Start your holiday shopping and help Kevin with veterinary needs!

Hi All,
I cannot believe the holidays are almost here!  I hope everyone has had a spectacular year with lots of exciting things happening.  I know it has been quite a hectic year for Kevin and the lions.  Aslan with his root canals, George and Yame with their ongoing health issues, Bongani’s broken tooth, and the contracepting of the girls. All this -and not to mention the regular day-to-day health care of the animals.

As you're preparing (or halfway through!) your holiday shopping, we want to remind you of the Art of the Pride limited edition prints that would be a huge help to Kevin and his animals with their veterinary needs AND give the gift of beauty and art to your loved ones!  Here's the link for all six:
http://artofthepride.com/limited-prints

Also, Kevin and the Sanctuary have created a limited number of T-shirts and hoodies for sale that would make great stocking stuffers!  They are only available for the next two weeks and may be purchased here:
https://www.bonfirefunds.com/kevin-richardson-wildlife-sanctuary-2

Thank you again for your love, support and generosity.  We could not have done this project without you and are very grateful for all of you.  I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season.   To stay in touch with the ongoing excitement at the Sanctuary, make sure you keep up with the latest on Lion Whisperer TV:
https://www.youtube.com/user/LionWhispererTV

Thank you & Happy New Year!

Thank you & Happy New Year!

Hi All,

As 2014 comes to a close, here's the latest!

The paintings and oil on paper pieces are nearly completed and we are onto the next phase of planning for the exhibit!  We will be meeting with my NYC gallery, Rare, at the beginning of January, to make plans for the exhibit in New York, Los Angeles and/or Miami, slated for May of 2015.  Additionally, we will be working on sponsorships and partnerships and should have more details for you in the coming months.  All in all, we are very excited to gear up for 2015, both to raise money for Kevin's reserve and to bring further awareness to the declining numbers of African lions.  

And speaking of bringing awareness to the lions, there was a wonderful 60 Minutes piece last month on Kevin and his sanctuary.  Not only did it showcase his reserve and extended family of 26 lions, but it also brought to light his work in exposing the canned lion hunting trade and the sinister side of the South African tourism industry.  Here's a link to the story:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-lion-whisperer/

Thank you so much for all your support in making Art of the Pride possible.   We are looking forward to completing this project in 2015 and can't wait to share with you our upcoming plans.  

Much love to you all and the happiest of New Year's!

Suzanne & the Art of the Pride team

Evolution of a painting

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am.  I've been working away here in the studio and have now completed 3 paintings and several more oil on paper pieces!  

To give you a little peek into my creative process, below is the painting of Kevin & Thor in various stages from initial study to finished painting.  The first 2 images are oil on paper pieces, 22" x 30", that I created to figure out composition, colors and movement.  Then with all that in mind, I started on the larger format oil on canvas.  Surprisingly, this painting didn't veer off from the initial study nearly as much as some of my paintings do, and the working and re-working had more to do with my desire to have Kevin represent the potential of all mankind rather than just to be mere mortal Kevin!  Rather a large task that involved various morphings of Kevin, but I think in the end I was able to make it work.  Not only does it capture the bond between Kevin & Thor, but it also symbolizes the more universal potentials of man & nature - or at least I hope so!

Enjoy the images - and I would love to hear any comments or questions!

Have a great weekend,

Suzanne

Studio Visit with Suzanne

Studio visit with Suzanne

June 2014

Hi Everyone!

While I know I promised the evolution of a painting in my last email, I had a fantastic studio visit the other day with two of our Advisory Board members, Kathryn Williams and Julie Hegeler, and I am really eager to share it with you. We not only had an enlivened discussion about the paintings, but they also documented the day with some great photos of my studio.   In discussing my work, which is in various stages of completion, I was better able to envision what is forming for the show - and I’m very excited! 

I also had a conversation with Eileen Flannigan, another Board member, who was curious about why I do studio visits and in particular, what I got out of this one.    She did a little interview with me (see below) and I thought it might be something you would be interested in reading as well, particularly the part about what I want the supporters of this project to know. 

Thanks again for staying on this journey with us and taking the opportunity to do a virtual studio visit with me.  I would love to hear any comments/questions/thoughts you might have!

Have a wonderful week!

Cheers,
Suzanne

Interview with Suzanne:  

EF:  In general, why do you do studio visits?

SU:  I like studio visits because they give me a different perspective on my work.   Not only will the visitor focus on areas I’ve overlooked, but I also gain new insights into the process by verbalizing them for someone else. 

EF:  In this specific studio visit, what was the direction of conversation about your work that you found interesting?

SU:  I’m always surprised by the psychological story that is going on for visitors since I spend so much time consumed by the technical aspects of the painting.  How one painting can evoke a variety of different stories depending on who the viewer is and what they bring to the table.  With this studio visit, Kathryn and Julie were both struck by the mood of the painting of Kevin & Thor, although they both had very different ideas of what they were seeing.  Kathryn thought it was possible that something bad had just happened or was going to happen between them or to them.  She felt the tension lay in the teal blue space between them and that this had a profound weight for her.  Julie, on the other hand, felt it was more uplifting.  The teal blue and lighter colors seemed less despairing than the original colors I used for the oil on paper studies, and therefore it came across more positive to her.  With the painting of Kevin and the hyenas, Kathryn felt it to be rather sinister. The watercolor pink background reminded her of blood and the Kevin in that painting reminded her of a very tough 1950’s mechanic surrounded by vicious-looking hyenas.  She was unsettled by the nothingness of the background and the surprising color choices brought her into an unknown world.  I think my paintings work best when the situation isn’t spelled out for the viewer, so this sort of conversation felt extremely stimulating. 

EF:  What exactly was the feedback and how was it in alignment with your vision?  

SU:  They were excited about the bold freshness of the work and its scale.  How by not depicting Kevin and the animals in their natural environment added weight to their relationship and brought the subject matter into more universal themes of man and nature and relationships and story rather than simply an illustration of Kevin and the lions and hyenas.  To me this is successful because being on the reserve with Kevin and the animals, WAS more to me about the universal relationship of man and nature, not just what I was witnessing between this man and these animals.   While Kevin’s relationship with the lions and hyenas is absolutely extraordinary and mesmerizing, for me it also conjures up everything from mythological stories of the Garden of Eden and Daniel in the Lion’s Den, to childhood dreams of fairy tales and paradises lost. 
 
EF:  Is there anything specifically about your work or your process that you want to share with your supporters?  

SU:  I start out with oil on paper studies so I am able to work out a great deal of the details of composition, movement of brushstrokes and color combinations ahead of time.   This allows the painting on canvas to be fresher, bolder, to have a presence to it that matches the subject.  This is one of the things that drew me into wanting to paint Kevin and the animals - because I saw an immediacy in his experience that felt parallel to the immediacy in my paintings.  

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Kevin on 60 Minutes & #lionwhispererTV

Happy Summer A of the P Supporters! 

I just finished watching an amazing segment on 60 Minutes about Kevin and the future of lion/ animal conservation.    I figured you would love it too, so give it a watch and let me know what you think!

http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/stories/8856282/lion-man-meet-the-extraordinary-man-known-as-the-lion-whispererl

Not only are there absolutely stunning moments with Kevin and his lions but he also takes the opportunity to emphasize the need for lions in the wild and not in captivity.   The show juxtaposes Kevin’s efforts with his lions and another man's experiment in Kenya using GPS tracking of wild lions in order to save them from hunters & tribal villages that will kill them for tradition or revenge.    As stated by a biologist in the piece, "If the lion goes, everything else is going with it."  Amen.
 
Another exciting media news is that Lion Whisperer TV (#lionwhispererTV) launched today on YouTube!  Watch Meg, Kevin’s precious girl, have her first kill.    She’s strapped with a  GoPro camera so literally you can see all the hairs on her neck standup when she views her prey.   It’s exhilarating and a special thing to see! 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thNwNvvi48M

Make sure you subscribe to the channel for all the really amazing footage to come. 

Up next, will be the evolution of a painting!  I hope to have that out to you this weekend.  So until then, have a wonderful week and enjoy all the watching of Kevin and his lions!

Cheers.
Suzanne
 

New work from Art of the Pride

Hi All & Welcome Spring!

I can’t tell you how great it is to see the buds opening and the sun shining after what seemed to be an endless winter. 
 
While I’ve been aware for a long time of the necessity of flowing with winter – forging new paths internally - I generally do it kicking and screaming and this year has been no different.   However, when Spring does arrive, it comes with new ideas, experiments and excitement that wouldn’t have happened without the ruminations of winter and I’m feeling happy to be on the other side.
 
What I’ve been thinking about over the last months is how the photographs I took at the reserve remind me of the “money shots” of Kevin and all the animals I saw on the Internet before my trip. What I want to express has nothing to do with those great shots but has to do with the in-between moments when Kevin is about to climb on Meg but she slips out of his way, or when Kevin and Thor are hanging out lost in their own thoughts, just being.   What I’ve been experimenting with is how to translate those moments in paint with the same immediacy one experiences in Africa – on the reserve and with the animals.
 
So with those thoughts in mind, here are some of the latest pieces I’ve been working on!
 
Enjoy & have a wonderful weekend!
 
Cheers, Suzanne

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Photos from the Global March for Lions

Head of NYC's Global March for Lions, Sarah La Rocca, holding one of the posters designed by our advisory board member, Carla Alpert.

Head of NYC's Global March for Lions, Sarah La Rocca, holding one of the posters designed by our advisory board member, Carla Alpert.

Hi All,

Thanks for coming out (or being there in spirit!) for the first Global March for Lions last Saturday in Washington Square Park.  It was globally a great success with Archbishop Tutu leading the ceremonies.  Locally, we had 300+ participants speaking up for the cause with beautiful posters designed by our advisory board member, Carla Alpert, that included a painting from yours truly.  The posters enhanced Head of NYC's Global March for Lions, Sarah La Rocca's vision of an artistic slant to the festivities.   Other endeavors included African drummers and a lion sculpture.  Lots of enthusiasm abounded for combining art and conservation and many enthusiastic New Yorkers are now following Art of the Pride.

In other news, we will be in an article on crowd-sourced fundraising in the June issue of Professional Artist Magazine and will keep you posted on that as well. 

Happy first day of Spring!

Suzanne

Even kids and dogs joined in for NYC's March!

Even kids and dogs joined in for NYC's March!



Global March for Lions on March 15th

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Hi Everybody,

Join Art of the Pride on March 15th in one of the worldwide cities near you for the Global March for Lions.  Check out this website to find out where the march is in your area:  http://www.globalmarch4lions.org/#sthash.DBKpCqQc.dpbs

If you are in NYC, please join me and Art of the Pride advisory board members, Carla Alpert, Julie Hegeler, Bill Stockton and Kathryn Williams at Garibaldi Plaza in Washington Square Park from 11am-1pm on Saturday, March 15th to stand up for the lions and get the word out on the atrocities of canned lion hunting.  Not only will we be at the event, but there will also be NYC Global March posters designed by our master graphic designer Carla with an image of one of my oil on paper studies of Kevin with lioness, Meg, and a streaming video of Kevin discussing the future of the African lion.  The event details are changing daily so check back here for the latest:  https://www.facebook.com/events/234671106707328/

In other news, we received our first bit of press from Patrick Ogle at mapanare.us in Chicago:  http://www.mapanare.us/10/post/2014/03/see-preliminary-works-for-art-of-the-pride-an-art-project-by-suzanne-unrein-inspired-by-lion-whisperer-kevin-richardson.html.  Patrick interviewed me at Scope Miami a couple of years ago and has been loyally following our project.  I’ll be doing an upcoming interview with him and will send that along when I have it.

Hope to see you on the 15th!

Check out the preliminary sketches for Art of the Pride paintings!

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Hi everybody,
 
Lots going on over here with Art of the Pride.
 
My studio is literally covered in paintings and oil on paper sketches of lions and hyenas with Kevin and alone, African skies, trees and vast landscapes.  I’m simultaneously working on 22” x 30” oil on paper studies as well as larger paintings that are being informed by them (and vice versa.)
 
To give you a bit of info on my process, I start with creating sketches on smaller sheets of primed paper – generally 22” x 30” – working out compositions and subject matter.  I then begin moving the paint, figuring out the energy of the piece and trying out different color combinations.  When I have enough info from these smaller works, I start envisioning which ones will work as larger paintings and begin creating those.  As the larger paintings start taking form, I often go back to creating more oil on paper pieces to work out various ideas that come to me from the larger paintings. 
 
I’ll take you through the whole process via one painting in my next blog post, but for now check out the oil on paper pieces I’ve been working on this week:  
 
 

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Kevin's Go Pro Video!

Hey Everybody!
 
Have you seen the GoPro’s Be A Hero video featuring Kevin with the lions and hyenas?   It’s really a must see!   Having already gone viral with over 5.6 million viewers, I think the excitement over it has everything to do with how much you feel like you’re in Kevin’s world.   You will hear him summon the animals with endearing calls and watch the lions wrap their paws around his neck for the most affectionate hugs.  I swear you can see the love in these lion’s eyes and smiles.

While this video closely mirrors my experience on the reserve, it’s still truly amazing to see these 350-550 pound animals act like house pets around Kevin as they cuddle and frolic through the African savannah.   Or how Kevin takes such jovial pleasure in knowing all the personalities of the hyenas and jokes as he introduces Monty as “ a human trapped in hyena clothing.”  These glimpses of magic are also the subject matter in my paintings.  To translate and understand this unique energy through paint on canvas has been a remarkable experience for me so far!   I'm humbled and more passionate than ever to dive into the creative process of bringing this world to life.
 
Up next will be more images of paintings in progress - and hopefully some finished ones!
 
Thanks for your continued support of Art of the Pride and I hope you are catapulted right into Kevin’s world with the lions and hyenas as you watch this video!  

 

And the paintings have begun..

Hi Everyone,
 
I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!
 
I’m knee-deep in painting and thought I would share with you a few experiences I’ve been having as I go deeper into this process.   First off, my experience of having met Kevin and the lions and hyenas has really transformed the way I’m painting animals.  I’m more acutely aware of how capturing them in paint is really about capturing their energy in paint.  My memory of the way they maneuver their landscape is becoming a focal point in these first pieces.  Here’s a photo of some works in progress.  I’m excited to see how they progress.

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Next up is Kevin with the magnificent lion, Thor.  We had some awful news last week when we found out that Thor was struck by lightning three hours after the great Nelson Mandela died.  It was a shock to Kevin and the whole reserve as of course, unexpected.  I was just starting a painting of Thor with Kevin and it's been an emotional time working on it as you could literally feel the love between them and I feel it as I work on capturing their relationshiop in paint.  I'll send you updates on that piece as it moves further along, but here's some pics and video of Thor so you can behold what a wonderful being he was.  Kevin is very happy that Thor will live on in my paintings and that's thanks to you guys for helping make this all happen.  RIP Thor. 

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Really feeling grateful to all of you for supporting this project.  Have a wonderful holiday and looking forward to catching up with you in the new year!

Paintings coming up!

Hi Everyone!

I am back in NYC and about to embark on the production of the paintings for Art of the Pride!  I'm currently organizing the hundreds of photographs and sketches I created on location and wanted to share a couple of them with you.  I'm pretty certain these are going to be hugely inspiring for some upcoming paintings!

I couldn't be more excited to get started on creating these paintings to benefit Kevin's reserve and non-profit PAW.  Not only will the proceeds of the work go to support the lions, but we will also be bringing attention to their declining numbers in the hopes that we can help change the course of these amazing creatures.

 

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In Africa

Hi everyone,

Sorry to be MIA but we’ve been in the bush with no internet seeing lots of amazing & inspiring animals. In researching other cats and conservation projects, we discovered a cheetah foundation that takes in sick and wounded cheetahs to rehabilitate them. These cats, while not the king of beasts, are incredibly beautiful with great speed and elegance. They are more similar to your domestic cat – if you are allergic to one you are allergic to the other – and they behave with the same nonchalant attitude. It’s wonderful to see that other people are taking on conservation projects as the declining numbers in all wildlife here is staggering. When you hear about the hundreds of thousands of animals that used to migrate through Africa one can’t help feeling like we are in a deserted desert today. Our wanderings are underlining the need for this project more than ever. 

 

The domestic cat-like cheetah

The domestic cat-like cheetah

The elegant and quick cheetahs  

The elegant and quick cheetahs

 

We touched lions!

What a fascinating day it has been.  I touched two lions!  Yes, actually felt lion fur against my fingers.  These gracious creatures were Meg & Amy, two of Kevin's favorite gals.  It was a truly amazing experience and one of the main reasons I needed to come to South Africa.  Until you feel the strength beneath their skin, you have no idea how powerful they are.  I can only imagine how this will forever change the way I paint lions!  

Thanks to all of you for supporting this endeavor.  

Have a great weekend!

 

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Falling Madly In Love

Paintings are energetically forming in my mind after yesterday's session with Kevin in creative motion with one of the girls.  In stark contrast, I spent the afternoon with 5 lazy boys lounging under an acacia tree sketching and just being with them.  As any of my artist's friends will attest there's nothing like sketching your subjects to ensure you fall madly in love with them.  Sketching these five regal boys, I was smitten.  

 

 

Some "friendly role play" 

Some "friendly role play" 

The artist and her five muses

The artist and her five muses

Lazy Lion Sunday

Lazy Lion Sunday

 

Suzanne

 

Coffee-time with Kevin and a Few Wandering Lions

Good Morning Wonderful Supporters! 

Does your morning coffee look something like this? I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet other than Kevin that takes his coffee with a side of lions and in such a dream-like setting. What a way to welcome the day!

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers Mates!  

Cheers Mates!  

Kevin has been amazingly gracious and taking us along on his lion walks to witness what he normally does on the reserve. We’ve gotten intimate views of the different personalities of the lions. Here, Bobcat (the lion) and Gabby (the lioness) take typical gender roles, where the male Bobcat saunters slowly and regally, Gabby the energetic female sniffs everything in sight ready to pounce and hunt, when the opportunity arises.

 

We love, love, love your comments!   Keep them coming and if there’s a question that pops into your head, write it in the comments.  We’ll find the answers with Kevin and his very capable staff.   

Much Ubuntu,

Suzanne & Eileen

 

Kevin & The Rowdy Threesome Walkabout

Wow! We started the morning off with a trip to the bush with Kevin and a young pride of three:  one gorgeous lion and two feisty females!  Rather than explain the shenanigans, watch this video for some insight and good fun.    

(By the way, when you see Suzanne inches away from a lion she's not trying to be a nonchalant New Yorker, but was instructed by Kevin to ignore them if they came close after signing away her life and limbs in a standard waiver).   

ENJOY THE ANTICS! 

 

 

First Impressions

Yahoo, we made it!

After hearing hyenas and lions all night we were excited and ready to go meet them and Kevin this morning. What an amazing first it has been! Greeting by Kevin who couldn’t be more friendly at the gate and following him down a dusty road, passing wild wildebeest on the way and arriving at our first lion’s den. Kevin jumped in to say good morning to Meg & Amy who probably are the two lionesses dearest to his heart.

Although they were waiting to be fed (which is only 2 times a week) they still took time from their anticipation to greet a delighted Kevin who gave them a great big lion hug and played a little game of hide & seek. To see the lions’ energy go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds was something to witness and even though they were hungry, they could show Kevin such sweet affection. Another impression was that having just rained all night there was a surprising lack of smell but their sounds made up for it to our senses. We’ve never heard anything so primal and spectacular! The vibrations in the air carried these sounds deep within to the familiar and connected part of ourselves.

We also got to meet those crazy hyenas. Hearing the grunts, giggles and laughs of the mail hyena was a highlight. Vincent who was missing a tail and ear because his sister took them off as a baby was named after one of the great painters. I felt a certain kinship with him immediately! We learned some fascinating facts about hierarchy of hyenas and will share with you in subsequent posts.

For now, our amazing adventure beckons, as we are headed back to the reserve to hang with Kevin and the friendly staff for an animal waterhole visit and pre-nocturnal activities.

=  - Suzanne & Eileen

 

 

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We're Off!

Well, it’s finally happening! I’m taking off with my phenomenal project manager, Eileen Flannigan, to fly to Gauteng, South Africa to Kevin’s reserve to meet him, his wife, Mandy, and the lions, lionesses, hyenas and leopards. Within a day or two, I will be photographing and sketching and Eileen will be documenting to bring all the news to you guys. I’m unbelievably excited that this dream is finally happening – it feels no less than a miracle!