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Jacqui Oakley 2014
I was so pleased to be asked by AOL Artists to be part of their family – what an amazing group of artists to be connected to! I was especially excited to be chosen to promote Earth Day, since not only do I have a fondness for our little planet, but I also enjoy painting wildlife, and am an admirer of early botanical illustrations. Of course it was a great opportunity to promote an important day and shed some light on our endangered species but also celebrate the diversity of our planet. You can see my images on the AOL homepage. Thanks to Nikki and Erika for being so wonderful to work with. AOL has been so encouraging in this process. As an artist you really do feel welcomed into their community and you do feel their excitement about supporting art.
In honor of Earth Day, AOL will be donating $1 to the Nature Conservancy for any user who joins their Twibbon campaign. If you use one of my canvases as a ‘Twibbon” to your Twitter or Facebook page, $1 will be donated to The Nature Conservancy. What a great idea!
One of my illustrations features the critically endangered Amur Leopard which used to live in Korea, China and Russia but now only finds its home in the remote and snowy northern forests of eastern Russia’s Primorye region. With a population of just 30-35 individuals, threats facing the species include habitat loss due to logging, poaching, global climate change and an encroaching human population. The Amur Leopard is one of the most, if not the most, endangered large cats on earth. I wanted to paint this beautiful creature glancing warily behind foliage; isolated and seemingly melding into the background, disappearing from our memory.
Here’s some process shots of this piece. Here’s the acrylic paint before I added the ink lines.
With my other illustrations I wanted to depict a range of our planet’s unique environments and climates. I wanted to not only focus on the problems facing the planet but also depict a small window into landscapes that celebrate its vast diversity. With these images I focused on wind, plant-life, air, streams, earth and the ocean, all painted within a globe composition.
One particular environment that is endlessly fascinating to me is the Ocean. I grew up in a house looking out on the Persian Gulf and since moving inland to Canada as a teenager, I’ve felt sadly distanced from the sea. I find the immense scale of the Earth’s oceans and seas incredibly awe-inspiring and overwhelming. Recently the Census of Marine Life (COML) project took on a massive 10 year international effort to assess the diversity and abundance of marine life. The Census estimated there to be over 1 million species in the ocean, with three quarters still awaiting discovery. I can’t even fathom the scale of this. To think there is so much to be discovered on this planet still is truly amazing.
I was so happy to get four pieces chosen by AOL but I also painted a few more images inspired by the Earth Day theme. Here’s a few more critically endangered animals and some sketches.
WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA
There are two lowland gorillas native to West Africa: the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), which is the most numerous of the four gorilla subspecies, with over 90,000 individuals in the wild, and the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla diehli), of which only a tiny population of a few hundred remains. Both are listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered because of the fact that their populations have declined by over 60 percent during the past 25 years—and are projected to continue dropping over the coming decades. Causes for the increasing scarcity include habitat loss and illegal commercial hunting by poachers, who sell gorillas for food in West African markets. But the largest killer of gorillas has been a deadly illness—the incurable ebola virus—which has ended the lives of up to 90 percent of these great apes in some forest areas. More Information on IUCN red list
Here’s a process shot of the gorilla. I was really happy with how this piece turned out.
You can find this gorilla and my crane piece as prints now on my Etsy shop.
THE SIBERIAN CRANE
Siberian Cranes have two breeding populations in the Arctic tundra of western and eastern Russia. They eastern populations migrate during winter to China while the western population winters in Iran and formerly, in India. Among the cranes, they make the longest distance migrations. Their populations, particularly those in the western range have declined drastically in the 20th century due to hunting along their migration routes and habitat degradation. The world population was estimated in 2010 at about 3200 birds, mostly belonging to the eastern population with about 95% of them wintering in the Poyang lake basin in China, a habitat that may be altered by the Three Gorges Dam. More information at IUCN Red List.
The gaur, also called Indian bison, is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986 as the population decline in parts of the species’ range is likely to be well over 70% over the last three generations. Population trends are stable in well-protected areas, and are rebuilding in a few areas which had been neglected. This image was adapted from a larger piece I painted for an exhibition, see original here.
Thanks again to AOL Artists! I’m really thrilled to be a part of this.