Ryan Kirby Art


Grandfather Mountain Cougars

Cougars, 24" x 30" Oil on Canvas

This painting is being offered for purchase to benefit the Grandfather Mountain Cougar Project. Click here to place your eBay bid on this original oil painting. 

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a non-profit nature park that strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain.

In 2016, the foundation rescued two orphaned cougars from Idaho. It's an incredible story, with one of Grandfather Mountain's largest supporters offering to fly his own private jet out to pick them up and relocate them to their new home in the Appalachian Mountains. 

Inspired by their story, I partnered with the Stewardship Foundation to paint the cougars among the two iconic peaks of Grandfather Mountain — one of the most sought after views in western North Carolina. Grandfather's slogan is "Wonders Never Cease." Rather than paint the duo resting on a rock or in a much more "average" pose, I felt that the image needed to be something awe-spiring, something wonderful. So I elevated the cats above the skyline on a dead tree, giving them prominence and profiling their athletic poses. If you've been to the top of Grandfather Mountain, you know that the wind keeps the unique pines blown in the same direction, just like the one on their logo. I painted the pines of the middle ground in the same fashion, with the cats boldly facing into the wind and balancing out the composition.

It only takes a visit to one of their seven environmental habitats to see cougars (which no longer live in the wild on Grandfather Mountain), black bears, bald eagles and river otters. Observing these animals up close in their native settings, it’s easy to imagine what it would be like to come face-to-face in the wild. Grandfather Mountain spends large amounts of time and resources to create their environmental habitats, which are large enclosures that allow visitors to see animals in natural settings. Unlike the exhibits found in city zoos that bring in plants and boulders to recreate an appropriate setting, these enclosures were built around the animals’ actual native habitat. 

This is not a cheap process, and they need help in doing it. The proceeds from this painting will support the lives of the two rescued cougars by helping to purchase food, training & medical equipment, and enrichments (toys, treats, and scents to keep them healthy). I hope you'll join me in supporting the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation by bidding on this original oil painting. The auction begins at 6 PM on Thursday, July 27th and lasts approximately 10 days.

Preliminary Sketches Included with this Painting

Also included with this original are preliminary sketches I created leading up to the painting. Rarely do I let these out of my studio, but in this case I felt that they help to tell the story of this project, as well as give the buyer an extra glimpse into the lives of these cats.