EstarsStripes' Shop Announcement

Wildlife & pet prints & cards by a zookeeper turned professional artist.

Welcome—thanks so much for visiting my ETSY Shop! Please check back as I will be gradually adding more items to choose from.

My shop is named for Estar, a penguin who courted me for a few years. I worked as a zookeeper and Estar was hand raised by zoo employees and wound up confused about his identity, or my identity perhaps. Most hand-raised penguins go on to breed with members of their own species, but apparently a few become “imprinted” on humans, the way Estar did, and upon reaching maturity, attempt to entice a person to be their mate. He greeted me with donkey-like honking, built a nest for us of stones (the only nesting material he had available) behind the door and followed me around as I cleaned the display, trying to groom my tall boots with his beak.

I often felt such heartache over his situation, and the feeling taps into the larger grief I feel over endangered species and other environmental challenges. I have a deep desire to help heal our relationship with the planet and hope my art reflects this. With the shop title, I wanted to honor Estar—a being entrusted to my care for a time who I longed to do right by.

I’m hoping we can do “righter” by his kind—the endangered Humboldt penguin species—in the times ahead. I believe the Earth would be a more impoverished place without the bedazzling stripes and badass characters of the Humboldts, and all the other species it’s currently home to.

One thing that struck me as a zookeeper was how every individual of any given species is unique. Take the penguins—just like pet dogs and cats, each bird had its own personality. One bird I cared for was super feisty. Any time there was a scuffle going on, he was bound to be right there in the thick of things. Another bird would only take fish from my hand during feedings if I held them in a particular way. Each penguin had its preferences and particular ways of relating to its keepers and kin. We are more alike than you might imagine—penguins and people.

About those stripes in the title, which adorn the Humboldt penguin’s plumage (see the portrait of a Humboldt in my shop)—I was enthralled by the way the birds seemed to use them to emphasize gestures they made with their head and bodies as they communicated. And I learned that biologists have determined via experimentation that the stripes may actually help the birds as they hunt their fish prey. Somehow the flashing stripes confuse fish, causing fish schools to break up and thus making individual fish easier targets. Stripes apparently help nourish the penguins!

Their stripes also nourish my artist self. I’ve always loved lines and contrast, and I’ve been in love with making art since I first put crayon to paper.

Part of my background is in wildlife biology, having served as an assistant field biologist helping with seabird research in Alaska, Maine and Chile, for the National Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other organizations, as well as the zookeeper position I worked at for a number of years. I meticulously research the animals I paint and draw, and aim for scientific accuracy in my card descriptions.

I also studied Fine Arts and English in college, and I’ve worked as a professional writer (mostly on wildlife-related magazine articles) and artist since I left the zoo world. My mixed media paintings hang in private collections nationally.

Art and nature nourish my spirit, and I hope my creations may bring delight and inner nourishment to you. Thank you for reading.

This shop accepts Etsy Gift Cards.