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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428



Senior Project DECEMBER 2015

The intention of my artwork is to help viewers, especially young viewers, become more aware of the animals with whom we share our planet. Many endangered species are declining at a rapid rate, and many others are facing extinction. Previous mass extinctions were caused by natural phenomenon such as asteroids and natural changes in the earth. Sadly, the current crisis is almost directly caused by humans. Between 1970 and 2006, the populations of vertebrate species fell by one third, including 50% of our closest relative species, primates, as a result of human activity. Endangered species have been removed from their natural habitat to be displayed in zoos, perform in circuses, or be kept as exotic pets. By portraying animals as unique creatures with qualities to be valued, I want my artwork to incite the viewer to take action to help save them from endangerment or extinction.

Through my colorful, whimsical children's book titled, This Is Where I Belong, I am sending the message that animals belong in their natural habitat - not in zoos, circuses, or exotic pet shops. My book is designed for children four to seven years-old. The pictures are bright and visually engaging for younger children, and the text is simple and easy to follow for early readers. The story follows my chihuahua, Tito who is separated from his family while on vacation. On his quest to return home, Tito meets four endangered creatures who need his help to get back to where they belong. The animals embark together on a journey, and eventually they all reach their natural homes. Unfortunately, not all the wild or endangered animals held in captivity will experience a happy ending like the one in my story. It is my hope that the young readers take the story to heart, and develop a compassion for all endangered animals.

The twenty-two illustrations for This Is Where I Belong were developed using acrylic paint, watercolor, and colored pencils on Stonehenge watercolor paper. There are three vignettes, and nineteen full-page illustrations, and at thirty-two pages, the length of the book is just enough to hold a child’s attention. Much research went in to developing the physical appearances and personalities of each character. I worked from photos I took at exotic pet shops and zoos, and used character studies to draw the animals from different angles. My own dog, Tito was a model for his character, not an easy task as he doesn't sit still for very long! The printing process involved scanning the illustrations, and adding the text using Photoshop. I digitally uploaded the images as PDF files to the printer with a program called InDesign. The printer is then able to print the books using a laser printer. The binding and cover are put in place after the pages are printed and collated. Creating this book was a labor of love for me. It combines my three favorite endeavors in life: making colorful, uplifting art; teaching children; and spreading the consciousness that each animal sharing our planet deserves to be treated fairly and with respect. This has been a very rewarding project, one that I hope will influence those who read it to take action to help endangered animals.