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Featured Artist of the Month

Damalia

The art of Damalia is in a class all by itself. It's impossible to look through her archive without being irresistibly drawn in, beckoned by the supremely well detailed and realistic animal portraits that leave in the dust some of the best artists behind wildlife calendars, pop art, and even Disney. Just a glance into the deep blue eyes of the profile picture at right is enough to make fans of good art sit up and take notice. It's a pleasure to feature Damalia and her art this month at fanart.lionking.org.
I'm as shocked, surprised, overjoyed and ecstatic as a child who wakes up to find a new puppy sleeping on a mat at the foot of her bed. "Artist of the Month" is something that I've known about since before I decided to join the archive, but I had never thought that I would be chosen. Of course, it is something that you hope for....one of those silly "what ifs" that runs around in the fenced-off backyard of your mind. I, however, feel especially surprised and shocked in that I don't upload much, don't do so often, don't do many requests or art trades, and am a horribly elusive person to contact. Not to mention that I will only be turning 17 this April (of 2003). Plus, this was to be the last time I checked my old email account...I've now changed my email to Damalia200@cs.com. I'm sorry about this, but I lead a very busy life. Nevertheless, this is the best thing that's happened to me since my old marching band director quit. Thank you all so very much. ^_^

I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. The interest started out as a fascination with wildlife, and most of my early scribbles were of animals that I especially loved. Wolves, Lynx, Puma, Deer....local wildlife really. Now that I look back on them, I can't believe that I was at one point proud of these little crayon and fabric-painted sketches on printer paper. I can't really remember how I became interested in The Lion King other than my amazement at the first, and then the second, movies, and that at some point about two years ago I discovered the online Lion King community. I also love my homestate, Minnesota; the land of ten-thousand lakes....and absolutely no Lion King fans. The online community allowed me to interact with you friendly folk and talk about our same interests. Thank you so much for voting for me.... it really does mean a lot, more than I can express here, that you would support me and my artwork this much.

I get a lot of people emailing me asking how I learned to draw my Lion King characters. I can't really come up with good advice for them, and I'm left feeling rather ineffective. But the best and most useful thing I can tell you is to study your favorite artist's work, and study the original production artwork, and try and absorb as much as you can about the way lines, forms, and faces work. Then PRACTICE. Practice is the only way to get better at anything in life, and if you care about it, it's worth a shot, right? Of course. Also, if youre interested in doing more than just cartoon animals, you wouldn't be out of line checking out some animal anatomy books for artists, they help a lot with bone structure, muscle, matter bulk and action. The last thing a beginner wildlife artist needs is a book of scientific illustration including each of the 300-some bones in a horses' body. Some artists will tell you that emotion is the biggest thing in a picture....personally, I'd prefer to have a well-developed body structure before you work on character design.

In this sense, leopards have always been a point of fascination for me. I love the decorative aspect of the spots, the distribution of form, the beauty, the grace.....all rolled up together in a perfect predator. I feel a strong connection with leopards, and big cats in general really, both as a physical attraction, and as something that resides deeper within me.

Also, be careful what you create....At this point I've been roleplaying and drawing Dalla in so many different forms, it's like she lives as a part of me in my head. Well, she is a big part of me; she's everything that I can feel good about in myself. But you know it's bad when your characters start talking to you....so just make sure you don't get too attached. By the way, if you're thinking of stealing any of my characters or art.....think again. I've had quite a few issues with that in the past and it hurts, deeply, to see someone else take credit for my hard work. It's like loosing a child or beloved pet.

Speaking of pets, I'd like to thank my seven chinchillas (Especially my first baby, Chilli Pepper) for being the biggest inspiration of my life. Whenever I'm sad, they're happy and they cheer me up. They are more supportive than my parents, my friends, everybody...except maybe my mate; I love you Dan. And I'd like to extend a special thanks to Brian for keeping this place up and running; you've brought a lot of joy and a certain sense of pride (note the cliche) to countless people. I also want to thank my online friends, artist friends, and anyone who has ever emailed me just to tell me that they like my art. Even if I don't email you back (which I'm sorry to say I do quite often) it still means a lot to me that you would go through the trouble to tell me something like that. There's so much more that I'd like to say, but I think I'd best stop chattering like a deranged magpie and close up.

I'll leave you with a bit of food for thought, something to live and love by: "The huntress who sets snares had best watch where she puts her feet." This basically means that you should always think before you act, consider all the options, and generally be as careful as possible. Barreling through your life is not fulfilling in the least, so enjoy the time you have here.

Damalia doesn't have as many images in her gallery as do many of the other well-known artists on this site, but what her art lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality. Every one of her images not only is full of the warmth and character that is present in so many fan-artists' work; it's also got a level of detail and realism that few artists have been able to master. Her work has the balance, weight, and physiological accuracy of professional wildlife art, coupled with a depth of personality and an energy of motion that's usually found only in the best animation art.

There seem to be two major styles to Damalia's work: one, which she uses for anthropomorphic ("furry") art and fan-art from TLK itself, is rather simplified, with the focus on emotion and character; whereas her character portraits tend to appear in the signature style that is displayed so well in pieces like her portrayal of ShyZhadow, shown at the lower right, and in the Dalla picture above it with its superb sense of weight and anatomy. Above it, though, the "Cuddle" picture shows a fusion between her two styles: the polished realism of her wildlife-art technique mixed with the simplified cartoonish characterizations in her portraits and requested art.

Because while her realistic wildlife art is spellbinding, it's her portraits and illustrations of stories that really have energy and fun-- the backbone of the fan-art community. Her original characters all have back-stories, and there's always depth behind any of her images, no matter how detailed. It's small wonder that Damalia is in such demand for art trades and requests; anybody who has seen her work is sure to want a sample of it for their own-- not least because of what they might be able to learn from it.

Damalia's art might not make up a massive percentage of what's in the Archive, but it's certainly some of the best around.


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