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California Sea Lion by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Madonna of the Rocks" or "Cortez"
24 x 18"
Acrylic on Cradled Board, 2012
California Sea Lion

As I left on my first boat trip into the Sea of Cortez, I was fascinated by the extravagant houses clinging to the hillsides overlooking the harbor. Amongst the gay profusion of vivid colors, a sunbaked, burnt orange was the dominant choice, and it looked luminous against the blue sky and turquoise water. Not long after, we encountered a pod of boisterous sea lions, some gliding with playful elegance around the boat, others perched along the rocky shore with regal bearing or draped about in languid slumber. In that moment, the architecture in the harbor and the sea lions themselves became fused in my mind, and the idea for “Cortez” was born.

Mexico is a land rich in tradition, but foremost among those traditions is a strong catholic devotion. Many saints are revered, but even the casual observer can detect a special reverence for The Virgin Mary. From private homes, to restaurants, to rocky cliff-faces, one often encounters architectural niches framing shrines, from the humble to the elaborate, in honor the Sacred Mother. I have always felt a deep spiritual connection with nature and approached the intimate wildlife encounters I’ve had with a sense of reverence. In "Cortez," I decided to portray the sea lion with this attitude of tribute in mind. Framed within an archway reminiscent of the niches I saw in Mexico, the sea lion’s theatrical, upright stance forms a pyramid, the symbol of enlightenment, set against sky and sea that shimmer like stained glass. The end result is a composition that imbues the subject with a timeless quality befitting this icon of sand and sea. She is not just a sea lion, she is The Madonna of the Rocks.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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