Cool Lion Art
In the Beginning, There was a Bad Drawing
This is a series I did in 2014. I had been thinking about doing a series of lions for awhile. I knew that I wanted to use the lions to represent God, so that became the basis for this project. I started by listing out many different ideas, verses and characteristics of God that could all play into my final 12 pieces.
I think I really got turned on to this idea after an accidental drawing that I made that turned out really good. I had this book that was full of tutorials on how to draw animals and I had decided to try my hand at a lion. Most of it turned out pretty well, except for one thing. I could not get the eyes to look right, no matter how hard I tried. I got fed up and just erased them completely away. I still liked the rest of it, though, so I decided to try to make it work by drawing a blindfold onto my lion. It ended up looking really good and it inspired me. I thought about how the Bible compares God to a lion and how God is blindfolded in a way, because he loves us without looking at what a mess we are.
The picture above is a piece that was directly inspired by that first drawing that I made. I remade the drawing and then painted it with coffee. I used an actual cloth dipped in a glue and water mix to make the blindfold and painted the words on it.
After that I had a bunch of ideas floating in my head of other pieces that I could make based on similar ideas. And thus! The lion concentration was born!
Glitter Glue and Gumption
The piece above is titled "Yahweh." It was actually the first polished piece that I made for this series. Even though I told you that I started out with that original love is blind drawing, I didn't actually recreate that piece until later.
I consider this piece the introduction piece to the series because it is pretty blunt about connecting God and a lion. Yahweh is a name for God meaning, "I am." To increase the depth of this piece, I used Bible pages in the background that talk about God as Yahweh. I used a variety of media to add the word "Yahweh" and the lion, including sharpies, colored pencil, crayon and glitter glue.
No, This Isn't From "Lion King"
When starting this lion project, I knew I would probably have some pieces that people would inevitably compare to The Lion King simply because of the subject matter. The piece above is the one I get the most questions about concerning it's Lion King-esque feeling. There is one piece in this collection that I actually did use The Lion King as some source material, but it was not this one.
This piece, as well as a few others, was inspired by a song. The song is called "Yahweh" and the lyric that inspired this piece goes, "Faithful God, You're here to stay." That line made me think of a lion watching over his pride. I played with some painting techniques to place that lyric in the bottom right corner to add some interest. I placed this lion on a rock, high above the plains below so that he can see everything going on, just like God sees everything.
Throughout this series, I did my best to hide the word "Yahweh" in as many pieces as possible to continue the underlying theme of the lions representing God. Can you find it in this piece?
This piece is a colored pencil drawing that I did. I did use a source photo for this. I wanted to have a statue of a lion as one of the pieces in this collection to portray God's permanence, stability and strength. It took a long time to finish, as most colored pencil drawings like this do.
Piecing the Piece Together
This piece was also done with colored pencil. I had to use a lot of different source photos to piece this piece together.
The Bible calls God the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" in Revelation. I really wanted to play on that idea so I did some research about the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and what that really meant. I found out the lion was basically Judah's mascot. I did some more digging and found that red was likely the tribe color as well. I wanted to use a symbol that was similar to what the actual lion of Judah might have looked like on a flag, or a shield, or whatever they may have put it on. It was really hard to find and I don't know if the image I ended up with is very close to what they might have had. There was not a lot of sources about stuff like this because the time period was so long ago. There are very few artifacts and even less documents. I was, however, able to figure out about what sort of shield a soldier back then would have used. I think I may have based it off of a Roman shield. They were tall and heavy and usually made of wood. I tried to incorporate those ideas to make this piece more realistic.
I knew I wanted to put the lion on the shield to represent God protecting His people. I wanted the person holding the shield to be a soldier, because, for one, soldiers are usually the sort of people to hold shields and, secondly, because Christians are like soldiers in "the Lord's army." Just like that song that children sing in Sunday school.
The words in the background are lyrics to another song called, "People Get Ready" by Misty Edwards. At one point in the song she chants, "I can here the rhythm of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
THIS is the Lion King One
Here it is, the one that I used reference photos from The Lion King for. The fight scene between Simba and Scar at the very end had the best lion fighting images that I could find. And, it worked out with the idea behind this piece.
This piece is doing a lot of things. For one, the style is supposed to be like that of a nature journal. As if someone was observing an actual lion fight. The idea behind the piece is of the fight between good and evil, between God and Satan. I used verses that describe both God and Satan as lions and verses that talk about the struggle between good and evil and God overcoming sin.
I made half of the scenes blurry and the other half more focused to provide a little bit of visual relief in the piece and to help it flow.
No More Chain Gang
This piece was another one that was inspired by a song. The song is called, "Break Every Chain." The first time I heard that song was when I was in Haiti. The first night that we were there, there was a large group of Haitians singing this song together. At first I thought it was a song that they had come up with themselves, but then I found out that it was actually a pretty popular song. Shows how in touch I am. Anyway, it quickly became one of my favorite songs. I put the lyrics in the background of this piece.
Since the lion represents God, I wanted to have it breaking a chain in it's mouth. This ended up being another piece by piece piece. I had to find a chain source, a lion source and the freed silhouettes sources.
The piece had a lot of drama and I wanted to sort of level it out a bit and tie it in with some of the other pieces, so I added the blue in the background as well.
The Dramatic One
This is my most dramatic piece from the series. My original vision was to portray an actual adult lion on a cross, but trying to figure out how to draw the anatomy of a lion in that position proved to difficult. I settled by putting a lion's head on Jesus' body on the cross.
The idea was that a lion is this strong, powerful creature that is hard to tame and control. It would be very hard to get an actual lion on a cross. Jesus had the power to avoid the cross and the power to get off of the cross, but He didn't because He knew that we needed Him to do that for us.
So, I made the drawing of Jesus on the cross with a strong lion's head in charcoal. Then I used a strong red watercolor to make the dripping blood on the background. I actually cut out the charcoal drawing and pasted it onto the background.
Bold as Lions
One of the verses in the Bible that talks about lions is in Proverbs. It says that the righteous are as bold as lions. I really wanted to play off of that idea. I had a lot of ideas about how I could portray that, but they all had the same concept of a lion peeking through something. I thought about using a person and having it look like the lion was inside of them and a bunch of other ideas like that, but I came across the idea to have the lion actually behind the word bold and I thought that it would look really cool.
I actually styled the word "bold" to look like the famous sculpture that says "love" with the "O" crooked to further tie this piece in with pop art and culture. I made a colored pencil drawing of the roaring lion, because lion's roars are so powerful and bold, and then photo copied it so that I wouldn't have to ruin my original. After I figured out how I wanted the word, I printed it off and used the letters to create stencils that I laid over the photocopies and spray painted with different colors. I tried a few different options before deciding to do the checkerboard. I don't even think I had originally planned to do a 4 in one piece, but that is how it happened. I was doing a lot of experimenting with the copies to see what I wanted to do for the final, but I liked the idea of having 4 in one so much that I just used the copies that I had been practicing on.
I felt like it still needed a little something more to feel finished after I had constructed the piece, so I wrote the verse reference on some of the panels to complete the piece.
Burn, Baby, Burn
This piece was also inspired by a verse, however, this verse had nothing to do with lions. In the Bible, God is also compared to fire. Hebrews 12:29 says, "The Lord is a consuming fire." I wanted to incorporate that into my lion piece because the idea of a lion with a fiery mane sounded awesome.
I'll admit, I did this piece in a rush. I wish I would have taken a little more time with it to make the lion's face more accurate. I also don't know if I should have put the words on there. I feel like it might be just as good of a piece without them.
Despite my concerns with this piece, it has actually been one of my most popular pieces from the whole collection. I have made a recreation of it for one customer, as well as sold 2 prints of it.
This is probably one of my favorite pieces from the collection. This piece is titled "Abba" which is the Hebrew word for father. So, no, this piece is not a homage to the band Abba. They are two very different things. Anyway, in Hebrew, Abba is an affectionate term, similar to when children say "daddy" in English. God is a loving father, one who wants us to look at Him as our daddy.
I also like this piece because I tried a slightly different style of colored pencil technique. Instead of spending a ton of time blending and shading and meticulously hiding my strokes, I used a circular motion and worked it a lot looser than I normally do. I also did some work to put the word "Abba" into the stone at the bottom, although I do wish that it was a little more subtle, so that when you saw it you wouldn't read that at first, but it would suddenly jump out at you and it would be awesome. Oh well, I've learned for next time.
I have confession to make; I love using tracing paper. I really like the affect I got with this piece by doing each lion on a different sheet of tracing paper and then overlaying them. I wanted to do a piece that portrayed the Trinity in lion form. So, I chose a source image of a lion that looked older and wiser to represent the Father. I used a source of a young lion to be the Son and I found a source of a lion that looked flowy and windy to represent the Holy Spirit. I then used a variety of different shading and mark making with sharpies to draw them on their pieces of tracing paper.
There you have it, folks. That is an explanation of my cool lion art series that I did. I hope you enjoyed seeing my art and reading about my processes and ideas that were behind these pieces.
I have the source of the photos as "Beamish Studio" because that is my studio name. You can find Beamish Studio on facebook to see some more of my work! I am currently working on getting an actual website set up on Wix, so I will hopefully be able to have a link on here for that soon!
I'd love to hear some feedback about what you thought about this collection, good, bad, or ugly. I'm not afraid of criticism, actually I enjoy it. I would rather have people point out what they don't like in my pieces so that I can avoid those mistakes next time. Of course, I'm definitely not adverse to compliments, though!
Thanks again for viewing!