The Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) is one of the most endangered species of amphibians in the Eastern United States. It's range extends from Southern New England to Florida and as far south as the Mississippi Valley. It is considered endangered in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Spadefoot Toads are nocturnal and prefer lower elevations such as woodlands, fields, farmlands and dunes with sandy or loamy soils where they can easily burrow into the ground with their sickle shaped "spade" located on the inner surface of each webbed hind foot. Because Spadefoot Toads cannot tolerate arid conditions, they spend most of their summer nights in underground burrows, burowing down as far as 2 meters, emerging only during damp evenings to feed on insects. During a long dry spell, Spadefoots will go torpid underground, excreting a fluid from its own skin, creating a protective semi-permeable chamber around itself until the first heavy rains.
I am now focusing on a body of work based on large graphite drawings and sketches from my travels. I work primarily in watercolor, acrylic and gouache, painting directly from close encounters with animals in their habitat. The style I prefer is a quick application of intense pigment, which serves as a background for my detailed renderings. The whole process is very labor intensive, juggling foreground and background. I let the dynamics of color, and the animal's position dictate the direction that my painting will go. The added challenge is that there is something intrinsically spiritual and secretive about animals that is untouchable.