Cotton-top Tamarin: Throwback Thursday

Cotton-top Tamarin (1x14 inch Transparent Watercolor on Winsor and Newton 140lb NCP Paper)

Cotton-top Tamarin (10×14-inch Transparent Watercolor on Winsor and Newton 140lb NCP Paper)

I did this painting a while back. It’s based on photos taken at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. Aside from being unbelievably beautiful, cotton-top tamarins are interesting animals. These tiny primates have highly developed communication skills and exhibit many fascinating social behaviors. For example, groups of monkeys cooperatively raise the young, with only the dominant pair breeding. In addition  

The crazy white puff of fluff atop each monkey’s head gave rise, perhaps obviously, to their English common name. In German they are called Lisztaffe, or List’s Monkey, because their “hairdo” resembles that of Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt. Google up a photo of Franz (or “Fliszt” if you’re a Victor Borge fan) and see if you agree. Cruel perhaps, but I hate to admit, accurate. Honestly, I’m not sure who is being insulted here. Now I have a mental image of one of these dashing monkeys in a tux playing “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” on a tiny piano. Maybe I could switch that out with an image of Mr. Liszt swinging on some vines? Nah.

This painting was a real challenge in transparent watercolor. Any white you see is the white of the paper, so painting around the white fur of each face required incredible attention to detail. That being said, the thing that made this painting work, for me, was the pattern of vines breaking up the page and receding into the background.

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