Mostly cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. Low 43F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph..
Mostly cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. Low 43F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: October 26, 2022 @ 6:52 pm
Holly Putman sits in her studio in front of a charcoal drawing she is currently working on. Putman’s whimsical art is for sale on her website, Wildness by Design, at Oceanic Arts on Newport’s Bayfront and Laughing Crab Gallery in Florence. (Photos by Susan Schuytema)
Charcoal is artist Holly Putman’s medium, and extreme anthropomorphic drawing is her theme. This piece, “Dapper Flapper” is inspired by her love of all creatures and the glamour of old movie stars.
Holly Putman adds charcoal to an in-progress drawing. Putman owns Wildness By Design, her business of unique art for eccentric people.

Holly Putman sits in her studio in front of a charcoal drawing she is currently working on. Putman’s whimsical art is for sale on her website, Wildness by Design, at Oceanic Arts on Newport’s Bayfront and Laughing Crab Gallery in Florence. (Photos by Susan Schuytema)
Charcoal is artist Holly Putman’s medium, and extreme anthropomorphic drawing is her theme. This piece, “Dapper Flapper” is inspired by her love of all creatures and the glamour of old movie stars.
Holly Putman adds charcoal to an in-progress drawing. Putman owns Wildness By Design, her business of unique art for eccentric people.
A love of nature, a passion for drawing and a nod to the absurd are the inspirations that drive an area artist to create some truly unique works.
Holly Putman started drawing at a very young age and had a natural aptitude for it, at least according to her mother who saved boxes and boxes of her childhood artwork. “Unfortunately, there’s hard copy evidence of my earlier pieces,” Putman said with a laugh.
Putman grew up on a farm in Lincoln County that abuts hundreds of acres of national forest — a perfect place to explore. She credits her supportive parents for giving her the freedom that allowed her creativity to thrive. “My sister and I just ran amok,” she said. “We were completely free.”
Her art business is called Wildness by Design, a nod to her early drawings of creatures and animals of all kinds. The tag line for her business is “Unique Art for Eccentric People.”
As a student at Waldport High School, Putman learned the techniques of charcoal drawing from her art teacher, Mr. Wiesner, who wouldn’t allow students to draw with pencils in figure drawing class. “He believed that foundation was super important, and if you wanted to pursue art, you were going to learn the right way.” That was the first important lesson for Putman and the start of many more to come.
Drawing became a stress-relief as she grew up, but she never really wanted to share her art with others. She continued to draw, amassing more than 150 pieces. Her friends and family encouraged her to do something with her art, but as a real estate agent and farmer, Putman was always too busy to pursue art as anything more than a hobby.
When her sister, Aria La Faye, decided to host an ocean-themed exhibition at her art studio in Seal Rock, she turned to Putman to come up with something outside the typical ocean sunset and beach themes. Putman had a creativity block. It was three weeks before the opening and she still had no inspiration until a fateful night when she drank a glass of scotch and watched old movies. And there it was right in front of her. Something in her clicked.
The idea occurred to her to draw glamorous figures from the 1920s and ’30s and merge them with fish faces. It just clicked. But actually creating the images was a real challenge. “In my mind, I thought it would be a lot easier to draw a fish head on a human body and make it look like it belonged. I didn’t think this was where I would land but it was one of those moments.” She calls her art extreme anthropomorphic drawings — adding human characteristics to animals.
A co-worker took a piece of Putman’s work and showed it to Kim McLaughlin, the owner of Laughing Crab Gallery in Florence, who then asked Putman to put her work in the gallery. “She’s the one who discovered me and released me into the wild,” Putman said with a laugh, adding, “Everything just grew from there.” Her work can also be found at Oceanic Arts on Newport’s Bayfront.
Putman is currently working on a collection called “A Piece of History,” where she uses old photos and redoes them in her fish series, giving them a second chance at life. She made three of those so far, but wants to make enough for an exhibition.
“Tasty Nudes” is another popular series. “I love drawing women the most,” she said. “To me, they are every part of the weird I like.” The drawings, featuring glamorous women bodies with fish heads, are some of her top sellers.
Other series are “Combat Cats,” “Passionate Poultry,” “Posh Predators,” and “Pigs in a Blanket.” She uses a digital painting for her series, “Oceanic Commentary.” She is currently experimenting with face swaps where humans have animal faces and creatures have human faces. All her available work is for sale on her website, www.wildnessbydesign.com.
Commission work is another avenue for Putman. She recently drew a family portrait where each family member picked their own creature for their heads.
Putman makes prints of some of her original drawings and has set up at farmers and artisan markets. “I love markets. It makes my art more accessible so people can enjoy it,” she said. “I enjoy interacting with people who buy my art, and I love to hear their stories. It’s been so delightful.”
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