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Featured Artist of the Month

Masked-lion

This month's Featured Artist, Masked-lion, packs a tremendous amount of skill into only a relative few pictures here in her gallery on the TLKFAA—less than 100 pieces. Few though they might be, each one is an intricate, joyous exhibition of the artist's irreverent nature and irrepressible sense of humor. Her fans and friends know her from her DeviantArt site as well as this one, but they also know that as diverse as her artistic tastes are, she focuses the bulk of it on Lion King fan-art—to the great benefit of our creative community.
Not so Long ago...
In the Magical Kingdom of the United...
Jess the Artist was writing a speech.

"Jess the Artist is writing a Speech?" Derek scoffed. Jess looked up from her piece of paper to glare at him. "What's it for this time? Derp of the Month?" He asked with a silly smirk on his face. "ARTIST of the Month actually!" Helene corrected with confidence. "Oh, I'm not going to play your silly games, Kids." Jess chuckled and began writing again. Malin walked in looking at the newspaper and smiled slightly "Artist of the Month, Huh? Not bad...not bad. I've had it once myself." She set the paper on the table infront of Jess and sat down to drink her Cocoa. Jess took her eyes off her paper and looked at Malin hesitantly. "So, What did you write for your speech then?" Jess asked. Malin thought for a moment and replied "Oh, just something about How happy I was to have been voted for...I think i wrote about someone eating socks too...?" She shook her head and took a sip from her mug "But, that was a long time ago." Jess bit her lip and began to stare at the words she had written. They read:

" Thanks so much guys! You're all amazing, I can't say I feel I deserve this but it really is an honour.

Thanks to all the people that voted for me, supported me, inspired me... "

Derek bit a piece of his toast and furrowed an eyebrow as he read her speech. "Sounds like everyone elses." He chuckled. Jess then proceeded to bang her head on the table. She crumpled her speech and threw it into an anonymous place, miraculously hitting Helene in the nose. "I have no idea what to write! It has to be a paragraph, right?" She looked up with pleading eyes. The rest of them nodded. "Maybe, you should write a story...No one's ever done that before." Helene said rubbing her nose. Derek tilted his head as he thought "You could write about Helene. With her black belt in Karate. Working for the city and discipling her body!" He said. Helene hit him over the head with her pillow. "It was just a suggestion!" Derek shouted as he rubbed the back of his head."You could always do what I did in my speech." Malin whispered. "Yeah, and what's that?" Jess asked with her face in her hands. "What everyone else did." Malin replied. "Bah!" Jess exclaimed throwing her hands into the air. She took a sip of her tea and looked out the window. "The UK is so boring." Derek said frowning. "Shut it, American!" Jess snapped at him. "Atleast it isn't as cold as Norway..." Malin said. She looked at Helene who nodded in agreement. "So, what site was this for again?" Derek asked. "The one where we all draw Lions." Helene said. "Oh, right." "You sure it has to be a paragraph?" Helene asked. "Yer." Jess confirmed while watching a leashed dalmation pass by. "Wait! I have an idea!" Jess grabbed another piece of paper. Derek, Helene and Malin all huddled around her with curiousity. Jess put her pen to the paper and wrote:

"Not so long ago...
In the Magical of the United Kindom...
Jess the Artist was writing a speech."

Derek wrote this!
Masked-lion is a bit of an enigma. She divulges little of her personal background or details of her circumstances; as a social construct, her life as we see it here at the TLKFAA is pretty sparse, as is understandable. At a glance her online self appears to be a free-flowing stream of memes and jokes. But artistically, her work speaks volumes.

All you have to do is glance at one of Masked-lion's pencil sketches to know that she is no newcomer or lightweight. She's one of the site's true heavy hitters, one of those artists who can imbue a character sketch with an uncanny life and energy with seemingly no effort. She can string together a series of rough lines, pulling them into formation like a spider's web, leaving outlines of slightly nervous shorthand that capture an unmistakably masterful anatomy and weight within the character's physical framework. Her lions and other animals—for Masked-lion's artistic tastes clearly run to more than just those things that fit within the Lion King universe, though she sticks to the canon material to an admirable degree—occupy a world of simple backgrounds and rudimentary compositions, their clear mission being to help the artist explore the heights of skill in rendering the characters themselves. The bulk of her work consists of portraits and character studies, each one showcasing an ever more accomplished position on the never-ending road toward the beckoning goal of complete mastery.

A fair number of her pieces focus on canon characters such as Mufasa, Simba, and others; but the majority of the rest ranges across a wide variety of animal species, covering not just big cats but also creatures like civets, otters, servals, water buffalo, and numerous others. Each one is treated with the detail and attention that one expects from a top-notch nature artist. Yet it's immediately clear too that Masked-lion has more in mind than just rendering animals. Not only does she explore eye-popping techniques like soft focus/shallow depth-of-field, high-contrast colors and shadows, and painting in grayscale, she gives each of her animal subjects a lifelike spark of animated character, no matter how realistically they're portrayed, and an expression and body language that draws the viewer in irresistibly. This is perhaps true of a great many artists who inhabit the broad realm of artistic language that spans the gulf between the TLKFAA and DeviantArt; but Masked-lion is truly one of the best to have taken up the pen and staked a claim in that discipline. Every piece she creates is not just a doodle, but a learning experience. Whether a digitally colored gesture drawing, a smoothly finished and colored piece of gift art featuring an original character (or indeed orginal species), a paintakingly created piece of real-media artwork, or just a simple pencil sketch to capture a character's pose or a gag, each one is a milestone along a road that Masked-lion seems to be able to see down quite clearly.

Whether Masked-lion's future contains ever more Lion King art with ever more engaging iterations of her personal style, or a wide-branching multi-disciplinary foray into the heavy demands of academic and commercial art, it's bound to be rewarding—both to her and to her devoted fans who have made her this month's Featured Artist. Congratulations to Masked-lion, and the best of luck to her wherever her career takes her!


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