Take a look at that image.  That's not a photograph.  It is an amazing
pastel work by artist Deb Pettigrew.  I had to wonder why she chose
animals as her subject matter and what drives her attention to
detail--and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.

John P. Barker: Tell me about your background. What spurred you to become an artist?

Deb Pettigrew: I have always been an artist with a need to draw and doodle since I was old enough to pick up a writing instrument.

JPB: Who are your major influences?

DP: In terms of the more modern day, I love Salvador Dali's work and Escher's work. However, Carravagio from the Renaissance (known for the technique, "chiaroscuro"), has probably influenced me the most due to his focus on using the chiaroscuro technique which he is famous for: using the contrasts of lights and darks to achieve a sense of volume and form in representational art.

JPB: Do you dabble in mixed-medium or strictly stick to pastels?

DP: I have used all mediums, including water color, (which I am not good at), acrylics, charcoal, pen and pencil, charcoal, etc., but am focusing on pastels right now. I do plan on experimenting with mixed media with pastels as one of the mediums.

JPB: Why animals? Why not... I dunno... buildings or people?

DP: Actually, I do a wide spectrum of subject matter and styles. (See my website). Yes, I have a passion for animals and have an entire wildcat series. I also paint a lot of pet portraits. However, I paint anything athat inspires from from nature, including interstellar space images and abstracts inspired by the study of rock surfaces. In fact, I have a rock series also, using mostly an abstract style. Additionally, I love painting people, landscapes, seascapes,and even still life. I suppose it's safe to say that I am inspired by living things as opposed to inanimate objects such as buildings.

JPB: What is the largest painting you have done?

DP: Murals. I have painted very large outdoor murals. I can't even tell you how big.

JPB: What is your favorite animal to draw/paint?

DP: If I was forced to choose, I would have to say cats, which should come as no surprise!

JPB: Do you have a pet?

DP: I have two beautiful Maine Coons. They can be viewed on my website as well, "Grandpa Cat", which was selected for the Orlando Museum of Art's Meow Exhibit in 2012 as well as the front cover of Pet Gazette, July 2012 issue. You can also view my other pet Maine Coon, "Lilah".

Grandpa CatGrandpa Cat

JPB: Have you been featured in a gallery? If so, where?

DP: Yes. In fact, I [was recently featured] at the Art Gallery of Viera, a gallery which I am a very active member of. I also teach at the Art Gallery of Viera twice a week.

JPB:  Do you do illustrations for magazines and such? Anything on the side?

DP: Yes. When I worked as an advertising artist years ago, I did a lot of billboards, ads for print,package design, illustrations for magazines and other printed media, etc. Today, I am in the fine art world, producing work that I am inspired to express.


JPB: Have you worked with any non-profit organizations?

DP: We work with non profit organizations at the Art Gallery of Viera on occasion when we host our thematic receptions twice per month. We have had the American Cancer Society as well as the Sea Turtle Preservation Society and more. I am the event planner for those receptions.

I want to thank Deb Pettigrew for her time.  She is quite a kind person and does a lot for the community.  Her memberships include the Art Gallery of Viera, the Brevard Cultural Alliance, the Central Brevard Art Association, and the Strawbridge Art League.  The work pictured below recently received a Merit Award at the 11th Annual Cape Canaveral Art Exhibit--and it's not hard to see why....

It Ain't Easy Being GreenIt Ain't Easy Being Green

To see more of her work, go to Living Pastels by Deb Pettigrew.

First published March 2013 and updated February 2016.