When Algonquin resident Nancy Arnier retired from teaching three years ago, the 72-year-old grandmother needed to find a hobby - and quickly - to quell her boredom.
Instead of wasting away hours of her day watching daytime soap operas, Arnier took up drawing and found an untapped talent.
'I decided to get up and do something,' Arnier said. 'I found a little art shop in Fox River Grove that had drawing classes and I just fell in love with it.'
Though Arnier said she enjoys drawing landscapes and occasionally portraits, she stumbled upon her gift for drawing animals.
'It is something fun for me to do and people are so in love with their pets,' said Arnier, who was inspired after drawing her granddaughter's puppy and succeeding. 'I had one woman hug me and she had tears in her eyes when she saw the drawing of her dog.'
Though she attends oil painting classes once a week at the Dundee Township Senior Center, Arnier said colored pencils are much cleaner and allow greater detail in her portraits.
'You don't have to wash brushes, you don't have to clean trays,' Arnier said. 'With pencils you can get such absolutely minute detail. Plus, you can leave it and come back to it.'
Her hobby transformed into a business when Arnier started Pet Poses - her pet portrait endeavor - about 2Żl years ago.
'There is a certain joy felt in my heart as I create their gentle images,' Arnier says in a Pet Poses flier. 'Their bright eyes keep me company as they watch my pencils do the work. No tree or mountain ever cared that much for me.'
Using colored pencils from her array of over 200 Prismacolor and Derwent pencils, Arnier draws any animal someone calls a pet - from kittens to horses, rabbits to parrots. Drawing animals, Arnier says, is much less intimidating than drawing people, and more interesting than landscapes.
'I don't draw people because I think I would insult them too much,' said Arnier, who taught English at Schaumburg High School for 26 years. 'Dogs and pets can't complain or cry about it.'
To accurately depict the animal's coloring and structure, Arnier studies two photographs taken from different views.
'I was drawing a man's golden retriever and I just about had it ready when he stopped by,' Arnier said. 'He had his dog in the back of the car and it was a completely different color than what I was drawing. I had to start it again.'
Arnier said it takes about three days to complete a portrait, which she rigorously critiques in her small home studio.
'Every drawing goes into my china cabinet so I can take a good look at it,' Arnier said. 'I usually find three or four changes because you don't see a lot of things right away.'
Each portrait is 8 inches by 10 inches. Any larger would take too long to complete, Arnier said.
While other pet portraitists sell work for hundreds of dollars, Arnier offers her drawings for $45.
'I am not doing it for my bread,' Arnier said. 'It is something that I love to do and I am just doing it for fun.'
Text and Image by Daily Herald,USA