Skip navigation

giraffe2    Fort Wayne Childrens’ Zoo

Our childrens’ zoo offers the children an opportunity to feed the giraffes. Because of that, I am able to get wonderful photo references for painting.  I painted this on 300lb Saunders Waterford cold pressed paper.


  1. Your colors are amazing, and the personality in the giraffes face, almost makes me laugh.
    Very cool.

    • Thank-you, Ryan. After the peacock adventure, I just settled in to enjoy the ride on this one. Made all the difference. Plus….I like giraffes. I think these giraffes pucker their lips out like this because they are headed for the Romaine the kids are offering them.

  2. Love this portrait! You are good at painting animals.The background is looking lovely as it recedes away.

    • Thanks, Raji. I love painting animals. This 300lb Saunders was pretty nice to work on. I think it helped with the washes.

  3. Oh what a wonderful giraffe! I love your colors, and the softness of the painting.

    • Thank-you, Isabelle. She just looked soft to me, so I am glad I was able to render her that way.

  4. Love the giraffe! He (I’m assuming it’s a “he”) looks so sweet and happy. He looks like he should be in a children’s book! Maybe that will be next for you? An illustrated children’s book with all your animal paintings. Now you just have to make up a story. Maybe it could be “Peyton goes to the Zoo”?

    • I think it’s a female. I thought we only had one male and he was chowing down on a hay bag tied to a pole. Thanks for the comment about illustrating….The Payton idea is a good one.

  5. soft, warm, friendly. definately an acurate study

  6. Oh, Leslie. I’ve been busy w/ the 18th Annual Jade Festival, and haven’t had time to stop by.

    Boy, am I glad I did tonight. You captured this one perfectly. The drooping eyes are perfectly portrayed!

    I got a photo of my grand daughter feeding one of these earlier this year, and another photo of her kissing it, with the big black tongue coming out for more “goodies.” I just fell in love with these guys, and all of that playfulness, gentleness, and sweetness I see in your portrait!

    • Thank-you, Kate. My feelings exactly….I did the same with my grand daughter the day I took the photo reference for this. The trainer was calling to her and trying to get her to come over to the kids and I happened to snap the photo for this painting as she was gazing at the trainer and probably making up her mind as to whether she really wanted romaine leaves that morning.

  7. And who could resist a giraffe?! Full of character and you have the pattern of her coat just right.

    • Thank-you, Sarah.I payed very careful attention to the pattern in case what they say is true about the pattern being identifiable in giraffes. I didn’t know if that was true, but know that in spotted horses it is an identifiable feature.

  8. I love giraffes! They are one of my favorite animals to draw. Although I have not tried painting them yet. I like the background color you chose. Really brings out the colors in the giraffe.

    • Thanks, Littlelynx. I used the blue and the yellow that I used in the giraffe, herself, in a series of alternating washes to create the Background color so that it would be harmonious.

  9. Giraffes are one of my favourite animals and you’ve managed to do justice to an already beautiful creature. I like the fact that you only painted the head, rather than the entire body and long neck.

    • Thank-you, June. I was drawn to this one’s delicate head and I finally had a photograph that was close enough to crop in photoshop and retain the detail I felt I needed to render her portrait and do her justice. Always, before, I was too far away and without an adequate zoom.

  10. Leslie, that is one gorgeous giraffe! A huge “Awwwwwwww” came out of my mouth as soon as I saw her! Amazing whites, by the way!!

    • Thanks, Beth. So that the whites wouldn’t be just the white of the paper, I toned the whole sheet of paper with very light washes of quin gold and antwerp blue and allowed that to dry. Then I left the whites on her as I painted the rest of the image. I was lucky with this because underpainting in watercolor sometimes goes wrong.

  11. woah – brilliant stuff – it has all been said well done Leslie

    • Thank-you, Stephen. At least I found a Saunders Waterford that I liked in the 300lb cold press. I struggled a little with the 140lb.

      • Saunders Waterford? hats off to you – that is difficult stuff – I think Arches has more sizing is the difference – But this is such a cool painting – are you going to do more peacocks?
        Also well done for keeping up with all the comments – you are so consistent and upbeat – a worthy blogizen indeed.

      • I agree that Arches has more sizing. I think it would be hard to do a loose landscape on the Saunders 300 or 140 as I have struggled with those, also. It seems to work well with portraits of this nature where the artist wants for a little more detail and accuracy. I don’t think I have another piece of this so I will not be using it again until I need to re-order and I need to use more of what I have up. Yes, I have a female peacock I want to do and a pure white one. So, yes, I shall try again, but don’t know how soon….
        I like following all of you and your work. You inspire me and teach me things I wouldn’t get elsewhere!

  12. He is wonderful the colors are just perfect. Nice job with him!

  13. Hi Leslie. I love the giraffe’s eyes–so mellow and relaxed.

    • Hi 47. Thank-you. Actually, that is what I noticed as different from other animal portraits I’ve painted.

  14. Very nice portrait of a giraffe, it looks almost 3 D like some animated movie. Very realistic indeed. Kinda remind me of Melman the character from Madagascar.

    • Thanks, Francis. What a nice thing to say. I tried to get the foreshortening correct on her nose so it would look closer to the viewer.

  15. Leslie, this is SO cool! This summer I took my son to a zoo or a kind of wild animal national park, and one of the giraffes came all the way over to where we stood, so we could see it real close up. This reminds me of him, looking a bit dozy…. 🙂

    • Thank-you, Deva. You are so right. They do look dozy. Every picture I took their lids are like this.

  16. Colours are beautiful Leslie. Just beautiful. I’m constantly amazed by your use of watercolour. It’s always so vivid. My friend at college produces very similar work to yours, in terms of vividness and colour. Just fantastic!

  17. I love it! keep painting please 🙂

    • Thank-you Shiraz! I will keep painting. It’s like my favorite activity. Love your 3-D work. Blows me away what you can do!

        • shirazale
        • Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:52 am
        • Permalink


  18. This is a beautiful giraffe!

    Are you doing the rhino from life 🙂

    • Thanks, Bill.
      This view would be a little close and low and I doubt if the rhino would give me time to draw him, let alone do a gouache resist. I found the image from the reference library for artists on wet

  19. The Giraffe looks cute.You have a good hand over painting animals. Bright green background color would have made the portrait look more bright. Still, its a good good work.

  20. Love love love this piece, the giraffe definitely has a personality of it’s own.

    • …and this fair lady is from our Children’s Zoo, here! They have such delicate features for such a large animal. I love their warm eyes. Thank-you Chloe!!

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Great Neck « Dissengallery's Blog on 21 Nov 2009 at 5:32 pm

    […] useful and appreciated.  This giraffe is from the same photo Leslie used to compose her piece Giraffe Portrait.   It is always interesting to both us to see the different colors and style that appears when we […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: