In “Whole”, a series of colored pencil drawings on airbrushed backgrounds, I capture the individuality and personality of the subjects while emphasizing the diversity found in the animal kingdom. I work in colored pencil because it allows me to render my subjects with extreme detail and precision. Using airbrush for the background helps me achieve a soft, out-of-focus look, encouraging the viewer to focus on what is right in front of them.

I begin by finding high-quality reference photos of the animals I desire to draw that are either my own photos, licensed under CC0 Creative Commons, or royalty-free. I look for photos where I see some aspect of myself in the animal such as a sense of stillness, an expression, or a specific emotion. I then seek to capture that aspect in my rendition of the animal while also preserving the animal’s unique personality.

I am inspired by the great variety of the animal kingdom as well as present-day wildlife conservation efforts. I encourage the viewer to more carefully consider the individuality and impact of the wildlife that I represent through my work. Taking the time and physical labor to capture each tiny detail in my subjects indicates the importance I place on them. Animals are also skittish and hide easily, making them difficult to see and connect with. Drawing them gives the viewer an opportunity to look at an animal they would otherwise not be able to see due to the animal’s elusive nature or their geographic location. By drawing animals in a photorealistic style, I imply that they demand more than just a quick glance.