I didn't want to be that illustrator that painted animals in clothes. But after I completed Queen Elhissabeth for a family friend I realized that I could have fun with this idea. A lot of fun. Using numerous pets and celebrity animals from charities like Big Cat Rescue for inspiration I started recreating historical icons as animals. Some paintings are created traditionally in oils like William Shakesbeard and others are digital like Queen Elhissabeth. It just depended on how I wanted to work at the time. I launched the idea on Kickstarter and it was funded by 123 backers!
Now I am continuing the series and planning on adding many more characters on the wild side. Mary Shelly, Bessie Coleman, Bass Reeves, Billy the Kid and Nikola Tesla are only a few of the new personalities on the roster. I've got foxes, pit bulls, skunks and rabbits in my mind for the future. I sell prints and mini booklets in my Etsy shop as well as on my website. My original paintings can be found at Ian Russell Gallery of Fine Art in Prescott Arizona.
#1 Marie Antoinippe
Meet Marie Antoinippe. Strolling in her catnip garden she's ready to hang on your wall to remind you that every cat should be treated like a princess.
#2 Queen Elhissabeth
The image that launched a thousand paintings....okay, maybe not a thousand. Created in Painter and Photoshop I used numerous classical portraits of Queen Elizabeth as reference. A cat named Lady was my inspiration.
#3 Anne Of Sleeves
I always loved the Anne of Cleves portrait by Holbein. She hides fish up her sleeves for late night snacks. I used a combo of cool cat images for this one. Digital.
#4 M.l. Jobs
"I only eat tofu mice, fool." You know that person. You know the one. "I'm only a Mac person" person. Well if they appreciate wild cats and/or the last cat named OS that Jobs put out then they might like this as a gift for their new pristine yet totally laid back Mac lair. Meet M.L. Jobs. Attitude. Pure attitude.
#5 The Fitzgeralds
16x20 mixed media...oils, collage and gold leaf. I love the rollercoaster love story of the Fitzgeralds and used the two snow leopards, Anna and Evert, at the San Diego zoo as inspiration.
#6 William Shakesbeard
Oil on board. There are so many opportunities to rename his plays! The beautiful Mr. Phox was the inspiration for this image.
Cleo and her snake, Aspy. This was a conglomeration of references with no particular model in mind. Mixed media on board.
#8 Kiddy Roosevelt
A Manly leader and lover of nature. The model was Seymour who really did look like Teddy Roosevelt! Oils on board.
#9 Elvis Petme
The king needed to be a wild cat. Inspired by Rufus from Big Cat Rescue. Digital.
#10 Bodhissatva Jizo
The koala was a toy the model, Fenris, use to run around with. My client wanted a enlightened personality to catch the cat's spirit. Oil on board.
#11 Cata Hari
Painted in oils and silver leaf on 11x14 board. This is a feline spin on the double agent Mata Hari. Many awesome photos taken by Big Cat Rescue were used as inspiration. All the detail is like therapy for me.