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lionlinedrawing   the drawing

bill  the painting

“Bill” is our male lion at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. When I first started this project all I could think was, “Who would ever name a lion Bill?” Then I thought of  WR Jones (Bill), an accomplished oil painter and master of story-telling on wordpress and the name seemed to fit.

The day I took the photo reference for this picture, Bill was laying like this right next to the glass. Every once in awhile he’d raise his head and yawn. There was such a crowd, I had to snap the picture quickly and move on. The zoo assistant standing nearby said that Bill liked to come up to the glass and lay down in the shade and be near the people because he was raised in captivity. On several visits to the zoo this summer, I witnessed this to be true. He would always come up to the glass and sit or lay next to it. Even though he has a huge outdoor grassy area, he has always been near where he can see the visitors. The assistant also said, “When Bill roars, he can be heard six miles away.”

I have included my broken contour line drawing to show what I usually start with before I begin painting. You can see that my broken line drawings are influenced by my continuous line style.

Here is “Bill” at his window. Thank-you idleloaf!


  1. Another winner Les…

    • Thanks, Tracey. Remember when we were talking about it being hard to find colors to blend with yellows? Well, this was my struggle. I resorted to greens and orangey reds and then used that turqouise some.

    • heatherslalaland
    • Posted September 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm
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    Awww what a lovely story about Bill. I feel like I could just take him home and give him lots of cuddles. I’m sure he’d love it, but what a fabulous painting you’ve created Leslie. Just fabulous. I love the colours and the line is fantastic. I’m so jealous of your talent!

    • Thanks, Heather. I fall back on my line a lot when I paint. It’s probably because I took a lot of drawing before I ever picked up a brush. Antsketch has done drawings with a brush and I need to take time to try that.

  2. I was just watching a National Geographic show about lions in Tanzania who were killing humans because their natural food source, impalas and such were no longer available. They looked VERY SCARY! I bet not one of them was named Bill!

    This is a beautiful painting and Bill does not look scary at all. I love that you included your line drawing which was very interesting for me to see how you drew him and then painted him.

    I’m interested in how you painted Bill. It’s like you broke him down into areas of color rather than paint him with gradations of color.

    Beautiful painting. Handsome lion!

    • Thank-you for the comment, Carol. I did paint gradations on his face and areas of his paws. I wanted the face and paws to be most detailed. There are layers of raw sienna, burnt sienna and sap green to shape what I thought was of most interest. While I let that dry, I used a large round and stroked in broad swatches of raw sienna and burnt sienna to suggest the directions his mane flowed. After that, I went back in with those colors and a little of the turqouise from the background and shaped in the areas of darks which made this look as though I painted areas of color. At the end, when everything else was dry, I punched certain areas with titanium white. I did the background last by wetting the area surrounding the lion and fed in the washes while the paper was very wet.

    • severnyproductions
    • Posted September 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm
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    this is really nice, the lion looks like royalty

    • Thank-you, Kokot. I tried to make him look like “King of Beasts”. Your comment means a lot.

  3. Thank you for including the drawing. We really get a sense of how you work. That drawing is fantastic. And Bill is so well rendered. I wonder: how long does it takes you to do something like this ??

    • I’d say this took about 18 hours from the start of the drawing to the finished piece. I usually paint and draw at night. I am not a fast watercolorist. I have posted some figures, as you know that I did in 25 minutes but they are not as worked into as something like this. Thank-you for your comment, Isabelle.

  4. Regal and sleepy! He looks like an old venerable lion to me – though I confess I have difficulty with the name too. I like the flow in this, very much – the way the movement in the mane is echoed in the paws.

    • Thank-you, Sarah. I never noticed that about the mane and paws. Thank-you!

  5. This is just grand, Leslie. You know I love the quality of your line!

    • Thanks, Jay. I played around with the idea of using the ink line like in your buffalo and the elephant I posted on this blog and changed my mind at the last minute.

  6. Wow, Leslie, this is really beautiful!! It has such a wonderful flow to it!

  7. I like the choice of your colors, which add punch to final result.I especially like the turquoise foreground – something you don’t normally consider when you paint a shaded area.Am I right if I assume that broken line drawing is the opposite of continous line drawing? I did like to know those different artsy terms .

    • Hi Raji. Thank-you for the turquoise comment. I don’t think it is the opposite. It means that your pencil is not touching the paper the whole time you are drawing. Even with my broken line, I concentrate on feeling the form with my pencil point. I just break the line and put my pencil back down at the next area I want to describe.

  8. You really are the queen of line drawing Leslie as this clearly shows! I like the contradiction – the lion is relaxed and snoozing but your brushwork is vigorous and full of energy. Interesting angle as well.

    • Thank-you for this comment, June. I didn’t notice the contrast between the brush strokes and the pose. That’s interesting! The angle was only achieved because I had to hold the camera up above the crowds’ heads to get the photo. Ha!

  9. Great drawing, and GORGEOUS painting. You did this Lion good by your wonderful representation.

    Thanks for stopping by my grand daughter’s photograph. I think she’s got it — at almost 12, too!

    • Thank-you, Kate. I was very impressed with Madyson’s flower! She’s got it!

  10. I don’t know what to say, because everyone else said what I thought. But of course I love it.. I wish I could take a photo of a wild lion once..

    • Thank-you, Deva. Do you mean actually in the wild? With my camera, I’d have to get too close as my zoom is next to nothing.

        • Deva
        • Posted September 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm
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        Yeah, that would be great. But I’m too scared of the wilderness though. With the huge spiders and such.

  11. such ‘energy’ in a lion at rest!

    • Thanks 47. I’ll bet you could put “Bill” into words and bring him to life!

      • leslie the lioness–Hey, I will give your ‘bet’ some consideration and we’ll see what comes forth..hmmm

  12. Hey Leslie – this is great – your drawing is always so confident. It must be hard for Bill not to be able to connect with people. A while ago someone sent me a link to video of a lion that was raised in captivity and years later the people went to the territory and the lion came running up and puts its arms around the guys neck – scary stuff but heart warming – I must try to find that.
    I love the colours you have used for this.

    • Thanks, Stephen. I saw a documentary on that lion, also on PBS. It was incredible. I used Winsor Newton colors; pthalo turquoise, raw sienna, yellow ochre light, sap green, quin gold, and a little sepia.

  13. I think this is very cool. Saw it a few days ago and came back for another look. There’s something about the mix of drawing and painting technique that really gives it an edge, movement and drama, I think.

    • Thank-you Antsketch. I like that second look thing. I saw the same thing with this that you are noticing and stopped at this point because I didn’t want to ruin the linear-look.

  14. Bill (WR Jones) will be so pleased to be “The Lion” of Art and storytelling on WordPress. Quite an honor, I’d say.
    Kinda looks like Bill, too – just brooding on who is going to bring him his next meal…
    p.s. – nice painting, and it’s interesting how all animals seem to need love and attention, n’est pas? Even us human kind.

    • Thank-you for visiting and the comment, Kristen. Couldn’t help but mention our “Bill” in this post. I wasn’t inspired by the name they gave the lion until I remembered a significant Bill. Ha! Loved your post on Levin. Thanks for the info!

  15. I know this Bill. I took a few pictures of him on a visit to the Fort Wayne’s Childrens Zoo.

    • Hi, dmarie! Thank-you for the comment and visiting my blog. He is a great sport about coming up by the window so we all can get photographs of him. The other day was his birthday and he was presented with a birthday cake fashioned from boxes with treats fit for a lion! 🙂 Do you have a blog here on wordpress? Your link only connects me to facebook at this time.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Lioness and Bill « Leslie White on 29 Jul 2011 at 10:12 am

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