Marilyn Owens’s drawings have gone to the dogs. And cats. And a few people.
For the past three years, the Village of Polo Ridge resident has discovered a new hobby: drawing animal portraits using pastel pencils.
“I enjoy seeing these things come to life,” Owens said. “I found my niche. This is it. I get caught up in it, sometimes I forget to eat.”
The main reaction people get from her drawings is how realistic the rendition looks.
“That’s what I try to do,” Owens said. “Maybe they were expecting a cartoon character. I draw the animal.”
Sherri Brodeur found out about Owens’ work through her mother, Lorraine DeGenova, and wanted her to draw her Shih Tzu named Scruffy.
“I love how (Owens) does the eyes and the noses,” Brodeur said. “They look so real. She really catches (the pets’) personalities.”
On the day Brodeur received the drawing a few weeks ago, it looked like Scruffy wasn’t going to make it.
“(When I saw the drawing) I was extra excited,” said Brodeur, who lives in Oxford. “She caught a beautiful likeness of him. I thought it would be a nice keepsake long after he’s gone.”
Thankfully, Scruffy is still running around.
Owens uses photographs as references for her portraits. She sometimes gets multiple angles of the pets, and she prefers getting pictures of the pets outdoors.
“The color of a dog makes a difference,” Owens said. “Inside, it’ll look different. I need a good picture so I can see. If I don’t have a good picture, then I’m not drawing their dog. If I’m making it up, (the pet’s owners) will know.”
Owens had spotted a man walking a puppy and thought the dog would be cute to draw. She asked him to send pictures of the dog. Her drawing ended up becoming a Christmas card.
A couple of years later, she drew another portrait of the dog.
“As he got older, he got cuter,” Owens said.
At the time, she was taking her first steps into creating portraits. In her working days, Owens was involved in the marketing departments of such companies as General Electric, IBM and Lockheed Martin, helping to make items like publications and proposals.
“I didn’t know I could do it,” Owens said.
She draws at a desk in a bedroom, using paper from England that has a smooth and rough side. She gravitates toward the former.
“(The rough side) is not as saturated with color,” Owens said.
She started out using pencils, but after drawing with colored pencils for a bit, she couldn’t connect with the medium. She soon found her tools of choice through pastel pencils and PanPastel paints.
“You can layer longer,” Owens said. “Colored pencils are oil-based. Once you fill that paper, you have to stop. But you can go back with pastel pencils. I like the way it’s smooth.”
She discovered that creating different shades of colors involved multiple layers. When she was working on a dog with black fur, she started out with grays, gradually making it darker.
“It takes you a while to learn that,” Owens said.