Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sylvia Plath: Drawings

First and foremost, Happy Holidays!  I hope all of you got to take a much needed break, spend time with friends and family, and binge-watch something on Netflix (House of Cards in my case - WHOA).  Unfortunately, I've been sick since my break started.. but the extra down time gave me an excuse to enjoy two of my Christmas presents: Beck's newest album Morning Phase (awesome)and a book I have been dying to read, Sylvia Plath: Drawings.  It's really unfair when one person is born with multiple talents, and Sylvia Plath is one of those people.  This book takes a look through her lesser-known talent as an artist, showcasing pen and ink drawings she made during her time at Cambridge, her honeymoon in France and Spain, and her return to the States.  It's really interesting to see these "snapshots" of her every-day life, from things as simple as what she ate for breakfast, to things as extravagent as Parisian rooftops.  But regardless of the subject, you can sense that she deeply cared about everything she drew.   Plath also described her joy of drawing pretty beautifully in a letter to her husband:

"I brought from my walk yesterday, a purple thistle and a dandelion cluster home with me, and drew them both in great and loving detail; I also did a rather bad drawing of a teapot and some chestnuts, but will improve with practice; it gives me such a sense of peace to draw; more than prayer, walks, anything.  I can close myself completely in the line, lose myself in it..."

I just felt like sharing some of them here because they really inspired me to take a closer look at the world around me.  She put so much time into these small details of her life, which gives these drawings more meaning than a simple photo.  They captured moments where she was fully immersed in her life, and that's something I want to work on personally.  So my New Year's resolution is to give myself more time to reflect.  It seems like an unattainable goal in today's society, but what's the point in life if you can't remember any of it?


Bull near Grantchester - 1957, pen and ink
Cambridge: a view of gables and chimney-pots - 1955, ink and wash
Horse Chestnuts - 1956, pen and ink
Purple Thistle - 1956, pen and ink
The Ubiquitous Umbrella - 1955-56, pen and ink


Curious French Cat - 1956, pen and ink
Paris rooftops - 1956, pen and ink
Ted Hughes (detail) - 1956, pen and ink


Bowl of Fruit - 1956, pen and ink
Stove - 1956, pen and ink
White Plaster Tenements on Cliffs over Fishing Bay - 1956, pen and ink

United States

Boat off Rock Harbour, Cape Cod - pen and ink
Study of a Seated Figure - 1957, pen and ink
The Pleasure of Odds and Ends - 1957, pen and ink

P.S. Her signature is perfect.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Love Our Lagoon

If I had to sit down and chose my ultimate dream-job, I would describe it as "combining my artistic and scientific knowledge to save the environment."  So far I haven't found a specific job title for that, so I guess I will have to make one up.  Green Illustrator?  Environartilist?  It's a work in progress.  Anyways, during the past three months, I have had some amazing opportunities to make that dream a reality - specifically in helping raise awareness about the dangers (12, 3) facing our Indian River Lagoon.

After living by it nearly my entire life, the lagoon (or "the river" and "the inlet" in my mind) was always just a routine part of my life.  I never really appreciated how significant it was on a national, and even global scale until recently.  Our lagoon (which spans 156 miles from Merritt Island to Jupiter) is considered to be one of the most biologically unique places in the world, as well as the most biodiverse estuary in North America, containing more than 4,300 species of plants and animals.  It is home to one of the most diverse populations of birds in the US, nearly 1/3 of the nation's manatee population, and it includes the densest area of sea turtle nesting sites found in the Western hemisphere.  Basically, we have a utopia of life unlike any other place on earth, right in our backyard!

But due to exteme pollution from runoff, sudden increases in algae blooms, and harmful invasive species, the IRL has been rapidly declining in health, potentially to the point of no return.  Luckily, there are a lot of great people who are making an effort to preserve and restore this ecosystem, and I have started to get involved in the cause myself!  One project I worked on recently was the 2014 Indian River Lagoon Science Festival, which showcased a variety of research and outreach programs focusing on our lagoon.  I lent my artstic skills to two booths at the festival: the Smithsonian Marine Station and the non-profit organization Coastal Biology, Inc.  For Smithsonian, I drew a few critters to go on their poster (using my favorite Copic markers, of course):
freshwater shrimp (Dulichiella appendiculata)
hermit crab
Florida stone crab
Streblospio benedicti
tulip snail

Smithsonian Marine Station festival poster

And for Coastal Biology, I made a card design for their activity on how to estimate the weight of a green sea turtle based on its carapace length.  The kids loved it, trust me!

Coastal Biology, Inc. sea turtle card

Finally, I recently participated in a "Stormdrain Chalk Art" contest held at the Eau Gallie Fine Arts Festival in Melbourne.  The general concept was to create a stormdrain design that promoted clean water to protect our local habitats.  My design was centered around pollution in our lagoon, and after a full day of public voting, I won third place!!

original design submission
progression of my design
final product!

Contributing my artwork to this cause has been so fulfilling, and it's made me realize that using art to cultivate love and appreciation for the environment is what I truly want to do with my life.  I hope these efforts have inspired some people, especially my fellow Sebastian-ites, to take charge and care for this beautiful place that so many living beings call home.  If you want to get involved, here are a few ways you can make a difference (1, 2, 3)!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

VBML - Adopt a Seahorse

Before I get into some of the other projects I'm working on, take a look at banner!  I've wanted to make a personalized logo for this blog for a while, and I finally got around to doing it.  It's probably going to change when (or if) I narrow down my direction in the art world, but for now I just liked this markhor with DNA horns.

Anyways, since I've been back home, I've been discovering a huge scientific community I never knew existed in this tiny beach town.  One place I've gotten involved with is the FIT Vero Beach Marine Lab (VBML).  It's a small research station located right on the beach, and because of their direct access to sea water, they've become a major location for marine biology and aquaculture research.   They farm a variety of fish here, including designer clownfish (did you know that was a thing?) and most recently they have become pioneers in researching how to farm seahorses.  Seahorses are facing many threats right now, and one of the biggest threats is their increasing demand in traditional Chinese medicine.  Similar to the dire black rhino situation, this demand has put a huge strain on their wild populations, and this development in the farming industry will hopefully relieve some of that stress.

Aside from aquaculture, the VBML is also involved in a bunch of research projects, including the "Adopt a Seahorse" project!  That is the unofficial title, but in a nutshell this project is an attempt to collect genetic data for all seahorse species across the entire Gulf and Atlantic coast, specifically the lined seahorse.  It is the most commonly displayed seahorse species in AZA-accredited aquariums, but little is known about their genetic diversity in the wild.  So FIT is calling out to all professional and citizen scientists to help collect fin clippings for DNA extractions, which will then be used to fill out this little sea creature's genetic tree.

They wanted to create a simple logo that would represent their purpose as they reach out to contributors around the east coast, and that's where I came in!  I've been working with them for about a month, and I finally finished it right before this year's AZA conference.  Here's the process!

This was the first "final" version I made in Adobe, but I needed to tame my cartoony tendancies a little more...

So here is the final final version:

It even made an appearance on the FIT poster at the AZA conference (top right corner)!

And finally, I thought I'd end this post with some of my new buddies at the VBML (clownfish, seahorses, and pipefish).  I'll try to get some still pics of the baby cobia and pompano later!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Copic Animals

Wellll a lot has happened in the past three months, probably too much for one post to handle, so I think I'll bring this blog back up to speed one thing at a time.  First and foremost, I changed the name of my blog to match my new artsy Instagram account, Sweet Dea Drawings.  Sorry for the confusion, I just felt it was time to part ways with "Baked Setae."  Even though it was a terrific science pun.

Aside from my changes in social media, I also said goodbye to Tallahassee and moved back to my hometown, Sebastian, this past July.  I was in kind of an artistic/emotional rut for my last few months in Tally, but I think the healing powers of the beach (as well as good friends and family) have rejuvenated my motivation to create.  I've been pretty busy lately, with two jobs and two awesome volunteer research/illustration positions (which I will talk about later), but I'm using my time inbetween to work on some personal projects again!

One project I've become obsessed with is my animal portrait series using my new Copic markers (thank you, Michael's employee discount).  I don't know if it's weird to claim you are in love with markers - it probably is - but I am in love with these markers.  If any of you are debating about buying them, do it!  Anyway, here are a couple pieces I've done so far:

Black Bear - Copic markers, 1-2hrs
Seahorse - Copic markers, 1-2hrs
White Tail Deer/Stag - Copic markers, 1-2hrs
Toucan - Copic markers, 1-2hrs

I've got a pretty big list of animals to come, but more requests are always welcome!  And if you would like one of these little guys to decorate your walls/phones, they are up for sale on my Redbubble and Society6 accounts :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monsters Roaming the World (Part3)

Whoaaa, this might be my all-time longest hiatus from updating this thing.  Okay, not might be - it is.  Since my last post, I've added four more final pieces to my "Monsters Roaming the World" series: Moscow, Toledo, Reyjkavik, and Ha Long Bay.
Monster in Moscow, Russia (with color) - pen and ink, and color pencil
Monster in Toledo, Spain (with color) - pen and ink, and color pencil
Monster in Reyjkavik, Iceland (with color) - pen and ink, and color pencil
Monster in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam (with color) - pen and ink, and color pencil

And all pieces are up for sale on my Redbubble and Society6 accounts!

I think I'll be taking a break from these monsters for a bit and moving into some different media in the future - namely charcoal and watercolor.  While I've liked exploring the world of color pencil, my heart still belongs to charcoal, and it's been far too long since I've used it.  I had almost forgetten how amazing black and white pieces can be until I stumbled upon Robert Longo's artwork the other day:
Untitled (10/15/08) by Robert Longo - charcoal on mounting paper
Untitled (Big Shark) by Robert Longo - charcoal on mounting paper
Untitled (Shark 4) by Robert Longo - charcoal on mounting paper

SO. GORGEOUS.  I could look at these for hours, even though they make my stomach turn.

One charcoal project I have in mind is doing a series of dog portraits (a little less menacing than great white sharks) like this one I made of my pup Maddy a couple years ago:
Maddy - charcoal pencil

So if anyone out there would like a sketch like this of their beloved pup, let me know!

While I'm really excited to get back into charcoal, watercolor is going to be a little more challenging because I've never used it before..  But I am determined to teach myself after stumbling across another artist, Sha'an d'Anthes, aka Furry Little Peach.  Her watercolors are so simple and beautiful, and I hope I can be at least half as talented as she is with this media!  

I couldn't find a head-on picture of this last one, but it's my favorite.

She is also on Tumblr and Instagram for anyone who wants to follow/support her artwork!