Tall Order

It may be the best dollar thirty-nine Denise ever spent.

It was a kids' watercolor kit, the kind with the little tubs of cake paint and a couple of not-too-good but at least not plastic paint brushes. Any serious artist would have sneered his way to the Grumbacher tubes and the sable brushes. But I loved it. With a squeeze bottle of water, a couple of good pens and a mixed-media sketchbook, I had the perfect portable drawing kit.

With it I sketched tall ships in Milwaukee harbor, landscapes in Alaska, weathered, bonsai-like islands on the northern Oregon coast, hippies at the Oregon Country Fair. And animals.

I love drawing animals; you may have guessed this from my pottery. I took my drawing kit to the county fair, where I drew bunnies and chickens and longhorn steers. I took it to the Black Sheep Gathering, and drew, well, black sheep. And alpacas. And I take it to every zoo I come across. I've got lions and tigers and bears and elephants and kangaroos and goodness knows what else buried in a succession of sketchbooks.

So when, for the umptieth time, someone asked "Do you ever paint giraffes?" I had four pages of sketches fresh from a July visit to the Milwaukee Zoo. (And about twice as many unfinished sketches of their baby orangutan--that little sucker can move--but I digress.)

So I'm painting graceful, awkward, improbable giraffes on pots these days, on vases and tall mugs and anything else tall enough.