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"Tamias Striatus" (Pencil study for new painting by Gina Matarazzo)

“Tamias Striatus” (Pencil study for new painting by Gina Matarazzo)

I have been studying rodents lately and I have come to dislike that they are usually vilified by humans as “pests.” Since I’ve been trying to see everything from a different point of view these days, I’ve come to believe that they are not in our world, messing our gardens and homes up. We are in their world, interrupting their natural lives, covering up their burrows, making their already dangerous lives more dangerous with traps and poison or scaring them off. If they are able to think in terms of society, I think they surely think that humans are pests.

We have been putting up what’s called a “Big ol’ Kob” in the backyard since late spring, and it’s been quite a display, watching all the yard animals fight over it. And they aren’t really fighting over it at all–which is the funny thing! They are mostly sharing. One morning, there was a big squirrel on top of it, shaking it and trying to knock bits loose, while a couple birds, another squirrel, a bunny and a chipmunk were on the ground around it, picking up the kernels and generally waiting for their share. Really looked like something out of a Disney cartoon. That afternoon I was inspired to look up information about chipmunks and I learned how important they are for the ecology. Among other things, their natural way of life (collecting nuts, seeds, etc.) helps to establish seedlings in the forest. If you look at the “Ecology and Life History” section of Wikipedia, it gives a little insight into this.

So, here we are, thinking of these little fellas as pests who dig in our yards, messing our grass up, when they most likely do more for the world during their brief lives than most of us ever will! And this of course, inspired me to portray a chipmunk as a little saint or angel in his natural habitat.

I hope to do color studies in the next week or so and start the painting in November. I’m not sure if I’m excited to do that frame or worry that I’ll be kicking myself over it. Haha. Time will tell. I had a fun time creating it, so I think painting it will be fun too.

See you soon!