This week, we are having a little chat with a charming couple named Kirby and Cindy Pringle. They live in Tuscola, Il with their adopted Boxer Finnegan. The goal of their shop "Dogtown Artworks," is "To bring joy to people's lives through their words and art." Their quirky humor brought joy to this writer and I hope to you as well. Enjoy the art talk with the Pringles.
We've always been connected to wildlife and nature. That's one of the things that attracted us to each other more than 25 years ago. Hiking is a tradition for us that never gets old. We try to go on a hike every weekend (although we don't keep up that pace in the winter).
Both Cindy and I grew up with dogs as part of our families. Neither of us can imagine it any other way. When we got engaged, before we settled on the details of our wedding, we picked out a dog. It was so important to us to have a pet as part of our household before anything else.
Later, when we adopted two boxers, Barney and Buster, we decided to incorporate them into our artwork. Actually, we built our artwork around them. We had always been photographers, and Cindy specialized in hand-colored black-and-white photography before we created our “dog people” images. Cindy always liked to make me birthday cards. At one point, she photographed me wearing a bathrobe and standing in the woods smoking a cigar (I don't actually smoke, but it seemed like a good idea for the photo). Then she decided to take a photo of our boxer wearing the same bathrobe. She replaced my head with our boxer's head, and it was just hilarious. We couldn't stop laughing. Besides, I look better with a dog head, so we just kept going.
We have specialized in creating “dog people” — canines with humanlike qualities. We use our own dogs as our models and we take all aspects of the photos. We've published three books since 2006 and the first two have sold out and no longer in print. Only our last book, “The Butterfly That Would Not Fly,” remains available.
It was a real team effort with Barney and Buster and they were natural models. They would hold things in their mouths, wear wigs, hats and other articles of clothing — all while holding very still and giving great looks to the camera. And they enjoyed modeling because they were always rewarded with treats.
We work in photography, although we have gotten more into video over the last few years and see ourselves heading in that direction in the future. Cindy enjoys making butterfly pins, using vintage buttons, and doing small paintings.
We have owned 6 dogs over the past 25 years, 5 boxers and 1 Doberman. All have been adopted. We believe strongly in adoption and will always adopt our pets. It seems like all of our pets have found us instead of us finding them. All had their own unique and special personalities and we treasure our time with all of them.
We have been working together as artists for more than 25 years.
Cindy and I are also monarch butterfly conservationists and we travel around the Midwest giving presentations on the declining population of monarchs and what people can do to reverse the trend. We've made an acclaimed documentary film, “Plight of the Monarchs,” and have it available on YouTube and on our website.
We raise and release monarch butterflies to help boost the population and for educational purposes. We find all the monarchs as caterpillars in the wild and raise them to adulthood and then release them. We have raised and released more than 800 monarchs over the past two years.
We also take monarch caterpillar and butterfly photographs and Cindy makes monarch butterfly jewelry (pins and necklaces).
Kirby has always admired and loved Native American culture and art, and over the past two years he has been restoring vintage photographs from the 1890 to 1920 period that are available in our Etsy Store.
Cindy: I would be a crow. I've always loved the idea of flight and I've had a long love affair with crows because they are so smart and full of personality. We have a group of about 5 to 8 crows (it varies) that I feed peanuts to nearly every day. They love peanuts!
Kirby: I'm with Cindy on being a bird. But just to be a little different, I would choose to be either a bluejay or a nighthawk. I love the character of a bluejay, but I'm fascinated with how nighthawks fly and make these incredible, steep plunges from the sky for food. It would be fun to try sometime.
Visit the Pringles here:
Let’s meet Liz...
All of my artwork issues are around nature and animals. I favor animals pretty strongly in my work.
In my illustration collection you can find all kind of birds such as cardinals, parrots, sparrows, hummingbirds and many more. You can also find cats, fish, zebra, dog and deer.
My work is based on combinations of different mediums of art such as black ink - using it as the basic contour for the artwork, papercuts, watercolors, acrylic, photography and it is digitally enhanced.
I have two cats, both of them I found in the street, around my neighborhood. The old one is Henri – a beautiful and quiet white cat. The young one is Checki - so naughty, friendly and meowing.
I have created art since I can remember. Art was always a great passion in my life. As a little girl I was attracted to art. I remember having a small notebook with me and drawing anything I could see around me. As I grow, I became “addicted” to visual media, magazines, art books and galleries.
In 2002, I started my studies in Graphic Design, and received my degree in 2007. Since then, I have not stopped creating for a minute.
My favorite artwork piece I have created is the Parrot painting. First I love parrots – beautiful, impressive birds. I love the diverse, vibrant colors of the parrot. While watching in my parrot painting, I can feel the jungle and the wild nature. That’s why I made this combination of the black ink with the soft colourful watercolours that let me express my powerful feelings.
You can find more of Liz here:
“I love finding the beauty and happiness in small things."
Each art doll is carefully crafted using frayed cloth (often from clothing), embroidery and hand painted acrylic patterns.
Though many of her pieces are owls and birds, Hommy also creates other animals including wolves, elephants, sheep, rabbits and cats.
Although she currently has no pets of her own, her business RUCNI was inspired by her sons.
“My dearest sons gave me an opportunity to make RUCNI. A few years ago they told me they wanted an owl as a pet, but we didn't have an environment for that. So, I made a plush doll of the owl for them, they were so happy with it and still keep it carefully. Then I started making other animals as well...”
“When I do the work, I talk with them ( works ) and their feeling is my top priority. I love them like my children, so when they leave me everytime I really feel I miss them, but I am also happy that new owner keep and treasures them carefully (and forever.)
Animals can make people happy always, and I hope that the world is full of the people who feel the same through my works.”
Artist Trina Esquivelzeta of "Love Wonder Prints" spends her days looking out over her lush garden, while creating artwork in her cottage studio in Langport, a small town in Somerset England. It is there, that her beautiful surroundings inspire her vivid -colored and very feminine floral-infused animal illustrations. Is it any wonder that her romantic creations, inspire one to feel relaxed and dream that they too are in the garden with blooming roses and hopping bunnies?
There have been so many woodland animals within the market over the past 18 months or so - I can't help but be inspired. I live on the Somerset Levels in the Uk and owls, foxes and pheasants are all around. I have a pheasant on our back lawn often, and just last night the owls woke me up during the night. We live in the country side and it's very green here, so woodland animals do really well
I use watercolour, acrylic and have recently moved into mixed media and the process is really mindful, sticking, marking and painting over and over the same piece, I'd like to pursue it further if I can.
I've always had a cat in the house. Our current one is called 'Catty' and she is a farm cat. Very friendly, and doesn't mind the children chasing her. She is quite naughty and brings in about 4 mice a week into the house. She often disappears for 2-3 days and the neighbours tell me she is in their house sleeping on their bed - but then I believe cats adopt you. That's why I love them so much.
I first started painting in watercolour around 20 years ago, but then life and kids happened and it's only in the last few years where I have started again.
My favourite piece of art work is anything with flowers. I love them. I grow them, I dry them - to me they have so much association with England. I often paint and draw flowers to use in my digital art, but often I just hang them on the wall at home or friend’s houses. Anything floral I love. You can see I've used animal outlines and filled with watercolour patterns for effect.
Visit Trina here and see her other works including typography and geometric graphic prints:
If you dream it, draw it, is the motto self-taught artist Carrie Dietrich of Creations by Carrie D., who lives in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
"I fall asleep thinking about what I will create the next day and I wake up with a bounce in my step (most mornings anyway) and eager to make something new, fresh and a part of me."
Carrie is a passionate animal and art lover, so combining the two was a natural progression for her. Her whimsical creations are filled with intricate patterns created using pen and ink. Let's find out more.
I mainly work in pen and ink. I have clay at hand, but until we are equipped with a kiln and adequate workspace, I have chosen to only dabble here and there. I am about to start carving. I have wanted to do it for quite a while now and with my youngest now in school, I am more compelled to take time to start.
We have owned 5 cats and 3 dogs. I am 39 and I have already lost my first pets and a few thereafter. It is heart-wrenching to know that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Their time with us is long enough for us to not be able to imagine life without them, and then we have no choice. I cried for each and ached for them to be back. My children have learned about death through this loss.
My first pet, as an adult, was a Calico named Daphney. When I turned 18 a friend took me to a farm where he knew they had kittens and I saw her sitting up on a stall door, both eyes nearly crusted shut with infection. She was the one. I had 12 happy years with her and 1 year of sickness and denial about her illness. She was my lesson on putting their suffering ahead of ours. Next was Sky, a Siamese mixed with Egyptian Mau. Then came Chloe a Manx who the ASPCA couldn’t afford to treat anymore and we happened to be there that day. She was healthy within 2 weeks! It was a relief. Then was Willow, a family member said that her dog was terrorizing the kitten and they had been keeping her in a spare bedroom; so we added her to our family.
My first puppy love was a Husky named Sarah. We had companions for all and then some. At one point, we had 4 cats: Daphney, Chloe, Sky and Willow and 2 dogs: Sarah and Owen. We took in a stray older cat, Roxas (a snowshoe Siamese who no one claimed, thank God, he was a love and boy did we fall in love with him). When we took Roxas in, we learned it can be hard to introduce two adult cats. Willow who had been the matriarch for quite a while at that point and Roxas,the oldie but newbie, ended up being tolerant of each other. I think they eventually realized that while they weren’t crazy about each other they knew they were the only cats in the house.
We now have one pet. It seems strange to have just one. She is a dog named Libby (we call her any word we can put lib in front of, so she is called (and responds to) Liberace, Liberty, Libertine, Libya, LibLib, Libpotatoe, Liberator, Libpots, etc…) who is 6. We adopted her from the ASPCA in May after Owen had to be put down due to sudden and untreatable illness. She is the first smaller dog we’ve had at 30 lbs. She is a wire hair terrier/schnauzer mix. She is such a spunky punk. She has a tall white Mohawk and is full of herself. We have had her for 8 months and our only regret is that we couldn’t have had her from the start of her life. She’s a gem!
I have been creating art as far back as my memory will go. I remember being fascinated by making things. I remember always being so interested art. I always kept an interest even when I wasn’t creating art. I remember when I was five cutting out two pineapples from golden construction paper, sewing them together with yarn and stuffing it full of cotton balls. I remember buying myself this awesome set of markers for Christmas and putting from Santa on it (no one said a word!) When I was in 4th grade we moved to the United States from Germany (we were over there as civilians since my father was a government employee, not military), I entered a contest at JC Penny department store. The contest was to draw a poster for Spring. I drew a bunny full of flowers. I remember being so embarrassed that I won.
As a teen, friends would ask me to draw things for them and I always thought it was weird that they didn’t want to draw it for themselves. I always kept in touch with that interest, even if barely, it was there.
As an adult, art was on my mind so much. I pushed myself to keep practicing. Eventually the movement of putting yourself and your work online started, and I was able to try that out at my own pace. Etsy was/is a great platform for me to do this.
"I love to draw from my mind more than what I see."
Respect and protection. I feel, in our world today, their importance to our earth is being overlooked and replaced with meaningless garbage. That our dedication to their existence has fallen short for so long that we are seeing them disappear. I find this unacceptable and devastating. The funds that are squandered on meaningless things, things that will end up in the great landfill, that fill no long term need, are resources that aren’t being used to educate people about the welfare of our animals, preserve space and health of the animals that are slowly slipping away. It breaks my heart.
I have always been drawn to animals. Growing up, I couldn’t stay away. I remember getting scolded for being late because, when walking home from school, I saw puppies and couldn’t walk away, stopped to watch a chipmunk with full cheeks, or ducks swimming. As an adult, I am still drawn to them. The ones I cannot witness in their natural habitat, I seek out online or in books. They are so fascinating – all of them!
Want to connect with Carrie? You can find her here:
After a very busy holiday season we are back with our interview series on how animals inspire art.
This week’s featured artist, Susan Altenau, comes to us from Cincinnati, OH. Her passion is to create decorative and functional pottery. Her Etsy shop is filled with brightly colored decorative animal works, ranging from coffee mugs, to pet urns, olive oil dispensers, casserole dishes and tiles. She also creates amazing pet portraits on pottery. Have a look then let us know your favorite piece below in the comments.
I graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati and so have been drawing and painting 30 plus years, but the pottery, probably for the last 25 years-give or take.
I fell into doing animals, both graphic and more detailed illustrations by accident. It started with another pottery studio I worked for and the proprietor asking me if I could draw some simple cats on a plate. That was 10 years ago and I've definitely stepped up my game. I do love my more detailed portraits. There is something peaceful about taking the time they require, just settling into the process. The challenge is that I'm doing this with glaze, which you can't see fully until it's fired. Sometimes because of this, I end up firing a piece twice if the glaze isn't thick enough or I don't think it looks exactly right. I've improved in my application, but there is a surprise every time you open that kiln.
I love a lot of my cat portraits too. This one with it's graphic markings.
Easy, a cat, they do what they want, know they'll be taken care of and sleep and lay in the sun most of the day. Is my exhaustion from the intense holiday season showing?
Babe is a good movie. I love books that have dogs as a pet in the story, not a character - like "Watership Down", although I do remember loving that book; just as a part of the story.
Well now, I'm an artist, visually stimulated and motivated, so, my favorites are illustrators. Love Arthur Rackham, darkly beautiful renderings. Love Beatrix Potter's drawings and love the sweetness of Makoto Muramatsu's cats.
I get a lot of requests from shelters and rescues all over the country and locally. I make and ship pottery for them to auction off.
Companion, loyalty, and unconditional love - pretty much what anyone who loves their pets would say about them.
You can find more of Susan's work at her Etsy Shop.
Follow her on Instagram: susan.altenau.pottery
Visit her on Facebook
I am lucky to live in the Catalina foothills of Tucson surrounded by an abundance of wildlife. We have regular visits from Javelina that bring their babies, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, squirrels, birds of all kinds, a resident hawk and the best owls! We hung an owl house 6 years ago and immediately one moved in and continues to live in it. She's a screech owl and has 3 babies every June. So much fun to watch!
I use acrylic paints on canvas, but lately have been experimenting with acrylic inks on top.
My current pet is a 9 year old Australian Shepherd named Ozzie, the devil with a blue eye. He is a piece of work, constantly on the go, can't imagine life without him! He brings so much joy. I've had a dog in my life since I was 8 years old, the cutest dachshund puppy wrapped up under the Christmas tree. I've also had a number of birds in my life, parakeets and an ornery Amazon Parrot that only liked me!
I have been creating art since I was a kid. High school art teachers really motivated me to pursue art in college. I received my BFA in art education and spent many years teaching high school art. About 10 years ago I decided to begin painting again and am so happy I did.
My favorite animal character of all time is Jiminy cricket whose motto is "always let your conscience be your guide", great words of wisdom from a cricket! Love when he sings “When You Wish Upon A Star!”
My husband and I support the Southern Arizona Humane Society; they work so hard for the welfare of animals in our city.
Finally, I just love to paint! I am inspired by my love of nature, my beautiful surroundings, the colors of Mexico, and the need to create!
This week we meet pet & horse photographer Mitch McFarlane of the Scottish Borders, Scotland. Not only does Mitch create stunning photos of animals, but she also has them printed on some fun formats. Her Etsy shop is full of animal photo canvas and prints to decorate your home or office, tote bags so you can take your favorite horse photo on the go, horse printed pillows that you can snuggle up to, and breathtaking horse photo cell phone cases. Today, Mitch shares her thoughts on animal inspiration.
Growing up I always had pets, and I have always loved all animals. Horses in particular always fascinated me – I thought they were the most beautiful thing on earth, and drew them everywhere, including on my school book covers! Animals inspire me because they are always honest and genuine, what you see is what you get, and if you love them and are kind to them, they love you back. I love to capture this in my photography.
I mostly work with photography, but I do also like to paint and draw when I have the time. I usually use acrylics, oils or pencil.
As long as I can remember I have painted, drawn or made things. I remember picking and drying flowers to make pictures with, drying lavender and sewing little lavender scent bags, making clay pots and more. My painting started with ‘paint by numbers’, and drawing started with my favourite book ‘how to draw horses’, but I did gradually get better and eventually went on to do ‘art and design’ at college.
I have had many pets over the years…dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, gerbils, goats, chickens, turkeys and horses. Nearly all of them have been rescues. My husband and I are vegan and can’t turn down an animal in need. The most pets we ever had at one time was five cats, four dogs and two ponies. At the moment our animal family is quite small though with only two cats – Ziggy and Mitsy, one dog - Woody and two ponies – Manadis and Harley. If I had the space and the money I would love an animal sanctuary!
I love lots of my photos, but I think my favourite is of a semi feral Fell pony I named ‘scruffy’ because I just Iove the look he is giving the camera.
I do photoshoots of peoples pets and horses which I love. Also, at the moment I am working on a personal project to photograph all of Britain’s native pony breeds in their native habitats – there are 10 altogether. You can read about it on my blog, www.mitchmcfarlane.blogspot.co.uk and very soon I am hoping to make them all into a photo book!
Visit Mitch -
This dynamite duo made up of Jay Nixon and Nancy Johnson of Drakey Art, are California natives now living in Arizona. They see the world through magical inspired glasses that they then turn into colorful fantasy art which include a more nontraditional take on animal inspired art. I count dragons and Pegasus as animals don’t you?
A variety of animals large and small inspire us in creating our fantasy art. Jay’s inspiration for painting dragons comes from a variety of animals such as tigers, horses, snakes and lizards. Nancy’s inspiration for her art comes from the more delicate creatures such as butterflies, sea horses and fish. Animals such as puppies and kittens bring us great joy and make us happy. In fact, we cannot think of any animal in the animal kingdom that does not warm our hearts.
Jay works with oils, acrylics, watercolors, charcoal and even clay. Nancy primarily works with acrylic paint and some watercolor.
We currently do not own pets due to our busy work schedule but have both enjoyed being “parents” to a variety of very special pets such as dogs, cats, birds, fish and reptiles. The most recent four-legged family member was a beagle named Sammy. His story can be read on: http://nanciajohnson.hubpages.com/hub/a-beagle-dog. Jay and I hope to adopt a pair of kittens as soon as we can spend more time with them.
We both began creating art “way back” in high school. Nancy continued on to study Fine Art after high school and life took Jay in other directions. Jay went back to college here in Mesa, Arizona at Maricopa Community College. During his time at school, Jay was able to take up creating art just about full time. Nancy paints part-time whenever she can! We have been painting together as Drakey Art since 2012.
Jay’s favorite piece of artwork is “Zzorok at the Purple Sea” because it contains Jay’s two favorite things, dragons and seascapes. Zzorok is a character from the book Jay is writing about his dragons, “The Age of Draga”. Nancy’s favorite piece is “Playtime” that shows 5 little sea horses in bright colors having fun hanging around in the grass.
We get asked a lot of where we get our name, Drakey Art. Drakey Art is Jay Nixon and Nancy Johnson. Our name “Drakey” was created by combining our Chinese Zodiac signs together just as we combine our lives together in an artistic life. Jay is born in the sign of the “Dragon” resulting in the “Dra” and Nancy is born in the sign of the “Monkey” giving the “key” in the name Drakey.
Visit Nancy and Jay’s enchanting world at:
Instagram : #DrakeyArt
You can also find them at art shows throughout Arizona including Phoenix Comicon.
Georgia girl, Amanda Proctor, would like you to rise and shine with one of her animal inspired coffee mugs. Ok, you can use them for drinking tea or juice too. I'm guessing they even make water taste better! But, these aren't just ordinary mugs.They start out as clay and are hand thrown on a pottery wheel, then painstakingly carved by hand to create beautiful works of art. Read on to find out more about Amanda's functional art.
Even before they were trendy animals, I began carving owls into my pottery. I loved getting lost in the details of the feathers. Since then, I have found many other animals that inspire my pottery carvings! I constantly search for new creatures to make into mugs. I satisfy pet lovers by carving popular dog breeds into a personal coffee mug!
I work with clay primarily. My hands and clothes are rarely clean of clay dust. While studying fine arts in college, I dabbled in many other mediums like oil painting, drawing and wood sculpture.
I also use baking to relieve some creative energy! I work as a baker at a local coffee shop where I experiment with recipes and learn new skills every day! I find the similarities between baking and pottery to be interesting and challenging. (I have to remember which squishy substance I can eat.)
I fell in love with clay and pottery during high school, but even before that I was constantly getting my hands dirty with creative things. Any object I found became an art supply; Such as using chalk for paint or building structures with toilet paper rolls. I graduated with an art degree in 2013 from the University of Georgia and have been working and teaching at a pottery studio since then.
I have always been fascinated with animals but have never had any pets of my own! My parents weren’t fond of animals in the house when I was growing up. I made friends with the stray cats that would have their kittens under our porch, even though I never got to keep them. I spent a lot of time outside looking at nature and watching the birds. My sculptural work is inspired by the textures of nature.
I absolutely love the large owl vase I made while in college. It is quite large and I spent many hours carving the owl and each little detail in the feathers. My mother loved it as well and claimed it as her own as soon as she saw the finished product!
I visit the local library often when in search for new design ideas. My favorites are the large books with full pages pictures of different animals!