Artists & Illustrators|May 2020

The Herefordshire-based artist tells REBECCA BRADBURY how he portrays the strength, power and formidable beauty of big cats through his life-sized pastel portraits

Born in Herefordshire in 1961, Gary Stinton didn’t have the most conventional start to his career after dropping out of art college in his late teens. He persevered, however, and is now one of the UK’s leading wildlife artists.

Gary has been exhibiting work with London’s Jonathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery for 25 years. He has also used his art to help raise awareness for wildlife conservation. In 1996 HRH Princess Anne unveiled a commemorative painting of his that was commissioned by the Gurkha Signal Regiment.

Gary’s work is on permanent display in the Museum of Hounds & Hunting North America in Virginia, USA, and will also be on show from 25 June to 1 July at the London art fair Masterpiece.


Art is about painting what you’re passionate about, and as nature is very important to me, I’m instinctively drawn to capturing animals. To find a subject, I visit zoos, where I do some rough sketches to get a general feel for an animal. My sketching kit includes Unison Colour soft pastels and Arches hot pressed (HP) watercolour paper, which I tint with a little watercolour. It’s best to work on a coloured background with pastels as it brings out the lighter colours.

A camera with a good lens is essential too. It’s very hard to get close enough to an animal, so for the detail, you need to zoom in. I use a Nikon D60 camera with either an AF-S Nikkor 50mm lens or an AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm telephoto lens.

When I’m putting a composition together, I work from 20 or so photos. You rarely get a perfect photo and that’s why it’s essential to know your subject. For me, the time-consuming part of the painting is getting the proportions right, and it pays to study the animal – their bones, their joints, their muscles, their movements. I’ve got replica skulls of all the big cats, and they’re really useful for understanding the form of the head.


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May 2020