Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing…

I recently enjoyed one of my favorite things about being a wildlife artist.   That is spending time with the animals that I portray in my paintings.   This past weekend I traveled to visit my wolf friends who live in a captive pack in Indiana.   Wolf Park was established in the early 1970’s by a research biologist.  The wolves are raised as pups by humans and thus are habituated to them.   They are not domestic.  They are “tame”.   But a tame wolf is still a WOLF, and it is important to know how to behave around them.   I have been most fortunate to join the pack inside of their enclosure.   There is nothing quite like actually putting your hands on the subjects that you paint.

The fellow in the photo below is Reudi.   He is a lower ranking male in a pack of six wolves.  He has atypical blue eyes.   He has the cutest face!  I’ve always adored him…


Actually going inside of different wolf enclosures gives an artist the unusual and magical experience of not only photographing and observing an apex predator up close, but also the chance to feel the “energy and spirit” of such an amazing animal.  I have had a life long passion for wolves.  I remember as a very young child searching the local library for a single book that might have just one photograph of  a wolf in it.   Even with the help of the library staff, I was not ever successful.   I couldn’t possibly have imagined as that wolf crazy youngster, that I would one day have a real wolf licking me in the face and asking for a scratch behind the ears.   Life is wonderful, isn’t it?


(Photos by Monte Sloan)



Hey Joni…He’s right behind you…


Below, Ayla asks for a tummy rub.  It is important to remember that although wolves have so many dog like characteristics, they are indeed NOT dogs.   Correct protocol is important when sharing time and space with wolves.   Ayla did get a tummy rub…all of the wolves at Wolf Park are spoiled rotten (in a GOOD way).   Look at that CUTE Ayla face!


Wolves are no match for healthy bison.   Below,  Renki strolls past a group of bison that are ready for him.   Nothing more than “testing” ever results from the wolf-bison demonstrations at Wolf Park.  It is a rare, up close look at the relationship between  an apex predator and a prey animal that has evolved with unusual toughness…


My painting “Wolf Portrait” is one of my earliest wolf paintings.   The inspiration came from an experience at this wolf facility.    The point of this painting was simply to showcase the beauty of Canis Lupus.


Wolves are individuals and their physical features can vary tremendously.   In my painting entitled “The Eyes of a Hunter” I wanted to capture the intensity of that amazing wolfy stare.