‘A real beauty – African Leopard’
Pastel on Colourfix paper 49 X 36 cm.
I like to tell people I never paint an animal I haven't met. My reasons for that are many but chiefly one needs to ask just how can anyone paint something they have never experienced. I really don't believe you can and maybe you could fool yourself but the public have great B.S. metres and I reckon if you are spinning them a line they pick up on it.
So to that end....yes....I have met this beautiful leopard in person....at a private game park in South Africa. He was quite young and had that irrepressible spirit the young of so many species exhibit.
When I sat on my bum next to the mesh fence he did what so many creatures do if they are not threatened by a tall, upright human and immediately came running over to say hello. Some big cats greet each other by chuffling (sometimes called prusten)... making repeated gentle puffing sounds as they expel short breaths through their nose.... bringing their whiskers forward to feel and sniff out their new friend. Although some authorities claim leopards do not chuffle this fella did and responded to my friendly overtures by puffing very happily in my face all the while pressing his nose gently to mine. What a treat and what a memory for me. Hopefully his spirit shows through in the final artwork.