Everyone Take a Number!


Are you ever in search of an idea for your next artwork? Can’t decide what to do? Sometimes I wish I had that problem. More often than not my animals are knocking each other over trying to be next in line.

My laptop is overflowing with reference photos I’ve taken at zoos, the National Western Stock Show, Estes Park Wool Festival, Caribou Artist-in Residence, and anywhere else I run into animals. Usually I download the photos from my camera and give them a quick once-over. I might pick out one or two that catch my fancy, which I drop into a folder of  ideas to pursue.

When time allows and I am in the mood to draw, I will take these photos and in Photoshop make the drawing that becomes the pattern I work from. Then when it is time to start a new piece, I just pick a drawing—or three—take them to FedEx/Kinkos for enlargement, and I’m ready to start.

In the process of finishing and naming Beauty of the Beasts I went back to the photos I took at the Omaha Zoo last June. Before I knew what was happening, more photos moved over to the pending ideas file.

This is not because I was looking for ideas, nor was it because of a lack of enlarged patterns to work from. As I was scanning the photos this last time, I think I saw new possibilities as a result of my recent work. With each new piece, I learn more about the animals, my work, and me.

At last count there are 13 animals impatiently awaiting their turn on the design board. Thirteen—is that a bad number? Maybe I should add another one . . . or two.