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Featured Artist of the Month


This month's spotlight goes to lauralu, an artist whose path to the Lion King fandom has been perhaps a little different from the one most other artists took. Whereas the past decade and more have seen a lot of artists who grew up watching the movie as children and were initially inspired to become artists through the movie itself (and other Disney features from the same era), lauralu comes to us from an already-distinguished career at DeviantArt, where she explores many of the myriad complexities of art and creativity as a remarkable part of the human experience. Her curiosity brought her to the world of Lion King fan-art, and through that lens we get a renewed sense for how powerful a force and a genre unto itself TLK has become in the years since its release.
Wow, this is the most fantastic start to the New Year, I'm actually a little shell-shocked; I honestly never thought I would be a featured artist here! You people are awesome! Especially seeing as I'm not the most creative artist out there at all; my main aim is just pretty pictures XD... I'm bowled over by this!

I just want to take this opportunity to say that this archive is amazing. The Lion King is one of my all time favourite movies (since the age of 8) and has always, always had a special place in my heart. There was a time when I stopped drawing for a couple of years—possibly longer—and on my quest to buy a whole load of Disney/Childhood DVDs I came across this place on the interwebz and was blown away, both by the fact that there was such a website and also by the incredible art that people produced. I couldn't believe that it was fans that made these! Then the desire to draw came back, and has been ongoing ever since, mostly because there are so many incredible artists here whose styles and ideas continue to amaze and inspire me. I delved straight into the digital art because of here not having a clue about it, but now I can't stop drawing that way, so my door was opened to a new experience in art that I hadn't realised there was before (lol, I'm slow!)

I'm afraid that I have no advice to pass on that hasn't been said before (am I even qualified to give advice? XD) except practice and observation are key. Not only practice of TLK characters but of real animals from photos, videos, the zoo etc. You'll have a better sense of movement and anatomy overall that way (I still have problems with anatomy). Also, remember it takes time to make improvements in your style, technique and knowledge, so just don't give up when it all gets frustrarting—trust me, I know how that feels. Also, techniques from artists you admire, their style of shading/colour use/linework etc, can introduce you to a new perspective on how to do things, so don't be afraid to take some of their knowledge on board and see how it works for you.

So, I'm not good at the long speeches so I'll just give a huge thanks to all of you who thought I worthy enough and voted for me, my watchers (I hate calling them fans lol), all of you who have ever left a nice comment or faved a picture and most of all a HUGE thank you to Brian for creating and maintaining the site. You must have the patience of a saint Mr Tiemann, and long may it continue :D I'm just so delighted to know there are many LK lovers out there besides myself ^_^

And I shall continue on my quest to contribute to the world of TLK art 8D

Thank you all again!
Perhaps it's because lauralu became a part of the Lion King fan community comparatively recently, but one of the most remarkable things about her gallery is that well over half of it is dedicated to canon art inspired directly from the movie. Many fan-artists who were drawn into the fandom as soon as they saw the movie (or later sequels) have been inspired to work within the realms of their own self-created collections of characters and fursonas, expanding and ramifying the already rich world of the lions of Pride Rock, while often giving short shrift to the original cast of canon characters. Not so with lauralu, who appears to be most intensely motivated by the universe of characters and places originally painted by the Disney artists—the rich levels of characterization, emotional complexity, and fascinating details of construction that make up an on-model character as envisioned by the artists behind the movies.

In just two short years, lauralu has made vast amounts of progress in both artistic sensibility and technique. The anatomy and balance of her characters have taken shape, attaining weight and form along with an ever-present energy of expression (always so key to conveying a convincing character from the Disney animated tradition), and at the same time the digital coloring and shading have tightened up to a highly polished standard that represents a high bar to reach for a great many artists. It is the speed of lauralu's progress that I find most impressive—even just remaining for the most part within the bounds of TLK canon, she has driven herself relentlessly forward, in hungry pursuit of that elusive spark that is so easily struck by skilled animation artists, the spark of life and easy appeal that brings a character right off the page and into another new story that writes itself before your eyes.

It's instructive, naturally, to delve into the parts of lauralu's gallery that house her real media—the scans of her pencil sketches and other quick, dashed-off doodles. These "throwaway" drawings are often the most valuable elements of an artist's true style and inspiration; through them you find techniques that tantalize the artist to further improvement, even if they're for the moment beyond reach. lauralu's pencil work includes some gorgeous sketches of real-life lions, for example, along with stylizations into Disney's character model formula, to better understand the interplay of anatomy and construction in the simplified and exaggerated caricatures of nature that constitute our favorite characters. And as is so often the case, it turns out that some of the most lively, appealing drawings are unfinished ones, pencil sketches that we can be thankful found their way onto a scanner. The same, of course, goes for digital sketches, such as the hyena right at the top in her main folder: honestly one of the coolest wildlife studies I've seen on this site.

lauralu continues to explore many sides of her artistic personality, and her rapid progress means the coming year will be one of continued discovery and achievement. With The Lion King as motivation, it's only a matter of time (well, and lots of hard work, but it never seems to get wearisome) before she's mastered all the skills she currently aspires to have. But by then, of course, there will be a whole new set to strive toward...

Congratulations to lauralu!

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