Felis concolor

This is surely the painting with the nicest fieldwork I ever did. For the first time in my career, I could manipulate the situation. I had the painting already in my head. The only thing missing was a model of the texture of the fur in the light that I wanted it. I wanted rocks in the background. In a game farm in California, where they train animals for movies, I got the best opportunity I could imagine. There was a rocky place behind the farm and a docile female cougar, lying down exactly where we wanted her — one could not dream better.

The cougar’s fur was a little rough, exactly what happens with a mother’s fur when the cubs play a lot with her. The vegetation was scare, but interesting for my painting. Rocks, vegetation, ground and animal, for the first time everything in the same spot! Everything except the cubs. This required intense study. Just like little kids, cubs look all different in every different cougar family. I discovered in every other farm or breeding place that they sometimes had very dark and pronounced spots and, somewhere else, vague and lighter spots. Bigger and smaller ears is often the case. It’s a delight to take them in your arms. Cougars mostly have three cubs, but can have up to six. I painted four, to get a nicer composition. I picked out my favorite type, and, after lots of sketches and tryouts for compositions, the painting was born. Three months of work — the longest I ever did!
— Carl Brenders