Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jenna's "Isadora"

Drawing a 3-toed Sloth

Prints, posters, signed fine art reproductions, and cards are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at:

"Isadora" the 3-toed Sloth. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

When I asked my daughter Jenna which animal I should draw next she didn't hesitate for second, she said a Sloth! And not only did she say a sloth she said "Isadora". Jenna has an extremely deep love of sloths. And actually the sloth that was the model for this ink drawing was one that Jenna literally had a up close encounter with while me and my family were vacationing in Costa Rica last summer. Costa Rica is incredible! If you haven't gone yet, GO! The people are so friendly, the landscape is amazing, the rain forests are captivating, the wildlife diverse and spectacular. 

Jenna had a mission on her trip to Costa Rica. Finding her very own sloth in the wilderness all by herself. As we spent the week going from the volcanic mountainous area of Arenal, to the cloud forest of Monteverde, to the coastal rainforest of Manual Antonio Jenna's eyes were peeled for a sloth hanging in the tree tops. On the 2nd day of our trip she saw her first wild sloth moving from one tree to another, but it was spotted by someone else riding in a van on our way to catch a boat ride across Lake Arenal, so to Jenna this didn't count. Over the next few days we had 3 more sightings. Two sightings by our rain forest guide in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and one by a Coffee plantation worker while visiting Don Juan. Again, these didn't count for Jenna. 

She was getting discouraged and by our very last day her hope had pretty much faded. After a very long and beautiful walk in Manual Antonio National Park through the coast rain forest we stopped on the beach for a picture in front of an iguana that was sunning itself. Just as I finished taking the picture Jenna screamed (with Joy). A sloth was climbing down the tree directly behind her and was already almost at her eye level. She was the first to see it, she claimed it as hers and named it on the spot..."Isadora".

Sloths are incredible creatures to watch in the wild if you are lucky enough to see them when they are on the move. Their movements are so slow and deliberate it is almost to hard to explain. You have to see it with your own eyes. We stopped and watched Isadora in amazement for almost an hour. It was truly a special moment. 

I'm not going to go into details about sloths here. But if you really want a good read about this amazing animal read this article The Sloth’s Busy Inner Life from the New York Times. It explain them in a whole other light.

And if you want to help sloths you can make donatations to the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Jenna sighting her very own Sloth in Costa Rica
and naming it "Isadora"

"Isadora" climbing right down the tree to her

"Isadora" stops and poses for the camera

The green color in their fur is actually a species of algae

"Isadora" changing trees

A close up

"Isadora" stops to look back at us from her new spot high up in a tree

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lobster Tales

Drawing a Spiny Lobster

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 
Spiny Lobster. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

I'll never forget the first time I went scuba diving into the Atlantic Ocean on a mission to catch a lobster. Not a warm water spiny lobster like the one is this drawing, but a Maine lobster with BIG Scary Claws! (that drawing is still to come) That was the prize worth more than gold to the hardcore divers that my brother Tony and I would venture 2 hours out into the ocean in search of. Leaving before sunrise and on a small dive boat crammed full of divers and their equipment "Lobster tales" was all the divers could talk about. 8 pound, 10 pound monsters they had caught on previous dives. I was only 17 and had no idea what to expect on my first open water dive into the cold, dark murky waters of the Mid-Atlantic ocean off the coast of Maryland. When the captain finally anchored on the shipwreck, which was a 500 foot cargo ship called the Washingtonian which rested in 100 feet of water and sank in 10 minutes after it collided with another ship, I couldn't wait to get in the water.

SS Washingtonian before it sunk. My first shipwreck dive

This wasn't glamor scuba diving in in the least. No clear, calm, warm waters, this was "mud diving" as they called it. Deep, dark, cold and strong currents that you would have to hang onto the wreck not to get swept away in. And all while surrounded by mangled, sharp, rusty metal of a shipwreck covered in fishing line that was invisible to see and would catch you like a spiderweb in a second. To me is was as if I was an astronaut going into sumerged haunted world. The two coolest things ever. Being able to venture into a creepy alien world where all you could sometimes see was what your flashlight illuminated a few feet in front of you. It was too cool to be true!

The entry from my dive log book from 1984

Here's what I wrote in the entry from my dive Log book. "As Tony and I dropped down the anchor line the vis dropped from 40 feet to 10. The wreck was full of life. The ship was broken up and pipes were everywhere. I looked over to Tony and to my surprise he had his weight belt in his hand. I helped him with it back on and we started across the wreck. The ship was a 500 foot freighter, so I knew we wouldn't see it all. Suddenly we say another diver appear through the silt. He was caring a 13 1/2 pound lobster and heading for the anchor line to go back up to the boat! Then we started to look but found nothing. Lots of fish but no bugs. The ship was covered with fishing line and we had to get tangled in it. Tony cut us free. We surfaced only to see the others prizes and us empty handed. It was a blast! The ocean was no quarry.

Me off the coast of Maryland 1984

Now about my Spiny Lobster. Also know as Rock Lobsters, Spiny Lobster are found in almost all the warm seas of the world. They live in crevices of rocks and coral reefs and only occasionally venture out of their holes in search of food. They produce a rasping sound that repels predators by rubbing the base of their antennae against a smooth part of their exoskeleton to create frictional vibrations. Fossils of Spiny Lobsters have been found that date back 110 million years. 

Diving off the Florida Keys

Picture of me Wreck diving in Micronesa
Airplane wreck in Micronesia
My brother and dive buddy Tony
Me and Tony from my log book 1984

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Perfect Ink

My search for the thickest ink

You can see and purchase prints of my work 
in my Etys shop at: 

4 different Inks. Pro Art, Speedball, Yasutomo Sumi Fueki , and Yasutomo Sumi
All Photos by Veronica Fish

A lot of artists have written asking me about the ink I use for my black backgrounds. After trying a bunch of different inks I have finally found an ink that I like best. It's Pro-Art India Ink. Its the darkest, thickest, most waterproof ink I have come across so far. It's very inexpensive and can be found online or in most art stores.

If you want to read more about each of these inks, click the link below and go to Veronica Fish's blog entry on "Comic Art Supplies-Ink Reviews. She does an excellent job comparing them and giving the pros and cons of each. I also want to give her credit for these wonderful photographs. Thanks Veronica for your permission to post them!!

Side by Side Darkness test

Side by side waterproof test

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Horse of a Different Color

Drawing a Lined Seahorse

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 
Lined Seahorse. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

Hippocampus erectus. The scientific name of the lined seahorse translates into "horse or sea monster" in ancient Greek. This tiny fish ranges in size from only 12-19cm. They are listed as vulnerable due to loss of harm to their habitat by pollution and coastal development. I've always been fascinated by these tiny creatures. From studying their presence in Greek  Mythology and art, to actually seeing them while scuba diving in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. They really do take on the appearance of tiny little swimming horses.

Drawing this creature was particularly challenging to me. The unique shape and patterning were difficult to construct in a 2 dimensional drawing. But after my second try, my first was quite a learning lesson and a complete failure in my mind, I feel I achieve the level of quality this amazing little creature deserves. And from doing these drawings I learned a lot about shape, light and patterns. Below are pictures I took throughout the drawings progression. Thanks for stopping by and looking!

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: