Archive for category Author: Vic Bearcroft

Drawing & Painting Cats || Vic Bearcroft

I had my doubts about Vic’s previous book. I felt that, excellent as his wildlife paintings were, some of his backgrounds were a bit flat. I couldn’t decide if this was deliberate – to push the main subject forward or not, but I felt a lack of impact. There are no such worries here. All the works in this volume are complete and the subjects are either set properly in context or isolated against a plain wash that’s entirely suitable for a portrait.

There’s no doubt that Vic loves cats – it’s apparent on every page, both in the way he depicts them and a hundred small details I’ll leave you to find for yourself. His dedication indicates that he’s lived with them and it shows. There are plenty of domestic moggies here, both young and old, alert and at rest and Vic captures perfectly both their physical and mental attitudes. My favourite is of a black Tom sitting on a roof in moonlight. Its posture and expression say both “I’m lord of all I survey” and “What am I doing here?”. And that’s pure cat.

This understanding extends to the larger cats, too, and Vic has some excellent demonstrations of a prowling black leopard and of lions and tigers. He works in watercolour, acrylic, pastel, pencil and ink, so there’s something for everyone. As long as you like cats, of course.

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Drawing & Painting Wild Animals || Vic Bearcroft

Whether you like this book is going to depend on whether or not you want to paint the zoo’s stock-in-trade (the analogy is Vic’s – he suggests zoos as the most practical way of seeing animals in real life).

Assuming you do, this is a thoughtfully arranged book that groups its subjects into Big Cats, Bears, Pachyderms, etc. This makes a varied topic manageable and also means that creatures with broadly similar characteristics – body shapes, hair/fur and so on – are kept together. You could, I suppose, argue for geographic groupings, but this would suit the naturalist better than the artist. In each section, Vic deals with basic shapes and distinctive features, moving on to demonstrations that will show you how to paint a specific animal. Treatments and backgrounds vary, which gives you the chance both to highlight your subject and put it in its natural context. It’s in the former that Vic is at his best as his landscapes have a habit of looking rather flat. I can’t decide whether this is deliberate, though. It’s possible that he is playing the backgrounds down so as to concentrate on the main subject, but it also has the effect of making the animals disappear into them, which is unfortunate.

This is a bit of a quibble, as this is otherwise an excellent book and Vic is superb on both the modelling and the detail work that give his subjects life – the most important aspect of animal painting.

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