Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bob Kuhn

Bob Kuhn was born in Buffalo, New York in the the year 1920. As a child he was inspired by the animals at a local zoo, beginning his love for wildlife drawings. Seventeen years later he attended the Pratt Institute, studying anatomy, drawing and design. For over thirty years Bob Kuhn remained a popular wildlife artist.

Unlike many other artists, Kuhn found the line to be the most important part in exercising a drawing. To him "if knowledge is power, then drawing is a means of achieving power in the portrayal of wildlife. It can also be much more." (Bob Kuhn Drawing on Instinct 3) A sure line conveys the knowledge, and the power inside an animal. Although shading is also important, the lines hold the piece together, and convey the meaning behind the piece.

Coyote Chasing Rabbit
Medium: Bold Medium Conte
An illustration depicting the relationship between prey and predator. Kuhn captures the urgency of the scene with long strokes stretching across the page. Instead of focusing on details Kuhn develops the composition and feeling of the piece.

Kuhn also believed that a drawing could be a final product, and are not simply meant to be a preliminary stage to a process. They are interpretations of a subject within the limits given by pencil, charcoal, chalk or ink. Each drawing plants knowledge of the subject in the creators head. The act of drawing is more than simply recording what is seen. It is a continuous addition to the artists mental database and experience.

After 1970 Kuhn turn to exclusively painting wildlife. After a very prolific career Kuhn turned to painting, exploring and honing his abilities. Like his drawings, his paintings were not detail oriented, but focused on impressions and suggestions.

Rubbing of the Velvet- Caribou
Medium:Print on Paper
Despite efforts to get the facts straight in his drawings, Kuhn often had to make up parts of his paintings. Much of the vegetation, background and smaller details have been altered due to his inability to approach the animals.

Over time Kuhn gathered his skills and became more confident in painting. His later works have bolder lines, and more abstract shapes. His works grew from quick animal sketches from expertly drawn lines to fully developed creatures, possessing a form and aura of their own.

Back of Beyond
Medium: Acrylic on Board
Two lions depicted through paint. Sketched in Africa and painted in America.

Kuhn continued painting hundreds and thousands of more animals throughout his forty plus years as an artist. His works have been criticized as having an idealized, and perfect view of wildlife, not portraying the human contamination in the pieces. However, to many others this is a precious body of work that shows wildlife independent and free.

I chose Bob Kuhn due to his broad strokes and lines. I am a very cautious artist, and am always afraid of 'messing up.' Through Bob Kuhn's work I hope to develop more courage when putting down pencil to paper to give more character and voice to my pieces.

Source of pictures and information:
Harris, Adam Duncan., and Bob Kuhn. Bob Kuhn: Drawing on Instinct. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma, 2012. Print.

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