Dog Events of 2019

This year was a whirlwind of activity. I’m already forgetting plenty of it, so I’d better start writing things down!

NCS Fest in May

This event was so much fun. You know what, this is the only time I’m going to say that, because all of these events were a total blast!

NCS Fest is an international festival celebrating comic art, and I had the pleasure of representing the Huntington Beach Art Center for the organization’s first ever event in the U.S.!

Downtown HB is such a busy place full of dog-lovers, I was swamped with work. The energy was great, and I got to meet so many amazing artists! Definitely grateful to have been invited to table at this event.

  • NCS Fest Betty
  • NCS Fest WIPs 1
  • NCS Fest WIPs 2

Pier Plaza Art Afair in August

After NCS Fest, I realized that doing 1-hour watercolors was not time-efficient. I wanted to test my abilities with alcohol markers! I signed up for the weekly local art market by the HB Pier and got to work.

Downtown Huntington Beach came through once again with dog lovers galore, and I got plenty of practice!

  • Princess Vivi poses with her caricature
  • Pier Plaza 2019 Peppermint
  • Pier Plaza 2019 Rascal and Pepper
  • Pier Plaza 2019 Rocky

San Gabriel Valley Humane Society in October

A friend from college reached out when she saw that I was doing these events. Coincidentally, she now manages the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society. She graciously invited me to have a table at their 95th Anniversary event! This was my first event I’d done outside of Huntington Beach, and it went great.

  • A yorkie caricature
  • A family poses with their pet caricature
  • Two caricatures, one poodle

HB Arts Fest in October

This one was a big change of pace coming off a dog-centric event like the SGV Humane Society. This visit to Downtown HB was much less busy. Still, this was a nice event.

  • A couple shows off their cat caricature
  • Dalmatian caricatures

Long Beach Howl’oween Parade in, you guessed it, October

Two events in one month was a lot, but this one was super worth the extra effort. There were more dogs than people, and everybody was in a costume! Maybe I was just tired from the busy month, or I was “in the zone” with my drawings, but this event seemed really laid back.

Plus, there was this giant mob of children helping everyone set up and take down. They were like little 12-year-old elves.

The Howl’oween Parade was one of my favorites.

  • A caricature of Dorian Gray
  • A caricature of Wonder Dog!
  • Howloween 2019 Dundee

Irvine Animal Care Center Home for the Holidays in December

The last leg of my vendor-booth-marathon got rained on, but not too badly. Enough people attended to generate $32,000 for the adoptable pets at The Irvine Animal Care Center! Seeing all of the newly adopted dogs and cats was a fantastic thing to see on an otherwise gloomy day.

  • IACC Home for the Holidays 2019 Bayou
  • IACC Home for the Holidays 2019 Scooter WIP
  • IACC Home for the Holidays 2019 Twix and Pumpkin

To sum it up,

I think my top 3 favorite events for this year would have to be

  • NCS Fest, because it was such a unique and exciting experience
  • The San Gabriel Valley Humane 95th Anniversary, because it was my first event outside of HB
  • The Howl’oween Parade, because it was so tremendously fun!

Going forward, I’ll be putting most of my focus on dog-related events (I’ll be at Goldie Palooza 2020!) and maybe some niche art events. I just loved the atmosphere at NCS Fest โ€” streets closed to cars, every booth full of exciting art!

Looking ahead to the new year, I’m so excited to launch The Artful Armadillo Newsletter! It will be a quarterly mailing (less clutter for you, less work for me.) First edition drops January 1st. It will contain a secret word that you can say when you see me next year to get free goodies! Sound like fun? I’m excited. Sign up here.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Caricature

We’ve all seen those beautiful Moleskine sketchbooks, leather covers, brimming with flawless drawings, not a single page torn out in shame. Then there are folks who scribble on napkins and loose leaf printer paper โ€” low pressure media. Most of us probably sit in the middle of this bell curve.

For us, our sketchbook is not a portfolio, and we would regret leaving it on a cafe table. Some of us are quite choosy about who gets to look at which pages. A peek behind the scenes is a peek into the mind.

For the longest time, I didn’t trust my process.

I remember my mom shooing me out of the kitchen while she was cooking. [Note: I am certain this was for safety reasons, and not out of any concern that I would judge her ability to chop tomatoes.]

Most people don’t like to be watched, and certainly not when they’re making something. Even if you’ve done it a hundred thousand times before โ€” as soon as you feel eyes on you, you get the feeling that this will be the time you blow it.

It was something I wanted to shake off.

Last year, I started recording time lapse videos of my watercolor paintings. It was a great way to get used to showing people my process. It helped me to understand my own work, and I could delete the footage if I didn’t want to share it. Best of all, every decision looks so much more confident in fast-motion. People loved seeing these videos. Their enthusiasm gave me just enough confidence to take the next step. I dedicated a hashtag to these watercolor portraits.

I signed up for a total of 7 events this year, and I made drawings on the spot, in front of people, at all of them. Not only have I stopped worrying about people seeing my process โ€” I’ve come to really enjoy it.

Trust your lines

Of course, it’s one thing to share a video of the last 30 minutes of a painting condensed into one minute. Going from a blank page to a finished product โ€” in real time โ€” is a different beast entirely. You need to be able to trust your lines.

I’ve always loved drawing animals, and I especially love dogs. I know all about just about every kind of dog. I’ve worked with dogs. I know how they move, how they think, and which way the fur lies across every plane of their body. I know, without a shred of doubt, that I can draw a dog.

That’s lucky for me for two reasons: dog owners like art of their dogs, and dog owners are very sweet people.

Going into this, I knew my process to be messy. I work very loosely, relying on gesture drawing to construct the form. If I try to work slowly, there’s no life in my lines. Things get too stiff. But I worried that a gestural drawing wouldn’t be taken as seriously as something with more polish.

I quickly learned that, if the drawing expresses their dog, people are thrilled. Besides, it’s a fast drawing at an event, not vector art. Dogs are lively, my lines are lively โ€” it’s actually a perfect fit!

There have been so many lessons like that. Reminders to get out of my own head. My process isn’t even as messy as I had imagined.

I enjoy working with ink. No eraser means you live with your mistakes until you realize they weren’t so bad after all. I love seeing the construction lines, too. Sometimes they’re more true than the finished ones! That was definitely a strength โ€” I could move more quickly and confidently.

The more caricatures I did at these events, the more positive feedback I got, the more experience I gained, the more I realized something:

It’s not about the process at all.

It’s about the friends you make along the way. It’s hokey, alright? But look, it’s that connection with people. You’ve made a thousand drawings, and it’s become routine for you. But when you let people, non-artists, see behind the curtain, they will be mystified by what they see. They see this as a kind of magic.

I’m not saying we have to feel comfortable opening our sketchbooks to the world. I just think that, if we did, it might not be as terrible as we imagine.

And when it comes to drawing in front of people: If the final product is great, nobody cares how you chop the tomatoes.

Do you like art-related babble? I’m trying something new in 2020. The Artful Armadillo Newsletter! It will only go out 4 times a year. First edition drops January 1st. It will contain a secret word that you can say when you see me next year to get free goodies! Sound like fun? I’m excited. Sign up here.