Tina Macnaughton - The origins of her passion & inspiration

What I have always loved to draw is animals and nature. As a child, and later as an adult, I would find myself coming back to this theme time and time again. It was not something that was immediately obvious in the early days as there were a few dead ends to go down first. I am always the one reading books on all things hairy, chasing lizards or poking a stick into a hole to see what lives there. 

Polar Bears sliding - Tina Macnaughton


I have always adored travelling to the wild places on earth and marveling at nature, whether it be a canyon or rolling hills. As a kid I was the one that would dreamily stare out of the window imagining fantasy worlds where animals talked and fairies existed. I spent many hours in my parents' woodland garden in the undergrowth examining bugs or bird eggs I had found. All this rock pool bug-hunting laid a good foundation for my later scribblings.







Combined with all this, I was also reading and absorbing the likes of 'Winnie the Pooh', Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton's The Far Away Tree, the Brothers Grimm, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild things Are, Quentin Blake's deliciously funny illustrations and a whole host of other great books and illustrators. I adore the combination of the real and the fantasy and the magic of childhood imagination which I never grew out of, plus I just love a good story. There is nothing better to do on a dreary afternoon than to sit down with a cup of tea, a pad of paper and amuse oneself by drawing a grumpy old duck being pestered by ducklings. The joys of imagining an alternate world where animals send each other Christmas cards and go to the woodland post office that is run by a snooty squirrel are endless. It just never ceases to tickle me. Why stick to grim reality when there is a feast of fun in the imaginary one waiting to appear on a page. Through the fun I try to temper with wanting to create a work of art something that gives a sense of atmosphere or catching a moment in time. To make it an image that can hang on a wall, be a thing of beauty, as well as tell a story in a book and amuse children...and maybe the adults that read it to them too. Hedgehog in a blanket - Tina Macnaughton

My inspiration I would like to say was a grand idea, or a well-known artist or teacher, but in truth it was a Jack Russell terrier. She was the one who made me realize that animals can have big personalities. That they do have ideas that they carry out or in her case 'try and get away with' and that humans are not the only living things on this planet that have feelings. A simple whine from her could tell me all I needed to know: 'I'm bored and I want you to play with me'. If that is true of dogs it must be true of all other animals as well. It’s then you start thinking, what is my pet dog thinking? What is any animal thinking? Once you start thinking like that it does not take much of a leap to start thinking 'How would a rabbit decorate its bedroom if it could?' or to start imaging what a squirrel is thinking when it's hopping round your garden, 'Where did I put my nuts?' of course! If you can try to imagine what an animal is thinking, then the next step is to turn those thoughts into making that animal a character that wants and needs, and that has ideas and plans of its own; a small furry or feathery person. As an artist what I want to do is of course to draw it so it really exists, even if it is just on paper. Then I want to expand that universe and take that character on an adventure, and then before I know it my telephone is ringing and people are asking me to draw my characters and publish it.

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