I have always loved drawing, and I have always felt connected to animals, so naturally, I drew a lot of animals when I was growing up in rural Massachusetts. As I progressed in my schooling, however, studying took the place of drawing until all I had were doodles in my notebook margins.
As a left-brain-oriented person, I found myself at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute majoring in mathematics and physics. There is a sense of peace and familiarity in numbers, which I quite enjoyed, and higher-level mathematics was a welcome challenge.
Soon after receiving my master's degree, I moved to New Mexico with my soon-to-be-husband, and worked on computational validation for a time. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay in that position for long, and found myself at home preparing to have our first child. This gave me the opportunity I needed to get back into drawing.
Drawing is simple in theory, all you need is a pen or pencil and paper, but it has taken me years of intense practice to reach my current level of ability. Graphite was my go-to for a long time, until I discovered charcoal and its versatility and deep blackness. That was my favorite for a few years, until I discovered scratchboard.
Scratchboard is one of the least forgiving media to work with. There must be a detailed plan in advance, especially if large areas of the black board are to remain untouched. There is some wiggle room for small mistakes, but not large ones. I always use photographic references for my work, and revel in the attention to detail I can achieve with scratchboard. Read my description on how scratchboard works to get a better idea of the process.
My subject of choice is animals, of course, but not just any animals. While I do have an occasional tiger or elephant, I generally select lesser-known or underappreciated species, in an attempt to spread awareness of the incredible biodiversity of our amazing planet. Bison and polar bears are iconic, but no more or less important than binturongs and pangolins. In a way, it is a symbolic representation of my neurodiversity.