Skip to main content

Fun, Fantastic Critter Art

12/25/2014 12:28AM ● Published by Lennie Copeland

Crazy Critters

January 2015
By Lennie Copeland

I can’t help it. I find art every time I hike in the woods or walk on a driftwood-littered beach. I see creatures lurking in bits of wood, branches, roots and stumps. My art is to let the being in the wood emerge and manifest itself in all its innate, fantastic glory. I call my creations “critters” and they cause such excitement from people who see them that I have decided I should share the pleasure. Anyone can create a critter. It may take a little practice to train the eye, but it’s not hard. Children are especially good at it.

STEP 1: FINDING Y OUR CRITTER
First take a walk, somewhere that sticks or even logs are lying about – a place where driftwood or trees are in abundance, like a park or hiking trail, or perhaps your own backyard. Look for bits of wood that have what stand out as facial features, such as a protuberance for a nose or indentations for eye sockets. If you can visualize a face attached to a body and it has an appealing character, you have your first critter. Picture it standing up straight or lying down or even hanging. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, wood with bumps and scars make more interesting critters. They can be tiny or huge.

STEP 2: TESTING F OR DURABILITY
I suggest gathering several potential critters and taking them home for further consideration, but before packing them into your car, you should throw them on the ground to test their strength and shed any accumulated soil or sand. Those that will easily break are rejects. If you are like me and see critters everywhere, you will have the luxury of selecting the best ones.

STEP 3: PREPARING Y OUR CANVAS

Preparing your wooden trophies for paint requires cleaning. Sometimes scrubbing is necessary to remove moss or to remove splinters and loose bark. Then each piece must be rendered free of bugs. One of my students learned this lesson the hard way. She says, “I mailed my brother a wonderful exotic critter I made him for Christmas. When he opened it on Christmas day, out poured a horde of insects and he promptly tossed it into the swimming pool.” Now she soaks each piece for a day in the bath and thoroughly dries it in the sun.

STEP 4: PREPARING TO PAINT

The selection of paint depends on the ultimate use of the critter, either indoors or outdoors. Naturally, outdoor art requires exterior paints and even a coat of clear wood finish. For indoor, acrylic paints and latex are fine. I avoid oil-based paint because I use so many colors that I would waste a lot of time cleaning paint brushes. If I am working with a very large piece such as a log, I cheat and give the whole thing a coat of spray paint before decorating it.

STEP 5: BRING YOUR CRITTER TO LIFE
This is the most fun part. Don’t worry about how you will paint a critter, because the critter in the wood will guide you in expressing its true nature. If you go astray and give the critter the wrong personality, it will object. It just doesn’t work. You can always paint over a mistake.

Typically, I use a bright red for the mouth, white for the eyes with a black spot in the middle for the pupil, yellow for the nose and any other color for horns. Big eyes work best. In fact, grand gestures in paint seem to work best, while subtlety may be lost. Critters seem to beg for the dramatic. I paint just one color at a time, allowing it to dry before adding the next color to prevent blurring.

Often, the best profile does not match the opposite side of the face. No matter. Another student explains, “Each side of the face can have its distinct expression, delightful when the head is turned this way and that.” Indeed, your critter may just be one sided.

Moving down the body, I usually start with the most interesting features that I want to highlight, such as bunions and bumps and striation that add character. Most of my works end up spotted and striped in zany patterns and brilliant colors. Your critter may not have arms or legs, and they are not necessary.

STEP 6: SHOWING OFF YOUR CRITTERS
Critters look great in the home and in the garden. Collectors show them off in the house in umbrella stands, leaning on a window sill, crawling on a coffee table or even hung on the wall. My favorite piece was a five-foot-long dragon with extravagant wings and tail, displayed in the dining room of a San Francisco home. In the garden, they are delightful peeking through foliage, perched in trees or standing in groups in planters.

The key is imagination. It takes imagination to spot a critter in the rough, to paint it to its fullest glory and to position it to flaunt its unique personality. For that is what critters are all about: Each critter is one of a kind.

In Print, Life+Leisure
  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/22/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/22/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Free Taste Test

    09/22/2017
    03:00PM — 05:30PM

    Choose to make September the start of a healthier life by joining the fun at the following FREE r...


  • Hayfork Farmers' Market

    09/22/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Come listen to live music, shop for local goods and produce and cultivate community! The Farmers'...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    09/22/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • 2017 Autumn Exhibit - Reception

    09/22/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Please join us as we welcome the Artists whose work will be featured in Art in the City’s Autumn ...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/22/2017
    07:30PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/24/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • A gathering and show by collectors of military memorabilia. Helicopter fly-ins, armament and equi...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/24/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Jewelry Making Classes for All Levels

    09/24/2017
    12:30PM — 03:30PM

    The Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir will once again offer a jewelry making class with Mt. Shasta...


  • Kitchen Tour

    09/24/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Kitchen Tour: Tour 5 fabulous renovated kitchens on Sunday September 24th, from 1 to 5 pm in the ...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/24/2017
    02:00PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • Leann Rimes

    09/24/2017
    07:30PM

    LeAnn Rimes has sold more than 44 million albums, won two GRAMMY Awards, three Academy of Country...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/25/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/25/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/28/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/28/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Pastor as PR Director

    09/28/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Tozer Seminary, Redding, invites pastors and nonprofit directors to a free, no-registration works...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Honored Elders Dinner

    09/28/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    Join us September 28, 2017 at 5:30 at Win River Resort in the Event Center for the Princess Brav...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Fundraiser

    09/28/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Grape Escape is hosting a fund raiser for Riverfront Playhouse. September 28 from 6–9 pm.Join...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/22/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/22/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Free Taste Test

    09/22/2017
    03:00PM — 05:30PM

    Choose to make September the start of a healthier life by joining the fun at the following FREE r...


  • Hayfork Farmers' Market

    09/22/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Come listen to live music, shop for local goods and produce and cultivate community! The Farmers'...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    09/22/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • 2017 Autumn Exhibit - Reception

    09/22/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Please join us as we welcome the Artists whose work will be featured in Art in the City’s Autumn ...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/22/2017
    07:30PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • The Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber Certified Farmers' Markets open June 3rd! All farmers and ve...


  • Redding Walk To End Alzheimer's

    09/23/2017
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Al...


  • Start Up Saturdays | Vendor Market

    09/23/2017
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    A space where local crafters, creatives, and visionaries can sell handmade products and share abo...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/23/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • #ConductNSS

    09/23/2017
    09:00AM — 10:30AM

    Has it always been your dream to conduct an orchestra? Come on out to the Redding Farmers Market ...


  • A gathering and show by collectors of military memorabilia. Helicopter fly-ins, armament and equi...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/23/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Redding Holistic, Psychic and Arts & Crafts faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    The Redding Holistic, Psychic and Arts & Crafts Faire where you will be able to experience After-...


  • A Musical Reformation Celebration Concert

    09/23/2017
    03:00PM — 04:00PM

    Carillons Handbell Choir, Redding Bell Peppers, and bell choirs from All Saints Episcopal and Tri...


  • Wildcard Oktoberfest

    09/23/2017
    04:00PM — 09:00PM

    Wildcard will be hosting Oktoberfest for the second year in downtown Redding at their Tied House ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    09/23/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Redding Community Contra Dance

    09/23/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    What is contra? Contra dance is the American cousin to Scottish and English Country set dances. I...


  • Gatekeepers' Shining Affair

    09/23/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    A benefit for the Shasta County Gatekeeper Program helping At Risk elders to live safely and happ...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/23/2017
    07:30PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • Reflections, Masterwork #1

    09/23/2017
    07:30PM — 10:00PM

    Barber: School of Scandal Overture Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody of a Theme of Paganini Sibelius: Sy...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/24/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • A gathering and show by collectors of military memorabilia. Helicopter fly-ins, armament and equi...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/24/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Jewelry Making Classes for All Levels

    09/24/2017
    12:30PM — 03:30PM

    The Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir will once again offer a jewelry making class with Mt. Shasta...


  • Kitchen Tour

    09/24/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Kitchen Tour: Tour 5 fabulous renovated kitchens on Sunday September 24th, from 1 to 5 pm in the ...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/24/2017
    02:00PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • Leann Rimes

    09/24/2017
    07:30PM

    LeAnn Rimes has sold more than 44 million albums, won two GRAMMY Awards, three Academy of Country...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/25/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/25/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/26/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/26/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • The Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber Certified Farmers' Markets open June 3rd! All farmers and ve...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/27/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/27/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    09/27/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Weaverville Farmers' Market

    09/27/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Weaverville Farmers' Market is held on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm from May through October! tr...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/28/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/28/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Pastor as PR Director

    09/28/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Tozer Seminary, Redding, invites pastors and nonprofit directors to a free, no-registration works...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Honored Elders Dinner

    09/28/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    Join us September 28, 2017 at 5:30 at Win River Resort in the Event Center for the Princess Brav...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Fundraiser

    09/28/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Grape Escape is hosting a fund raiser for Riverfront Playhouse. September 28 from 6–9 pm.Join...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/29/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/29/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Hayfork Farmers' Market

    09/29/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Come listen to live music, shop for local goods and produce and cultivate community! The Farmers'...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    09/29/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/29/2017
    07:30PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • Coffee Painting Silent Auction

    09/30/2017
    08:00AM — 06:00PM

    We are building a 24' Tiny House on Wheels, the first of many that will make up our Tiny House Co...


  • Ono Grange Community Yard Sale

    09/30/2017
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    Community Yard Sale at the Ono Grange. Find your next treasure and more at the sale. Horse tack, ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    09/30/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • A Royal Tea Party

    09/30/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Magically encounter your favorite storybook characters, delight in a show fit for a King and snac...


  • Historic Hawes Farms

    09/30/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    It’s a whole new season of Fall Harvest Festival fun on the farm, with hayrides, pumpkin patch, l...


  • Recovery Happens

    09/30/2017
    11:00AM — 05:00PM

    Free BBQ, live music and family fun


  • Tent Peg Village

    09/30/2017
    12:00PM — 05:00PM

    Free carnival-type event for kids of all ages. We will have free face painting, puppet shows, ga...


  • 2017 SUNRISE ROTARY MUD MASH

    09/30/2017
    01:00PM — 11:00PM

    COME JOIN THE FUN AT THE ANNUAL REDDING SUNRISE ROTARY MUD MASH ON THE NASH RANCH AT 10925 OLD OR...


  • Come enjoy all the sights and sounds of our farm while taking a stand against domestic abuse. 100...


  • Mud Mash

    09/30/2017
    02:00PM

    Be sure to bring your buddies and family to watch as you are challenged by the creeks, hills, fie...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    09/30/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • For the month of September, the Highland Art Center will feature a fun interactive exhibit with h...


  • Whisperin' Bill Anderson

    09/30/2017
    07:00PM

    There’s an old saying, “If you want someone’s attention, whisper” Bill Anderson has been using...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    09/30/2017
    07:30PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • The Stone Hearts rock Gallery After Dark!

    09/30/2017
    09:00PM — 11:30PM

    Join us for our Gallery after Dark series with THE STONE HEARTS , as they play some Awesome music...


  • Whitmore Trail and Poker Ride

    10/01/2017
    08:00AM — 03:00PM

    The Whitmore Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. is sponsoring their annual WHITMORE TRAIL AND POKER RID...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/01/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • A Royal Tea Party

    10/01/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Magically encounter your favorite storybook characters, delight in a show fit for a King and snac...


  • Jewelry Making Classes for All Levels

    10/01/2017
    12:30PM — 03:30PM

    The Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir will once again offer a jewelry making class with Mt. Shasta...


  • B--Monthly Free Concert & Open Mic

    10/01/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Redding - California State Old Time Fiddles Association, District 6 Free Old Time Fiddle, Bluegra...


  • Riverfront Playhouse Presents

    10/01/2017
    02:00PM

    By Mary Lynn Dobson Directed by Samantha Fork Welcome to another stellar season at the Neighbo...


  • Music by the Mountain 2017 Fall Festival

    10/01/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Music by the Mountain is thrilled to once again host the St. Petersburg based Rimsky-Korsakov Str...


  • SAM Welcomes Redding's Charles Valona Trio

    10/01/2017
    04:00PM — 06:00AM

    The Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir is very excited to participate in Dunsmuir California’s 6th ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/02/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


Enter to Win!

 
Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living
Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors