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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — in real time — 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 — 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 — 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.

Twisty Jackalope

Jackalope facts:

  • A jackalope can leap 5 to 8 feet at a time. Pretty reasonable, don’t you agree?
  • Jackalope antlers can grow to the length of your arm. Do you have an arm? Hold out your arm. That’s how long a jackalope’s antlers can be.
  • Although jackalopes can imitate most human language, they cannot speak French. It’s just too difficult.

Inktober 2017

This year, I finally did it! I made an ink drawing for every single day in October. Thirty-one unique drawings with my trusty crow-quill pen (and one in ball point). I’m so proud! I only fell behind twice during the very last week.

Using the “official prompt list” by Jake Parker, I [mostly] based each drawing on events and dogs I’ve seen at my various dog-related jobs. It was the structure I needed to stick with the challenge!

They’re all up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re reading this much later though, save yourself some scrolling and look below.

These are my top six favorites:

All thirty-one (in reverse chronological order):

inktoberalldraws

I even tried a little animatic. Be advised: do not watch this if you are eating!

inktober_poopeater

Travel

So there I am, sitting at my desk with a pencil in hand. I begin to draw. I draw a Thing, but it looks familiar. So I draw another and another. Everything I draw feels like I’ve done it before.100drawn

So that’s it. I’ve done it. I’ve drawn everything there is to draw. There’s nothing more I can do.

I’ve never been one to express my life through art. My inspiration comes from what I see and wonder about, not from emotion or circumstance. So if at times I find that I’m repeating myself in my work, I have to go somewhere else.

Art is about looking. If I’m in a place where I’m too familiar with my environment, I’m not looking — I’m knowing! Imagine only talking about what you know all the time. Nobody is going to listen to someone after they’ve spewed the same fifteen facts eight times in a row, so you have to learn something new. Travel is a great way to learn.

ihungerAlthough it would be awesome to cross an ocean, even the familiar can be new. I try to put myself in situations where I’m not on autopilot. I’ll go somewhere and be around people I’m not used to, smell new smells, taste new tastes. Then I have plenty of new things to draw, and when I come back I see things I was ignoring at home!

So if you feel like you’ve drawn everything in the universe and there’s nothing left for you to draw, you’re wrong. There’s so much stuff on planet Earth, and so much is happening to that stuff all the time. It’s great and horrible and amazing and it begs to be put down on paper.

Whether it’s for a weekend or a month, get on a bike or a bus or a plane, shake the cobwebs out of your eyes, and draw!

To those out there who use art to express your feelings: do you ever find yourself artistically “stuck” because you’re caught in an emotional loop? What do you do to break out of a repetitive emotional cycle?

Omnichord Animals

bishop
Who wouldn’t want to be as cool as this guy???

I discovered Omnichords last summer while skipping randomly through the internet. A week from the day I learned of these magical instruments, I bought my OM200M on eBay. Since then, I’ve been strumming to synthesized drums like the all-knowing space goddess I imagine myself to be when I plug in my Omnichord.

Read about the history of Omnichords here!

I have noticed, in my time as an Omnichordist, a terrible dearth of Omnichordal ornamentation! So how about some Omnimals?

omnimalsweb

Are you an Omnichord enthusiast? Well, if you want this design (sans my name) on a shirt, a bag, or notebook to jot down your electronic compositions, I’ve set up a Redbubble page for this design.

I made this so I could have a bag to carry my Omni, and the drawstring bag (15 x 19.5″) is juuuuust long enough to hold it!  Plus, I was able to pattern these guys across the fabric, which I think turned out pretty neat-o.

Anyway, I’m really happy with how this turned out, and I’m excited to add more designs to Redbubble! If you have an idea for a t-shirt or mug, suggest it either in the comments or via email!

A Portrait With All the Trimmings

finalselfiewatermark

The final project for my life drawing class was also a full body self portrait.  For this project, I challenged myself to do the opposite of my midterm (read about that project here).  My midterm was in a relatively high key (featuring predominately white/light gray tones), no crosshatching, and showed me (in an open pose) as a glamorous figure.  Therefore I wanted this project to be mostly dark with a lot of hatching, featuring myself (in a closed pose) as a weird cave-like creature (who values personal hygiene).

The midterm was absurdly welcoming, almost like an advertisement.  My goal for this final was to make the viewer feel uneasy, like an intruder.  I think I achieved this.  My classmates had eagerly discussed my midterm, but it took the class a while to warm up to this one enough to talk about it.  One student remarked that it looked “cinematic”, and I’ll never forget the soft horror in the instructor’s voice when he said “Are you…trimming your toenails?”

I had a lot of fun with this project, and my only frustration was the damage the charcoal took on the commute to and from school.

The 18-Hour Selfie

The midterm for my life drawing class this semester was to create a full-body self portrait using charcoal.  Because this is a life drawing class, photo reference is prohibited (you can imagine how difficult the right hand was to complete!).

The Idea

Now, as those of you who have experience with self portraits from life will know, the simplest and most common method is to keep your face expressionless.  This is because the best way to ensure that your features stay in the same relative positions (and your facial muscles don’t get sore).  However, I had drawn so many self portraits this semester, I decided to make things more interesting (read: difficult).

The Undertaking

The biggest mirror I currently have access to is in my parents’ room.  With their permission, I set up a makeshift studio.  The limited space did not allow room for an easel, and this paper is 42″ tall.  My solution was to stack two bean bag chairs on my parents’ bed and lean the paper, which I had taped to a large piece of cardboard, against them.  (Naturally, I was careful to put a cover over everything!)

Then there was the problem of lighting.  My clip light was not nearly tall enough, but with the help of a fabric steamer and an extension cord, I was able to light myself from head to toe.

Now came the fun part: standing on one foot for hours on end!  The most nerve-racking aspect of the whole undertaking was probably the threat of getting charcoal on my nice white button-up shirt.  It took me about nine hours to nail down the body, and then I spent two hours working on my face.  It’s a good thing I like to smile, because holding that wacky expression for so long might have otherwise driven me insane.  It was a solid day or so before my cheek-muscles finally forgave me.

Next, it was time to draw the environment.  I didn’t want to draw my parents’ room, but I was smart enough to draw the horizon line so it wouldn’t look too wonky when I changed rooms.  I then set up shop in my own room and recreated the lighting as accurately as possible.  For this part, I had a medium-sized mirror aimed at myself so I could see how everything in the room related to my body.  I then proceeded to draw the room using the mirror as well as direct observation.  This part of the drawing took only seven hours.

The Result

Overall, I’m very happy with the outcome of this project.   It was a lot of fun to work on and it was very well received by the class.  I set out to put a silly and original spin on a traditionally serious and dreary assignment, and I think I accomplished that.  There is a minor issue with proportion (kudos if you can spot it!), which I think is partly because I had to stand so close to the mirror.  I didn’t originally intend to include so many birds in the composition, but once the rolling duck and the quetzal (hanging from the ceiling) established a pattern, I ran with it.  I never realized how many bird-related objects I owned prior to this drawing!

Dimensions: 32 x 38″
Total drawing time: 18 hours