Good Natured Art

I've always known that I wanted to work with animals.  In high school, I planned on become a veterinarian. I've always loved biology, anatomy, and I'm not too shabby at problem solving.  In college, I majored in Biology and took all the necessary classes.  And I loved them--I'm a total nerd.  But a volunteer position made me realize that another career path might be the right one for me.  

During my junior year, I applied to become a docent at the local zoo.  Docents are volunteer teachers, so I began working in the education department.  We learned how to convey conservation messages to zoo guests of all ages and how to handle small animals to enhance their learning experiences. The very first animal that I learned how to handle was Thelma the guinea pig.  That was soon followed by a hedgehog, tortoise, and then a snake. This was a dream.  I spent as much time as I could volunteering.  

When I graduated college, they offered me a job as an Education Specialist.  This involved writing curriculum, teaching camps for second through seventh graders, and taking animals to schools, day cares, assisted living facilities and teaching everyone about the animals.  This job was a blast.  I got to work with so many different animals--chinchillas, owls, snakes, hedgehogs, chickens, opossums, hawks, lizards, and the list goes on and on.  

But somewhere along the line, I forgot how fulfilling making art was to me. Along with always loving animals, I've always loved to draw and paint and create.  So four years ago I started Good Natured as a side hustle.  My very first needle felted creation was an owl figurine, and since then, most of my subjects are animals.  Working alongside animals and learning about them (and having the urge to teach others about them) was a great mix for me and was fabulous inspiration.  

A few months ago, my husband and I moved to another state, which means that I left that zoo job of ten years behind.  I'll never forget the people I worked with, or the teens that I mentored or the kids that I taught.  But mostly, I'll remember working with some very special animals.  I appreciate and am thankful for all the experiences that I had.  They will forever affect how I look at the world, and how I interact with animals and their habitats.  My experiences will also forever affect my art.  There's a reason you see mostly living things as my art subjects.  It's because I want to share my admiration, respect and love of animals with everyone else, and I hope that I can inspire others to love them as much as I do.


* to see more of Dani's work visit her Etsy or Instagram.

Grace Gulley