California, USA, BFF’S – Save the Elephants, colored pencil, 16 x 24" (41 x 61 cm)
This piece was done from one of several photos I took of a couple of elephants at a sanctuary called Performing Animal Welfare Society, where I volunteer. Their names are Maggie and Mara, and it seems as if they are always together. Maggie and Mara were born in Africa and were orphaned when their mothers were shot in a cull (a killing of adult elephants by the government, to control elephant population). Both elephants were later placed in zoos. After Maggie’s elephant companion passed away in Alaska, there was an outcry to bring her to a more appropriate climate where there are more elephants for her to reach out to. Mara has a similar story. This type of story is what really inspires me.
My Design Strategy
Maggie and Mara now enjoy the California weather, expansive habitat and other African elephants. I’ve been on a journey to seek special treasures, special moments and above all special emotions. A hint of light coming through the leaves, causing the beautiful warmth and shadows on their faces, is one of the things I look for in my design decisions. That very special moment is what I try to capture and then, to pass on to the viewer, the emotion I felt when I laid my eyes on that moment in time. I decided to do a close-up of the two elephants, so the viewer could explore the emotion and understand what these magnificent beings have been through and how much happier they are today.
My Working Process
After taking numerous photos I go through them to find the image I like best. Sometimes I will combine several photos but, in this case, the one image was what I wanted. In my photo-editing software, I had to remove bars and cables that were running in front of their faces. After doing so, I then use that photo to create a contour drawing, using a grid system. Once my contour drawing is done I then transfer that contour to the Suede Mat Board. I start in the upper left-hand corner by layering several layers of colored pencil and continue to work from left to right and top down.