Finding Nature Through Art: Part 3

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.”

-John Muir

Nature has always been an escape, a refuge, a place of wonder. Something so easily accessible, but with awe-inspiring mysteries hidden throughout. The species that prowl, flutter, and stalk within the flora of the outdoors are the main focus for the pieces I create. As a child I was fascinated with all the different creatures the earth housed, and my fascination manifested itself into art.

When I first started to create, somewhere between 2009 and 2012, I used whatever mechanical pencil I could find and printer paper to construct my drawings. The intricacies of mammalian faces, paws, and avian wings were the main focus of the few pieces shown below; I tried to pull viewers in by the simple, monochromatic approach of pencil sketches. I enjoyed testing out different shading techniques and pushed myself to produce the most realistic illustrations that I could.

From 2013-2020, I took a long break from creating simply due to lack of motivation. But, at the beginning of this quarantine I was able to rediscover my love for creating by diving headfirst into digital art. Currently my style has shifted from realistic black-and-white sketches to simple shading, stand-out colors, plain backgrounds, and an overall posterized effect. To create my work, I use a Generation 2 iPad, Apple pencil, and the app Procreate.

The transition to this new medium was easier than I expected. Unlike traditional pencil sketches, digital art allows for undo’s and redo’s, layering, color fill, layer movement, resizing, and more. It’s easy to fix mistakes and allows for more experimentation with the piece. I personally love the resize function -- I tend to draw things too large for the paper, but I do miss the challenge of pencil sketches. Although I have heavily strayed from my original style, I feel that this new, color-obsessed creation technique has really tested my skills and forced me to think outside the box.

Regarding my creative process… Well, I don’t have a whole process I go through. Usually an idea for what I want to draw will arise from research that I do, hikes I go on, or shows I watch, and then I draw it. Not much planning is involved beforehand. I use a reference photo to keep my proportions in check, but otherwise I draw whatever my heart desires and work on it until it’s completed.

“It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.” -David Brant.

Along with the creations I make for my own enjoyment, I also began to design interpretive signs for TMPF’s proposed nature study area. To construct these, I researched other interpretive signs to get a rough idea of how I wanted to create the base layout and asked my coworkers what species should be included on each one. I used many reference photos to make the illustrations as accurate as possible, and tried to incorporate multiple dynamics in each. These were a fun challenge and made me appreciate the beauty of all the different ecosystems hidden away in Nevada’s landscape.

Interpretive signs for the Parks Foundation's proposed Nature Study Area

Thankfully, creation is only limited by imagination and not stay-at-home orders, so I have survived being cooped up by admiring nature and all of its little mysteries through creating. I also created an art instagram compiling all of my work, so if you’d like to see more feel free to take a look or follow me @_alpharaptor on Instagram. ☺


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