Amy Jean Porter
Artist, friend to animals
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Artist, friend to animals
I’m an artist, mainly someone who likes to draw. I’ve drawn a lot of animals. Most recently lambs for a book project with Matthea Harvey and McSweeney’s. I live in the woods outside of New Haven, Connecticut, with my family and an ever-active crew of hungry squirrels and skunks.
I have a sturdy hand-me-down table/desk from Ikea. It’s like a butcher block. There’s a line up of colored pencils and stacks of books and cards and photos. On another sturdy desk - an old wooden teacher’s desk that my husband and I picked up for 20 bucks at a lawn sale - we have a 13” MacBook Pro, a couple of external hard drives, an old Canon scanner, a printer, and an old Canon point-and-shoot camera.
I make my drawings by hand, mainly at the butcher-block table, though for the summer I’ve had a lovely empty summer studio. I use mainly pencil, ink, and gouache. I’m addicted to gouache because of the colors you can get and because it has such a soft surface, like powdered sugar. I don’t do much work digitally, I prefer making things by hand, so I’ve just needed a way to capture images and get them online (for my site and places like The Awl and 20x200).
Your basic Adobe CS - Photoshop, GoLive. Sometimes I try InDesign and Illustrator, but just for simple things. I like this idea of keeping everything ridiculously simple - my site is pretty much straight html (originally created by my pals at Gluekit - thanks forever!). I’ve had this thing my whole life about trying to make the most out of two crayons and a piece of paper.
The MacBook is also essential for listening to podcasts while I work. I discovered a while ago that I must listen to people talking (not singing, not music) while I work. It keeps part of my brain entertained so that the other part can focus on tiny tedious things. I think of it this way because I listen a lot to Radiolab and they’re constantly talking about brains. Before podcasts were popular, I had a wind-up low-frequency emergency radio and I would listen to CBS 880. The act of winding the thing up every 20 minutes or so was satisfying.
The big dream would be to build a studio behind our house with two stories and north facing skylights and lots of bookshelves, and a sink. There was an article in the Times about kid houses and it’s a weird article, but the tiny houses did have running water. I was impressed. I’d love a new iMac and a big, properly calibrated scanner so I can get better color out of the scans I make. One of those old, awesome flat files would be great, too. A rug with some kind of Anni Albers pattern. A dog. Maybe some chickens or goats in the yard. The kids could name them. I would draw them.