In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we explore the amazing journey behind resident artist Laura Hines’s piece “Jericho.”
Much of Laura Hines‘s work involves nature and animals, which is not surprising given her background in natural science illustration. She has illustrated a wide variety of creatures, from ones as well-known as foxes and hares, to more exotic animals such as pine martins and lemurs. But the story behind her piece “Jericho,” featuring a white rhino, is far from a typical one.
In August of last year, Laura was approached by Courtney Palmer, the Serengeti department manager for Arizona’s own Out of Africa park. She asked if Laura would be interested in creating and donating a piece to the park for a silent auction, with all the proceeds going to the International Rhino Foundation, a group dedicated to the conservation of rhinoceroses. “Of course, I said yes right away,” Laura tells us. “I love animals, and I was thrilled to be able to help out such a good cause.”
For the Love of Rhinos
And so Laura began work on an original piece, one that would have a white rhino as its focus. Interestingly, this was not the first time that she had drawn a rhinoceros. A previous piece of hers, “Grit,” prominently featured not one but two rhinos. For anyone familiar with Laura’s work, it almost seems as though rhinos were specially built for her greatly meticulous style. “I love drawing rhinos,” Laura explains. “They’re beautiful animals, and present an intense but fun challenge to me as an artist. As hard as they are to do, I love creating all of their wonderful wrinkles and bulbous parts.”
Laura also used the piece as an opportunity to expand aspects of her style. She merged geometric shapes into the design in a way different to her precious pieces. “Part of the fun was figuring out how to incorporate those shapes with the natural structure of the rhino, which became more clear as I deconstructed the shape of the rhino itself.” She also experimented with some new tools, such as using charcoal to create the atmospheric background, or using gold ink rather than her usual gold acrylic. “I really liked the way it flowed. Overall, I think the piece helps point in a new direction for me as an artist.”
When it was finished, Laura named the piece “Jericho” after a particular white rhino in the Out of Africa park. It was successfully auctioned off and, along with pieces from other artists, over $3000 was raised for the International Rhino Fund. In exchange for her donation, she was allowed a free trip to the park and the opportunity to meet the real Jericho up close. “I can’t express how amazing it was. I actually got to touch his skin and look into his big, blue eyes. He’s such a calm, sweet animal, he’d curl up in your lap if he could. It was just so great to meet this animal that I had been sort of artistically attached to for so much time. It really reinforced why animals are such an inspiration for me.”
But the story of “Jericho” does not end there. In early December, Laura submitted a digital copy of the piece for consideration in the 3rd Annual Animal Kingdom Art Exhibit, an online exhibit curated by Fusion Art. On New Years Eve, she was informed that “Jericho” had won Best in Show (Traditional). “It was such a huge surprise, especially as there were so many great pieces submitted. It was definitely a good start to the new year.”
With Your Own Eyes
Laura’s award-winning piece can be viewed online as part of Fusion Art’s 3rd Annual Animal Kingdom Exhibit, which runs through the end of January. And be sure to visit the Creative Gateways gallery, open 7 days a week, from 10am-5pm, to see much more work from Laura and all our talented artists!