Painting a White War Mammoth
The ice kingdom is faithfully guarded by giant armored mammoths and their fearless riders. These powerful creatures patrol the snowy hillsides instilling fear and inspiring wonder for all of those who encounter them!
When I originally visualized this painting, I imagined something regal and powerful: A composition with tall elements (towering peaks, an obelisk-inspired ice castle, and a stately mammoth). I really wanted to experiment with light, shape and sensation – keeping the piece simple in some ways (with one central subject and minimal background elements), but also giving a hint of unease with the fragmented blocks of light in the mountains, trees and foreground shadows.
Initially I sketched the mammoth with an angry expression, but as I was painting, the face ended up changing to something more gentle (and more realistic).
I experimented with letting some parts of the main subject matter fade into the background by allowing the creature to ‘fall apart’ as your eye moves away from the face and head. By using sharp lines and darker shadows within the face and tusks, I hoped to really draw those elements into focus.
The castle also uses sharper lines, but it seemed best to avoid using dark shadows or high contrast here in order to prevent it from overwhelming the main subject. I didn’t find the trees especially necessary for the piece to be successful, but they where conceptually meaningful, so I chose to keep them very subtle. I’m glad I included them because they added another level of interest.
I can’t say with certainty that I made all the right decisions, but at least I can describe with some certainty my reasons for making them. Thinking through my work in this way has been so important for my own creative process and personal growth.
The White Mammoth was created using oil paint on wood panel and was illustrated for one of the 2020 Shadow Frost Music & Arts Festival posters. The pine trees are meant to be a subtle nod to prior Shadow ‘Woods’ fests, while the castle is representational of the new Shadow ‘Frost’ Festival’s indoor location in Frederick Maryland at the Clarion Inn Events Center.
You can pre-order the poster and t-shirt at: https://shadowwoodsproductions.bigcartel.com
Oil on Wood Panel – 18″x24″ – Completed in 2019