- Leopard Ambush
- (scroll down for description)
- 36 X 48, oil, 1982
There is nothing quite as intense as the stare of a cat that is about to spring on its prey. This applies to the domestic cat looking at a bird or a lioness stalking a zebra. But the most dangerous cat of all is the leopard, and its gaze seems to have a more intense and sinister quality. This feeling is increased by the fact that leopards hunt at night or in the dim light of dusk or dawn.
Leopards are found in a great variety of habitats from Africa to Asia, but they always require protective cover for hiding in dense vegetation or rocks. This is because they generally hunt by ambush. They may hide by a water hole at the same level as the prey, but generally at a higher point to give the added advantage of gravity to the speed of the strike. They will likely land on the back of the victim, bite the neck or throat and rake the sides with hind claws.
In the composition of this painting I have tried to emphasize the direction of the leopard's gaze and the path of his leap by strengthening the diagonal crevices in the rocks. As I painted, the image of a tightly drawn bow and arrow occurred to me. The leopard is the clenched hand of the archer, the lines in the cliff suggest the arrow, and the drip of stains at the left represent the bow. The composition is one of tightly drawn tension which could be released in a flash at any moment.