My first Totem painting of the year, this is a Mongoose Lemur. While many people think of the Ring-tailed species when you mention Lemur, mostly due to the animated movie Madagascar, I painted this species because of all of the reference pics I’ve shot at the Calgary Zoo. The resident lemurs are free-roaming with no cage or glass between them and the people wandering around inside the large rainforest enclosure. They don’t move all that fast and are very cooperative models.
While this little guy (or gal) is very cute, you might wonder why I made the choice to put so much work into it and add it to my Totem series, since mongoose lemurs aren’t as universally popular as say, a wolf or grizzly bear. From a marketing perspective, it might seem like this would have been a better sketch painting. But, one thing I’ve learned from painting these animals is that I usually get the best results when I put the time and work into the ones that just feel right at the time.
In the past, I’ve forced specific animals, painted them solely because I thought they’d be good sellers. One in particular, the Magpie Totem, I did for that reason. These birds are in abundance in this area, they’re interesting in appearance, exhibit amusing behaviour, and the tourists seem to be fascinated by them. An apt description by one of my former local editors is that, “they’re just crows with better fashion sense.”
The first gallery that sold my work in Banff, the manager suggested I paint a magpie because the tourists often asked him what that bird was they kept seeing. So that’s exactly what I did, even did some of the painting at a live demo in the gallery. Even though people do buy it, it is probably my least popular Totem painting and I learned a valuable lesson. From then on, I decided to paint the animals I want to, when it feels right to do so.
In the case of our little Lemur friend, I’ve had reference for this one for well over a year and it just felt like the right time. I don’t know if it will sell well or not, but I had a great time painting it and the fur was a real challenge. It’s made up of very short hairs packed tightly together, so I had to experiment with my hair and fur brushes to find the best way to go about it. In the end, it simply required putting in the time to get it right. Looking forward to seeing this one in print.
Here are a few images of this painting at different stages. This was painted in Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq 24HD display. It’s all brush work and photos were only used for reference.
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