Monday, June 30, 2008

Artists Who Inspire Me: Chiura Obata

Today, I received a wonderful gift from a friend - a book on Chiura Obata's work! Chiura Obata, who was a professor of art at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans forcefully relocated from their homes and communities to internment camps in 1942. While there, he taught art classes and kept up his artwork, painting beautiful and haunting scenes even in the midst of being incarcerated. The book I have has more than 100 of Obata's sketches, sumi paintings, and watercolors from his internment period, along with letters and interviews. His art is a testimony to his artistic genius and undefeated spirit despite his circumstances.

Here's some of his work...

Topaz Mountains (Chiura Obata)

Topaz War Relocation Center by Moonlight (Chiura Obata)

Dawn, Knight's Ferry, Stanislaus County (Chiura Obata)

Evening Moon (Chiura Obata)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

That Lovable Wookie...

Here's a recent drawing of everyone's favorite wookie, Chewbacca... 'cause I just felt like posting it! I kind of like his soft and kindly expression... as he shoots someone to smithereens with his blaster. =P

Although I didn't actually use it, I found this palette on Colourlovers, called "Chewbacca". Cool huh?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Snow Leopard

Well, here is the last of the endangered animal series I did for a "Nature"-themed ATC swap. I think Snow Leopards are fascinating -- Not only are they incredibly beautiful, they are reclusive creatures so attacks on humans are extremely rare. And they physically cannot roar. Although they are supposed to be protected as an endangered species, there are no measures to adequately protect them. They are hunted for their beautiful fur, and their bones and body parts are used in Asian medicine. Their loss of habitat and food sources are caused by deforestation and dam projects. More info and links to conservation projects can be found here

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Photo Mosaic

I was browsing around Flickr and found some really cool photo mosaics that people had uploaded. Some were of specific color schemes (eg. brown and pink) and I thought that those were particularly lovely. I wanted to do something similar, but it was difficult to concentrate on specific colors right now. I do however have lots and lots of dog pictures (pets of family members and good friends), so I thought I'd start with this...

row 1(l-r) Cha-Cha, Nixon, Elvis, Queenie; row 2(l-r) Kiki, Lala, Todd, Fluffy; row 3(l-r) Todd, Walter and Cha-Cha, Millie, Kiki; row 4(l-r) Queenie, Chow-Chow, Ace, Todd

I can't begin to tell you how much of a blessing these little guys have been to our family over the last couple of very trying years. So this is just a small tribute to them. =)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Starbucks Splash Sticks... huh?

Today, I saw someone's starbucks coffee had this thing sticking out of the sip hole...

I learned this little green invention was called a Splash Stick and the purpose of it was to prevent accidental spills from the little hole on the lid. At first I thought, wow how cool... I love mermaids and the design is cute and innovative and... well, cool!

Then I went home, saw my post again about the polar bears and thought to myself... wait a minute! that little green plastic thingy is kind of wasteful isn't it? I mean, how much will be produced and then just carelessly thrown away? Besides, isn't the cup lid supposed to prevent spills in the first place? what about covering the hole with a sticker or something... what about a finger? what about being just a little more careful when you walk so you don't spill stuff all over yourself?

I would have to say this was a bad call on Starbucks part to put these things out. I wonder, too, why these splash sticks were "quietly introduced" to the Starbucks chains. I'm sure they know these aren't environmentally friendly, but wanted to come out with this gimmick anyway. What happened to being environmentally responsible?

I'm not a tree hugger or anything, but I understand that for plastic bags alone, every year billions of them are produced and less then 3% are recycled. Plastic bags are typically made of polyethylene and can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases. In fact, the 380 billion plastic bags that Americans throw away each year are made from millions of barrels of petroleum, contributing to global warming, depleting oil supplies, and driving up costs of petroleum-based products like gasoline and energy for our homes.

You can check out more facts on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Global Warming website

They also have a few definitions posted that make explaining (and understanding) the problem of global warming a bit clearer.

Global warming
The progressive gradual rise of the earth's surface temperature thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect and responsible for changes in global climate patterns. An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse Gas
Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Greenhouse effect
The effect produced as greenhouse gases allow incoming solar radiation to pass through the Earth's atmosphere, but prevent part of the outgoing infrared radiation from the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere from escaping into outer space. This process occurs naturally and has kept the Earth's temperature about 59 degrees F warmer than it would otherwise be. Current life on Earth could not be sustained without the natural greenhouse effect.

Enhanced greenhouse effect
The concept that the natural greenhouse effect has been enhanced by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, CFCs, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3 and other photochemically important gases caused by human activities such as fossil fuel consumption, trap more infra-red radiation, thereby exerting a warming influence on the climate.

Anyway, I'm not saying I'm the perfect environmentalist or anything, but I think we can all do our part. I believe the Lord meant for us to be good stewards of what He gave us. So I've come up with some goals for myself and tips to share on being more responsible:

1. Look more carefully at stuff before throwing away and determine what can be recycled. For example, I had absolutely no idea that yogurt containers could be recycled until I looked at one closely and saw the symbol.

2. Reuse more stuff. I've gotten into the habit of taking water bottles home and refilling with filtered water. I think this is good to re-use a few more times. Better yet, I should use the kind that you just wash and refill.

3. Use less ziploc bags and use more of the food containers that you can rewash and reuse. Bringing your own lunch saves money too.

4. Carpool when possible. With gas prices these days, this is getting to be a necessity!

5. Don't take stuff that's not needed, even if free. This includes the splash sticks, extra napkins (unless you're really going to use them), free pens (that's gonna be a hard one for me), and other freebies that will certainly be thrown away soon and filling up our landfill.

Ok, well that's it for now. (Sigh) Save our polar bears!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Polar Bear

It is unbelievably sad what is happening to the polar bear population right now; and quite scary what the impact of global warming is turning out to be.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grey Wolf

Ok, so I'm finally, finally ready to mail off those 16 ATC's I owe my friend and her ATC pals in Belgium. She was kind enough to include a wonderful card made by her son. He drew me a wolf, so I thought I'd draw one for him, too. =)