Original Contemporary Wildlife Gorilla Portrait Painting
By Artist Diane Griffiths
I was lucky enough to visit London Zoo shortly after this baby gorilla was born. It was a tough challenge to battle my way to the front of the crowds in order to take some photos. With reduced light and reflections off the glass on top of this – I only captured a handful of shots, the best of which I have captured in this painting.
I was enthralled by his expression, looking up at one of his parents for reassurance. By taking away the colour I wanted the focus to be completely on the drawing and the resulting personality of the baby gorilla.
Work in Progress
I was very excited to get started on this piece. The beginning was exciting and inspiring, but then it usually is. I covered the canvas in a layer of black and left it to dry. In the meantime I grided up my baby gorilla and sketched him on on tracing paper. I then transferred the outline from the tracing paper straight onto the canvas.
The benefit of using tracing paper rather than griding and drawing my gorilla directly onto the canvas is that I only had to use minimal pencil marks on the canvas. This left most of the black untouched and I was free to start building up the white outline in paint. In the above you can see my first pass at capturing the gorilla.
Next I slowly and patiently built up the layers; forming the detail of the gorilla and developing his character. My primary focus was on the eyes, if you get the eyes right you’re half way there. Sometimes I can spend hours on the eyes – however with this piece they easily jumped onto the canvas. You can see this with the development in the above progress photo. The basis are already in place.
In the final stages I sit and look at the gorilla and scribble notes on scrap paper. The point of this is to get some perspective on the painting and take the time to write down what I need to do next.
The beauty of this is that I have a plan when I next sit to work on the gorilla, it doesn’t make much sense to anyone but me, but to me it’s a plan of attack for my next session. It gives me confidence that my next steps are the right ones.
As the final touches went on the canvas, I was enthralled by his expression, looking up at one of his parents for reassurance. I’m hugely pleased with the outcome and really glad I left the painting as a black and white image. By taking away the colour I wanted the focus to be completely on the drawing and the resulting personality of the baby gorilla.