Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big Cats

The Leopard is the most secretive of all the African big cats. This elusive behavior probably makes it the most cunning of the big cats.

Leopards are solitary nocturnal hunters preying on anything from fish to birds, monkeys, baboons and antelope. The natural enemies of Leopards are Lions and Hyena's who often attempt to steal their kill.

This forces the leopard to haul its larger prey up into a tree where it can feed in relative safety. So pound for pound this makes it the strongest climber of the cats, able to bring down prey much larger than itself and haul it to safety high up in the trees.

The spots on Leopards are called "rosettes" which can be irregular shaped circles or squares depending on the area they inhabit. The East African Leopards in general have circular rosettes while the Southern African leopards have square ones.

Their coats can also vary from a light fawn colour in dry warm areas to a darker shades in thick forest areas. The spots create an almost perfect camouflage for their habitat.

Cheetah's are considered the fastest animals on earth can reach speeds of up 110 km an hour within a few seconds.

Unlike Leopards they live in well structured social groups. They hunt their prey by stalking to within 10 to 20 meters before setting off on the chase. The chase only lasts from 20 seconds to a minute with only about fifty percent of their efforts being rewarded with a kill.

Their kill is often stolen from them by larger predators like lions, leopards and hyena. They generally feed on small antelope, young animals and birds.

Cheetah's can be distinguished from the other big cats by their long slender bodies and small heads with distinctive tear lines that run from the corner of their eyes to the side of their nose.

Cheetah's have been kept in captivity for more than 5000 years but do not breed well in captivity with numbers being maintained by capturing wild ones. New cheetah's born in captivity generally die within a month of birth

The cheetah population has declined over the years and are only found in about 25 African countries and about 100 in Iran. They suffer from lack of diversity in their gene pool and this had an effect on their breeding, Cheetah cubs also become prey to the larger carnivore's and ninety percent die within 3 months in the wild.

There are estimated to be 12 to 15,000 remaining in the wild with the biggest threat to their numbers being dwindling habitat, shooting and trapping as they are considered livestock predators.

These two oils were painted by Debbie Thom my daughter, whom I will be featuring occasionally as a guest artist on my site.

This brings me to the question. "Are artists born artistic? or is it a skill that can be learned by non artistic people? Whilst I have no doubt even a born artist can learn new skills to improve their techniques and interpretation. I cannot help but wonder if all the famous artists were born with specific genes that make them artists.

The reason I ask the question is simply because like me Debbie has had no formal education in art and to my knowledge has never had an art lesson in her life. Art has always been a hobby for her and she is quite content to be a mother and housewife who paints in her spare time.

This leads me to believe that certain artistic skills are inherited, as my mother used to do drawings when she was young and this must be where my sister and I inherited our skills. I also have a cousin who is an art teacher in Australia.

It would be interesting to know if any genetic studies have been done to determine if there are specific artistic genes that are passed on from one generation to another.

Maybe the word art is too broad a term as there are many different forms of art and I have no doubt many of the art forms can be taught to anyone with the inclination to learn them. So my question will be specifically about painters and sculptors rather than the arts in general. That does not mean I only consider painters and sculptors true artists.

My next task though is to try and persuade Debbie to put her god given talent to more use and take her art more seriously. I think together we can start our own gallery or collaborate in some way.

I would hate her to one day and have regrets as I did, I did not use my talent earlier in my life. I have also learned though not to interfere in my kids lives as they have their own ideas and will ultimately make their own decisions without any influence from me.


Designing Hilary said...

I just want to tell you that I absolutely love your blog! I' so glad I discovered you through Entrecard. I've been enjoying your art as you put it up, and now you have a talented daughter!

I must keep my daughter away from your blog though, or I'll never hear the end of the begging and pleas to find out if the big cat pictures are available. ;-D (Let alone affordable!)

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

Theres are very nice pieces by your daughter. I love your use of line in your bird pieces and the women with hats, just lovely work!

Margaret said...

I do believe that the artistic talent is passed from mother to daughter.

I do hope your daughter continues to develop her talents as it's also a proven fact that unused talents often go by the wayside.

Her big cat paintings are wonderful!


Amy Lilley Designs said...

WOW...the paintings are amazing...absolutely capturing the feel of these stunning, mysterious creatures...and didn't your daughter inherit the 'artist gene'...thank you for sharing and please tell her to keep up the great work!

BK said...

I love the first painting. Debbie captured the eyes of the leopard so well that it seems as though it is staring right at me.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Caroline,

I'm inclined to believe too that being artistic is in the genes, and can therefore be inherited. Those with artistic inclinations also have the genes in them, but requires some pushing through art school.

I also believe in the possibility that being artistic can be acquired - but it has to be inside a sensitive and critically thinking mind, and in a person who desires freedom and seeks the truth in the beauty and balance of nature and its life forms - in order to truly flourish as an artist.

In the Philippines, there is a small remote town in Luzon Island called Angono, where the people are either distantly related of sprang from a few original inhabitants. The place is a well spring of artists (sculptors, painters, muralists) all of them at a young age and with no formal art education. The gene pool has been propagated quite well in this town.

By all means, encourage your daughter Debbie and post it here. She has talent and this particular piece is remarkable. I thought it was your work! Astonishing!

Congratulations! You have nurtured the gene pool well. Your family's talent and bloodline is a gift. Sharing it will make it stronger and richer. :-) --Durano, done!

Varun said...

Discovered you while entredropping.You have some unbelievable works.The wildcats look so majestic!

Artbeat said...

Thanks Hilary
I always knew my daughter could paint but being apart for most of the past 10 years I had no idea just how well she had developed her talent.

The Leopard painting is an unframed oil painting 76X63 cm or 30 X 25 inches and sells for $us 430

The Cheetah painting is also an unframed oil 56 X 48 cm or 22 X 18 inch and sells for US $300

These prices include postage and packaging

Artbeat said...

Thanks Robin
Debbie is astounded by all the comments and i am certain it will spur her on to better things.

It is always a big leap from doing something as a hobby to believing one can earn a living from a talent

Artbeat said...

Thank you Margaret with this sort of encouragement Debbie is starting to believe in herself

Artbeat said...

Thanks Amy
Debbie has read all the comments and I think slowly being convinced that she has a talent that needs to be nurtured

Artbeat said...

Thanks bk these mysterious nocturnal hunters do have stunning eyes and Debbie has captured the moment on canvas

Artbeat said...

Thank you Durano

It is an amazing feat of creation that talent's are passed from one generation to the next and I hope that we as an artistic family can fulfill the role passed on to us

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Caroline,

You and your site have been given the Brillante Weblog Award. Check it out at:

Well deserved! :-) --Durano, done!

autismfamily said...

My 13 yr old son draws all the time. We have over 100 drawing pads and he wants to work with Big Cats in an animal sanctuary. Your daughter Debbie has talent. How old is she?

My son liked the paintings and how she added the birds in the background to the cheetahs. He was explaining to me the difference in the head shape of the Leopard and his fav cat the Jaguar.

The Midnight Writer 1 said...

Fantastic and fancy. I am really into old fashioned fashion, especially the Victorian Era and the midieval times with such frivolry. The roaring twenties was a time also in the fashion and the dance. Thanks for the interesting article. I will visit again soon.

Artbeat said...

midnight writer 1
I agree the vintage 20's invoke a feeling of frivolity, romance, and excitement that somehow does not seem the same today

Artbeat said...

Thanks Bonnie

My daughter is married with adult children of her own, but like me considered her talent little more than a hobby all her life.

I think all the stories of struggling artists put us off pursuing art as a career when we were young.

If your son loves drawing and art then my advice is to encourage him to use his talent and do what he loves doing.

Joanne said...

what a great site you have here! amazing paintings! i do believe too that artistic skills can be acquired from one generation to another generation...

--- Joanne Apat
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Luz said...

I just wanted to let you know I love your blog. Your talent and that of your daughter featured in this post is simply amazing. My mother is gifted in drawing and painting among other creative arts. Unfortunately, she did not pass much if any of that creativity down to my brother and I.

Leaq said...

I really enjoy your site and so I'm passing the "I Love Your Blog" award to you. The information is on my site. Have a great day!

Lea said...

You have a great site and have been awarded the "I Love Your Blog" award. Visit my site for the details. Have a great day!

Judy said...

The leopards are gorgeous...what beautiful, fluid animals! Just dropped by to say "hi" from entrecard and was extremely impressed with your blog!

carol at A Second Cup said...

I though it was a photo at first. The level of detail is amazing.

going2oahu said...

Cute! I just found your blog with my entrecard toolbar and I have added the picture to my stumbleupon photo blog :-) Nice work.

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janmck said...

hi! nice blog as always! dropped my EC again here! tc! ^_^

Maryann Miller said...

Very nice blog site and I love the pictures. I also agree that creative talent is genetic. My father has perfect pitch and so does my son. It skipped a generation. :-) My mother is a primitive artist with no training or education, and several of my children are very talented artistically. And writing talent seems to run in the family, too. My grandfather was a natural storyteller, I am a writer and two of my children are talented writers, as is one grandson. It is amazing to be surrounded by so much creativity.

Shinade said...

oh my your work is truly beautiful. And I think you may be right about the genes and inheriting the desire to be an artist.

I am adopted and never studied art or attempted much until mid life. then I began to paint. No where as good as you but I did okay.

Then I got hooked on graphics and design. And now my latest passion is photography. I just started.

Now I was not raised in an artistic family. But, a few years ago I located my biological father and found that he was an artist.

And oddly enough he too started just around the same age as I did and he was completely self taught.

His works were incredible and I have been told hang in many fashionable and wealthy homes in LA. where he resided until his death.

I was fortunate enough to receive some of his prints. all of his original oils had been sold by the time I found him.

I will definitely keep dropping by. Thanks for sharing such beauty with us and such wonderful information.

havenlei said...

very interesting!

Goddess Bella Donna said...

Those are lovely. Please tell your Daughter she is a fine Artist. She probably already knows this, but it is still nice to hear.

WebbieGurl said...

Aside from the art, i have enjoyed reading your feature about this animal.. I have to admit i never knew much before getting into this page.

Wonderful blog, wonderful post.

Rogue said...

That is amazing! Aside from you, you daughter Debbie also paints perectly! That runs in the amily then!

Very inormative and interesting post plus great artistic touches...

Christy DeKoning said...

Love this painting your daughter did - the satisfied expression on the middle cat is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Debbie's work is beautiful! I am an art educator, and have to share with you my knowledge on your thought. Children naturally progress until the age of 12 in their drawing skills. After 12, however, if the child no longer seeks out education, or independent study, skills will stagnate at this level. So, since Debbie has continued to work on her own, she has heightened her own abilities. Please keep on encouraging her, art brings so much to a person's soul!

cheth said...

Oh your blog is a really good read... I just happened to see throught entrecard.. i hope to follow it :)

Nikki May said...

Hello Caroline,

I came across your blog today, and I just wanted to let you know that I really loved all your art. I like the Big Cats, and I also saw the picture you have for "African Beauty". Your craft is simply stunning.

I have spent some time in Africa, and I truely believe that there is no place that is more enchanting!

What I miss most about Africa are the beautiful sun sets and sun rises, the amazingily self-balance rocks that rise high up...and the savanna look.

You have a wonderful blog!