New Art

Imaginary Animals

I know what you are thinking…what in the world are Imaginary Animals? And why is there a blog post about them? Well, if you give me just a few minutes, I will explain…

Catherine, from Quarry Books, was kind enough to send me a copy of Carla Sonheim’s new book, “Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals”. I was thrilled to get it, and open it up…and play! You see, I’ve had the privilege of meeting, the very talented, Carla Sonheim. We took a class together at Journalfest. Soon after, her first book, Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists, came out, and I loved it. I even joined one of her online classes, which encouraged me to practice what was in the book. 

This newest book, “Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals” really comes from Carla’s heart. You can hear it in her “voice”…just how much using her imagination to make art, brings her such joy. I’ve read through the book once. And have since started a notebook where I can jot down some of the main ideas, and even some scribbles.

She starts off fairly early in the book, talking about Blobs and Sidewalk Cracks. 

This chapter encourages you to look at the world around you, and to be inspired by what you see.  Appreciate the small things…from rust on a pipe, to the cracks in the cement.  She encourages you to use what you see, as inspiration for your art. So, I chose to do an exercise, where I took one of her sidewalk crack photos, and made an animal, using the lines of the cracks, and my imagination. It was fun!

She also encourages you to do some scribble exercises, to loosen up. I thought this was a great idea, because it takes practice for some of us to think “imaginary” and let ourselves go. Blind contour drawings, quick scribble drawings, and drawing with your non-dominant hand, were just a few of the exercises she mentions (and shows in photos) early on in the book.

I finally worked up a little courage to try her Watercolor Blobimals.

And let me tell you…it started off a little shaky, but it ended up being a lot of fun! The shaky part, was not from the book instructions, but in my own head. I sometimes have a hard time letting the imaginary side of the brain, come out to play.

Here were some of my first attempts at Blobimals.

I started off with some watercolor blobs on watercolor paper. You can use one or two colors of watercolor…then sit back and see what animal “appears”. You might want to turn the paper, to change your perspective. What do you see in the watercolor blob above???  Perhaps, a moose…sticking out his tongue?!? Or perhaps a flying dragon???

Once you “see” your imaginary animal, Carla encourages you to take it further, with more watercolor, or pencils, pens, whatever you have…

Lionel, the Lion….  My first animals didn’t look very “imaginary” to me.

Fluffy Fish…he was very fat, and cute…

Then, I let the imagination take over…and things like The Monkey Snail started taking shape on the paper…aha! imaginary animals!

The next to arrive, was this dark poodle, named Mean Fifi. She is probably my favorite!

I took Carla’s book over to my friend Maria’s art studio, this past week…and we had more time to play with Blobimals. We used watercolors and inks. Here, you’ll see my watercolor blob, morphed into a SheepCat.

…and there is also the green glowing PiggySheep.

I decided to lighten up on the watercolor a bit, and give it more white space. I have to admit,  I like Mr. Crabby.

Here I just outlined the shape that the watercolor made…funny how it was an Elephant all along. But purple.

A drop of white ink, into the watercolor, made the shape of this Silly Bird.

I decided to try drawing the shapes first, and then filling in with watercolor and ink. Here are my Imaginary Kitties…

Not too bad, for drawing colorful cats from memory. There is a fluffy one, an angry one, a leaning one, and a relaxed one.

A few days ago, my order for Dr Ph Martin’s Bombay Ink arrived…so I decided to make a few more Blobimals. Here’s what I came up with…

…there’s a Swirly Headed Duck

…a tiny yellow bird, Hitching A Ride…on some imaginary (I have no idea) animal 🙂

Here’s my Two Legs are Enough blobimal

…my Bee/Fly is Coming In For A Landing (yeah, I think he’s super cool!)

…and my OH-SO-CUTE Penguin In A Puddle

So, there you have it…my experimental play in Imaginary Animals. Now that my imagination has been awakened, I am excited to try out more of the exercises in the book. I hope you will take a look at Carla’s book for yourself.

I had a lot of fun letting my imagination come out to play. And I am sure that you will too!!!


Click here for a view of some Sample Pages of Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals,  complements of Quarry Books.

And by all means, take a look at Carla’s website, and her blog. You’ll love her take on Imaginary Animals. She is certainly adept at the Art of Silliness!