Here is the start of my mountain lion painting, also known as - cougar, puma, catamount, panther, mountain cat - depending on the region, native to the Americas.
I've chosen a subtle coloured backdrop to complement his soft colouring. Mountain lion colouring is plain, but can vary greatly between individuals and even between siblings. The coat is typically tawny, but ranges to silvery-grey or reddish, with lighter patches on the under body including the jaws, chin, and throat. Infants are spotted and born with blue eyes and rings on their tails, juveniles are pale, and dark spots remain on their flanks. I have never painted an animal in this colour range before, very fleshy peach colour palette, but I'm excited to do some experimenting!
Mountain lions are generally secretive, solitary and elusive. Most people never see this animal in the wild. Both field biologists and outdoor recreationists rarely see them, even in habitats that support relatively dense populations. It has become to be known as the 'Ghost Cat', this heavily influenced my choice of backdrop, blending the cat into its habitat giving a misty ghostly appearance.
I have sketched in the facial marks with my paintbrush, this allows me to learn the shaping of the face and features. It's a great lesson of learning your subject by simply moving your brush around the whole piece to ensure the accuracy of the anatomy. This will be done many many times throughout the process of the painting allowing me to sense that everything is proportioned correctly and positioned/angled right. Effectively this means I'm working with shapes rather than focusing on the features themselves. This does render any original pencilmarks useless but you need to be confident in your artistic ability to master each subject. Realism depends upon accuracy and understanding.