WHAT IS A MOTION DAZZLE?
Zebras are very social animals that spend most of their time in herds. They are blessed with the trifecta of great senses: hearing, smell, and sight. Having keen eyesight both day and night and not being color blind like most animals, they have a great vision for spotting intruders. At any sign of danger, a loud bray sends the herd bolting. They aren’t as fast as their predators, however they have great stamina and are able to run long distances. They also tend to run in zig-zag patterns to outmaneuver predators.
Their stripes work to their advantage, making it difficult for any predator to pick out one individual target as they are a confusing mass of shifting black and white. When the herd is in motion like this, it is referred to as a ‘Motion Dazzle’, as a group of zebras is called a ‘dazzle’. So that is where the inspiration behind this painting lies.
The Grevy's Zebra has gone from over 15,000 animals in the wild in the 1970's to only around 3,000 today with their main threat today being habitat loss. 12% of the total current population lives in on Lewa Conservancy, a nature preserve in Kenya. They are making considerable progress towards protecting the endangered Grevy’s Zebra and increasing their population. Read more about Lewa and the Grevy's Zebras here.
BEHIND THE PROCESS
This was a difficult painting which tested my patience and reminded me to trust the process. As an artist, it is easy to get discouraged when you are halfway through a piece and feel like there is no end in sight. Or when you have the feeling that the painting is not going to come together the way you have in your head and you will have ended up wasting hours upon hours of precious time. Both of these scenarios went through my head. But thankfully, I was determined to keep pushing and finally made it to my end goal. And I will say, it turned out exactly as I had originated it in my head months ago.
FURTHER INTO THE MEANING
If you take a close look at the painting, you will see that all of the Zebras are different. Some with larger bodies, some with narrower necks, some with smaller heads, some are darker, some are lighter, etc. This was on purpose. I wanted to represent that every individual is different and has their own unique sets of stripes.
As I spent time painting, I tended to hear a soft Spanish guitar in my head. I feel as though it makes sense now that the painting is complete. Zebras are such gentle animals, yet when they run it is almost like they are working in slow motion, or gliding along a rhythm with strength. Wherever this painting lands, I hope that whenever it is viewed, the viewer feels a sense of strength, gentleness, and peace.
This painting is for sale. The size of the painting is 30" x 30" and is an oil painting on linen canvas. Please inquire by sending me an email at Sterling@SterlingCrawford.art.