' ABOVE TAIGA ' Amur leopard watercolour painting
original 12" x 8"
This is my finished painting of the desperately rare big cat. The reason my posting has jumped straight to the completed painting here is because this was a commission and I wanted the buyer to have the finished piece as a surprise! Since my last posting I have basically painted the whole other side of his face, adding spots and contour toning to shape the face. I've picked out top hairs that catch the light, deciding to paint this cat more red in tone than my previous Amur leopard, as if the last of the fierce winter sun is reflected across his fur. I think this colouring is really effective against the backdrop that is already in shadow.
Amur leopards live further north than any other subspecies of leopard, surviving and adapting to different types of habitat including lowland forests, grasslands and mountainous areas, as long as there is sufficient prey and adequate shelter from the harsh winter climate of Russia's Taiga region. In the Eastern Hemisphere the Amur leopard is the king of adaptation, but in the Taiga, or Boreal forests of Russia, he seems to be most impressive.
I wanted the backdrop of the painting to be secondary to the cat, hinting at the mountainous terrain and freezing climate, looking content as he surveys his territory from up high. Strength and poise in a moments silence, he looks to the future as the sun sets across his kingdom.