It was certainly a challenge and I felt a great sense of responsibility throughout, as I was anxious not only to produce a beautiful painting but to render a measure of justice and respect to such a magnificent creature.
I studied any number of photographs and video footage, as I wanted to learn something more of the animal’s physiology as much as its appearance. That alone was a wonderful and rewarding exercise, although it was heart breaking to be reminded throughout that these wonderful animals are still endangered.
Eventually I had to make a start and as the painting progressed from an initial charcoal outline, it dawned on me that there was a presence and stature that the picture had to convey. I found it became less of an image and more of a tribute as the work developed.
I wanted to capture an imposing physicality together with the warmth and texture of his coat, while conveying the proud, almost relaxed indifference of his facial expression.
Creating the painting was certainly a unique experience and quite a remarkable journey.
I felt a strong emotional attachment throughout the process and as delighted as I am with the finished product, I couldn't help but feel disappointed when our relationship evolved to a point where we went our separate ways.
I just hope now that my subject can find any number of good homes and new friends all over the world.