Updated: May 8, 2020
Thomas Orde-Lees was a naval officer who was part of the crew of the SS Endurance and served as a motor expert and storekeeper. Orde-Lees was known at times to be lazy, and at other times hard-working, depending upon when it suited him. He was quite obsessed with maintaining an orderly account for the food rations and constantly concerned that they would run out of food. One day, while returning from a hunting trip on skis, Orde-Lees encountered a vicious leopard seal. The seal emerged out of the ice and began to chase him. It pursued him for a good while, and he yelled for Frank Wild to get a shotgun and take it down. Then all of a sudden, the seal dove back into the water. But just when Orde-Lees thought perhaps he was safe, he realized that this industrious seal had gone back into the water to trace his shadow skiing on the ice! The seal exploded out of the water and was once again in hot pursuit of Orde-Lees, who was frantically yelling for Wild and skiing as fast as he could. Once Wild had his gun trained on the leopard seal, it turned from Orde-Lees and began to charge toward Wild. Wild unloaded the gun several times on this massive beast, and at only 30 feet away, the animal finally collapsed.
For this painting, I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose Orde-Lees skiing with a contemporary image of a leopard seal. The leopard seal in this painting had a very different agenda than the one that pursued Orde-Lees a 100 years ago. This particular seal became very interested in the photographer who was in a wetsuit photographing her. She became so interested, in fact, that once she realized the photographer was not a threat, she began trying to feed this lucky person dead penguins!
I find this juxtaposition interesting in light of considering two possible perspectives of the risk of being a full-time artist: you can either be fearful, overly cautious, and lack-minded; or you can have faith and believe that when you work hard and stay diligent in your quest, you will be fed and you will succeed.