Oil painting of a red horizon.
White Rhino oil painting [30" x 10"], 2007
A very dear art teacher in high-school encouraged Dane to follow the pattern and story that emerged in his early drawings, and first presented the work of Robert Bateman ― Dane's passion for wildlife and art became the trajectory for his early career and life. Inspired by the oil painting by Bateman: Rhinoceros at Ngoro Ngoro ― the oil painting of a red horizon was first shown back in 2007 at the HGS international baccalaureate (IB) art show, and in 2015 was acknowledged as the founding piece of art for Animat Habitat™. Issue zero: White Rhino is the technical first in an array that is the library of scenes in wildlife art created by Animat Habitat™ to inspire support for endangered species and their natural habitats. The original was painted on a wide thirty-by-ten-inch canvas and given to Dane's beloved grampa Alan.
The story of White Rhino is a study of wildlife in a serene landscape juxtaposed with an impending future. The piece was effective in raising a question ― the question that might be asked of any artist who studies wildlife: what role does the artist play beyond the art, beyond reckognizing the human impact on other animal species, beyond reckognizing that we people can work, or not work, to leave spaces and create places for other species to coexist on this planet? Framed on the far left of the painting, in medium close-up, and painted in detail, the offset focus on the aged rhino adds context and perspective to the scenery. It invites space for the green hills with the calf to be seen as a place of hope and purpose, while the red sky that blazes on the horizon on the far right creates a sharp contrast that raises alarm and reminds the viewer of the endangered state of these animals in the wild. The answer to the question is all about the world we want to live in, and Animat Habitat™ wants a world with rhinos. The white rhino, the largest extant species of rhinoceros, is considered to consist of two subspecies: the southern and the northern white rhinoceros. In 2006, four rhinos living in Garamba National Park were the last known wild northern whites. (None have been seen since.)