Painting animals

Painting Okapis

Hi everyone. So in the last post, I had said that Kathleen and I were working on some more paintings. Here’s the first one. The common okapi. [Image courtesy of]


*Record screech* What? What is the world is that thing? It looks like some bizarre zebra-deer hybrid!

Actually, the okapi is a very rare creature, whose existence was not known to science until 1901 when Sir Harry Johnston, the British explorer, naturalist and colonial administrator ‘discovered’ it. Though it closely resembles a horse or deer, okapis are actually relatives of giraffes and strangely enough,  the Atlantic humpbacked dolphin.

[Info courtesy of

I learned about the okapi a few years ago and have always been fascinated by it. Thus, the okapi painting was born.


Okay, it’s not a painting. Yet. I have it sketched out on canvas board for now. I’d say that the hardest part about this drawing was the stripes. I mean, I can hardly tell which ones are supposed to be black, and which ones are supposed to be white.

The first thing I did was paint the background. Okapi live in lush, green environments, so I painted the background, you guessed it, green!


Then, I painting the main body. The coat, like you can see in the first image, is kind of a brownish-black, so I mixed brown, burnt sienna, black, and just a touch of scarlet to get the main coat color.


After that, I added burnt sienna to contrast the darker mix.


Next, the best part, stripes!


Since I put the brownish stripes down, it only makes sense to put down the white stripes. These won’t be very noticeable, since the canvas is white, but it still looks good. I also toned down some of the grey, filled in the iris, and painted in the horns with a mixture of burnt sienna and white.


That’s everything! Now the okapi can take its place among our other exotic animals. Next post will be about another painting in production. I won’t say what it is, but leave your guesses down in the comments section!

~Elizabeth and Kathleen



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