Andrew Denman: Narrative Ark

Page 1


Narrative Ark 9 October- 30 October, 2021 A stunning exhibition of contemporary wildlife art brings the artists’ creative journey to life. Narrative Ark, an exhibition of new work by internationally-recognised, Arizona-based artist Andrew Denman, will showcase seven finished paintings alongside over thirty studies, sketches, and more detailed preparatory drawings, exploring the fascinating evolution of each piece from initial spark to completed work. Acclaimed sculptor Simon Gudgeon, owner of Sculpture by the Lakes, says: “This is a really exceptional exhibition, not only by virtue of the beauty and quality of the work, but for the captivating glimpse it gives into the creative mind of the artist, the depth of his observation, and the meticulous and intense process that lies behind an artwork. It makes visible to the viewer much of what usually remains hidden.”

Sculpture by the Lakes Pallington Lakes, Pallington Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8QU UK 07887 906818

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.

Introduction Human beings are creatures that love a story. In fact, our most profound cultural underpinnings are all about shared narratives. There is a reason why some of the greatest civilizations in human history left behind very little but their art and architecture; these objects and edifices are the repositories of their most precious stories, the touchstones of their identities and the hallmarks of their aspirations. Artists are the great storytellers, and everything, from our truth to our fiction, is revealing and sacred. I have always believed my most important function as an artist is to create and share a narrative. As a painter, I typically create a single image that must incapsulate the arc of a broader tale, that must suggest, in a way that intrigues and engages, the moment before, and the moment after. Above all, that story must tell you, the viewer, as much about me as it does about the subject or action of the painting itself. And it must relate to you in a way that matters. We are living in a time when our relationship with wildlife and nature is increasingly complicated. We seek to flee to the natural world when it provides escape from the cages of our own making, and yet we still poison, hack, bulldoze, and flatten those same tender wilds when they prove inconvenient to our relentless expansionism. We identify with fleet-footed pumas, noble lions, and wise owls, and we decorate our products and our clothing with aspirational logos bearing their images, yet we flee in terror when one of these creatures actually dares invade our sanitized spaces. Animals have been a looming presence in art since the first Neolithic humans scrawled their likenesses on the walls of caves. Today, as we struggle to find a balance between our technological capabilities and our animal natures, animals are a more relevant subject for art than ever before. Many scientists and institutions the world over are saving the genetic material of endangered animals in cryostasis as we speak, but these frozen arks are only a last resort. It is up to us to write the next chapter in the story of how we, as human beings, fit into the world in a way that leaves room for our non-human neighbors. Narrative Ark is my own offering in this venture, a series of images designed to share my love for the birds and animals that visit our gardens, and to inspire others to show them the love and respect they so richly deserve. Narrative Ark is about three concurrent lines of narrative: the story of the moments in nature that inspired the painting in the first place, the story of how the painting was made, and ultimately the concept that I decide to convey by weaving together those elements. An artist already wears his heart on his sleeve. There is no heroism in what I do, but there is bravery in exposing the product of one’s innermost self to the scrutiny of strangers. This show exposes yet another layer in that grand exhibitionist venture, giving the viewer a front row seat, not just to the product of my own inner workings, but to the inner workings themselves. And with that, I invite you to pour yourself a mug of tea or a coffee, curl up in your favorite chair (preferably near a window where you might catch a glimpse of a bird, admire the shifting shape of a cloud, or enjoy the lilt of a tree in the wind), and enjoy the Narrative Ark.

-Andrew Denman, 2021

Harnessing Hedgehogs I have become increasingly fascinated with hedgehogs since I first visited the United Kingdom in 2012. Soaking in the endless green of England, the dense hedgerows, carpets of bracken, and mysterious dark forests, it was not hard to imagine Mrs. Tiggywinkle (one of my favorite Beatrix Potter Characters) busying herself in some dim and magical corner. On my last trip in 2018, I was very fortunate to be able to make a behind-the-scenes visit to Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre not far from where my partner’s family lives in Tewkesbury. There I learned of the plight of the hedgehog. With England’s ancient hedgerows themselves endangered, human population growing, gardens made dangerous with careless lawnmowers and hostile pets, and cars posing a constant hazard, it is no wonder this facility cares for hundreds of injured animals every year. How to honor these unique and precious creatures presented itself as a very real and important challenge. My first explorations of the subject were very simple studies of the hedgehogs and hoglets I observed at the rehab. Their personality and delicacy suggested old family portraits, and I decided to employ a sepia-toned palette. The centerpiece of this body of work, however, became more conceptual and evolved out of my Pattern series, in which animal subjects are pitted against stamp-like, mass produced images of themselves, bringing to mind Andy Warhol’s soup cans or Wayne Thiebaud’s orderly and colorful confections. In this piece, however, rather than being presented in front of a patterned background, the hedgehog is melded into the background pattern itself. Initially the Pattern series explored the notions of the commodification of wildlife (as in my paintings exploring livestock such as sheep, pigs, and chickens), reproductive capacity, and the ubiquity of urban wildlife. It is in this last sense that “Hedgerow” relates. The removal of the animal subject from its natural habitat and its recontextualizing in a stark, white space, underscores the ability of the hedgehog to adapt (or not) to foreign and man-made environments. The serial nature of the hedgehog “stamp” and the use of non-objective color further serve to pull the animal out of context. Before starting the final piece, I used the hedgehog template I had created for that purpose and did two experiments, contrasting hedgehogs carefully rendered in graphite with colorful silhouettes in acrylic. In the larger composition, I decided to paint the hedgehogs in full color. Instead of standing out like their black and white progenitors, these representationally “realistic” hedgehogs almost become lost in a sea of non-objective color. The entry of one such hedgehog from the right side of the painting and the exit of the other half of its body to left lends the image a suggestion of constant, repetitive motion like an old-fashioned zoetrope that underscores the constancy of the hedgehog problem. Though they are generally well-liked, hedgehogs, like all common- or once common- animals, suffer sometimes from being overlooked. Their very familiarity works against them. As such, I decided to present this wonderful little animal in an entirely new and fresh way. Sometimes we can only truly see the familiar when it is made unfamiliar.

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


Clockwise from Upper Left: “Hedgehog Study #1” 37 x 37 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £585 “Hedgehog Study #2” 37 x 37 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £585 “Hoglet Study #1” 33 x 33 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £485 “Hoglet Study #2” 33 x 33 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £485. 5

Top: “Study for Hedgerow #1” 28 x 56 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £770 Bottom: “Study for Hedgerow #2” 28x 56 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £770 6

“Hedgerow #2” 45 x 50 cm Acrylic on Board £2,950 7

The Kingfishers Kingfishers are without question one of the most dramatic and memorable birds on can encounter in the UK. Though widespread, their population is scattered thin, and sightings are a rare treat greeted with gasps of awe and wonder. Though efforts to curb pollution in UK waterways have helped their populations to increase in recent years, they remain protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, which makes it illegal to kill or take a kingfisher, its nest, eggs, or young, or to intentionally molest them during breeding season. At one time, kingfishers were in serious danger of extinction due to the popularity of their colorful feathers in fishing lures and even adornment on ladies’ hats. Interestingly, it was the group of women who initially banded together to stop the wanton use of kingfisher parts in the fashion industry that ultimately lead to the creation of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in 1889. No longer exploited for millinery, but enthusiastically stalked by avid birders and wildlife photographers, a lucky few may encounter a kingfisher, jewel-like, in turquoise, blue, and russet finery amidst deep green streamside shadows. There it will wait, motionless, before plunging dart-like into the water to retrieve a minnow. It is a scene I have been fortunate enough to experience right here at Sculpture by the Lakes. Impressive though a diving kingfisher may be, I have never been especially fond of painting action, finding the moments just before and just after an event more evocative, where the viewer can infer from posture and tension the coiled energy of impending motion or the immediate aftermath of the same. When I first started exploring kingfishers as a subject, I knew that I favored a tall, skinny format to imply narrative and create visual momentum. My initial studies were exercises in surrendering to the paint, allowing bleeds and drips to become spontaneous and vital compositional forces. It was hardly a long trip from these first sketches to the companion pieces, “Before” and “After.” In the former, the kingfisher occupies the upper portion of a long, vertical composition, and we follow the bird’s intense gaze along the swirling lines leading the eye explosively and precipitously down towards unseen prey. In the latter, the position of the bird is reversed, and it is looking up, moments before taking flight to assume, yet again, an appropriate perch from which to survey the waters below. Both of these pieces are about a careful balance of positive and negative space, a seamless interaction of representational realism and abstraction, and a strong sense of impending motion. Beguilingly simple in their design, they are also an important reminder of the power of leaving things out.

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


Above Left: “Study for Before” 63 x 32 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £950 Above Right: “Study for After” 63 x 32 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £950; Next Page Left: “Before” 67 x 31 cm Acrylic on Board £2,250 Next Page Right: “After” 67 x 31 cm Acrylic on Board £2,250 9


Wrangling Wrens With their tiny size, sprightly nature, and jauntily cocked stubby tails, wrens are an easy favorite among the birds I grew up with in the US. The UK’s single species of wren, with its slightly variant subspecies throughout Europe, is just as endearing. I have encountered them in nearly every place I have visited thus far in England, excluding the busiest of cities, and they continue to enchant me every bit as much as their New World cousins. My efforts to capture this charismatic avian began with a series of simple graphite sketches, but I quickly realized that I would ultimately house my wrens in a very different context. I have been working for several years on a series of paintings called String Theory, in which birds perch amongst starkly graphic lines and vivid color fields. The series sinks its roots years back in my study of art history in college. I have always been fascinated with minimalism, and among my favorites historical examples are Piet Mondrian and Barnett Newman. Both artists brilliantly illustrate the simple but undeniable power of spatial and color harmonies, and the almost magical ability of just a few lines to create mood and meaning. The contrast between illusionistic imagery and flat decorative treatments has been at the conceptual core of my work for nearly twenty years, so it should come as no surprise that an image of birds essentially flying into a Barnett Newman painting came into my head like a thunderbolt. Visually these pieces have evolved far past that point of inspiration, but the initial concept is still discernable. The magic of the String Theory series is that simply by virtue of their proximity to more descriptive elements like the birds, otherwise completely flat areas of color become alive and animate in three-dimensional space. In a series of studies titled “Towards,” “Through,” and “On,” my wrens interact with geometric shapes in a way that is both sharply dissonant and gently organic. These exercises are among my very favorite pieces in Narrative Ark, and they served me well in preparing for an unusually complicated and daring addition to the String Theory series. In “String Theory #21: Thicket,” I have arranged a jumble of wrens, flitting about and ducking in and around a network of intersecting and overlapping lines. Initially, I was thinking about the dense thickets in which wrens routinely (and maddeningly to us birders) hide, though in execution the environment becomes far more decorative than descriptive. These paintings suggest the dislocation of birds from their natural environments and their adaptiveness to the urban and suburban habitats we have made. The colorful stripes are not meant to describe anything as mundane as fence posts, branches, or bird feeders; rather they become their own non-objective environments, beautiful, evocative, and otherworldly.

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


“Study for String Theory #21: Thicket” 38 x 51 cm Graphite & Nero on Watercolour Board £720 12

Clockwise from Top Left: “Wren Study: Towards” 38 x 38 cm Acrylic on Watercolour Board £655 “Wren Study: Through” 38 x 38 cm Acrylic on Watercolour Board £655 “Wren Study: On” 38 x 38 cm Acrylic on Watercolour Board £655 13

Above: “String Theory #21: Thicket” 31 x 58 cm Acrylic on Board £1,950 Facing Page: Left: “Eryngium, Elderberry, & Red Campion Silhouette” 41 x 34 cm Ink on Watercolour Board £195 Right: “Bracken, Nettle, & Elm Silhouette” 41 x 34 cm Ink on Watercolour Board £195 14

Finessing Foxes The progenitor of my Pattern series was a body of work I called Modern Camouflage, in which birds (most frequently owls) appear partially hidden amidst abstract wallpaper-like backgrounds. Eventually this progressed into the more Pop Art referential series typified by “Hedgerow” and “A Round of Robins.” The centerpiece of my current exploration of foxes, “Fox & Bracken” is, on the one hand, a throw-back to how the series began, and also something very new. Firstly, the pattern itself, consisting of an arrangement of bracken fern, stinging nettle, and elm leaves with samaras, is dramatically more complicated than anything I’ve previously attempted (see my ink drawings and a variation below). Secondly, the fox himself, far from being camouflaged within that matrix, emerges plainly from a hole cut straight in the middle of the composition. The pattern does act as a very stylized and simplified stand-in for the fox’s natural habitat, but its very artificiality suggests that the fox is intruding somewhere it does not belong. Taken literally, he seems to be poking his head into a finely wallpapered drawing room. It is not an unfair reading, since foxes do have a habit of turning up where they are unwelcome guests. For my own part, the subject-ground relationship is both elegantly comfortable and stylistically jarring, which is of course the point. My work has, for many years, been preoccupied both with the juxtaposition of illusionistic elements and flat decorative treatments generally, and with the recontextualization of wildlife from natural to unnatural environments specifically. While mankind has made much of the earth inhospitable to wild creatures, there are those, foxes certainly among them, that have adapted remarkably well to suburban and even urban environments. Not long ago I observed an especially handsome fox in the middle of London devouring a remnant of some careless person’s abandoned chips. Though it is no longer legal to hunt them with dogs in England or Wales, foxes receive virtually no legal protection in the UK. Much like coyotes here in the US, they can be hunted year-round without limit. Though they are common enough, widespread enough, and adaptable enough to survive all current attempts at their extermination, they seem to be subject to vilification and sympathy in equal measure. A long tradition of harassment, both in the form of traditional fox hunts and regular slaughter by farmers, has positioned them, in some circles, as persecuted underdogs. Conversely, anyone who has ever discovered a few bloodied feathers where there was once a treasured hen or peafowl, can be justified in the desire for revenge, or at least the avoidance of further losses. But of course, we human beings are rarely all angel or devil, but more often a confused muddle of both; why should we expect any greater simplicity or clarity from our wild neighbors? All I can say is that whatever this particular fox is up to here, I’m all in. Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


Top: “Fox Study #1” 32 x 38 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 Bottom: “Fox Study #2” 44 x 38 cm Graphite & Nero on Watercolour Board £770 16

“Fox & Bracken” 53 x 53 cm Acrylic on Board £3,250 17

Reconsidering Robins The European Robin is the first bird I genuinely fell in love with when I first came to England. They are nothing like their taxonomically unrelated eponymous cousins in the States, which are large and ungainly by comparison. They can appear slender and elegant in the summer and impossibly plump and round in the winter: either way, they are irresistibly charming, and they will always be a bird I immediately associate with my time in the UK. Robins are almost certainly the bird I have painted and sketched most among European subjects. Returning to them in Narrative Ark, the challenge was to find something new to say. Ultimately, I decided to focus on a Pattern piece (having never attempted one with small birds) in the same stylistic vein as “Hedgerow.” Each of my Pattern pieces begins with much the same process, that of creating the pattern itself. I carefully select images of the subject, the robin in this case, from my archive, looking for poses with strong silhouettes, combining and reworking multiple references as necessary. Not every pose “reads” well in silhouette, and I have to make sure everything is designed with visual clarity in mind. I scan my simple ink drawings into the computer, arrange them into the pattern I want, and then have them made into the laser cut stencils that will be vital in creating the consistency I need for the finished piece. As in “Hedgerow,” I experimented first with variations on paper. My style is usually reliant on a smooth surface, so it is a welcome break from the norm to allow for serious texture to remain a part of the finished piece. Unlike the hedgehog studies, I decided to do these in full color, which allowed me to experiment with a bird with immature plumage. In the end, I decided in favor of an adult robin in the larger painting, but I think the juvenile bird works beautifully in the study, especially paired with the luminous pinks, oranges, and earthy browns that dominate the composition. Like the hedgehogs, robins are a common garden visitor. Much loved but also much overlooked, they lend themselves well to this Pop Art-inspired treatment. The Pop Art movement itself arose out of the post-war prosperity of 1950’s America that made manufactured goods, once a luxury, commonplace to the point of mundanity. Positioning a ubiquitous bird into a compositional format historically reserved for mass-produced consumer products is both powerfully evocative and beguilingly whimsical, and it is exactly this type of contrast that most excites me as an artist. Gertrude Stein once observed “repetition never repeats itself,” and I couldn’t agree more. With each new iteration, mood and meaning shift and questions expand. Art is, after all, never about having the right answers, but rather about asking the right questions.

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


Previous Page, Left: “Robin Silhouette Study #1” 31 x 38 cm Ink on Watercolour Board £195 Previous, Right: “Robin Silhouette Study #2” 31 x 38 cm Ink on Watercolour Board £195 Top: “Perched Robin Study” 31 x 31 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £275 Bottom: “Robin Pattern Study #1” (detail) 37 x 63 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £850 19

Top: “Robin Pattern Study #1” 24 x 51 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £850 Bottom: “Robin Pattern Study #2” 24 x 51 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £850 20

“A Round of Robins” 54 x 50 cm Acrylic on Board £3,250 21

Outwitting Owls “Mob Rules” is a painting that has been in my head for many years, and I am very excited to finally be able to bring it into being. All of us have observed, at one time or another, songbirds mobbing a much larger bird. I see it frequently here in Arizona, where gutsy little finches and sparrows routinely dive-bomb ravens and even hawks to warn them from their territory and keep them away from their young. I’ve never been fortunate enough to see songbirds mobbing an owl, but it is an image that has lived in my brain since five-years-ofage when I watched Disney’s Bambi. Early in the film, a flock of chittering birds circles the head of the wise old owl until he shouts “Hoo!” and they fly away; little did I appreciate at the time that the animators were not describing something fanciful, but rather an actual behavior. It still amazes me how such tiny creatures know to take advantage of a nocturnal predator’s diurnal torpor to harass it without much fear of reprisal. I have been very excited about UK song birds ever since my first visit to England in 2012. It is a phenomenon that other bird-lovers will understand entirely, that when one enjoys both birds and travel, one can be surprised and delighted even by that which may be quite common and even mundane to jaded locals. As common a visitor as they may be to backyard bird feeders, I still can’t take the acid yellows, indigo blues, and lime-peel greens of the Blue Tit for granted. I initially intended to have the owl in this piece mobbed by a group of mixed songbirds, likely Goldfinches, Long-Tailed Tits and Blue Tits, but as the piece progressed, I decided to err on the side of a simpler composition and a more reductive color palette. Along the way, I executed a huge number of studies, from small graphite drawings simply intended to familiarize myself with the subjects, to many mixed media explorations of songbirds in flight, which helped to clarify the right balance between suggestion and description in the capturing of movement. I encountered this Tawny Owl at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent, near Gloucester. His puffed-up chest, languidly opening and closing eyes, and stern little face instantly made him the right subject matter for my long conceptualized but never realized “Mobbing” painting. My only problem was choosing from a myriad of facial expressions my model had shared, but exploring all of them in a watercolor study helped narrow down my choices.

Facing Page: Top Right: “Tawny Owl Head Study” 31 x 31 cm Graphite & Nero on Watercolour Board £275 Bottom: “Tawny Owl Study” 37 x 52 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £975 Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.



Clockwise from Upper Left: “Perched Blue Tit Study” 31 x 31 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £275 “Perched Goldfinch Study” 31 x 31 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £275 “Perched Siskin Study” 31 x 31 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £275 24

Top: “Blue Tit in Flight Study #1” 39 x 37 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 Bottom: “Blue Tit in Flight Study #2” 39 x 37 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 25

Left: “Goldfinch in Flight Study #3” 38 x 32 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 Right: “Blue Tit in Flight Study #3” 38 x 32 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 26

Top: “Siskin in Flight Study” 31 x 38 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 Bottom: “Long-Tailed Tit in Flight Study” 31 x 38 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £495 27

“Goldfinch in Flight Study #1” 38 x 45 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £775 28

“Goldfinch in Flight Study #2” 38 x 45 cm Mixed Media on Watercolour Board £775 29

One aspect of “Mob Rules” on which I was entirely clear from the beginning was the overall composition. Several years ago I did a small series of UK bird paintings called The Green Tunnel. In these pieces, songbirds appear suspended in the middle of a wreath of greenery inspired by driving down densely hedge-rowed and tree shadowed country lanes in the Cotswolds. Here, I chose to show a bare-branched grape vine wreath instead, but the warm greens of the background still suggest the surrounding green-gold growth of Spring. It is a fittingly regal roost for the owl, a bird long symbolically associated with wisdom, insight, and even the nebulous transition between life and death. Indeed, the centrality and rough symmetry of the image creates a feeling almost reminiscent of an altarpiece. The portrayal of animal subjects in an iconographic format to highlight the spiritual peace I feel when out in nature has been a theme in my work for well over a decade (my Animal Icon series). In this context, the Blue Tits could be cherubim wielding censers, or alternately, chattering children disrupting the quietude of Nature’s Church.

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


“Mob Rules” 56 x 56 cm Acrylic on Board £4,250 31

About the Show The idea for Narrative Ark has been brewing for many years. Over a decade ago, my partner Guy Combes and I and artist friend Susan Fox conceived of a show that would highlight the field work that dedicated wildlife artists do to prepare for a painting. The idea was to bring viewers into the process of creating the work, not just sharing with them the finished product. Though that show never came to pass for us, and though the adventure stories of acquiring reference material and observing animals in the wild is certainly of interest, it was my own process that I found to be the more challenging narrative. Because the way I paint is fairly unique, sharing studies, sketches, and even documenting the creation of an entire painting with video, proved a very effective tool in engaging viewers with my work. A finished painting should, of course, speak for itself, but it can enrich a viewer’s understanding and appreciation to see how a piece of art is made. I first ventured down that road in late 2015, when my national touring show, Andrew Denman: The Modern Wild, was running in the US. I had an entire display showing the various stages of a painting’s creation hung next to a finished piece, and I received a very positive response to that installation. Not long after, I started recording myself and posting videos to YouTube showing my creative process. Before long, having a long format video showing the development of a piece from start to finish became a staple of my larger exhibitions, particularly those in museum spaces, where an educational element was always encouraged. I have always created multiple studies prior to starting to work on a painting, but more often that not, no one ever sees them. Most become so marred by cutting, pasting, and tape, so generally tattered and abused during their supporting role as preliminary work, that useful tools though they may be, they are hardly show-worthy, let alone saleable. But then came Covid, and overnight all of my galleries were shuttered, and I was left entirely uncertain as to where my next sale would come from. As something of a lark, I did a quick mixed media sketch of a vermilion flycatcher, one of my favorite local birds near my Tucson, AZ, home, and offered it on Facebook for a very reasonable price to the first person to send me a private message. It sold in just six minutes. I could not have predicted at that moment that these studies would prove so wildly popular that I would sell over seventy of them out of the studio in less than six months. The experience taught me that, even a quick sketch intended to be preliminary to a more finished piece, is still a valuable work of art in and of itself and should be respected as such. Moreover, it became clear to me that there were a lot of people who had been following me for years, wanting to buy a piece, but who had felt very much priced out of my originals market. Perhaps they couldn’t afford a several thousand-dollar painting, but they could part with a few hundred dollars for a comparatively loose mixed media sketch that took me significantly less time behind the easel to complete.


Longtime friend and fellow creative Simon Gudgeon had, quite independently, already approached me about having a show built around the “studies paired with more finished works” idea (great minds think alike), a show that was postponed twice because of Covid. Ironically, it was Covid that forced me to clarify just what such a show would really look like, because prior to that, only a precious few of my studies were ever completed in such a way that they were presentable in a gallery context. Suddenly it was perfectly clear that producing small pencil drawings and a range of mixed media works would be an effective way to kill two birds with one stone; I could develop my ideas and concepts for Narrative Ark while producing the bulk of the inventory itself. In the final analysis, I painted only seven acrylic paintings on board (my usual medium) and over thirty preparatory works. Allowing myself to create studies as I always had, but giving them all a significantly higher level of finish than usual, allowed me to hone my ideas with even greater refinement, and the result is a body of work that I believe can be counted among my very best efforts to date.

-Andrew Denman, 2021

Please Note: All artwork is fully framed and ready to hang. Measurements of all paintings and drawings are frame inclusive.


About the Artist Known for his unique hallmark style combining elements of realism, stylization and abstraction, Andrew Denman is at the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today. Though the artist travels extensively to observe his subjects, Denman is an artist before he is a naturalist. His work is not about an objective exploration of nature, but rather an interpretation both deeply personal and rooted in a broader understanding of art history, the cultural relationship between people and animals, and especially the symbolic significance with which we imbue wildlife. Born in California in 1978, Denman exhibited an early fascination for art and nature and a degree of commitment well beyond his years. At just thirteen years of age, he started teaching afterschool art classes for children and soon went on to offer private art tutoring and workshops to artists of all ages. By age sixteen, he was exhibiting at Pacific Wildlife Galleries in Lafayette, CA, at the time one of the top commercial galleries for nature-inspired artwork in the world. A BFA from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, further fueled his love of art and art history and helped transform his passion into a career. Early exhibitions almost immediately following his college graduation quickly cemented Denman’s reputation as a noteworthy new talent and attracted feature coverage in such publications as Southwest Art, Western Art Collector, Western Art & Architecture, International Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, American Artist, and Wildlife Art, among others. Since then, Denman’s work has toured nationally with Andrew Denman: The Modern Wild, a solo retrospective show curated and directed by Dr. David J. Wagner, the highly regarded Birds in Art exhibition, and the Society of Animal Artists, which has thrice honored Andrew’s work with Awards of Excellence. The artist is a fifteen-year veteran of the Western Visions Exhibition at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, WY, an institution that named him the Lanford Monroe Memorial Artist in Residence for Winter of 2009. Denman’s work can be found in the National Museum of Wildlife Art, The Leigh-Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, WI, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, AZ, the Nature in Art Museum, Gloucester, England, and numerous private collections around the world. He is currently represented by Astoria Fine Art in Jackson Hole, WY, Sanders Galleries in Tucson, AZ, and The Gallery at Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset, England. Denman offers regular workshops at the ArizonaSonora Desert Museum and is a frequent returning guest instructor with the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation Annual Workshop in Dubois, WY. The artist maintains Denman Studios at his Arizona home, which he shares with partner and fellow artist Guy Combes and constant canine companions Ella and Enzi. 34

About Sculpture by the Lakes “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said the iconic actress Audrey Hepburn. She was talking about inspiration, about giving oneself to an idea or an endeavour, believing that the seeds one sows today will grow into something meaningful and beautiful in the future. That’s exactly what Simon and Monique Gudgeon, creators and owners of Sculpture by the Lakes, did when they began their journey here more than a decade ago. Simon Gudgeon never set out to own a sculpture park. In fact, his sculpting career didn’t even begin until age forty, but his meteoric rise to fame has more than made up for the late start. His minimalist, semi-abstract forms have gained him worldwide recognition, with exhibitions in London, New York, San Diego, Paris and the Netherlands. His works are featured in important private collections abroad and in the United Kingdom. A major installation in Hyde Park, London, and another at America’s National Museum of Wildlife Art, have helped make his signature style instantly recognizable. But even success comes with its challenges, and years of work in the art business demanded a change of pace, and scenery. When Simon and Monique decided to move from their tiny Wiltshire cottage in 2007, Pallington Lakes was not at all what they were looking for. Then a commercial fishery, it came with 26 acres, four lakes and a river, but they fell in love with it. Simon had a couple of large sculptures in storage, and he decided to install them around the lake with the idea of inviting buyers to view his work in an outdoor setting where its scale would be in proportion with its surroundings. Monique, a longtime passionate gardener, and her husband began to develop some of their sprawling parcel and artfully landscape the gardens. With no idea about the reception it would receive, they decided to trial a public opening for two weeks, with ticket sales going to Help for Heroes. It was a roaring success, and Sculpture by the Lakes was born. Fourteen years later, Simon and Monique have planted thousands of trees and shrubs, created wildlife havens, installed more sculptures, as well as fences, gates, benches and a host of other features all made by Simon, transfiguring the once untended landscape into a haven where visitors from all over the UK and the world can escape the daily grind and enjoy a moment of quiet reflection. Sculpture by the Lakes has evolved like a living sculpture, and now boasts Simon’s studios, multiple gallery spaces, an award-winning farm-to-fork café, and pavilions that regularly host workshops, classes, concerts, festivals, weddings, and corporate events. The Park is a monument to the creative ambitions of an extraordinary and creative couple, who have transformed this beautiful corner of Southern England into a thriving hub of art and culture. 35

Gallery by the Lakes Pallington Lakes, Pallington Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8QU 07887 906818

All images and text are the sole intellectual property of Andrew Denman or SImon Gudgeon and are protected by international copyright law.