This giraffe is the star of one of my watercolour paintings.  He is joined by another young giraffe and I have them framed in white thinking that they might be fun in a child's room.  

Last Sunday, while the giraffes got lots of attention from onlookers at the Lonsdale Quay, especially by the children, I was asked several times what the giraffe was eating and if I had really seen this animal.  "YES!!!  This is a giraffe in the Toronto Zoo and I have the photograph.  The question always arises when I show my drawings or paintings of animals - and the underlying question is "have I copied somebody else's art?"  It is an ethical issue which raises a fair bit of debate amongst artists and those who enjoy art. It also becomes a big problem for me when I want to draw elephants, which I really like to do.  

I have decided that I am going to do a series of paintings of big animals this fall and, happily, have found enough photographs in my own collections of zoo animals who will be my subjects.  But there is another issue - should these big zoo animals be kept in such small places?  In fact, the three Toronto elephants were moved to a wilder and warmer sanctuary in California about a year ago and I cheered the decision.  I do have some photos of those elephants before they departed and I do think they look depressed - three old ladies of middle age who do not all necessarily like to be close to one another in a cold climate.  But, the greater horror is that elephants are being destroyed by the thousands in Africa where Chinese-backed poachers are killing them for their tusks.  Where is there a safe and happy place for an elephant?  Haven't we humans just mucked the whole world up?  

Well, my resolve is to start painting these big animals, and I will give the profits to an animal charity when I find one I can trust.  In the meantime, I have asked several photographers who do display wild animal photographs (and are they all an ethical lot?, who knows?) if they will allow me to use their images so that I am not just another opportunist.  I think we owe it to the original artist, the photographer, and then we owe a whole lot more to the animals!!!  How to help them is not clear.  If you have any thoughts on these issues or, in fact, any photos you would be willing to share with me so that I might paint them, please let me know.




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