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Endangered Animals Bleed Color in Drippy Mixed-Media Portraits

By creating sublime portraits of animals, Louise McNaught hopes to start an important conversation.
Images courtesy of the artist

Against backgrounds that seem to sear themselves into memory, larger-than-life renditions of animals get up close and personal in Louise McNaught’s imaginitive mixed-media paintings. Yet each piece feels less like an anatomical study of the animal and more like a melancholic portrait of its essence. Even while in some pieces the animals feel sublime in their beauty, in others, parts of their bodies seem to fade away.


McNaught often uses oil, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas to create each intricate piece. Each work captures the unique characteristics of each animal, even while they stand as a symbol for their species.


“I have always painted animals from a very young age, it just seemed to make sense as I loved drawing/painting and I love animals—paint what you love!” McNaught tells The Creators Project in an email. “I still find nature endlessly inspiring, its just such an abundant source of inspiration.”

McNaught graduated from the University of Greenwich and spends much of her time creating these pieces based on “emotive and spiritual experiences,” as she explains on her website. “I started using fluorescent media in 2011/12 in the latter part of my Fine Art Degree as I was looking into contrasting opposites with nature and fluorescent colour screams 'man-made' to me, as does the metallic leaf I also started experimenting with,” writes McNaught. “But when combined with nature it becomes beautiful and takes on another meaning, the animals looked like they were shining from within with the neon coloring.”


This aesthetic choice also comes from McNaught’s desire to discuss our effects on nature. The Endangered Series features endangered species set against saturated backgrounds with delicate drips falling from the top of the piece onto their figure.

The dripping feels like an especially powerful gesture in Falling For You (above), a portrait of a honey bee. Almost like a frame that captures the bee in the middle of falling, its a haunting reminder of the honey bee crisis that’s been making headlines. McNaught uses bold colors to depict these animals in an eye-catching way.


“I also often use bright background color to draw attention to the animals I depict, if I'm not using neon—as I have focused on endangered species more recently and want to highlight their plight but neon doesn't always suit the subject matter.”

Even while she approaches a difficult subject matter, McNaught also captures the beauty of each animal in her pieces. Through her attention to detail, she offers viewers a close look at each wrinkle, each change in texture. Her works are a reminder of the beauty of nature, even while they serve as warnings.


Click here to visit Louise McNaught's website.


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