Monday, January 16, 2012

Pacific Lamprey by Gay Kraeger

My firm, Wildways illustrated, was hired to create a mural in a visitor's center in San Jose, California. I often use my journals to practice drawing creatures I will use in my work. The Pacific Lamprey and the crawfish were on the species list for this job, so I put the journal to use.

I was curious about the Lamprey so I looked him up in one of my reference books. I learned the Pacific Lamprey is a native species living in our local creeks. In the mature phase of it's life it is a parasite. It attaches itself to the side of fish in the creeks and sucks. Yum.

The Lamprey spawn in the gravel like the salmon they prey on. The newly hatched larvae move downstream and bury themselves tail first in the gravel. They use their large oral hood to filter feed. They stay buried because at this larvae stage they can easily be consumed by the fish they will attach to if they live to grow up. They are also anadromous (freshwater and saltwater going) Amazing creatures!
I liked the position of the crawfish I drew in the journal, so I redrew him. I used the Pacific Lamprey right out of the journal. I scanned the various elements and combined them in Photoshop to create a mural.

This is a small section of the large panel I am working on now. The final panel will be 5 feet high and almost 14 feet long. It will depict life in and around the Guadalupe River in San Jose. The Guadalupe is an urban oasis. Most of the folks who come to the visitor's center in the Guadalupe River Park are amazed at the variety of wildlife that lives in our backyard. Or wait, maybe we are living in the wildlife's backyard!


  1. Nice--interesting and cool. I like the technique you used on the lamprey, and also the black-outline-technique on the crawfish. Very appealing to my eyes :)

  2. Brava, Gay, these are wonderful! I love the journal AND the finished work, and learn from you every time.

  3. Oh how interesting!! I can't wait to see it. I just walked the Guadalupe River trail yesterday.

  4. These sketches are terrific, Gay. I love all your work. How lucky you are to get to use your talents for such fascinating work. Well done!

    1. amazing pages in your sketchbook! so personal and graphic. Love them!

  5. The mural you're working is beautiful! Love the way you pull all of these elements together into a natural scene.


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