens and smell the crisp Fall air, I want so badly to jump into this scene.....
Missing you

7:41 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

What a beautiful story you composed about painting animals.

I think I would be so excited to see such a magnificent animal in person, that I would probably be stopped in my painting tracks. This must have been a wonderful experience..

Your words made me feel like I was there with you hearing, seeing, and experiencing nature.

Thank you for this gift.


11:51 AM  
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3:20 PM  
Blogger Susanna Katherine said...

I enjoy your artwork and it inspires me to do better myself.

7:39 PM  

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