Monday, June 23, 2014

Mechanical Hummingbird Tattoo

Recently I received a message from Ricardo Dominguez, who was touched by a piece of my art, and decided to get it as a tattoo! His story really touched me, and he’s given me permission to share it with all of you.

His tattoo was inspired by
this piece of art I sketch back in 2011, when I was exploring different designs for one of the characters in my stories:

“Mechanical Hummingbird Concept” – Completed on February 3rd, 2011
WIP shot of his recently-completed tattoo.


Well, I don't know exactly how to begin with my story, but about 2 years ago my mother reached heaven, but a couple of months after that, a hummingbird appeared when I was sleeping, you know, that point when you are half sleepy half awake, and I heard my mother’s voice talking to me, so, after that I decided that I will tattoo that hummingbird, also I was curious why a hummingbird, and found the legend that says hummingbirds can go between heaven and earth and deliver messages, so I've started looking for images for the tattoo, but I didn't find anything that looks cool and not to girly, after some time I give up, and about a couple months ago, decided to start searching again, and in the first try I've found your illustration and fall in love with it, I knew, that was the right one, so I really hope you don't mind I've used it, I'm really happy with the result, thanks for everything! I can see you're a great artist, I'm a graphic designer and a make-up artist too, and really enjoy all your work, I can't find enough words to thank you, and I know my mom is happy too!!
Hope to know more about you, and you work."

Ricardo’s story really touched me, and I shared with him about why hummingbirds mean a lot to me as well (which you can read about in this blog entry). Sometimes something extraordinary unexplainable simply happens, and you're left breathless, feeling as if you were changed for the experience.

The final tattoo!

Ricardo's tattoo was marvelously done, and was created by Pete Wylde of Wakantanka Tattoos.

It's truly an honor to have my art used in this way, and I'm looking forward to when I can share with you all about the story behind the little mechanical hummingbird in my upcoming story. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Little Piece of Paradise

My Little Piece of Paradise

During the last few months I've also been doing quite a lot to beautify and add life to our yard and garden! It’s come a long way since it was just a sun-parched patch of dead grass, and while the it’s taken time to beautify the area, it’s been a very worthwhile project, and one that I've been enjoying quite a lot (even if the upkeep is a bit time-intensive).  The plus side of so much gardening, is that it is likewise encouraging me to keep eating healthy!

The photo on the left is from about two weeks before we took possession of our home. After that point, the yard got worse and worse to the point where it was nearly all dead and brown and full of large dirt-filled areas with no grass. After taking possession, I tended to the lawn 2-3 times a day, including thatching old and dead grass, watering, fertilizing, and planting new grass seed.

From there, my desire to beautify the garden took hold in earnest, and over these last Spring months, it's gone from this:

To this:

My little piece of paradise has all of these, and more:

Albion Strawberries, Aloe, Arugula, Australian Tree Fern, Bee Balm, Birds of Paradise, Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Blue Hibiscus, Blueberries, Bougainvillea, Carmen Sweet Pepper, Catnip, Chef's Choice Rosemary, Cherry Tomatoes, Creeping Myrtle, "Crystal Palace Lobelia," Dahlberg Daisy, Dwarf Lemon Tree, Dwarf Tangelo Tree, Forget-Me-Nots, Garden Sage, Golden Apricot Tree, Gypsy Sweet Peppers, Heritage Glass Gem Corn, Jade, Japanese Aralia, July Elberta Peach Tree, Lavender, Linaria, Lettuce, Marigolds, Miniature Japanese Maple, Orange Bell Sweet Pepper, Orange Thyme, Osteospermum, Pinkerton Avocado Tree, Purple and Green Kale, Rosemary, Sage, Scabiosa "Butterfly Blue," Scarlet Milkweed, Sequoia Strawberries, Serissa Japonica, Serrano Pepper, Snow Princess, “Spin the Bottle” Hibiscus, Sugar Snap Peas, Sunset Hibiscus, Sweet Basil, Sweet Pea Early Multiflora Mix, Telstar Scarlet Dianthus, Thyme, Yellow Cherry Tomatoes (Sun Gold Hybrid), Zucchini, some assorted plants, and three different varieties of milkweeds for the monarchs.

I may not be able to dig up our yard, but I'm darn well going to make the most of the space I have!

The yard has changed and evolved over the last few months, and the photos below showcase a few of my favorite shots (which aren't in chronological order since the garden is ever-changing).

The above section of my garden is one of those that I'm probably the most excited about. It includes the beginnings of some stalks of heritage glass gem corn! Among other residents, I have three hummingbirds who have made nests in my garden!

Peppers! So many peppers!

The Monarchs Arrive

Last year sometime around August, I noticed that some of the plants I’d recently purchased were being attacked by some manner of pest, and after a time I realized that it appeared to be some brightly-colored black, yellow, and white caterpillars that were responsible.


After some Googling, I discovered that these were monarch butterfly caterpillars, and that I had inadvertently invited them in when I’d purchased some milkweed plants. Unbeknownst to me, this initial generation of caterpillars would inspire me to seek out an ever-growing supply of milkweed for these voracious eaters, and it got me very interested in helping to support our local population of monarchs.  I plan to dive into that adventure a bit more deeply in a future blog, but it's related to...

The Plant Shelf Project

After realizing there were monarchs interested in my milkweeds, I started focusing a lot of effort of growing milkweed, and at some point this spring I realized that I really wasn't fond of just having a bunch of plastic-potted plants sitting on my entryway. Thus began the "How about I build some plant shelves?" project.

The cost and time-involvement of this particular project were were... much higher than anticipated, but at long last, they were completed! And over the passing months, this area has come to include and ever-growing assortment of herbs, flowers, and bonsai.

The wood were made from center-cut redwood, which was then sanded and dremeled, and then stained with 2 layers of red oak stain, and 3 layers of oil-based polyurethane. The wood shimmers like giant slabs of tiger's eye gemstone in the sunlight, and it was totally worth all the time and effort I put into laboring over them. The masonry section is red clay stone, and the lion is my two stone Lawn Lions!

The color of the planks is incredible in the sunlight! This shot shows how they looked after just one coat.

I was so happy when this project was complete, but like they say: gardening is a never-ending project, and I’m eager to see how the yard will continue to evolve and grow! For the moment though, it’s my little piece of paradise, and I’m ever-so thankful for that touch of nature outside my front door.

Lions and Other Statues

There's a lot of lion imagery in the stories I'm writing, so I also have two lion statues standing "guard" in my yard.  I'd love to sculpt my own statues, and hopefully one of these days I'll have time to do just that. :)

What things do you do or surround yourself with that bring you a sense of peace and tranquility?

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Trailer for the Graphic Novel Prydwen

Over the years I've gotten involved in quite a number of video projects both for myself, businesses, and other creative individuals, and it's always been quite a pleasure trying to bring these often very diverse projects to life.  Some have been quick and dirty editing jobs, while others have been a bit more involved, but whatever the project, it's been a ton of fun trying to learn something new along the way.

For this particular project, I tried my hand at gently animating panels in the graphic novel, so as to infuse just a touch of life and motion in the various scenes. It was a fun experiment, and definitely something I'd like to try to hone-in on in the future. I've seen some incredible effect work done in Adobe After Effects, and I'd love to learn more about it! In particular, I think it would be a blast starting a new art project and setting up the layers and files so that down the road, I could really dig into it in After Effects and bring the scene to life.

One day... one day...

Prydwen Volume 1: Gods and Monsters

It is with the utmost excitement that back in 2012 I also shared a trailer I created for Lynn Hogan's newly released graphic novel, Prydwen!

Lynn put a lot of love when into the graphic novel, so I did my best to try to make the trailer just as exciting and compelling. I’m hoping if I ever do another one of these, that I can continue to up the ante on the presentation.

The audio is original music composed by Fox Amoore that I audio-edited to suit the timing of the trailer further.

Do you have any things you're interested in learning about in order to flex and enhance your various skills? I’d love to hear about them!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Soaring on Feathered Wings and Wings Aflutter

It's been a downright busy year so far, but I've been trying to ensure that I make time for personal projects and hobbies along the way. I'm finding that every ounce of effort I put into such things has been time well-spent beyond words (especially the projects that get me outside and into nature)!


This sketch started as a lunchtime doodle that I revisited a handful of times in order to try to capture the emotion I was striving to convey. It's rather low resolution, and I opted to keep it that way so that I could focus on the piece as a whole rather than minute details of feather and fur. I had a lot of fun (and challenge!) trying to figure out how to back-light a white creature and incorporate some sense of perspective, but on the whole I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out.

I watched to capture the feeling of soaring, and of the peace that comes from letting go of all your worries and inhibitions and just allowing yourself to "be." While I'd not originally planned to show stars up in the sky (since the gryphon might need to borrow an astronaut's helmet if she was really THAT high up), I felt compelled to put them in there as my mind was drawn to think about some of the people I've lost over the years, and the continued way they impact my life and inspire me through the light of their own lives. In a way, it's really wonderful to think of how many lives we touch along the way.

In any case, the gryphon featured here is a longtime original character of mine and is not fan art. You can see three other pieces of her here from 2012, 2009, and 2003: here.

Here are some of steps along the way:




Raising Monarch Butterflies

In addition to being incredibly active with beautifying my garden, I've also been raising new generations of Monarch butterflies this year! In a future update I'm hoping to share additional photos and information about them, as well as hopefully some videos of the incredible life cycle of these migratory winged wonders!


Have you been up to an exciting new hobbies or adventures this year thus far?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Great Aloha Run, a Jurassic Return, and an Onyx Panther

Earlier this year I traveled with my mother to Hawaii as part of a (very long overdue) planned vacation for the two of us. We had a great time doing new things and revisiting locations we'd last toured some ten-plus years ago!

Custom Great Aloha Run 2014 T-Shirt - Completed on February 6th, 2014

Some time ago, I'd plotted and schemed to make a set of custom t-shirts as a sort of surprise/Birthday present for my mother, who had been training to take part in the 2014 Great Aloha Run. While life got busy and I ended up working on the design much, much closer to the deadline than I would have liked, I'm still somewhat pleased with how it turned out, all things considered. Originally, I'd aimed to do it totally in greyscale, but at the last few hours before the printing deadline, I felt compelled to add in just a bit of color to help make it pop. The tigers were meant to represent my mother and I, and I added the hibiscus alongside the ears of the tigresses to help make them just a "bit" anthro.

Special thanks to Cynthia Reep for helping me out with the vectors for the islands at the last minute!


It was awesome completing the 8.15 run/walk alongside my mother, and it meant a lot to me that to help show support, my uncle and one of my dear friends had their t-shirts at the ready as well! I’m still not in quite the shape I want to be in, but I’m hoping that I can continue to pursue an even healthier lifestyle in earnest. The "Finishers" medal I received for the 2014 Great Aloha Run may not be even close to 1st, but it means a lot to me that my mom and I both completed the run!

One of my dear friends sent my mom and I flowers for the occasion as well!

A Jurassic Return

As part of our adventure to Oahu and Maui back in February of this year, I had the opportunity to revisit the location of my favorite photo of myself for a follow-up 10+ years later! The location was one of the sites for the original Jurassic Park, and I always thought it really captured "me" embracing life for all it was worth.

You can find out more about the Kualoa Ranch here. Thank you, Cynthia Reep for the remote Photoshop montage, and to my mother for such a wonderful adventure then and now!

An Onyx Panther


During our adventures I also took quite a few photos of the truly gorgeous scenery, and some of these images included a small clay onyx panther that was once my forum avatar when I was a Community Manager for World of Warcraft. She’s gone on quite a few adventures over the last two and a half years, and I had a blast sharing photos of her while I was in Hawaii earlier this year.



While on vacation, I actually got quite a bit of writing and brainstorming done as well, and I’m absolutely chomping at the bit to let some of the ideas percolate so that I can act on them, and hopefully share some new short stories from the world of my original stories!


While I did a bit of sketching and a boatload of brainstorming while in Hawaii, I didn’t do much in the way of formal “art” pieces, but I did snag some feather-light, air-drying children’s clay for the fun of it one night. While the gryphon and jackalope aren't much to look at (and the stickiness and general lack-of-detail possible with the material was certainly working against me), they were a fun experiment!

On the whole, the trip was quite relaxing and after a few days of "vacation time" sinking in, I felt able to disconnect from incessantly checking my work email and just... relax. It was a wonderfully freeing experience, and I can only hope that future vacations can be just as peaceful.

Have you had a chance to take a vacation recently, or even a day trip to just relax? What do you do to disconnect from it all?