Dream the ‘American Dream’!

'American Dream', colour Biro drawing, 2014 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘American Dream’, 2014, colour Biro drawing, 60cm x 42 cm by Jane Lee McCracken

This year’s artwork for the Wolf Conservation Center, NY (WCC)‘American Dream’ has taken four months in the making.  Not only does it feature WCC wolves, Atka, Alawa, Zephyr and Nikai but it places wolves at the very heart of the Great American Wilderness highlighting the essential keystone species they are.


'American Dream', colour Biro drawing, 2014, detail - Zephyr

‘American Dream’, colour Biro drawing,  detail –  Zephyr

“Winter howls through Yellowstone National Park, sweeping across Ambassador wolf Zephyr’s fur.  An intrepid stag plunges through a deep blanket of snow, pursued by wolves, as a bison battles against a blizzard on the plains between the mountains.

'American Dream', colour Biro drawing, detail - Nikai and Monarch Butterfly

‘American Dream’, colour Biro drawing, detail – Nikai and Monarch Butterfly

A mountain bluebird heralds the arrival of spring, as a bear wakes from hibernation and a bison calf is caught in a spring shower, while Alpine flowers blossom on Zephyr’s legs. Summer shimmers on the wings of a monarch butterfly announcing the arrival of Nikai, the Wolf Conservation Center’s newest Ambassador. Nikai listens to the bluebird’s song as bison rut in a summer meadow.

'American Dream', colour Biro Drawing, detail - Zephyr and Alawa as pups and Atka leaping over a stream

‘American Dream’, colour Biro Drawing, detail – Zephyr and Alawa as pups and Atka leaping over a stream

Fall flickers over Zephyr, as a pup, and turns to winter over Alawa, also as a pup and the wolf pack led by Atka return to their winter trail.  Atka, the leader of the WCC Ambassador Pack, gleams like the sun on the wings of a monarch butterfly. He watches over Zephyr, Alawa, and Nikai in a landscape where wolves roam free.”

"American Dream', colour Biro drawing, detail - Atka and Monarch Butterfly

“American Dream’, colour Biro drawing, detail – Atka and Monarch Butterfly


I found inspiration for ‘American Dream’ from the BBC film “Yellowstone” (2009), taking hundreds of still photographs as the film played, searching for images that would best represent the wildlife that has inhabited North America for thousands of years. Also working with beautiful images of wolves taken by Rebecca Bose of the WCC, my aspiration was to try and capture the majesty of the center’s wolves.

Biro (ballpoint pen) is a difficult medium to work with.  There is no room for error as erasing is not possible, Biro blots meaning the nibs have to be constantly cleaned, also the colour range is limited resulting in most colours being mixed directly within the drawing to achieve the palette required.  Making a drawing of this scale therefore takes several months.  But the result is colours of such vibrancy and depth that resemble pigment inks whilst working with the age old technique of ‘drawing’, that still remains with us since the earliest art produced by man, millennia ago.

Ultimately the aim of this artwork was to create a piece that presents wolves as a keystone species while evoking the timeless beauty of the American landscape. Monarch butterflies appear in the drawing highlighting that they too are a vulnerable species, their epic North American migration to Mexico now under threat. The spectrum of colors applied in the drawing reflect the beauty of our natural world, while the dominance of red, white, and blue suggest American traditions and resound ‘hope’ that wolves and other wildlife are thriving again through the inspirational work of organizations such as WCC which dream the ‘American Dream’ and are making it a reality!

‘American Dream’ will be auctioned at this year’s WCC ‘Wine & Wolves’ Holiday Celebration Event on 4th December, with all profits raised going directly to WCC.

Limited Edition Prints


20 A2 (same size as the original drawing) limited edition signed and numbered archival pigment prints

50 A3 limited edition signed and numbered archival pigment prints

are now available:

www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/shop/conservation art prints

All profits from each print sale go directly to WCC for their vital work conserving wolves.

Wishing Atka, Alawa, Zephyr, Nikai and all at WCC a wonderful ‘Wine & Wolves’!

Photo Credit: Rebecca Bose, WCC

Photo Credit: Rebecca Bose, WCC




Postcard logo back


Atka, King of New York!

'Atka', black Biro drawing, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Atka’, black Biro drawing, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

Two days to go…..  The Wolf Conservation Center, NY, USA is having its annual WINE & WOLVES fundraiser on 12th December.  Since 1999 WCC has been teaching people about wolves and their role in the environment.   Have a look at the sterling work they do protecting wolves http://nywolf.org/ if you’re not familiar with WCC already.

This year I wanted to celebrate beautiful Atka, WCC’s magnificent Ambassador wolf, by making a portrait of him drawn in black Biro to donate to WCC’s fundraiser.  Atka has dedicated his life to educating people about protecting his wild brothers and sisters.  I imagined the rock Atka sits on as his favourite spot where he surveys the world around him and thought this is how I should draw him, King of New York State.

'Atka', detail of black Biro drawing, 2013

‘Atka’, detail of black Biro drawing, 2013

Wolves in America are having a bit of a hard time and need all the help they can get.  That’s why this drawing winged its way from Newcastle, England to New York State in time for 12th December’s WCC fundraiser.

Miss Lily is a big fan of Atka

Miss Lily is Atka’s biggest fan!

A big thank you to my mother and father for sponsoring the framing of the drawing so Atka is good to go and to Greg at http://www.mountkiscoframeshop.com/ for his excellent work framing the portrait in time and of course to Maggie Howell and Alex Spitzer at WCC for their tireless help organising the framing.

I hope Atka’s portrait finds a new home and in turn raises some funds for wee wolfie’s across America!

'Atka', signed and numbered luxury Archival Pigment Print

‘Atka’, signed and numbered luxury Archival Pigment Print

A note on prints – I am hoping to produce a luxury Archival Pigment Print run of ‘ATKA’ with 100% profit of any prints sold going to WCC if there is enough interest generated.  Please do get in touch if this is something you would be interested in or know anyone who would like a print – email jane@janeleemccracken.co.uk