When I look at a new canvas with nothing on it but a pencil sketch of what I have planned, and then I look across at one of my finished paintings, I can never quite believe the almost blank canvas in front of me is one day going to look like that.
It can still feel this way even after the first layer is on and all the canvas is covered. Then, as I begin to build up the layers; although it is still a one dimensional work, as the glazes are applied and the detail refined; it becomes something more.
Gradually claws spread out and grip the branch, or creases in skin begin to overlap each other, noses and open mouths have depth, tusks and ears stand away from the body; as if you could grip them, eyes have life. It is no longer a cardboard cut out on a background; it almost becomes a solid, living thing.
Animals are amazing, beautiful living things; so for me, in a wildlife painting, the most important thing is that the animal has to have life.
I love to capture the detail of an animal or bird – from inches away, I want you to get the sense of the wispy fur in a leopard’s ear, the velvety softness of a giraffe’s nose, or the thick skin of a rhino’s back, in other words, I want you to see what you would see if you had the chance to be that close to the animal.
When one of my paintings is hanging on someone’s wall, I want them to look at it and know that it is a painting; I'm not aiming for a photographic effect. But I do want them to have that feeling that the animal could step out of the painting at any moment; it is for this reason that I strive for realism.