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Bull Elk

This painting was done specifically for a cousin of my wife’s who was then living in the Seattle area.
It was not a commission, as most of my paintings are, but just a surprise gift. My wife and I were flying to Seattle to surprise his elderly sister on her birthday and I had painted it in advance, having known for some time that we were going to Seattle and hoping to pull a double surprise.
Unlike commissions, which are done from a photo provided by the person requesting the painting, this one was painted from photos I obtained from numerous other sources.

Obviously, it would have been difficult to paint this specific scene from life, or from photos of life, given the elusiveness of bull elk when they are being hunted, and the depth of high mountain snow in the state of Washington where the cousin hunted. The alternative was to search for photos of a truly majestic bull elk as well as photos of backgrounds that were sufficiently dramatic to do justice to the animal. It took quite a while to locate suitable photos, but it finally came together. Then I had only the challenge to see that I painted the coat of the elk sufficiently long and dark as they would grow in winter, to fit the winter scene.

The cousin goes elk hunting every Fall, as he has been doing for decades, and the painting captured for him a scene he had probably played out through his mind during and between hunting trips as long as he could remember. While it doesn’t capture an actual hunting scene, it does freeze in time a huge trophy bull elk he could imagine having in his sights in some future outing.
He says he hangs it proudly on his wall.

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