Artist in residence
Animal skulls and stuffed birds perch alongside antique furnishings inside the creature designer’s grand studio space
My surroundings have always been exceedingly important to me, with light and airiness an essential. I’ve always been a small town girl and a history buff, so I’ve always been drawn to old buildings with a past.
Thus, my studio is in a gable of an old Queen Anne Victorian, circa 1897, where I also live. For northern Californian standards, that’s a pretty old house! I love the soaring ceilings and the beautiful moldings, and have furnished it with antiques of that era. Downton Abbey suits me just fine!
My studio is organised in such a way that reference is always at hand and drawing space is maximised. This is crucial when one is an animal artist and creature designer. The more nature references you can surround yourself with, the better, and my computer (iMac) and Cintiq 22-inch are positioned to act as reference boards or view wildlife videos as needed.
My drawing table faces a magnetic bulletin board set up on an ordinary presentation easel to post further references, as well as current projects that I’m working on. I can easily switch gears using my swivel chair and work digitally on my Cintiq after doing basic traditional work on my drawing table. In addition to this core setup, my scanner (Epson Expression 10000XL), printer (Epson Artisan 1430), photocopier (Konica Minolta Bizhub 181, which I lease for a low monthly fee), and flat files for art storage, nestle across from me in the window bay.
There’s also a closet, which I’ve converted into book storage – I have even more books down the hall – and I have four metal filing cabinets organised according to zoological classification, chock full of animal references.
The closet is mirrored, so I can easily reference myself for expression and gesture.
A studio becomes very individual, and mine is no exception. Atop two of my filing cabinets are some of my animal anatomy collection, including a large skull of a draft mule. Perched against a wall is a little California quail, found in an antique store.
Above my Cintiq are old prints (including the Thief of Bagdad movie poster - so inspirational!) and another small fabric bulletin board, with cards and mementos that are important to me. My little Whippet Timmy is very much the guardian of the gate and mascot. He spends much of his time snoozing in the studio, or alternatively begging to be petted. Whatever pose he strikes is always beautiful, and I’ve used him as a model for many, many projects.
Terryl is an internationally regarded animal artist and creature designer. You can see her work at www.talesofamalthea.com.
I have all my current projects to hand in my workspace. My drawing board is flanked by my computer and Cintiq, and my references and books are within reach. An old toile-covered fabric board above my Cintiq acts as a repository of cards, art and other objects that mean a lot to me for many different reasons. My computer and drawing set-up is in an L-shaped configuration. I have a tilt-table drawing board perpendicular to a flat table that accommodates my Mac and 22 inch Cintig. I’ve found it useful, switching back and forth between traditional and digital.
This Thief of Bagdad image has been inspirational to me since childhood. It symbolises all sorts of possibilities. You enter the studio from the parlour. The lace curtains are period and have a swallow motif. My drawing table is right behind the easel that holds a bulletin board. Horses are very important in my life, and my favourite subject to draw. Thus, I have another collection atop my other two filing cabinets that my friends call The Shrine. There are all manner of horses, unicorns, zebras and anything vaguely equine grouped together – and it’s always growing. Across from my drawing table are my scanner, printer and digital copier, as well as my flat files where I store my artwork. Timmy, my whippet, is a wonderful little friend and companion. Here are some of my anatomical models and specimens – they often come in very handy for my work.