Nancy Gray Ogle - Illustrator

Nancy Gray Ogle

Nancy Gray Ogle grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. An enthusiasm for art occurred early in Nancy's life, and at a very young age she decided that she was going to be an artist when she grew up. Her drawing skills were notable and with encouragement and support from teachers and family, Nancy was successfully guided toward a career in art.

Nancy studied graphic and fine arts throughout high school and at Sheridan College, but it was with her talent in fine arts that Nancy excelled. Exercising her drawing and painting became a passion that led the young art student on a path to create her own career as an artist.

Animals both domestic and wild are the subjects of choice for Nancy. To develop a growing interest in wildlife art, Nancy attended workshops with other wildlife artists in Algoniquin Park and Alaska. It was at this time that she was awarded a scholarship for achieving a level of excellence. She has enjoyed numerous one-woman shows of her work and has exhibited in the company of Canada's finest wildlife artists throughout Ontario, making her a well-known member within the community of Wildlife Art.

For six years nancy was able to indulge in developing her skills as an artist while teaching at a privately run art school. Nancy has since enjoyed combining her love of teaching with her art and as a result has become a well-recognized teacher of the arts within her community. Since 1992, Nancy has also taught private and group workshops in a variety of art disciplines and mediums.

Bringing her wildlife art to books was an offer she was delighted to accept. In 1988, Nancy created illustrations for a book written by R.D Lawrence, The Natural History of Canada, published by Key Porter Books of Toronto. She has since created illustrations for eight publications within the Kids Can Press Wildlife series for children which include Wild Cats, Eagles, Salmon, Otters, Bats, Owls, Snakes and Skunks.

The combination of Nancy's interest in wildlife with the opportunity to illustrate this series and future books has created an effective partnership. A realization Nancy is quite happy with as she proudly observes this natural evolution of her art.

Birthplace?
Toronto, Ontario.

Birthday?
September 25th.

Where do you live?
In 1986 my husband and I moved to Milford Bay, a small community situated in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

Who is in your family?
I have a twin sister and a brother, as well as my husband and my two children, ages 10 and 14.

Do you have any pets?
We have a jet-black cat named Jasmine after the character in Aladdin.

What is your favorite book?
My favorite book when I was a child was The Incredible Journey, an animal story.

What are your hobbies?
My favorite hobby is sketching or painting outdoors.

When did you start drawing?
I started drawing at a very young age. My kindergarten teacher stated in my report card that I took great care with my drawings. I remember spending a lot of time drawing from coloring books and comic books. My favorite subject was always animals.

What was your schooling or training?
In 1974 I was a student in the first graduating class of Wexford Collegiate's Art Center. There I was introduced to commercial art. After studying graphic design at Sheridan College, I was ready to return to my roots in drawing and painting. For the next five years, I practiced and developed my skills as an animal artist.

How did you get involved with children's books?
In 1988 I illustrated a book about the natural history of Canada. One of the people I met while doing that remembered my work years later and recommended me to illustrate a wildlife series for Kids Can Press.

What is the thing that you like the most about creating children's books?
What I like most about creating kids' books is that it allows me to combine the realism that I apply to wildlife art with a touch of animation, the drawing method that I admired when I was a kid. This helps children to observe characteristics in animals more clearly. Animals are individuals and have personalities. I find it fun to be able to exaggerate.

What materials do you use?
My book illustrations are created using watercolors. I find them to be a fun and fairly fast medium to work with. When I do my own wildlife art I like to use acrylics or pastels, which allow me to spend a lot more time on the painting. Pastels are my favorite medium to work with because they involve more drawing and coloring --- a more hands-on technique than holding a paintbrush.

How do you create your pictures?
I will visit zoos or sanctuaries for the opportunity to do field sketches. This is the best way for me to learn about the subject. I have quite an extensive photo file and a library of sketchbooks as a result of years of various field trips. I also rely on our public library and the Internet for additional information.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
In recent years I have spent a lot of time teaching drawing to children both privately and in the classroom. I feel strongly that developing good drawing skills is crucial for any art form and is a lesson often overlooked in art class at school.
Learn to draw. Draw to learn.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memories are the ones from summers spent at our cottage at Kahshe Lake in Muskoka. Although we spent a lot of time swimming and doing cottage stuff, I also enjoyed being close to the forests, rocks, creeks and wildlife.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I clearly remember always being interested in art, always drawing animals and deciding at a very young age to be an artist when I grew up. I also wanted to be veterinarian.

What is the most interesting job you have ever had?
Early in my career as an animal artist, I worked on many, many commissioned portraits of pets. This was a lot of fun as I got to observe many different breeds of dogs and cats. They would visit my studio or I would visit them at dog shows. I learned about their unique personalities and their funny ways, all the time noting their charming and adorable expressions. It was always interesting listening to their owners describe their beloved pets. I also found it to be true on several occasions that pets resemble their owners (or is it the other way around?).

Bats

2004 - Science in Society Book Award, Canadian Science Writers' Association, Short-listed

Eagles

2003 - Red Cedar Book Award, Short-listed
2001 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Otters

2004 - Science in Society Book Award, Canadian Science Writers' Association, Short-listed
2003 - Best Bets, Ontario Library Association, Winner

Owls

2005 - Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize, Short-listed

Salmon

2003 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Skunks

2007 - Information Book Award, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada, Short-listed
2007 - Outstanding Science Trade Books, National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council, Winner
2007 - Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association, Short-listed

Wild Cats

1997 - Pick of the Lists, American Bookseller, Winner
1997 - Parents' Choice Approved Winner, Winner

First Readers

Non-fiction

Skunks, 2006
Snakes, 2005
Owls, 2004
Bats, 2003
Otters, 2003
Salmon, 2002
Eagles, 2000
Wild Cats, 1996