Animal magnetism

Adonna Khare is wild about her art.

The 26-year-old artist uses pencil to draw murals of animals but adds human body parts, giving them a whimsical touch.

Khare, of Burbank, will finish her master's of fine arts degree in illustration this winter at Cal State Long Beach. Her graduate solo show, titled "Beast," is on display at the college's Gatov Gallery through Thursday.

"As an undergraduate at Cal State Long Beach, I started drawing small pencil drawings of animals and made them larger and larger as time went by," she said. "I started doing murals three years ago."

One of her drawings of a gorilla is 90 inches tall by 42 inches wide.

Khare is selling her artwork at Hunsaker/Schlesinger Fine Art, a gallery nestled inside Bergamot Station, an art community with 20 contemporary art galleries in Santa Monica.

Khare was featured in a group show at the gallery in 2004.

"We have been selling her smaller and larger size drawings since that first show," gallery owner Lora Schlesinger. "She created quite a lot of interest in her work in that first show."

Schlesinger is very impressed with Khare's work.

"It's most extraordinary that this young artist can create a 34-foot-long drawing in three panels, of these magical and imaginative animals," she said. "Some of the animals become humanlike. The lion has human hands, and it makes for the most imaginative creature you have ever seen. Your eye travels throughout the composition discovering new creatures wherever you look. And they all seem to connect to each other."

While the graduate series at Cal State Long Beach is composed of animals, Khare also draws portraits of people and the human anatomy, but drawing animals is what she really likes to do.

"As a graduate student, it's your time to do what you want to do," she said. "I spend an exorbitant amount of time at the Los Angeles Zoo. I take photographs of the animals. A lot of my animals in the graduate show are specific animals at the zoo."

One of her favorite zoo animals is the peccary.

"They are little, furry pigs from South America," she said. "They are the cutest things you have ever seen. And I love the lion there. I think his name is Leo."

While drawing animals is fun, it's also a real challenge, she said.

"I enjoy the variety of animals and textures of hair and skin and scales," she said. "It's fun, exciting and challenging to draw all those kind of things."

But she adds her own twist to the drawings by humanizing them with human legs and arms, she said.

"I think people like, and I like, the idea of creating artwork that is not only realistic, but fun and imaginative and brings people into their childlike world," she said. "It lets them be a child again. I like people to have fun."

And she already has plans for her earnings from her artwork. She is saving her money to renovate the barn behind her Rancho District home and purchase a horse.

"I had one when I was a kid growing up in Iowa," she said. "My mom loves horses, and she would take us to school and we would ride on the back of the horse. We had dogs, horses and cows. And I would take home anything as a pet."

When she and her husband were looking for a home in Burbank, it took only one moment for her to feel at home at the house they live in now. During the open house, the realtor told them the home once was owned by Les Hilton, who was Mr. Ed's trainer.

"I didn't look at anything else but ran straight to the backyard and to the barn," she said. "It took us two years to find it. This house was meant to be."

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