Remember when you were a kid and art was all about having fun and simply making your mark on the page? Well, lately I’ve been feeling a bit “confined” by my art. Not that I don’t love creating realistic images with my piles of colored pencils, but as you might guess, these drawings are laborious and are a bit rigid in their execution.


Basically, there’s not always a lot of “fun”going on in the creation of these pieces. And as Cindi Lauper says, “Girls just wanna have fun.” Last I checked, I’m still a girl, so it’s damn well time I have a bit of fun, right? Right! So I started my own Abstract Zoo.

Abstract Zoo came about a few weeks ago when I had finished one colored pencil piece and was about to embark on a new, more graphite-oriented piece that is going to involve a lot of detail work. I needed to let loose a bit and I also wanted to play around with my Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils.

Eighties style fun!!

The temptation (as always with me) was to try to do a realistic painting. But then I slapped myself and said, “No, listen to Ms. Lauper and have some fun!” After recovering from the stinging sensation on my cheek (I pack a good wallop), I pulled out my Canson Watercolor notebook and simply drew in some looping squiggles with a pencil.

After some re-working some portions of the squiggles to make sure thing looked balanced (I can’t kill off my perfectionism entirely), I started wetting a few of the areas and dropping in color from the Inktense blocks – this is my favorite thing to do with watercolor, by the way because I love watching how the color spreads and mingles. I then used the Inktense pencils to make a line at one edge of the areas.

Once all the areas were filled in…well, it looked a bit stupid. Hmmm, what if I break out the Sharpie and outline the areas? Outlining then turned into making a few other shapes. When I looked at the paper again, there they were…animals! I worked a bit more with the Sharpie to bring out the animals including a pigeon, a chicken, a fish, and what looks like a carnivorous hippo (with a squirrel tail, no less).


Like many things that are fun, this was addictive. After getting started on the graphite piece, I began another squiggle creation to fill in at the end of my work session as a reward for a good day of drawing. In this one, I still went a bit random with the squiggles, but the overall aim was to create an aquarium for my zoo. Such fun!


I’m about a third of the way through the graphite piece, but couldn’t resist starting another zoo panel. I had no aim with this one, but I think I might see a toucan and an elephant emerging from the tangle to take residence in my Abstract Zoo.


Now it’s your turn…What do you do to reward yourself for a day’s work? Or what do you do when you’re feeling constrained by your typical routine?

Have a great weekend everyone, here’s a bit a Cindi Lauper to get your weekend started right!!

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Tammie Painter is the author of The Trials of Hercules and an artist who dedicates herself to the tedium of creating Images with colored pencil. Don’t forget to stock up on your summer reading. All my books are only a dollar each as part of Smashwords’ Summer Sale. Full details here, or just start shopping by following this link.

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