My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1587: Introducing Layla

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-08-2015 12:58 PM 1747 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1586: Ten New patterns Part 1587 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1588: Layla Progress »

As an artist and a designer, I am always looking for good source material for my creations. I am not the kind of artist that usually can just draw from the top of my head. Oh, sure – I can draw cartoon-y type things or non-realistic items fairly well and you can tell what they are supposed to be, but for my higher end artwork and paintings, I like to have photographs as a reference. 

This isn't always easy. I am always very aware and respectful of copyrights from fellow artists and photographers. Long gone are the days when we just see a photo and feel free to take it and use it in our designs. Every photo has a copyright – whether written or not – and besides getting ourselves into trouble for using someone's photo for our designs, it is not the moral thing to do. 

When I see an image that I would like to use in my design work, I like to try to contact the photographer directly. While this isn't always easy, it is really the best way to make sure that I am clear as to how I can use the photo. That way I am not wondering and guessing after I finished my project if I am going to be contacted one day and find that one of my beautiful creations is in violation of someone else's copyright. That to me would be horrible. After all the work I put into my designs, I really want to be able to have a clear conscience about them, and give credit where credit is due. It is just the right thing. 

A couple of weeks ago I came across a beautiful photo of a tiger on one of my Facebook group pages. The page is The Wildcat Sanctuary and those of you who know me know that its cause of rescuing abused wildcats is very close to my heart. I had recently been asked to contribute a painting to the online painting magazine "Painting Ezine" for their August issue. The theme for that issue is "Summer Safari" and I was asked to paint a large wildcat of some sorts to offer as a pattern. While I have had much success with my own personal large cat paintings, such as my Snow Leopard Pair, I had never painted something of this caliber to teach others. It would be a challenge. 

When I saw the head shot of Layla the tiger, I knew it would be the perfect image to replicate. It would teach the basics of a large cat and fur, but not be as complicated because I am not doing the entire animal. It made it within reach. 

I gave you a peek at the drawings that I did of Layla and the beginning of the painting. 

At that point, it may not have looked like much, but it established where the main colors and stripes would be. Yesterday I got to really get moving on it. (I admit, I was somewhat scared to move forward on this one, but I gave it a go!)

I tried to lay down the base of the darker stripes compared to the photo:

This, to me was the most complex part of the painting. I also based in the nose and eyes – nothing special yet. 

The results was pretty good, and I was satisfied. There is always room for refining the position of the stripes, but this was a good start. 

Next was the eyes. To me, they are the soul of the painting and I like to do them near the beginning. I know if I nail the eyes, the rest is pretty easy. I am pretty happy with the results that I have here:

I could now look at Layla, and she would look back . . . 

My next step was to add texture and establish the direction and length of the fur. This isn't always easy with animals – especially big cats. But little by little I filled her in with a neutral color:

I didn't quite finish last night, and around midnight I was getting tired. I did however try to go a little further and see how the coloring would come out in the end. You can see on the lower right corner, I went through the next couple of steps to make sure I was on the right track with color. I think she will be fine:

I am pleased with her so far and I am anxious to work on her today. It seems she is going faster than my normal paintings of this type. Could it be I am getting better and learning?  

This painting is meaningful for me on many levels. I am going to donate part of the proceeds from this project to The Wildcat Sanctuary and I also have another idea I need to run by them when I am finished to help raise awareness and funds for these beautiful animals. I invite you to please go to their site – The Wildcat Sanctuary – and read through the wonderful stories of their good work. Share their links and donate what you can and raise awareness for their cause and these beautiful creatures. There are many levels of support you can offer. 

It is raining here today, as predicted and tomorrow I may be heading to Halifax to pick up my car. If by chance I don't write tomorrow, I will certainly be back on Friday. I am taking progress photos all along for this pattern to show you and also for the lesson. I hope you enjoy seeing me bring Layla to life, and I hope I do her justice. She is such a beautiful girl! 

Have a wonderful Wednesday. 

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

6 comments so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3131 posts in 2779 days

#1 posted 07-08-2015 05:26 PM

Your talent just continues to amaze me. That is one amazing tiger. Remember no 2 tigers have the same stripe pattern so you can put the stripes wherever you want.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3643 days

#2 posted 07-08-2015 06:16 PM

Nice, Sheila. Automatically thought of this

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3526 days

#3 posted 07-08-2015 07:34 PM

Thank you so much for your kind words, Bruce. I really appreciate them. Yes – the big cat’s markings are like fingerprints – no two the same. I am going to try to replicate Layla though as well as I can. I am thinking I will give the rights of the finished piece to the Wildcat Sanctuary so that they can use it to raise money for their organization. I will also be donating part of what I make to them on behalf of Layla.

Martyn – I have been humming this song in my head since I began sketching her! That was a fabulous version you posted. What a great song. :)

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2679 days

#4 posted 07-09-2015 03:43 AM

This is going to be awesome Sheila. So glad it’s going to be in Painting Ezine!

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Druid's profile


2161 posts in 3402 days

#5 posted 07-09-2015 07:06 AM

Looks great Sheila, and the story behind your project also brings more life to it.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3526 days

#6 posted 07-09-2015 09:36 AM

Thank you both very much. :) I am posting update in the next blog. I am nearing the finish line. This one came pretty fast.

I hope I can translate the teaching part OK.

I really appreciate your nice comments!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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