My enormous thanks to Helen McCuster at Booked PR for a copy of Painting The Ice Bear by Mark Adlington in return for an honest review. Painting The Ice Bear was published by Unicorn in partnership with John Martin Gallery on 16th December 2016 and is available for purchase in hardback here and from the Gallery here.
Painting The Ice Bear
Fascinated from the outset by all things wild, Mark Adlington has travelled the globe, seeking out, observing and painting many of the rarest, most breathtaking animals on the planet. Combining intensive on-site work and preparation with countless subsequent hours in the studio creating his images, Adlington has become one of the most popular wildlife painters working today.
This stunning quarter bound edition brings together more than one hundred of Adlington’s images of polar bears, following the world’s largest land predator from cub to maturity both above and below the water. The product of countless trips to wildlife reserves in northern Europe and the frozen expanses of the Arctic, these images are engaging and powerful in equal measure, as Adlington brilliantly conveys the many, and often contrasting aspects of this most charismatic of animal icons.
My Review of Painting The Ice Bear
I’m obsessed by wildlife, having travelled from Africa to Antarctica with the Galapagos in between to see creatures in the wild, and encountering polar bears in real life is on my bucket list. Whilst I’m waiting, Painting The Ice Bear is the next best thing!
Predominantly a book of stunning images, there is a detailed foreword by the author that blends facts about polar bears with a personal approach and history so that Mark Adlington’s passion for his subject from his first early figurine gift, through watching a BBC documentary, to the fulfilment of his lifelong dream of seeing them in the wild comes across to the reader with enthusiasm and verve.
I learnt a lot about this magnificent creature, not knowing before that, when skinned, they share a similar structure to humans, for example. But I also hadn’t appreciated some of the other concepts the artist brought to my attention – such as the need to see animals in their natural situation, but not necessarily to paint them in that landscape because of the risk of representing a landscape containing an animal, rather than the animal itself. Obviously I’m no artist. I loved the historical, ecological and geographical facts presented too.
The only other text is a poem, Polar Bear, by J. Patrick Lewis that helps underline the importance of the polar bear to so many nations and its fragile hold in a threatened natural world. Coming after the images of the book, I found this simple poem very affecting.
The images that form the book Painting The Ice Bear are magnificent. Some are just a few sketchy lines and some fully developed paintings but all are evocative of the creature, its moods, power and vulnerabilities. I was astounded how a relatively constrained palette managed to underpin the qualities of the polar bear so successfully. I especially liked those images representing the bear in water as they are so balletic and fluid.
The paintings are of such quality that, whilst an expensive purchase at around £25, Painting The Ice Bear is worth every penny as it is a book that would make a perfect present for any animal lover, anyone interested in natural history and any artist. The rough sketches illustrate how less is more when it comes to capturing the essence of a creature and, along with the fully finished images, show those with an interest in art the processes Mark Adlington has gone through to produce such lifelike paintings.
I think Painting The Ice Bear is a glorious, sumptuous, celebratory book that I’m delighted to own.
About Mark Adlington
Mark Adlington is a London based artist who travels extensively in search of the wildlife which has been his principal obsession since early childhood. He works extensively on site before returning to the studio to try and recreate the immediacy of his responses to the animals using various and often mixed media. Mark exhibits regularly in London and abroad, and occasionally works to commission. He is represented by the John Martin of London Gallery in Mayfair, and by the Bridgeman Art Library.