ABOUT THE PAINTING
In 2018 we were out as a family shopping for a rug that day at Restore, a shop connected to the Habitat for Humanity organization. I’m not sure if we actually found a rug that day to take home but we did find a print that my oldest son loved. It was a picture of two giraffe’s, a mom and a baby. The mom
looked like she was tired yet soaking in joy of motherhood with her baby and the baby was wide eyed and bright looking ahead. It was the perfect picture of what parenthood is like sometimes. He loved it and it was maybe a dollar, nothing expensive, so we got it for him.
Not long after, I took it to my once a week art class at a local place. This was my time to learn something new, get some much needed creative time that was hard to come by with kids, and also something to invest in myself. I had previously tried using chalk pastels, but in the past I absolutely hated them. They were messy, smudged, dust went everywhere, and difficult to understand how to work with. So I never bothered with them much. However, maybe a year prior, I heard in my Spirit the Spirit of God whisper to me to try pastels. I didn’t bother trying them right away after that. Honestly, I mostly only tried them because in the class they start you out with graphite and charcoal so it was only the natural progression to go from that to chalk pastel. Prior to creating “Mom and Baby Giraffe” based on the print we found at Restore, I used chalk pastel once and though it was a challenge, the picture I did turned out really great. So great, that I was pretty shocked to see that I was really good with them, at least, when I am working from a reference photo. So, I gave them another shot by recreating the Mom and Baby Giraffe print but in my own style, by playing with color. If you haven’t noticed by my other artwork with animals, I love messing around with color and it really isn’t very often that I will create a piece of artwork using the natural coloring of the animal. So, I experimented in that way with the giraffe’s as well, using contrasting colors of warm oranges and cool colors of blue and purple. This one was a lot of time and work, mostly due to all of the chalk dust and the giraffe markings, but again, I was way surprised how it turned out. My son loved it too! Many people loved the artwork so much as well.
It was only until I realized from an artist’s group that even changing the colors of the original photo is not enough to bypass copyright laws. I was even told both by the art instructor that I should be fine utilizing my rendition of the photograph because I had changed it some from the original photograph. This information was actually not true. So, I went on a hunt to find out who the photographer was and then research some way of contacting him to get the permission to use his photograph.
The Photographer ended up being Karl Ammann, a published and well known conservationist and wildlife photographer who has spent most of his career in the Congo basin. He has spent a good portion of his career bringing attention to the bushmeat trade and it’s effect to the attention of the conservation community and the world. In 2007, He appeared on Time Magazine's list of "Heroes of the Environment". It was amazing that he was so gracious to gave me permission to use his photograph via my rendition of his work. His print was so widely distributed though by this point as he said it was taken in his early days, that there is no way he could track down all who was using his photograph and he chalks it up to a lesson learnt. It was an honor to hear from him as animal welfare and conservation is something that is on my heart but also a surprise I even received a response. I figured, it’d be a long shot. But God is good and he can be full of surprises. Karl took a beautiful picture, capture the love between a parent and baby giraffe, and I’m glad I got to try my had at it.
I hope this story inspired you. May there be some good surprises coming your way as well!