When people lovingly tease me about how it seems I love my dogs more than I love my kids, I joke that it’s because my dogs never talk back to me. I’ll admit that while my sons come first, like many of us, I absolutely adore my furry friends. And why wouldn’t we? They tell us so much about ourselves, they inform us about their own beings, and they also hold so many secrets.
Art Journey Animals: A Collection of Inspiring Contemporary Masterworks honors this relationship between people, specifically artists, and animals. Here’s Jamie Markle, editor of the collection, to tell you more about the drawings and paintings within that will inspire you. ~Cherie
Animals in Art
From Art Journey Animals by Jamie Markle
Here at North Light Books, we see a lot of art. It wasn’t too surprising when one of the staff members asked why we didn’t have a book that showcased the amazing animal paintings and drawings that we’ve seen. It’s such a popular subject, I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it sooner. After looking at thousands of paintings and drawings, we narrowed them down to 207 works to create Art Journey: Animals.
As I selected the pieces for the book, several of the featured artists mentioned some common themes when describing what inspired their work. Here are some of them:
• The special bond that these artists feel to animals, both domestic and wild, is clearly apparent. This bond connects them to nature in a way that relationships with people do not. Capturing this unity with nature is what drives many of these artists to work with animals as subjects.
• In many ways, these works are more than animals as subjects, but portraits of beloved pets or respected wildlife. The artists, through observation and research, have developed specific traits or features of a particular animal to tell a visual story, relay a specific incident or showcase a behavior unique to that particular subject.
• The texture of fur and feathers provides an opportunity for many artists to explore patterns and repetition found in nature. Many enjoy exploring these textures, which can be both challenging and delightful. Artists found some innovative ways to capture a variety of textures, both on the animals and in the backgrounds.
• Some artists used reference photos taken during many hours of observation, while others worked directly from life. Some artists used a combination of both methods, especially when trying to capture animals in motion.
• Many artists spoke of how they wanted to capture the look found in their subject’s eyes, stating how important this is to capturing the spirit of the subject.
• Honoring animals is also a common theme of inspiration for these artists. For some, it’s the connection to a beloved household member. Others may want to raise awareness for feral cats or shelter dogs. Still others want to celebrate the majesty of wildlife.
Above all, the thing that is most evident (and most important) is that the artists are clearly working with subjects that they love and have put years of painting and drawing practice into their work. As a fellow lover of both animals and art, I hope you’ll feel the same connection that I felt as I selected these pieces for this book. ~Jamie
Above: Olivia (charcoal on paper, 6×8) by Helen Crispino,
featured in Art Journey Animals
“Olivia is a very special part of my family, as are all of my animals,” Helen says. “She is a beautiful Persian kitty with a loving disposition, and I wanted to celebrate her life in this piece. An intimate view of her is depicted in this closeup. My inspiration generally comes from nature and all its diversity and wonder. My two great passions in life are animals and art. I’m fortunate to be able to combine them. It brings me much joy.
“I work primarily in oil and charcoal. Olivia was created using charcoal pencils. My technique involves using a basic grid. I make an angular light charcoal drawing. As I refine the contours, I slowly block in simple shadow patterns. I then add layers of more complex patterns to enhance the form until I achieve the desired result. I have a love for detail and I focus on the essential fundamentals of draftsmanship, the anatomy of form and the elements of perception.”