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Cougar Cub by Andrew Denman
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"Opening Night"
18 x 24" Acrylic on Cradled Board

Cougar Cub

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Few North American mammals evoke as much fear, fascination, and controversy as the mountain lion or cougar. I have painted them many times before, typically an adult animal in a context that suggests this quality of mystery, majesty, and wonder. “Opening Night” approaches the subject through a different lens: cuteness. I had the opportunity a few years ago to spend a few precious minutes with Sam, an ambassador cat at Project Survival’s Cat Haven in the Sierra Foothills. At the time, he was just about ten weeks old and already a feisty little handful. Years later, he is a beautiful, healthy, mature cat who continues to inspire me and anyone else who encounters him. There is much controversy at the moment regarding big cats in captivity, largely brought to the public forefront by the Netflix Docuseries “Tiger King.” What the documentary does not show are the many good facilities that give captive big cats (which cannot be released into the wild) as good a life as possible, and the valuable work many of these places do to educate the public about these misunderstood animals and to raise significant funds for projects that protect big cats in the wild.

In this piece, I wanted to capture Sam’s indomitable spirit, tentative little steps, and searching gaze, to portray him truthfully and un-sentimentally as a cub, but also to foreshadow his future as a formidable animal. The color palette of desaturated yellow (representing enlightenment and forward progress) and violet (representing mystery and danger) support this dichotomy, and the shift from dark to light along the diagonal suggests the drawing back of a curtain as Sam takes his first tentative steps onto life’s stage, hence the title.

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.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.