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Tag Archives: lion

lion cubs

lion mama

Thank you to wet canvas for the reference photos for these lions. The cubs were fun to draw with their big paws and  all that loose skin.  I think I worked the hardest on trying to get that gaze that the lioness had.


This lion was painted on masa paper, a rice paper that can be crinkled, soaked in water, toned, dried and glued to the surface of watercolor paper in order to provide a watercolor artist a different surface to paint on. The textural possibilities are varied and, oftentimes, very interesting. They, generally, take me longer to paint, but the extra time spent is well worth it. I have several tutorials. The first one is located here. The update is located here.

If you would like to view a selection of the paintings I have completed on masa, just click the tag, masa paper, under the title of this post.



I need to kick-start myself into painting more frequently. Everything is getting in the way!

I had fun with this lion. I used a limited palette of about five colors. They were Arctic Ice, Raw Sienna, Copper Kettle, Halloween Orange and Sepia.



I began by cropping my reference photo so the lion’s eye was near an area that is good for a focal point.  I drew the lion and splattered the surface of the painting with frisket, using a small brush. I wanted the resulting splatter to be tiny pinpricks of texture throughout the lion’s mane and shoulder. I began by mapping out where I wanted my most dominant darks. I know! Opposite of what the watercolor books say. I think that once you learn the basics, you can allow yourself some freedom of expression and there are some subjects that I build from light to dark and others where I map out the dark areas, first. I almost always push the darks even farther during my final steps in the painting.



Next, I concentrated on the midtones and light wash shapes in and throughout the face area. This is where I want to draw my viewer’s eye, so I try to feel for the contours of the lion’s face, around the nose, eye, brow and muzzle. It helps to define what portions of the lion’s face bumps out and what rolls in and gives the face more of a 3-D feel and not read so flat.



This is the step I washed in, very loose and wet, a background. I painted around the whisker dots on the muzzle and filled in the shapes in the eye and the nose. I added the background blue in heavy and light washes in and around the painting. I always bring my background colors into the foreground. I feel this gives a painting better balance. It takes a simple background and gives it a reason for being and helps to create a feeling that the subject is a part of the environment he is in rather than pasted on. I chose this particular blue because this painting is for a Detroit Lion fan.



In the final step I do all the tiny detail work and enhance some areas. I darkened and detailed the eye. I darkened the fleshtones in the nose. I defined more shapes around the eye. I darkened and defined the muzzle around the whiskers so the frisket areas would show up. I enhanced the shadow shapes under the chin, both sides of the ear and far brow line with Halloween Orange. I darkened all the shadow shapes. I removed the frisket once the painting was dry.

Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference for this lion.


I am beginning to see some similarities in my work, especially in portraiture, animals and figures.  The top lion was painted this week. Bill is from a post in 2009.

I leave you with a sing-a-long.  I have probably sung this song more than any other and have never tired of it. Sometimes carrying it through a day with me, not able to get the tune out of my head.

Thank you to LittleUkeleleMonster for these lyrics!

Have a GREAT weekend Everyone!

Recently, Richard from Artswebshow issued a challenge. He posted a beautiful portrait of a lion taken by photographer, Pablohoney2980. The above is my interpretation of the lion.

Thank-you, Richard. Animal portraiture is one of my favorite subjects to paint!

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!