I spend as much time as I can around animals with camera in hand. When I get back to the studio I study the expressions and body language I caught with the camera. When a particular animal jumps out at me and has something to say I will listen and translate for the viewer.
That begins the process of choosing color, be it natural or expressive,as a starting point. I dive into the extensive collection of fabric that fills the bookcase in my studio. Some of this is commercial fabric, new and old, or fabric that has been hand-dyed or hand-painted. Recently there has been an influx of mono-printed/stamped fabrics I have created to add to the palette. The amazing knitter, needleponter, quilter, Kaffe Fassett and Maximo Laura, a national treasure weaver of his native Peru, have been huge influences on my use of bold and bright color.
I know everything is coming together when I have to force myself from the studio for meals or at night to sleep. That devotion is rewarded when viewers become emotionally involved with the piece and tell me stories about the animal. I know I have done my job if they can look into the animals eyes and know this is a sentient being.