Deviation Actions

namu-the-orca's avatar

Endless freedom - Keiko's life

Published:
416 Comments
22K Views
Species depicted: Killer whale (Orcinus orca)
Time taken: More than 30 hours
References used: All 67(!) can be seen here: namu-the-orca.deviantart.com/a…
Tools of the trade: Photoshop CS5


I have lost track of the number of times someone told me they started loving killer whales because of Free willy, or that Free willy was the first cetacean movie they really liked. Keiko was such an amazing and special whale that has touched so many hearts, and with reason. His life marked the beginning of the Killer whale loving era, and showed to everyone that it could be done, that he could and never gave up. For 26 years he was here to charm people from all over the world, to delight us with his antics and to amaze us with his journey. I hope I have done him and his life justice with this huge painting collage that follows him from the beginning, to the very end.

I uploaded this painting in a huge size (though still half of what it used to be) and without a watermark out of respect. Respect for this wonderful Killer whale, whose paintings I do not want to spoil with copyright. Just don't even try to dishonour this painting by stealing it. Just don't. Well, it seems plenty of people had no problem stealing this and reposting without giving any bit of credit, so this has been updated with watermarks left and right. Too bad.

Keiko - 1977 to 2003
Rest in peace, gorgeous bull



COPYRIGHT NOTICE
All submissions in this gallery, be it photos, paintings or drawings, are copyrighted to me, Namu-the-orca. No one has the right to alter, distribute, copy or use my art without my written permission unless stated otherwise. My submissions are NOT stock
Image details
Image size
2000x1500px 2.01 MB
© 2012 - 2022 namu-the-orca
Comments416
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
CheshireOrca's avatar

It's a shame he spent most of his time far away from the wild pods and ended up not wanting to stay with them due to a wild orca slapping their tail towards him, which is known to be an aggressive behavior for orcas. I wish more people realized just how badly he suffered, not just from having been captured but his release as well since most activists romanticize it like it was some beautiful fairy tale when in reality the poor orca was confused, did not stay with wild pods, and was basically starving. info from Mark Simmons, a guy who actually worked with Keiko on his release.

Aktasak's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

I only have a little bit of criticism on this painting, the image of Keiko leaping out the water to hit a ball, there should be more water disturbance like the water crashing and more splashes as only a few specs of water isn't enough, I just thought I'd give you a little help, seeing these creatures leaping and splashing in real life they create more than just little specs of water in the air. <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/s/s…" width="15" height="15" alt=":)" title=":) (Smile)"/> Otherwise it looks gorgeous ! <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/m/m…" width="15" height="15" alt=":meow:" title="Meow :3"/> Also on the image where Keiko is catching his first fish, a little water webbing on his skin won't hurt. :3
namu-the-orca's avatar
Thank you for you critique :) The water webbing is I guess a matter of preference: I'm not very good at them and I'd rather keep it like this than ruining the painting. And it really does only create something so small at that stage of the jump and with such a little animal. Do keep in mind Keiko was tiny at that moment, and I used a lot of reference photos, also for this one. You can see it over here: [link] On the left, below the huge photo of him swimming past, you see a photo of the young him sliding out (below the famous photo of him hanging in front of the glass) Above the slide out photo, right of the 'hanging at the glass photo' you see Keiko jumping out of the water to touch a ball at Reino aventura (the photo is in Sepia). If you zoom in all the way, you'll see there indeed are only a few little splashes in the air, no huge water disturbance at all :D
Aktasak's avatar
Ah, I see. ;) I was only trying to help, of course. May I ask why you rejected my critique as "Useless" ? Not trying to start a fight or anything but I only gave you a little help. :)
namu-the-orca's avatar
Well, I clicked 'unfair' because even though the tips were really there to help me, one simply was not correct and the other was simply a matter of taste. Though the option 'was not correct' was not available in the drop down menu, I chose what I felt came closest: useless because of above said reasons. It sounds kinda mean and harsh, though there was no real alternative, so sorry ^^;
Aktasak's avatar
It's okay. :) I forgive you. :meow:
invaderAlejandro's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

its really beautiful when i read the info i does touch my heart its really colorful and astonishing........when i looked this up it caught my eyes.but i never saw the movie "free willy" these magnificent creatures are my fave marine animals. its so so sad how he died. i studied stuff about keiko at school about his death and why we shouldn't keep animals in captivity.

i loved how you came up with this, orcas meant to be free in the wild. poor baby, worth better of being alive and all.

i'm not joking about this, seriously its amazing. cool.
LiDM's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

I still love this movie...it brings tears to my eyes every time I remember the touching scenes & the fact that the 'Killer' whale, Willy, was actually more gentle & sweet. The tribute to Keiko is just so beautiful & touching; I actually cried again! <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/e/e…" width="15" height="15" alt=":o" title=":o (Eek)"/>
I would like to applaud you; it may seem a lot, but I really admire your ideas & thoughts on this beautiful painting, which I truly feel, has brought Keiko to life again. I especially love the fact that you have added clear short notes on his history, which makes it all even better. Keep up the brilliant work & well done!!! <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/b/b…" width="15" height="15" alt=":D" title=":D (Big Grin)"/>
DarkSilverflame's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

All I can say on first glance is: Stunning!
It shows how much time, research and effort you put into this artwork, and my heart is jumping, seeing and remembering the one who touched us all. I saw Free Willy in theaters back in 1993, and many times after that, but I never really knew Keiko's whole story. It was a sad and yet strangely beautiful life, and I'm sure it has never been illustrated so nicely before.
I particularly like the illustration in the bottom left corner, and I love the one from the movie, jumping to freedom with the sunrise in the background. But overall, they are each fantastic on their own!

Thank you for this,
Allen
roxi12star's avatar
SoUr-MaNtIs's avatar
I agree to everything you have said. It's just so beautiful, and it's a sin to not give the masterpiece 5 stars!
namu-the-orca's avatar
Thank you very much for the critique, means a lot to me :) Though I still find it hard to believe everything is at five stars ^^;
DarkSilverflame's avatar
You're very welcome, Namu! :)
I actually thought about the stars before I chose the number, so I can assure you I mean them :aww:
ahmedshadow's avatar
u do a nice work :)
Varghjartat's avatar

Aww Keiko... I grew up with the three Free Willy movies, the first one is always the closest one to my heart. I love so much how you put much heart for this painting. The pattern you used is a very clever and organised way to show Keiko's life by organising the parts into clockwise pattern; it would have been a total clumsy chaos without that pattern.


Aww man, I try my best to hold back the nostalgia and the tears from coming but I can't help to feel so overwhelmed by the details, the shadows, the lights, the realism... I'm good as mindblown. I miss the big boi too much. It breaks my heart thinking that he's gone. I never learnt about Keiko's death until ten years after his death. Shocker indeed. :(


The funny thing is that it was not only Keiko who made me passionate for orcas on first place. No, it was actually the classic 1977 movie Orca: The Killer Whale that introduced me into the orca passion from very start. Yup, this is very true for I still remember myself as a tiny child between 4 and 5 running around in search after the movie to look at the orcas, and I never got scarred by it for some odd reason. No matter how many times the movie was hidden, I always found it. But I remember strongly of the music by Ennio Morricone, especially Finale and the opening scene.


I wish I could say more but what can I add when my mind is too overblown?

BloatedRaccoon's avatar
Ive always wondered how Jason took the news of keikos passing
namu-the-orca's avatar
I'd never really thought about it but now you say so... that must have been rough. Over the course of shooting a whole movie, and working so closely with a killer whale, I can't imagine they didn't form some sort of bond.
BloatedRaccoon's avatar
I know he has an Instagram account but I don't know if he'd want to talk about that but I'm sure he expressed his sympathies when he got the news and like you said I'm sure it must have been rough but at least in keiko's case he died free
AislinNora's avatar
The painting of him with his mother made me have to hold back tears. After spending so many years hoping and wishing him luck, losing him, and now carrying on his legacy... seeing him with his mother...even if it is just a painting...it's bittersweet. Thank you. The collage is beautiful.
namu-the-orca's avatar
Thank you very much. It's been a while since working on this, but it was quite a journey to paint. It was almost strange to dive so deep into the life of a single whale, imagining and painting scenes that only he has experienced.
AislinNora's avatar
You did a wonderful job.
Miss-Barker's avatar
He's still there. He's still splashing around in the seas of Norway. We just can't see him, that's all.
namu-the-orca's avatar
That is a nice thought :aww: In a sense, he does still live on in the collective memory of the people who knew him
bloatedseal's avatar
i will tell you if keiko were alive right now and if he were human and saw this why i bet you anything he'd be proud that he hasn't been forgotten and that people still celebrate his life even after his death, namu i salute you and your truly fantastic and heartwarming artwork fore it truly is both beautiful and awe inspiring 
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In