Art Walk 5: Animal Art

Just don’t count all the sheep to doze off. This is an Art Walk, not a sleepwalk, and a Walk to bring the series out of its long winter hibernation at that.

Are you ready for a subarasheep time? (Memory jog from pun section of Art Walk 1subarashii (“soo-bah-rah-shee”) means “wonderful” in Japanese.)

Though it is “shear” folly to prevent me from punning, I won’t blame you for saying “Baaa, humbug” to my baaad jokes.

I made a concerted effort to include art that had not been featured in the blog. To see previously posted pieces, visit the Animal Art gallery. I’ll have to update it to include newer pieces and likely some older ones that have not been uploaded yet.

For the birds

When I was in high school, I once went to an event when the Saint Louis Art Museum partnered with the Saint Louis for life drawing. A zookeeper brought a few relatively small animals to the museum (lawn — note “to” the museum, not “in” the museum) for participants to draw. There were birds of prey and an opossum. I also drew the zookeeper, but I have yet to relocate that sketch.

The above profile sketch became the reference for this painting in 2018.

The owl below is not from the life drawing session. It was the outcome of using up some acrylic paint before it dried. 

I have a series of bird paintings on panels that has not been posted yet; they will receive their own post later in the year and be added to the animal gallery.

Here, kitty, kitty

Having had cats most of my life, it’s no surprise I drew them somewhat often (cats in general, not just mine). Here’s one from 6th grade. (No dogs today. They will appear in Art Walk 6.)

Does Cats (the musical) fan art count? No, but I’ll post some anyhow. The “bagpipe” made of candy canes and a football still makes me smile. It was an actual production prop, not just a figment of my imagination. What sweet music. (Readers probably know by now the pun is always intended.)

Here is a compilation of sketches of my cats.


There are no Pandagrams in this post, but perhaps you will enjoy some realistic panda sketches (I think from 2014). One sketchbook page later, Pandagrams were born. You can see the precursor to Butterfly at the bottom right.


As mentioned in previous posts, for birthdays, holidays, & such, I often drew cards or gifted my friends drawings of their favorite things. (Not just Japanese boy bands! XD)

One friend particularly loved wolves & dragons, so it was easy to decide what to draw for her. I suppose this could pass as a coyote, but the ears and snout seem rounded or wide enough to distinguish it as a wolf.

The butterfly is fantastical (not a real species). A tidbit appropriate to the reflective nature of the Art Walks is that this was the first serious watercolor painting I did (in high school), “serious” implying that I wasn’t just a kid splashing around with paint at home or primary school art class — or with children’s activity books with 3-5 circles of color on the front or the little dry cakes of paint. Until the day I started this, I had never seen watercolor paint squeezed out of a tube. Now tube watercolors are all I use.

“See ya later, alligator” seems appropriate to send you off today. Here is a crayon and pencil sketch of the required response’s reptile from my Peter Pan-themed door from a house (dormitory) decorating contest in winter 2011 (which I won).

This Art Walk now draws to a close. “Pun intended” is restated as preparation for part six.

Aeronautical Pandas

As promised in the previous post, here are the latest Pandagrams I was commissioned to paint. You will see that they have an aeronautical theme. (Click to enlarge.)

For the above painting, I used the Supercub I drew 2 years ago for a colleague’s relative as the model for the airplane. 


Just in case anyone is seeking a little clarity, the pandas appearing as card sets, Pindas, etc., are part of the official Pandagram series. Any commissioned original designs in the same style are not part of the series proper; thus they will not be made into cards & such.

For fun, I’ve included some exploratory sketches. You can see some ideas that took flight and others that were grounded, so to speak. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at the end of the post, where the local time is now. Please take all your valuables with you. Thank you for choosing Pandagram Airlines. We hope you’ll fly with us again soon. 


P.S. I’m testing out another client for sending notifications about new posts. Please pardon any duplicate messages while I learn the ropes.   

New Pandas

In the past couple months, new Pandagram characters have been spotted intermittently around central Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania (at conventions). Now it’s time for their website debut!

But first an update on conventions. Two weekends ago, I tabled at Thy Geekdom Con — gaming, anime, comics, and more in Oaks, PA, on the other side of Valley Forge. Business-wise there isn’t much of interest to report; it was very slow and expensive (tolls as well as table fee), and it took significantly longer to drive to the expo center and back than mapping programs predicted. For those reasons I don’t expect to do a con in that area again. I’ll stick to visiting Valley Forge once in a while. (By the way, there is a carillon tower there! I met the carillonneur, Doug, this summer while I hosted Princeton University’s carillon summer series.)

This Friday through Sunday I’ll table at PhilCon, the world’s first and longest-running conference on science fiction & fantasy and hosted by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. This one should actually take an hour to get there as predicted. I will be grateful if it does–and very grateful if business is better. Now, onto the pandas!

They will be in the internationally themed third set of Pandagram cards. First, we have Monsieur Panda avec le pain (“with bread” in French). Second is Japanda, who is making onigiri (Japanese rice balls). Then there is Pandzer (Germany) and Peter Panda (England).

The fifth Pandagram in the set will represent China: Pangrams. The panda will be completing a tangram puzzle. Pandagrams’ reputation as black and white and fun/pun all over shall surely be upheld.

How to Make a Pin(da)

This post is very straightforward: how to make a pinback button, in this case, a Pinda. 

Tools & supplies

Front row (L to  R): Button press, rotary cutter on steel cutting board, art designs

Back row: Bags of pin shells, clear mylar (tiny bag), pin backs, completed pins


The smaller photo is a close-up of the 4 pieces of a pin: mylar (the circle that’s darker than the rest of the background foam), art, pin shell, & pin back.

Ready to make a button? Here are the steps with a visual guide. 

  1. Cut artwork in a circle. (You can use a dial cutter or scissors.) The circle needs to be a bit bigger than the final diameter of the button because it will curve around the edges of the shell. (I had some pandas already cut into circles, so I skipped this step when I took the demo photos.)
  2. Swivel base of button machine so shallow die (“pot” or “dish”) is accessible.
  3. Put pin shell face in shallow die.
  4. (Ditto)
  5. Put artwork on shell, then clear mylar.
  6. Rotate base of machine so shallow die is under press.
  7. (Ditto)
  8. Grasp handle & press down. This will press the shell, picture, & mylar together.
  9. When you release your, it pick ups the pressed pin front.
  10. Place pin back in deep die. Make sure squiggly side is up so that when the pin is pressed together, the straight latch of the pin is on the back of the pin. The squiggle will be inside the pin. (You can’t undo a pin press if you put the wrong side up.)
  11. Rotate base of machine so deep die is under press.
  12. Grasp handle & press down. This presses the pin front & back together.
  13. Release. This drops the new pin into the die. Rotate base again so you can take out the pin. 
  14. Ta-da-!





Presenting Pindas!

As promised in my previous preview post, I am pleased to present Pandagram Pindas! Even more petite than the original card set, these are pin-back buttons featuring all 11 of the current Pandagram antics. (7 are pictured here.)

They are simple pin-back buttons, like any old “I Voted” or “Save the Whales” buttons. Pindas are 1.75″ in diameter. That’s the size kit I bought from American Button Machines; they have other sizes, but I thought 1.75″ was best for these. Any smaller would be too close to the sticker size, and too much bigger would get them close to the card size.

From the time I participated my first anime artist’s alley (back at Kawa Kon 2015), I noticed that many artists and vendors sold pins. At the time, I was not particularly interested in pin-making, but I did take note that more people were more apt to purchase small items than a big poster or art print, and buttons were a hot item in that category. (The next time around, I made sure to have a small item: Pandagram stickers in 2 designs.)

Then, a year ago November, I attended Anime Iwai in Florida and met a gal who happened to have a pin-making machine right at her booth! I asked her about it, and she showed me how to make a button. It’s quite simple once you have the right equipment. Perhaps next time I’ll post a tutorial on how to make buttons.