My grandfather–Paul Markel who was a Lithographer most of his life in Ashland, Ohio who had a small farm and breed a variety of animals from ponies to various breeds of rabbits. For the last thirty years of his life, his dedication to raising award winning breeds like New Zealand Reds and Black & White Dutch breeds payed-off with an endless stream of trophies for decades. This made an impression on me even as a small child, as it made me gain a tremendous amount of respect for these creatures and many other animals alike.
Numerous summers I spent time at my grandparents in the mid-late 70’s, exploring the creek that ran along the outside of their property looking for crayfish, small creek fish and salamanders. Much of which I always seemed to catch, but usually returned to the creek as I knew they would not survive well in captivity. These were definitely exciting times for me as a child and keep me close to nature despite the age of video games, home computers, and sci-fi movies & tv that were slowly evolving into place that occupied the other half of my life growing up.
My brother Paul continued on this journey of appreciation with introducing me to the world of amphibians, reptiles and various freshwater aquatic species of fish. Ever since he was a young teenager, he had always had a deep understanding of animals and raised a variety of these creatures with me up to my first years in college. In the mid-late 70’s pet stores were exploding everywhere and several species of amphibians, reptiles and fish were completely accessible in purchasing, raising and breeding without endangerment. In addition, we lived nearby to a wildlife area that during those times flourished with various species of snakes, turtles, frogs, fish and other creatures in the nearby ponds and lakes within it. So finding and noticing these splendid little creatures was always a charm whether it was at the newest pet store or in our backyard.
Both my grandfather & brother had several books always laying around of which I always engaged myself into immensely. From various books on how to draw animals from my grandfather to guides on reptiles and amphibians and how to raise/care for them from my brother. This fascination with various species led me into drawing them alongside their drawings as well with me as early as I could pick up a pencil. Some examples of my brother’s very inspirational sketch work can be found below.
I have grown and explored new directions with my personal work throughout the years, but I have always kept animals and nature itself close to me, never forgeting all those times my grandfather sat down with me while drew pictures of animals such as wolves and rabbits after dinner or when my brother helped me raise my first newts, toads and freshwater fish in our aquariums. Their inspiration will always be with me and close to my heart.
In memory of Paul Markel(1908-1980) & Paul McClelland(1962-2007)
selected personal animal photography series