April 23rd 2021 I stumbled across this stunning photograph of a leopard while scrolling away in the endless world of instagram. Little did I know then how much impact this discovery would have on my work ahead!
I checked out the page of this talented photographer behind the photo I'd seen and was instantly impressed with his gallery, documenting all these beautiful creatures.
I randomly asked him if I could use the leopard photo as a reference for a painting. To my joy he said yes, and this was going to be the beginning of a great connection, friendship and a project.
We connected and supported each others work in the time to come. One day I got a custom order of a colorful lion. Again I turned to my friend Alberto asking for a reference.
After painting "Leo", I felt a bit guilty for using Alberto´s photos for my trade without giving him other than recognition in my social media posts. So I asked if he could put together a package price for a selection of 10 photographs of my choice, and he did. This is when I decided to make this series.
The vision for this series is not to create striking photographic resemblance to the original photography! I get inspired by the photo and try to combine a somewhat realistic motif with an abstract touch! The importance is the expression in their eyes.
Alberto Labrador from Madrid in Spain, loves photographing, especially wildlife, nature and landscape.
Visit his page Alberto Labrador Photography and follow his updates in his instagram feed @Albertronik_photography ! As I´ve gotten to know Alberto through our conversations, he is not only a very talented man, he also has the kindest heart! I truly wish him all the happiness and recognition for his work that he deserves.
Statement from Alberto: «I am Alberto Labrador, a wildlife and nature photographer who in his free time enjoys going out with his camera to the countryside, to the parks, to capture the beauty of nature and the wonderful inhabitants that we have on our planet. It has been a great honor for me that a great artist like Marlen took notice of my images to translate them into her precious works of art.»
I don't know why, but I find it very peaceful and calming to paint animals, and it gives me great joy of finding my own artistic expression through these projects! I am not aiming for perfection in terms of looking exactly the same as the photo as you probably can see from these pairs. This project is more about finding my own artistic way, but with a deeper origin that actually means something to me than random references. The common characteristics of these paintings are the combination of dark backdrops, paintbrush and colorful pourpaint technique with metallic pigments. This is a style that I use in many of my paintings, both pure abstracts and in combination with motifs. All the pieces are not composed with all those elements, but they all have some of it!
Alberto did me the honor of naming this painting, "Feline Beauty".
This piece is currently with Context Artgallery in Venice Italy, where it is represented in the gallery and in art fairs. In addition to the original, this piece is available as a limited fineart print in three sizes.
Leo / King Kavuh
As the lion was a custom order, it is the only exception of being named by the photographer himself. So this is "Leo", because it is the name of the little boy this painting was ordered to.
After a long time, I decided to pick up the brush again and make another lion for the series. So here is "King Kavuh" 2023. This piece is already sold, and will be shipped to USA right after my expo "I see RED" at Radisson RED Oslo Økern 22. of June. It will be made available as a limited fineart print with golden pigments by hand.
The next painting was the first I made with the intention of creating a project.
I've seen many paintings of male peacocks with their tail in an upward colorful fan, ready for their mating parade dressed to impress. But I wanted to take a different angle and give this beautiful bird a different perspective. Alberto didn't have a photo of the position I was thinking of at hand, but I was allowed to use a few of his photos of a peacock that enabled me to create this painting along with some artistic freedom ;) So here is "Tropical Beauty". It is just something about the glance! The original painting is available for purchase, and as limited fineart prints with golden pigments by hand.
I am very excited about this one, and honestly my personal favorite of all the paintings I've painted to date. Malabo, the gorilla!
I am so happy about how it turned out, the expression in his eyes and the colorful torso, making a contrast of majestic power and a soft playful touch.
The original is sold, but he is available as limited fineart prints and also 10x framed aluminum.
This is the 5th piece in the series, acrylic on 80x80cm canvas with metallic pigments. After painting the zebras I filled a colourful electric heart around it.
I try to emphasise on the eyes - to capture an essence of their warm soul.
The original is available, and also as limited fineart prints with golden pigments by hand.
Pink Reflection is the 6th piece in the series, and is painted with acrylic brushstrokes, acrylic pour paint and metallic pigments on deep edge canvas 80x80cm. This piece has been exhibited at Via Showcase in Vika Oslo, at "the Gallery" at Grunerløkka and at PSA Consulting Aker Brygge.
The original is available, and as limited fineart prints.
I love the colors on the Komodo, and tried to recreate them with a colourful pour paint with different green and blue tones, sprinkled with my signature metallic pigments.
This original is available, and also as limited fineart prints with golden pigments by hand.
I am in love with the contrast of the black background, the light fur and golden elements. I did an experiment where I layed the painting flat on the floor and showered it with golden glitter only on the leopards. It is hard capturing this properly on photo, it has to be witnessed live. It is a sparkly sensation where you see the motif through the glitters, but it changes constantly with lighting and angle.
Originally I started this piece with a colorful pour paint down their bodies. But I really didn't feel it and I was stuck on it for many months pushing it to the back of my garage. Then when I picked it up again almost a year later, I painted it all black and started over. when I was finished with the black and white, I had an idea with my magic golden pigment powder (my secret ingredient that I use SOOO MUCH in many different ways). It could ruin the painting that I was finally happy with or it could take it to the next level. I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself but I am quite happy with the decision. I mixed it with water and pouring medium, and poured the liquid gold all over the giraffes - letting it set in its own way. This is the result!
The original will be available soon, and also limited fineart prints
This peace really gave me a hard time. I started off with going into all the details of the rough rhino skin, then to pour colorful pour paint on their bodies and horns. I did that at the same time as I did it on the giraffes, and also with this piece I got stuck and unsatisfied with the result. It was also left at the back of my garage thinking I'd never be able to finish it.
This is my most recent piece, and I literally just dropped the brush in this writing moment. I cannot describe the feeling of completing the "blocked" piece in the same stroke as completing this whole series that I've been working on for two years! On this piece I tried a new experiment with my golden pigment magic powder. I sprayed water all over the rhinos with a spray bottle, and drizzled the powder on top of the water drops then to let it dry. This piece changes from every angle you see it from, and suddenly lights up in some parts - then others when you move along.
The original will be available soon, and also limited fineart prints with handmade golden pigment touches.
Thank you for reading the story behind my project! And thanks to everyone who's been following this journey with me in social media and such.
A special thank you to my dear friend and partner in this project Alberto Labrador! I am forever thankful to you, for all the support along the way, for naming the pieces, I admire your work and I'm grateful for the friendship!