• Jaci Presley

Celebrating Critters ~ Critters Celebrating

Animals love Holidays.

New Year's Eve Critters Over the Years

A Pink Fairy Armadillo and a Fairy Penguin bring in the New Year. Note: they changed the name of the penguin to "Little Penguin" but not the name of the armadillo. I don't care either way. 5x7" acrylic on canvas

Party Horse - 4x6" acrylic on canvas board

Party Puffin - 3x3" gouache on canvas

Ralph and Stanley Stay Up All Night - 3x3" acrylic on canvas

Valentine's Day

Love Bug - 4x6" acrylic on canvasboard

Dumbo Octopus - 3x3" acrylic on canvas

Valentine Stoat - 3x3" acrylic on canvas

Mardi Gras

Mardis Gras Horse (SOLD) - 3x3" gouache on canvas

Three Toed Sloth on Bourbon Street - 3x3"gouache on canvas

Alfred Does Mardi Gras right -1.5x2.5" acrylic on canvas


Easter Babirusa (babirusa are porcine-like natives to Indonesia) -4x4" acrylic on canvas

Easter Friends - Steampunk Duck and his friend, have joined a bunny and lamb for an egg hunt - 3x3" gouache on canvas

Saint Patrick's Day

Just an Irish Wolfhound in a wool sweater and bowler cap, lookin' quite the wee opposite of a Leprechaun.

Happy Holidays

Happy Penguin Rocks His Ugly Vest - 3x3" gouache on canvas

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Why do I choose the animals or themes I paint? Sometimes it comes down to the uniqueness of the animal: I discovered the babirusa, a genus of its own. The males have tusks that grow curved and disfigured, I haven't thought of a theme for a male babirusa, but the sad faces of the sow and baby invoked the juxtaposition of a 1960's Easter celebration with all its pageantry. Babirusas are a threatened species, as is their rainforest habitat.

Lambs and bunnies go with Easter as do ducklings. In this case, I'd already created mini for the mallard ducklings: Steampunk Duck in the Steampunk collection and Mallard Duckling in a Beanie and Rubber Shoes. They sort of materialized with the lamb and bunny.

The juvenile penguin just shouted "Merry Christmas" - all it needed was an ugly sweater or vest to complete the sentiment. The same goes for an Irish Wolfhound who simply has to be dressed in wool from an Irish flock of sheep, puffing on a green glass pipe, and wearing the traditional green bowler hat.

Mardi Gras is a celebration I know too little about, something born out of Catholicism and superstition, but one in which all the participants seem to be having one helluva party before Ash Wednesday and the somber reality of the Lenten season. Animals just seem to be drawn to such a colorful and exuberant party. Horses, in particular, are central to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, although more from a policing perspective than to mask wearing and bead collecting. Then you have the George Thoroughgood-like American Alligator, a denizen of bayous and swamps of the American deep South - of course he'd want to celebrate a little of that jazzy, boozy, decadent parade air.

The three toed sloth (there are fourspecies, one of which is Endangered: the pygmy sloth) is a simple, happy, smiling, bemasked and bejeweled celebrant.

Valentine's Day is not a day I celebrate. But who could resist a stoat - commonly a pirate or villian in the Redwall series of YA books by Brian Jacques - who is grinning, fanged, and holding a heart-shaped bouquet of roses while sitting on a flowery sofa? Or a droop-eared donkey foal holding a rose and wearing a heart tiara?

Better yet, I discovered the Dumbo octopus (there are a number of different species of this octopus). Its unique way of swimming led to the idea that it could hold a little heart at the end of each tentacle, just waiting to hug someone with its little suction cups.

I chose the Atlantic Puffin because of its pompous little silhouette and all the coloring in the beak. The Atlantic Puffin is a Vulnerable species endemic to the coast of Wales and much of Great Britain. Somehow, if I just added a tie and a pretend glass of champagne, a puffin waiting for the ball to drop on a new year seemed appropriate.

The bats originally were waiting up for the solar eclipse of 2017 when I did my first solo exhibition in Silverton, Oregon. No one was interested in the eclipse memorabilia, the eclipse came and went, and the bats evolved into a full moon New Year's night.

I try to stay away from too many horses. Horses are my first love. They are playful, intelligent, and always eager for a party.

The Fairy Penguin and the Pink Fairy Armadillo are really more about granddaughters who love pink and frilly clothes. The pair of them frolicking, all dolled up, and clueless as to how ridiculous they might look to anyone else appealed to this wall flower. The Fairy Penguin, or Little Penguin, or Little Blue Penguin, is native to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. It is the smallest of all the penguins, not much larger than the impossibly real Pink Fairy Armadillo, the latter of which is a native of the Mendoza Province of Argentina and is so rare that there is no real data on its status as Vulnerable or Endangered or Near Threatened. BUT IT IS PINK. And an armadillo.

Party on!

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