|Studio assistants, Travi & Booker|
I’m not good at New Year’s resolutions.
So, as 2014 approached, I asked myself what changes I wanted to make to get the new year off to a good start. I decided instead of a resolution to fix something bad, for 2014 I’d give myself a fun challenge.
It had to be productive. It had to be fun. It had to be something I could mostly do on my own (for not too much money), but something I could ultimately share with people.
Although I’ve had a long time desire to write and illustrate children’s books, that didn’t have the sense of immediacy that I needed. I can procrastinate with the best. I am a master at analysis paralysis, because I love learning, and there is always something more to learn. I needed a deadline, or better yet deadlines.
I’ve seen artists on the web doing a 30 day challenge - 30 paintings in 30 days. But after my attempts to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I know that I’m not a hurry-up-throw-everything-on-the-page kind of writer or artist. I need to sleep on it. I’m a set-a-project-aside-and-look-at-it-with-fresh-eyes kind of lady. A painting every week seemed reasonable.
What to paint was the easy question. For Christmas, I had painted several family dogs as gifts. My family loved it. I enjoyed doing it, and lots of people told me that the paintings made them smile.
|Family dogs, Bailey, Bella, & Emma|
The Petburbia Project was born! One year, 52 paintings, pets of all shapes and sizes and varieties, great stories, and personalities that can not be denied.
So you have my subjects, my motivations, and my timeline. Now for the art.
I decided to continue with a stripped-down, portrait style. No background to distract from my main subject. No funny costumes. No out-of-place and doll-sized props.
I want to capture that primal, most basic connection of the instant an animal looks you in the eye. They acknowledge you. They have something to tell you. They have a story you’d be lucky to know.
Although my paintings are realistic in style, I take some artist license to feature the animal’s personality. Animals don’t have the broad range of facial expressions humans possess. My work endeavors to pull forward the expression and the character each animal does exhibit.
Watercolor was a natural choice of medium for me. My mom taught me several techniques, and we both love the way a watercolor can feel equally earthy and weightless at the same time.
The ink outline adds a strong punctuation to each creature. It sets them apart from the background, making the animal feel solid and sturdy.
As with the best human portraits, I want your response to go beyond, “isn’t that pretty” or “what a good likeness” to have you question…
“I wonder what they are thinking…”
“I wonder what secrets they know…”