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Sometimes when I’m creating characters for a larger collage piece or diorama I like to imagine the arc of the lives of those characters and what they are doing, who they are with outside of that particular frozen moment of time. Sometimes I will play around and sketch or paint ideas of these creature’s extended family trees, their relatives, their triumphs, romances, tragedies and other elements of their fairytale stories. 


Here we have Cousin Oona Otter. Oona has always been a gentle soul, especially compared to the feisty carnivorous members of her fellow Lutrinae. Specifically Cousin Oona is a North American River Otter. Her mother made note of her sweet demeanor as a pup and always called her “my Oona” - an old name passed down through many generations of the family meaning “lamb.” The name was said to come from the old world, too many years ago to remember – a reminder of long lost relatives across the salted sea. Oona lives near the saltless sea, also known as Anishinaabe Gichigami meaning “Anishinaabe’s Great Sea.” Names and their meanings are very important to Cousin Oona and she loves to learn new names, the meanings behind the names and from where they originated. Like any otter she spends a lot of time swimming, playing and fishing. When the cold winds come in autumn, just before the first snowfall, she likes to unpack the shawl her mother crocheted for her before she passed on. Oona wraps herself in it as if she was a lamb with a fluffy spring coat, remembering the golden summer days of childhood.


This piece makes use of remnant art paper used in larger diorama/ collage/ paper doll projects and uses techniques of painting, drawing with colored pencil, pen and thread.


Cousin Oona Otter

  • 10 x 7 inches, Polychromos & Luminance colored pencils, pen and ink, gouache, art papers, thread.

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