Several years ago, local artist Mark Elton was teaching himself how to do digital paintings to make an animal alphabet book for his nephew.
He started sharing his progress pieces online, which led to an opportunity to showcase 40 of his colorful animal paintings in an exhibit titled “Menagerie” at Rourke Art Museum in 2016.
Now, after the successful launch of his book “Atypical Animals” in partnership with Red River Zoo, the Rourke invited Elton back for a sequel exhibition of similar nature (no pun intended).
“When I asked (the Red River Zoo) if they were interested in being a part of the second show, they accepted the invitation, and three-way partnership was born,” Elton says.
The exhibit, aptly titled “Menagerie II,” opens to the public on Sunday, July 1 with an artist talk at 2 p.m. at Rourke Art Museum.
Elton’s background is in small-press, indie-publishing comics and zines. He graduated from Concordia in 2007 with degrees in Studio Art and English Writing, and over the years has found his digital illustrations got a lot of positive attention.
His process involves making lists of animals he thinks would be fun to paint.
“During the year, if I’m ever introduced to a new and fascinating animal, I will add it to the list,” Elton says. “Animals that I’m not as familiar with, or that I find especially difficult to draw, will typically become a study of sketches in my sketchbooks. These are important explorations in learning the mechanics of each animal so I can faithfully produce them on a digital canvas.”
With Menagerie II, Elton hopes viewers take away a sense of curiosity.
“I’ve witnessed too many adults give up on the wonder that surrounds them every day, and actively choose to ignore new information as it is revealed to them,” Elton says. “I’m looking forward to igniting greater curiosity in the arts and nature, and hopefully encouraging people to take greater care and connect with the natural world by exploring it themselves.”
Menagerie II will be on display at the Rourke, open 1-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, until August 19. For more information on Mark Elton, visit his Facebook page.