Started on this commissioned a year ago and because of various personal and professional reasons, I kept on putting it on hold. I did this work based on Joseph Wolf’s illustration carried in Burton’s 1852 book, A Shahbaaz hunting down a gazelle.

Falconry was very prominent in western India pre-British era. One of the hunting practices from western India, where raptors were trained to hunt Indian gazelles. 

Lack of proper reference image was one major reason I struggled all lot. Working from multiple reference images was the only option. Working from many images brings challenges of their own.

Having a common light source is one of the major hurdles with using multiple resources.

I spent a few months only in gathering reference material, later spent a lot of time sketching out various parts of the bird and the gazelle. After sketching out various parts separately, put them together in Photoshop and then kept the work pending for a few more months.

Few light source studies had to be done, and it didn’t satisfy me, especially with the anatomy of the gazelle. The leg studies I initially did, didn’t match up well with images of the gazelle. So I went on the field, photographed a few Indian gazelles and then sat down again to make a few more leg studies.

This time I was a bit satisfied how they looked when compared to my initial studies and the actual illustration reference.

Also, the habitat is one of the important elements in any artwork, to make them authentic field work is essential. I worked on various field sketches of the habitat and how I wish to compose them. Will all come together. It took about 8 months of slow work.

Finally, I began working on the artwork a month back, with all the hard-work already done. I enjoyed working on the feathers, creating emotions on the bird of prey, and the feeling of shock and fear in the eyes of the gazelle.

And off-course I enjoyed working the legs of the gazelle a lot, favorite part was the habitat, it took me more time than I expected however I kept going back and forth with the habitat to create the right amount of tonal value and depth. The details and the lack of it, the hard and soft edges, the atmosphere and relief of signing the artwork on the last day of the year were immensely pleasurable.

Meanwhile, I kept the client informed not about the background work about the slow progress. It is great to work with understanding clients who give you your space and work at your pace. Thankful for such opportunities! 

Hope the coming year brings us a lot of new opportunities to grow both inward and outwards. Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2023!

If you wish to commission me an artwork please write to me info@prasadnatarajan.com 

Title: Shahbaaz and Gazelle!
Northern Goshawk Female(Accipiter gentilis) /Chinkara (Gazella bennettii)
Medium: Charcoal on paper
Size: 22 x 30 inches;300 GSM watercolor paper
Duration: 186 hours
Location: Tal Chhapar Sanctuary,Rajasthan,India
Reference: Own Image Inspired by J. Wolf’s illustration, multiple own reference

Prasad Natarajan
Prasad Natarajan

Rediscovering Nature: Wildlife Blogger, Artist and photographer.

2 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I saw your post & link on pencil jammers WhatsApp . Your write up is as inspiring as your art work ! ( I’m a self taught artist – sketching& oil painting).
    It’s an immense pleasure to know how dedicatedly you accomplished this complicated sketch. And so perfect !
    Would love to know / read more about your accomplishments.
    Thank you,
    -Zaheer

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