Namaste ~ a Bengal Tiger in Hawaii

¬†Namaste ~ 6″x6″ oil on hardboard panel
Namaste is the white Bengal Tiger that lives at the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo Hawaii. I have to say, I am opposed to wild animals being penned up, it is too un-natural and cruel as far as I’m concerned. But…it was an opportunity to show our kids something they would never get to see otherwise. Namaste was injured while we were there, and quite docile, but I was still able to get a few pictures of him before he decided to hide in his enclosure.¬†
Here is a in progress demo so you can see a few of the steps I take to create a painting like this. Usually the background of the reference photos are busy, or too colorful, or just plain bad, so I like to make a plain light or dark background. 
When I’m painting a portrait, whether a person or animal, I feel that zooming in close and getting rid of the background makes the subject the most important, and gives them a sense of individual character and personality.
The whole painting took me about 2 and a half hours.
Stage 2 ~ one hour in

Stage 1 ~ 20 minutes in