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Brown IS Beautiful

May 18, 2015

I was watching a documentary by Chris Rock called ‘Good Hair’ and honestly, if you haven’t had the opportunity you should give it a watch. It stuck with me that his tiny daughter was so concerned about her hair and that if it wasn’t straight she didn’t fit in. It was upsetting to me that we live in a world that even small children feel the need to change who they are, the color of their skin, or the nature of their hair to belong in this world. That’s just a bummer.

As a white person my mental image of what it means to be beautiful is well represented. Of course I do not meet the definition of beautiful set forth by media or publication. To me it’s not a big deal. When I see a model in print I do not think I have to look like her or even attain an approximation. The models are real people and real people DO look like that, but for most of us, we’re just average humans, and print and media sell fantasy. Hopefully it’s discernible to most people with a functional brain that looking like Charlize Theron isn’t necessary to attain happiness in life.

I am well represented. I cannot possibly fathom what people of color must deal with at a very early age with minimal to no representation. To not have the color of your skin, the fluffiness of your hair or the shape of your eyes represented in movies, tv, or print must really suck. The fact that nearly every heroine is white, or that to be a princess you have to be fair skinned. The fact that even when there IS representation in media it feels the need to call attention to itself by saying, LOOK EVERYONE! THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN PRINCESS! You know what would make that better? If it didn’t matter. If you could just tell the story like it’s a story. Of course there is an black princess, why wouldn’t there be? History is FULL of them. There are incredibly rich stories all throughout the world. Creation stories, folklore, tall tales, fairy tales- SO MANY stories from all cultures. Hans Christian Anderson isn’t the only source for fairy tales.

I went further down the rabbit hole of beauty and came back with some disturbing evidence. Loads of plastic surgery to fix monolids, shape noses, shave jaw lines, correct bone structure, ridiculous chemical creams to bleach skin, hair products that fry your scalp, makeup to correct for just about everything. I just saw so many brown women and girls trying to fit this weird idea of beauty- western anglo beauty. Some women try and change so they don’t look like they do manual labor, others to completely change their faces to suit a doll like appearance.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just live on a planet that glorified diversity? How rich we could all be in both our heritage and dress? So I started painting brown is beautiful. It’s partly an ode to the beauty of brown skin, and part to look at another culture through the lens of decoration and what THEY think is beautiful. As the series progresses I find myself more angry about the homogenization of humanity. We lose so much in integration of culture. Though I think it’s inevitable. The last bastion of these tribes and cultures will be their art, their music, and their representation through dance. Like Native Americans in the US, these tribes of our world will eventually own an iphone and watch reruns of The Bachelor on Monday nights. Their only ties to their rich cultural heritage will be in the form of “cultural days” at their community center.

As I try and represent cultures I was not born to, I will get things wrong. I will mess things up. I will incorrectly label or laughably screw up key features or have outdated information. I was not born into these cultures. I see them through western eyes with only the internet as my guide. The internet isn’t always right. What I do hope for though, is that good or bad, people look at these cultures from these tiny paintings and care enough to try and help with human rights violations, environmental destruction and sex trafficking of these humans.

Little Fashion Sketchy

January 6, 2015

I was cleaning out the guest room/cat room/ art room/knitting room (new years resolution) and I found a bunch of stuff I’ve had since art center. One of which was a bottle of reddish calligraphy ink. I keep wanting to do caligraphy- I buy TONS of supplies every year only to just abandon it almost immediately. Perhaps taking a class and watching a tutorial or twelve on youtube would help in my efforts. Alas, I run out of ink in the actual pen and then it dries out in the nib and the cycle repeats. One year though I evidently got ink in bottles presumably for a dip pen I can only begin to guess where I put it. INK… woohoo! So I painted/sketched with it. There is more to this little painting but since I mostly Instagram my stuff it got cut off. They had cute shoes with bows on them… you just have to trust me.

I like the sketch! It’s fun. Full of indication and washy goodness. I just love basic value paintings. I never really quite appreciated as a high schooler just how difficult it is to be an artist. What I thought was art was really just copying photos. While this might help your technical skills for rendering, it doesn’t really help you be creative or even translate what you’re learning about value to art that comes out of your head. I don’t know ANYONE that can actually paint to the level of depth and creativity of what is in our heads. Most of us are limited by our ability. Kind of a bummer yeah? I wish there were drugs that made you super awesome at your craft instead of just years and years and years of repetition.

I have a love hate relationship with brush pens. I like them for their easy mess-free accessibility in my purse. You can whip one out anytime and draw. They’re a squirrly though and I can’t get a ton of control with them- especially around things like fingers if I am drawing small. I love the line weight variability, but I think what I am responding to most is that a brush, (opposed to a brush pen) has a really long bouncy stalk of bristles. Long brush bristles make me happy. The actual shape of the brush pen is the bothersome thing for me, the tip is super fine, but the base or stalk is kind of fat… so while you can get great line weight variability, it’s a real bitch to get a fine line if you happen to apply too much pressure. I don’t think of myself as heavy handed, I must just need more practice with a brush pen. There are people that are seriously masters of that medium, I am not one of them.

I did a baby infographic about the two types of brushes and used samples of artists that I admire to showcase the differences. Basically brush pen is more alla prima and messy and can make your work very sketchy and dynamic. A lining brush is a little more fussy, you have greater control and your line work and weight becomes a feature of the piece. It’s “in the moment” vs. clean and orderly.


brush_pen line_brush

Last Mermaid of 2014

December 29, 2014

Woah, well well well, 2014 is ending. It was a lovely year full of friends, laughs, fun, parties, babies, weddings, love and of course a few scares. That’s life. I love every second, the good and the bad. I hope everyone had just as wonderful a year and you are ready for 2015!

This is the last Mermaid of 2014. Monday Merms comes to an end and I thought I’d just enjoy the simplicity of pastel colors and not a lot of painting.

Happy new year from The Chubby Mermaid!


Sassy Holiday Party Antics

December 23, 2014

I love rough brushes.

Anyway, with all the holiday parties going on right now I hope you have a little bit of fun too. ;)


Rainbow Maid

December 10, 2014

Here is a little tidbit totally unrelated to art… I am sooo sooo sneezy. I have no idea why, it’s allergy related I think, but I am not typically an allergy sufferer. As a side effect of allergies I am so sleepy I feel like I am going to fall out of my chair even after the aid of two cups of coffee and a reasonable amount of sleep last night. I just keep imagining a boneless me slithering out of my office chair into a blorpy pile of goo and giraffe sweater to be found by terrified janitorial staff.

Anyway, rainbow mermaid. Believe it or not this is MOSTLY chartpak marker. Then I scanned the little lady and added some details. Originally her head was turned away from the camera so all you saw was hair. It looked fine and all but, a better illustration with of more fun with her face in profile. I love the simplified forms of her face and it reads nice as a smaller icon.




Raised by Urchins and Stars

December 2, 2014

Though hugs are prickly and holding your breath can be tiresome, one really can get the whole meditation thing down.

Feral Kids number 5 is here and it’s cute! I just love painting these little things. I hope they’re appealing enough to others. I just love animals of all sorts. Sea life has always been such a mesmerizing thing to me. I could STILL spend an entire day at a tide pool (and have recently) just poking around discovering things in the water. I even saved a Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (the hawaiian state fish) from certain death that had been trapped in a shrinking pool of water when a wave tossed it out of the ocean. I have the video somewhere… that I can’t find. Oooofff course.



Raised by Sloths

November 21, 2014

Some kids are slow and lazy and poop once a week at the bottom of a tree.

This is way more fun than I anticipated. How weird can this get! How about raised by sea cucumbers?

Penny “The Hams”

November 20, 2014

Adam and I like to give our cats a lot of backstory. Penny is a wrestling champ in her extra-large weight class. We call her Penny “The Hams” Pennington. She mostly just sits on socked toes and inconveniently parks her bum in places that make us uncomfortable. She’s really sweet and doesn’t actually beat anyone up, but she’s so big she can just sit on something and win a match. She’s got big hams, that’s all there is to it. So here she is in a fetching Lucha Libre outfit.

Wrasse Spa Day

November 17, 2014

Mermaid Monday fun. I’d imagine wrasse fish gotta clean mermaids too right?


A Pile of Penny’s is Called a Mess

November 14, 2014

A murder of crows, a crush of rhinos, a clowder of kitties… A mess of Penny’s?

I love that groups of critters have a collective name. Some of them are pretty awesome, for instance a group of tortoises is called a creep. So effectively we have a creep and a clowder in our house- that’s right, two is a crowd (says’s us). I mean if you have two of something it might as well be 11 right?!

Here is a mess of Penny’s. I do love that lady. She’s as sweet as can be and has so much personality. Adam has had a cough recently and she actually gets agitated when he coughs. She grumbles, complains and growls. Maybe Penny has misophonia like her adoptive  mother.