Esprit de Corps – Arctic Wolves  by Carl Brenders


It is always exciting for me to paint white animals. It is surprising how much color there is in such a white creature, whether it is a mute swan, an egret, a polar bear or an Arctic wolf. It is as if the sun likes to play with it, by giving it all the reflections of the surrounding habitat and the blue sky. I have always been fascinated by the late afternoon light, when shadows become longer and bluish and the light warm and yellowish.

It probably would have been more appropriate if I would have painted the wolf pack in snowy scenery. The white fur then gives them the perfect camouflage to approach prey. But they also live part of the year in the tundra, free of snow. I chose a background of snow-free tundra scenery because of the contrast with the animals and because I love to paint rocks and dry grasses.

It is nice to imagine a wolf pack running straight to you, and very close; something one can only dream of seeing in the wild. The artistic quality of this painting is exactly the expression of that imagination, and the impression of a common goal of all the four wolves: getting a dinner! This gave me the idea to use the title Esprit de Corps.

It is an expression from the French that describes a joint effort and a common spirit among members of a group, such as firefighters or the Marines. It is the spirit that makes a group want to succeed, inspiring enthusiasm, devotion and a sense of shared honor. The same can be said of a wolf pack. Wolves are very social creatures, and their camaraderie extends beyond hunting, to sleeping, eating, playing and raising their young. It is one of the qualities that has allowed their species to overcome adversity and survive down through the centuries.
— Carl Brenders