Lion Cub Painting by Ilse de Villiers

“Cub Love” 

As an artist, I am constantly inspired by the magnificent creatures that call Africa home. My latest painting, “Cub Love,” was inspired by two lion cubs in a playful mood.

Lion Cubs Playing

Playing is an essential part of the learning process for lion cubs. Through play, they develop the skills they will need as adults, such as hunting, fighting, and socializing with their pride.

Reference Photo

The reference photos for this painting were courtesy of the talented photographer Michael Tucker, who captures the essence of African wildlife with every shot. You can check out his amazing work on Instagram @big5photos.


Lion Cubs Playing by Ilse de Villiers wildlife painter

Capturing Playfulness in Art

Capturing Playfulness in Art is an important aspect of animal and wildlife paintings. For me, it is crucial to convey the character and emotions of the subjects I am painting, especially when it comes to the young ones. In this particular lion cub painting, I wanted to showcase the cubs’ curiosity and energy, as well as their natural playfulness.

To achieve this, I used bright and vivid colors to enhance the playful atmosphere of the painting. I added a touch of movement to capture the essence of the cubs’ energy and make the artwork come to life. I wanted the viewer to feel the joy and excitement of watching these beautiful creatures playing in the African savannah.

As an artist, I believe it is important to raise awareness of the challenges facing our environment and its wildlife. Through art, we can inspire people to take action and make a difference in protecting our planet. Art is a powerful tool that can ignite emotions and inspire change, and I am proud to use my skills to support wildlife conservation.

In conclusion, capturing the playfulness of animals in art is essential in showcasing their beauty and character. It is also an excellent way to bring awareness to the importance of wildlife conservation and inspire people to take action. As artists, we have the power to make a difference and make our world a better place for both humans and animals alike.

Painting of Lions for sale. The two lion cubs (Cub hug)

Cub Love painting framed at 106 x 78.5cm  / 37″ x 44″

Cub Hug lion painting progress


Zulu people one of the largest ethnic groups in South Africa, have a deep cultural and spiritual connection with the lion. In their language, the Zulu word for lion is “ibhubesi” or “ingonyama”, which translates to “the master of all flesh”. This powerful name reflects the Zulu’s reverence for the lion as a symbol of strength, courage, and leadership.


The Zulu word “ingonyama” is made up of two words – “ngo” which means “very high”, and “nyama” which means “flesh” or “power”. It is believed that the lion is the highest and most powerful animal in the animal kingdom, and as such, it is the “master” of all flesh.


Another Zulu term for lion is “ibhubesi”, which comes from the verb “bhubeza” meaning “to make the final decision”. This supports the belief that the lion is the king of the beasts and holds a position of power and authority in the animal kingdom.


In the Tsonga language, which is spoken in southern Africa, “ku va nghala” means “to be a lion” and refers to being brave and courageous. Similarly, “ku lwa xinghala” translates to “to fight like a lion” and reflects the lion’s reputation for being fierce and fearless in battle.

Ilse de Villiers lion painting of cubs love

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition SEWE 16-19 February 2023

Cub Love” will be part of my exhibit at The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition SEWE 16-19 February 2023

 I hope it will inspire others to appreciate the beauty and importance of preserving Africa’s wildlife.

Feel free to contact me directly for info on pricing, shipping or any other info.

You can contact me directly at, or connect with me on Facebook (ILSE Wildlife) or Instagram (ilse_wildlife). I look forward to hearing from you!


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Lion cub painting

Lion Cub Painting by Ilse de Villiers"Cub Love" As an artist, I am constantly inspired by the magnificent creatures that call Africa home. My latest painting, “Cub Love,” was inspired by two lion cubs in a playful mood. Lion Cubs Playing Playing is an essential part...
Wildlife Paintings, Ilse de Villiers, South Africa, Elephant Paintings, Buffalo Paintings, Leopard Paintings, Zebra Paintings, Rhino paintings, Antelope paintings, Lion Paintings, Black and white paintings, Bird Paintings, Available Art.