New work & Instagram

Sorry for the long wait between posts. I had to deal with the death of my Grandmother a few weeks back, and a lot has been going on after that. I will dedicate a post to her soon. I’m just not ready yet. Have to get everything written down for it.

In the meantime, I did get myself an Instagram account to spread my work out in the world. You can find me at the screen name “angela_deriso“. If you want updated art on the go, that’s where I’ll be posting it.

I’ve been working on some new pieces on canvases ranging from 11″ x 14″ to 12″ x 16”, and larger. Here are a few unpainted but drawn designs I have going at the moment.

Octopus frontal pose
Octopus frontal pose
A seahorse pair
A seahorse pair
Octopus side pose
Octopus side pose
Manta Ray. Remora fish were added later.
Manta Ray. Remora fish were added later.
Moray Eels- Flotsom & Jettsom
Moray Eels- Flotsom & Jettsom


And since I had extra canvases… Dragons. 😀 I’m excited to see how they’ll turn out.



I also ended up making a gift of one of my paintings to my brother. He has loved my previous octopi paintings, so I sent him one in secret! He loved it, and called me just to say so. Definitely going to be trying this color scheme with a few other octopi.



I have been working on all of these in the last week, and my wrist has been twinging. Went and got a wrist wrap-thing to help. Only problem is that I can’t wear it to do the work. It restricts mobility somewhat.

More finished paintings will be posted soon.


I forgot this one was done.

Seaturtle with Jellies 16" x 20"
Seaturtle with Jellies
16″ x 20″







Safety Harbor Arts & Crafts Show, Dec 14, 2014

Here is the much delayed post of the last art festival I attended. Holidays and other activities got in the way of making more posts.

As usual, the festivals held in Safety Harbor stretched down the length of Main St with many tents and booths offering food, apparel, local charities, and various types of artwork. I went walking with phone in hand to capture some of the spots I found the most interesting. I collected cards with info on each artist or vendor, and asked permission before photographing the work.

I had the pleasure of tasting a few samples of beef jerky from a local vendor. Very good stuff, and jerky is one of my favorite things. I recommend it!  –

Redneck Steak –

walking crowd

One tent had small mosaics of different sea creatures and other animals. I have read about the making mosaics, and it takes a lot of hard work to do even small pieces, let alone large walls or murals. I really like the brightness and style of these pieces.

Jean & Rick Summers

Phone – 941-493-7667

mosaics2 mosaics1

Karrin Lubisco Melo is an artist who offers beautiful handpainted murals, and “stoneimals” which are lovely. She has a shop over on Etsy. Many of the stone animals are listed there. Note: Images were taken from Etsy page, I didn’t take them. I’m just posting them as examples of the artist’s work.

turtle rock leopard rock frog rock

Allen & Kelly DeMichele have created gorgeous sculptures from sand, often depicting sea animals and scenes from the beach. Rich in texture and detail, it’s very hard not to be mesmerized by this kind of work.

seaturtles sand sculptures mural piece seahorse

Jimel Arts – Sierra Studios creates both sea bean jewelry and oil paintings. I talked with the artist about the different paintings and the places they depict, and about traveling there. They definitely look like places you want to be. The paintings are gorgeous and vivid with color and depth. I could stop looking at them.


oil painting4 oil paintings3 oil paintings2 oil paintings1

Unfortunately, at this leg in my walk, my phone died on me. So the last few places I couldn’t get any photos. I ask that any readers please visit the artist’s site to view their respective works. It is well worth the clicks!

Mungo Key Designs has an amazing array of artwork. Wall art, cutting boards and coasters are offered in bold colorful wildlife artwork. They are mixed media paintings by artists John Rymer & Kevin Ritter.

metal pelicans

Some metal pelican sculptures on my way out.

desert rose tree

Interesting Desert Rose Tree. Very pretty.

That’s all for now.

Neighborhood Gopher Tortoise Colony

The first tortoise I ever got a good photo of.
The first tortoise I ever got a good photo of.

Turtles and tortoises are found in the fossil record going back as far as 250+ million years. That’s a very long history in terms of a species’ time in existence on this planet. Obviously, something about the way they are built has allowed them to survive and be molded into many kinds of turtle or tortoise over such a long span of time. Turtles are often aquatic in nature, with a handful of species being terrestrial, and tortoises are the largest of the land dwellers. Some of which become hulking giants who eat a diet not much different than a horse.

The gopher tortoise (gopherus polyphemus) belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago, thus making it one of the oldest living species. This species typically grows to about one foot in straight carapace length, and an average weight of 29 pounds. There have been some found to be as big as 16 inches in length.

Same individual out foraging.
Same individual out foraging.
The 2nd individual I got photos of. This one had a slight reddish tint to the shell, along with some sand left from the burrow.
The 2nd individual I got photos of. This one had a slight reddish tint to the shell, along with some sand left from the burrow.

Gopher Tortoises are specifically built for digging and living in burrows, as you can see from the shape of their shell. Their strong front legs aid them in digging burrows that can be up to 50 feet in length underground. At the end of their burrow lies a larger chamber where the tortoise sleeps or takes shelter. They also immediately bolt to the burrow entrance when they spot danger, and to this day many of them do this to me when I come bearing my camera.

These tortoises are an ecologically important species, consider that many other animals use the burrows as shelter both abandoned and inhabited by tortoises. Other reptiles, small mammals, and amphibians all may use the burrows for shelter during a forest fire, freezing weather, drought, etc., which often saves many lives otherwise. If these tortoises were to disappear, so to do their burrows, which then take away potential shelter for a multitude of species.

Not only do Gopher Tortoises benefit other animal species, but they also help stimulate new healthy growth in the plants and vegetation they eat. Rarely are they see drinking water, since they get most of the moisture they need from the vegetation they consume. They have only ever been observed drinking standing water during droughts.

Another colony member, possibly female because of size.
Another colony member, possibly female because of size.
This has to be the largest tortoise I've seen. For size comparison, that tree is no more than 5-6 feet away from the individual. Big.
This has to be the largest tortoise I’ve seen. For size comparison, that tree is no more than 5-6 feet away from the individual. Big.

Gophers are thought to exceed a lifespan of 60 years, and become sexually mature at 10 to 15 years of age. I can only wonder how old some of the individuals in the colony I visit are. Females are typically larger then males, hence they have to carry the eggs of the species. The males are smaller, with a concavity on the plastron which aids in mating.

The colors of this particular tortoise aren’t very vibrant, but still give them earthy-toned charm. Younger tortoises usually have brighter coloring for the first few years, with the hues fading as they gain size and age. Their colors range from dark gray, black, light gray, brown, and a slightly red clay color. A very young individual I’ve seen has blackish skin, with a brown shell with light orange patches on top. He or she booked it back to the burrow before I could get a good photo. They’re faster than they look.

Youngest gopher tortoise I've seen yet. He/she may only be a few years old.
Youngest gopher tortoise I’ve seen yet. He/she may only be a few years old.

The tortoises live near each other, and some of them must interact on a daily basis. I have not seen enough of them out at one time to really say just how they interact, but I imagine they may have some sort of hierarchy amongst themselves. They may also have individual preferences on which time of day to forage, like different work shifts. Males are known to visit the burrows of females during the months in which they mate, and generally, the ladies will let him know if they’re interested or not.

Possibly a male visiting a female burrow just a few yards from his.
Possibly a male visiting a female burrow just a few yards from his.

For the most part, I believe Gophers live in a somewhat solitary state, even while living in a colony. I commented on the social interactions because there are tortoises who display some herding behavior, such as the Pancake Tortoise. In other cases, both in captivity and in the wild, other species have been observed to behave similarly either when kept with other animals or in wild settings.  An awful lot of people give reptiles little credit for any intelligence, but they do have it. It’s just not what they’re expecting.

I love going out and seeing these tortoises in the wild as they should be. They are charming, and though skittish, well worth the patience getting photos of.

The best shot I've gotten of one of these tortoises, taken just recently.
The best shot I’ve gotten of one of these tortoises, taken just recently.

Information resource links for the Gopher Tortoise:

Stay tuned for next week’s post!

New Color Pencil Works, and Recent Commission

I’ve been working with color pencils alot lately, basically amping up my portfolio, and to add new listings to my Etsy shop. Most of it is wildlife oriented, while I did have a recent fantasy themed commission in the last two months.

The commission was for a wedding gift, couple-themed. I worked with the client, doing several loose sketches before we decided which he wanted, and then sculpting began. The concept was of a dragon kissing a bunny coming out of a top hat. I had everything sculpted, but hit a snag when the dragon’s neck drooped a little to far down during baking. That meant re-sculpting the top hat, and making a base for the dragon so that the dragon and bunny met nose to nose.  I came up with the idea to create a flower design as a base for both instead, and okayed it with the client. I sculpted the top hat inside the center of the flower, and made one petal thicker to hold the weight of the dragon and also have him at the right height to meet the bunny properly.

d-b comm

After a few weeks of sculpting, and then completing the paint job, this was the final result. My client was very pleased with how it turned out, and I was happy to take the challenge and create a great gift.

The color pencils works are recent, and I plan to have small prints and cards made from them. I will update here when they become available.

“Mallard Colors”



“Basking Yellowbelly”

Basking Yellow Belly-sml


“Gem Among Water Weeds”


gem-among-water-weeds sml


“Young Eastern Box Turtle”

young EBT-sml


“Cuban Treefrog”


I am working on more pieces currently, such as Poison Dart Frogs, and more birds.

I have plans to expand my shop, so keep an eye on it if you’re interested. 😉


~ Angela



Hello to all who may find their way here. I am Angela, and I also happen to be an artist. I work in colored pencils for illustrations, and polymer clay for my sculptures. Thus the name “Pencils and Clay”.

I have been creative since the age of five, and now at 28, I am trying to become a self employed artist. I know the road is hard, but I believe that I should be what I am and do what I seem to have the best skills at. I’m actually tired of trying to be anything else, because it just doesn’t seem to work out very well.

I will be posting more about the processes of my work, materials involved, and much more soon. This is just the first short introductory entry, so hardly the last. 🙂

If I have peaked your interest in what I do, please visit

Thank you for visiting and feel free to stay tuned!

~ Angela DeRiso