One question I get a lot is where do I get the toads, frogs and turtles that appear in my drawings. (The snake is my pet carpet python.) The answer is, from the wild. I capture (or have been given by awesome friends) all of the toads, frogs and turtles in my drawings. Sometimes I only capture them with my camera. This is especially true with turtles. They are quick. I really would LOVE to have a frog or two at my disposal, because I feel like I need more frogs in my art. By far the easiest volunteers to find are American toads.
The toads are my favorite to draw. They have such pouty looks on their faces. They are short and stout much like myself. When it comes to catching them, it’s pretty easy. Turtles are fast and can disappear into nasty pond water in seconds. Frogs you have to chase, and more often than not – plop! – they’re gone into the deep.
Toads are pretty easy to find. I have a few spots I can go find one 50% of the time. Tonight I was at my parents’ house and I thought “I wonder if there’s a toad behind the garbage can?”
This guy was next to the garbage can, staring intently down at a bug he was going to eat. He was easy to grab, though he puffed up and tried to pee on me right away. Here’s a pro toad hunting tip – hold it by the sides until it pees, because it’s going to try to pee on you.
We had a quick preliminary photo session tonight where I tried my newly made light tent and tried to get as many angles as I could of this toad. He is very green and has very red “warts.” I didn’t have the props I wanted to do a complete photo for a major drawing, so I took a bunch of photographs of the guy in different positions. Tomorrow I will grab a couple props and do another photo session. Tonight he is in a 20 gallon aquarium with some tasty earthworms. Toads eat surprisingly well in captivity. Then Thursday he will go back into the “wild” of suburban Minneapolis.
I would like to thank my “volunteers.” I couldn’t do this without them. I try to treat them well and provide as many gross bugs as I can gather. I try to keep them for as short a time as possible – many time hours instead of overnight. I try to be respectful of where they live and release them exactly where they are found.
This summer I hope to catch a leopard frog or wood frog for an idea or two I have. There are many fairy tales about frogs; I just need to find a prince willing to star in one for me.
This is a special thanks to those critters – most of them now back in the wild – for posing for me. I am sure it was stressful, but you can tell all your friends now that you are a piece of art. I hope the accommodations were to your liking and I thank you for putting up with me.