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24 x 24"
Acrylic on Cradled Board 2013
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“The Challengers” began when a business trip to Maryland to install a major commission in a private residence gave me the opportunity to explore the East Coast. Joined by fellow artists Guy Combes and Susan Fox, we spent time exploring museums, nature, and wildlife. Susan, inspired by a childhood love of Marguerite Henry’s famous “Misty of Chincoteague” series, was desperate to visit the Chincoteague and Assateague Islands to see the wild ponies. Having heard that the birding in this area is phenomenal -and it was- I was happy to oblige, but I was shocked to discover how taken I was by the wild horses, a subject which I would never have thought would interest me. We were extraordinarily lucky to see two young stallions fighting for dominance on a strip of marshy land a short distance from the shore on which we stood. Before long, a vigorous crowd had gathered, and the violent ballet across the water was soon set to the musical accompaniment of whirring auto shutters and sympathetic hisses of “ooooo”, and “ooooouch” when one of the horses would land a solid kick on the other, and the impact of hoof on flesh would echo across the water like the report of a dull firecracker. About forty minutes later, when the incident was finally over, we overheard a local woman saying that she’d been visiting these islands every summer for her entire life and had never before seen this kind of action. We felt profoundly lucky to have been there, and the idea for an artwork began to brew.
In my painting, I wanted to encapsulate the narrative of that afternoon into a single image. The first meeting of the two challengers is described in the gauzy images on the left and right, a combination of pencil drawing, subtle acrylic washes, and sanding, the epic climax becomes a graphic silhouette in the background, and the core of the battle itself occupies the center of the image in rich color and painful detail. This piece underscores what an important part fieldwork plays in my work; it was not the subjects, but the story I was privileged to witness in this intense chance encounter, that inspired my work.
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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