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Florida Panther in Big Cypress

Updated: Jun 2, 2023


Watercolor, 36x42" 2022


This piece was started in 2020, but then put in storage for over a year, and finally completed in January of 2022! It's an expression of my love for the Florida panther, a celebration of it's beauty, and highlights the importance of it's protective effect as an umbrella species for many other plants and animals in it's range.


Inspiration

Interning with the South Florida Wildlands Association opened my eyes to the importance and wonder of the Florida panther. Since SFWA deals with challenges facing the Everglades at large, the Florida panther is a natural mascot because they range so widely through the habitat.

In 2015 I tabled with them at the Naples Zoo! I created this ink drawing of the Florida panther as an umbrella species, and zoo patrons helped to color it in with oil pastel.


In 2020 a proposed highway project called MCORES freshly threated their habitat (the highway received massive backlash and has been tabled for now thankfully). The SFWA spread information and rallied for action against the roads. With the panther freshly on my mind, I decided to create a new "umbrella species" piece that showed the panther connected to and inextricable from it's habitat. A percentage from the sale of this piece will be donated to the SFWA! Contact me if you'd like to purchase this piece. The listing can be viewed in my shop, here.


Beginning sketches



I started this piece with many "thumbnail" sketches. These small, rough sketches are meant to capture the overall look and flow of the piece. Then I developed the details in colored pencil and watercolor.


Finally, I created a Frankenstein of reference photos and sketches, which helped me to envision and refine the details further.




Watercolor


Next, I stretch the watercolor paper, which involves wetting and stapling the paper onto a wooden board. Once dry, it prevents buckling. I then transfer the sketch to the paper and continue to develop the image until the whole piece is mapped out lightly in pencil. I then begin painting horizontally with light washes.


I then mounted the painting vertically on an easel to continue to add details. I use more concentrated amounts of paint as I go and build up the contrast from light to dark.



Imaging and framing


Framing is an important step in this process in order for the paintings to last long-term. It gives the paper rigidity and protection from the elements. I love the way the frame came out for this piece! (it was done by Custom Photo Imaging in Boca Raton, which is also where I got the piece digitized)













Shows, action shots and close-ups!


I was excited for this piece to show first at Mutualism, at the Biscayne Bay NWR visitor center during the summer of 2022. It was accompanied by 28 of my other original framed works.



Here's a few images of the painting on my easel!





Closeups!





This piece was a joy to make. I'm looking forward to creating more large-scale works!


Open edition prints of this piece can be ordered here, and they come in either a large or a small size.











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