Sand Snake

One of the many blessings of our life is that the beach is only a short walk from home. I adore the ocean and the sand and the sea shells and the wildlife, even the smell of drying seaweed. I love it. One thing I do not delight in, however, is sand-filled wind. The gusts can make the sand hit you with stinging force. On such a windy day, I recommend you stay home! But if you do forge ahead, take a moment to shape the sand into the dangerous entity it is.

Nick emerges from the belly of the snake
Sand snake close up

Belly Painting

My twin sister is expecting her second child and to celebrate her pregnancy, I painted her gorgeous belly. I used the Proud Body Pregnancy Belly Painting Kit. She wanted a floral design and after looking through Pinterest together, we came up with this painting:

 

Working on an art project with my twin is a great feeling; working on art project ON my twin was tremendous fun! The little one inside kept moving, responding to my brush strokes. I have never done any body painting before and it was a challenge to work quickly enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable for all involved. Older Brother, only two years old, simply could not wait until it was done for cuddles.

Bentley the dog

My aunt has an adorable Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Bentley. Last time I visited her house, I was struck by his silky charm and started needle felting a portrait of him, but somehow the project got interrupted and the piece languished in my bedroom for over two years.

Now, here he is completed! And just in time for my aunt’s birthday as a gift from my mother.

He is made from needle felted wool over pipe cleaner. His eyes are plastic. He is only about 4 inches long and 3 inches tall.

My aunt called my mother after she received him in the mail to tell us she loves her miniature Bentley.

For my mother

For my mother’s birthday, and sometimes for Mother’s Day, I like to make something with her favorite flower, the sweet pea.

This year I also included her favorite thing to find on the beach: sand dollars.

SandDollars
Sand Dollars and Sweet Peas, Crayola crayons.

Drawn with crayons, I found it much easier to get that intense vibrancy of the sweet pea flowers than with other media. Those petals can almost burn your eyes, they are so bright! I also enjoyed making sand and water ripples with the play of light and shadow.

Did you know sand dollars are often purple while they’re living? Once they die, their skeletons get bleached by the sun and that’s why we see them as white most of the time. They also have millions of tiny wiggly feet! Watch this video on YouTube Live Sand Dollar Walking.

 

I love my mother. I believe I inherited my artistic spark from her. Even though she does not paint or needle felt, she is an avid knitter and seamstress. Growing up there were always fabric particles all over our house, bright bits of yarn, and the occasional stray pin. Beyond the example she modeled for me as a creative person pursuing her own artistic endeavors, she was and remains one of my greatest supporters. She always encouraged me in my art and still gives me kind words and genuine reactions to my work. Thank you, Mom, if you read this, for everything you have done to help me grow as an artist.

 

Here are some past pieces I have made for my mother.

 

Affordable Housing Poster Contest

I entered a poster design contest last month for an affordable housing event by Silicon Valley at Home (SV@Home). The theme was “It’s time 4 yes, Silicon Valley.”

I am proud to say I won second place! It will be framed and placed in the San Jose SV@Home office.

Time4YesHourglass_web
Hourglass ItsTime4Yes Poster Design, Photoshop

This was a really fun challenge. I have never taken any courses in graphic design, so I looked on Pinterest for ideas and then I sketched out a number of different concepts. I talked with my friends and family to narrow down the best design. (Thank you for your help and support, guys!)

A Griffin for Valkyrie

My good friend, Valkyrie Johnson, is so multitalented it’s easy to mistake her for a mythological being. She is an artist who draws, paints, sculpts, sews, felts, welds, writes, carves, sings, arranges flowers, crafts jewellery, designs clothing, edits video, and practically anything else creative you can imagine. And not only does her repertoire have breadth, it has quality. She is astonishingly good at many, many, many things.

Just look at these few pieces by her!

Top: New Friends. From left to right: Wooden Pendant, Lovers Egg,  and Stage Fright
All by Valkyrie Johnson

 

When I think of all the amazing things she can do, I am filled with an awe and admiration that I feel towards magical creatures. Watching her accomplish all that she has is like watching a griffin fly overhead, beautiful and inspiring and kind of terrifying.

Every year for her birthday I like to make griffin themed artwork for her. This is one I made for her back in 2011.

Brilliance_dA
Brilliance, needle felted wool over pipe cleaner.

And another I made way back in 2009.

Valky_Griff_Web
Medieval Griffon, mixed media.

This year I have begun a needle felted griffin in a style I’ve never attempted before with my felting. I am recreating a Medieval manuscript illustration in three dimensions with wool. This project will take some time, but here are a few in progress photos.

Check back again soon to see the final piece! And hear Valkyrie’s reaction to my gift.

Meanwhile, make sure to visit her website to see more incredible artwork: Valkyrie Johnson on WordPress.

Lumpsucker Fish

Inspired by a comment made by one of my friends, I decided to draw these adorable and bizarre fish — lumpsuckers. The first time I saw these little guys, I could not believe my eyes. They look exactly like vacantly staring pompoms. Just little fish lumps that stick to things with their sucker fins. I kept looking and looking for some clue that they were real and my husband (boyfriend at the time, on our second date) had to pull me away from the display tank so we could get out of the California Academy of Sciences before it closed.

I never did find convincing evidence that lumpsuckers are real and not just pompoms.

I drew this continuing my experiments with Crayola crayon fish drawings.

 

Lumpsuckers
Lumpsuckers, Crayola crayons.

James Baxter the Horse

I don’t often make fan art but occasionally something will jump up, punch me in the heart, and force me to make it. From the moment James Baxter the Horse rolled on his beach ball into the cartoon series Adventure Time, I knew I was destined to make a tribute.

Just look at him!

https://giphy.com/embed/G2PFZL26hdCHm

via GIPHY

He is perfection! The way he folds up his beach ball into a hat and trots off into the sunset is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen.

https://giphy.com/embed/GYH6LraGdVAru

via GIPHY

And as if the majesty of his imagery isn’t enough, his story-line makes for one of the best of all 274 episodes. He first appears in episode 19 of the fifth season.

So one day I found myself needle felting a James Baxter Horse.