New Year Reflections and a Gift for My Nieces

Happy New Year! It has been a very long time since my last post. More than nine months actually. I had considered canceling my Word Press subscription as I was not utilizing it. But, I came to the realization that I did not have the extra bandwidth in my mind to write reflectively about my art practice, and that was a temporary state of being. So I choose to keep my subscription for one more year.

Happy New Year

In the last year, I moved twice and started a new job. I was barely managing to do a few doodles every week, let alone dedicate the time to thoughtfully write about my efforts and progress. Now that I am settled in my new house, I am not spending time thinking about furniture purchases and mortgages. Likewise, I have completed my first year at my new job, and I am finally feeling comfortable there as well. My mind is far calmer than it was a few months ago.

Many of my art supplies were in a storage facility for five hours from my old apartment. My acrylics and pastels are out of storage finally, and I hope to get back to working with those soon. I feel I have the mental space to write about my favorite hobby again and hope to post several times this year. I also have a nice physical space for art now in my new home. It is a little four seasons room on the east side of the house. There is plenty of good light and a nice view of the trees and bird feeders. This is also my yoga and meditation space. Having space for the mind and body can bring a lot of ease back into one’s life. I plan to set up space in the basement for acrylics next month.

However, this statement to post more is not a New Year’s resolution. I don’t really believe in those. I have never had someone state to me that they manage to keep their resolutions. I know when I did them in the past, I always gave them up by March at best. I don’t think taking on a goal at the start of the year makes it any more achievable. This idea that I can blog more is a realization that just happened to occur to me around the New Year.

Moving on, I did quickly want to share a project I spent a good chunk of November and December on. That was designing an Alphabet chart for my nices. It is a simple design, but I had a hard time settling on what I was going to do.

Ant Sketch

At one point, I had drawn several different candidates for the letter A: Apple, Ant, Asteroid, Astronaut, and Alligator.



I waffled on a theme quite a bit. Should it be forests, space, nature, animals, insects, or the backyard? Eventually, I settled on the garden, but I will likely pick up Space, Forests, or Insects as a theme for a chart to gift to my nephew next year.

My process for this was to draw and paint each element separately. This is more a security thing for me as I have two small boys. One of which likes to look over my shoulder and often bumps me. There is a lot of risk in doing a single piece to have ink spilled all over just as I am wrapping up the letter Z.

B is for Bumblebee
B is for Bumblebee

Each element was scanned, and I then used the open-source image manipulator GIMP to tie them all together into one file. I also purchased a font license for this project. Even though I have been practicing my calligraphy, it still was not quite print-worthy. Finally, I uploaded the file to RedBubble and had to 9″x10″ copies printed.

I used a similar process to create my son’s solar system last holiday season. 

Solar System

I was actually surprised by how well they were liked by my sister. It is always a great feeling to put a smile on someone’s face with your work.

Happy Art Journey,


There is a Rabbit on the Moon

Human beings are naturally inclined to find patterns even where there are none. This phenomenon is called Apophenia. For this reason, we see animals in the stars and shapes in the Moon. While it is common to view a man in the Moon in Western Civilization the rabbit is also commonly viewed in the Moon in many cultures around the world. There are many stories about how a rabbit’s image became imprinted on the moon. This last month or so I have painted several scenes relating to or inspired by the myths I am aware of.


The Sacrificial Rabbit

Monkey, Otter, Jackal, and Rabbit pledge to practice charity on the Buddhist day of observance. The animals came across an old beggar who was staving. Monkey offered fruits from the trees, Otter gave fish, and Jackal brought a stolen pot of milk curd. While rabbit seeing he could only gather grass a food not fit for humans tossed himself on the fire sacrificing himself to save the old man. The old man was actually a Buddhist God Sakra (sometimes Emperor of the Heavens) who honored rabbit by placing him on the moon. You can still see the rabbit draped in smoke on the moon to this day. This is a popular myth in Asia with versions found in China, Japan, Vietnam, and Korea. In some Asian myths, Rabbit is pounding the Elixir of Life or rice. Thus my inclusion of a mortar in some of the images. Interestingly there is very similar Mayan myth where Rabbit offers himself to the disguised Quetzalcoatl.


The Sacrifice of Jade Rabbit
The Ascent of the Jade Rabbit


In other Meso American myths, a god’s life was required to create the sun. The humble Nanahuatzin readily sacrificed himself to the flames. But, the wealthy  Tecciztecatl hesitated and only entered the flames after feeling shamed by Nanahautzin’s sacrifice.  The Gods place a Rabbit on the face of Tecciztecatl to diminish his light as punishment and he became the Moon.

Companion Rabbit

The rabbit in the Moon is sometimes seen as a companion animal to a specific diety that is thought to inhabit the Moon.  In China, this is the lovely Chang’e who rose to the heavens after consuming all of the elixir of life which was meant to be shared with her husband Yi.  There are many versions of this story.

In some versions, Yi had received this elixir as a reward for shooting down the extra suns which caused hardship drought. Or he may have been banished from heaven for killing the extra suns that were actually the Emperor of Heaven’s sons transformed and the elixir was meant to act as a get out of jail free card of sorts.  Yi who loved his wife wished to spend eternity with her and gave it to her for safekeeping. In some versions, she drank the elixir purely out of excitement in others she did it to prevent her husband’s enemy from consuming it. The Jade rabbit became her companion and pounds new elixir of life for her on the Moon. Chang’e is associated MidAutomn festival but I have painted a Moon Princess in the Spring as that is the time of year where I am now.

Rabbit Rides the Moon

In a Cree legend, Rabbit desired to ride the moon. This myth is a bit different from other indigenous American myths as he is not fulfilling his typical role as a trickster. This is a  rather straightforward story for Rabbit folklore.  Only Crane was strong enough and willing to try the difficult journey. So rabbit held Crane’s legs as they flew to the Moon. This is why Crane’s legs are so long they were stretched out by Rabbit’s weight pulling on them. Durning the long trip Rabbit’s paws began to bleed from the strain of holding on to Crane. When they landed Rabbit touched Crane’s head he and his descendants have had a red mark there ever since.

These are just a few of the Rabbit in the Moon myths I am aware of. There are more I am aware of that I have not had a chance to paint yet such as the Mayan Grandmother Moon and her Rabbit companion. Do you have a favorite Moon myth? If so please share it in the comments.


Happy Belated Chinese New Year from Canis Major

I was encouraged by a cousin to create a few dog constellation paintings in honor of Chinese New Year. Although, I did manage to get them painted around the 16th. I just did not have time to blog about it until today. There is really not much of a connection between Canis Major and the Chinese Zodiac but it was a fun crossover project. The Chinese Zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle represented by twelve animals. This year is the year of the dog. Canis Major says Happy New Year!

Canis Major is the constellation of the dog shape. Canis major can be found at the heals of Orion a faithful dog with his hunter chasing down Lepus (rabbit) and Columbia (dove) at the feet of Orion.  Canis Major holds the Dog Star or Sirius the brightest star in the night sky. Canis minor can be found just below Gemini and is separated from Orion and Canis Major by Monoceros.


The Hunter and his Dog

I like to think of Canis major with Orion on a never-ending cosmic hunt with Lepus and Columbia narrowly escaping each night.


Happy Art Journey,




Taurus as a Subject

I have been painting Taurus the bull constellation lately as part of my series on constellations. This is a subject I enjoy because of the rich history behind it. Taurus is very old people have been looking to the sky and seeing the bull form in this set of stars for a very long time possibly since the prehistoric era. Some scholars believe that the cave paintings at Lascaux which date to the Upper Paleolithic or 15,000 BC depict Taurus. Unfortunately, I can’t find much on this topic outside of the BBC article I just linked in the previous sentence. Most internet sources on the topic just quote that article. But, the idea of star maps predating literature and writing is fascinating.

Taurus Night Sky
© T. Credner & S. Kohle,

Taurus was important to early civilization because at the time it was used to mark the Spring Equinox. The Equinox is today referred to as the “first point of Aries” as our view of the sun’s path has changed over time.   But, that is no longer true as well more on that here. The Vernal or Spring Equinox marks the first day of spring and would have been critical for the planning of agrarian societies like Babylon. When the sun appeared to be disappearing in the section of the sky that Taurus rested in people of ancient agrarian societies knew spring and planting time would soon arrive. The Vernal Equinox today occurs in March and is when the sun leaves the east and passes through the celestial equator to the west directly as seen from earth twelve hours later. Marking the end of winter and beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Daylight and night are the same length of time on that day and after daylight gradually increases to be longer than the night until the Autumnal Equinox.


In ancient Mesopotamia, Taurus was referred to as Gugalanna or the Bull of Heaven. It is featured as one of the many monsters Gilgamesh must dispatch in the Epic of Gilgamesh. In a lose or lose situation Gilgamesh mythical king of Uruk is proposition by the Goddess Ishtar (Innana) to be her consort.  Ishtar is a notable bad-ass of mythology as the goddess of war, sex, fertility, and politics.  She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth and she has a temper. Noting that all of her lovers have suffered terrible fates Gilgamesh says no. Then in a not so bright move instead of trying to fake some kind of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ excuse he goes on to recite how bad she messed up each of her earlier ‘husbands’. She traded one Tammuz to her sister Death (Ereshkigal) to get herself out of the underworld for example. Ishtar insulted and enraged sends the Bull of Heaven Gugalanna to punish Uruk. Gilgamesh and his best friend Enkidu defeat the bull but there will be consequences for destroying a pet of the Gods.  If you would like to know the whole story Jason of the Myths and Legends podcast does an excellent retelling.

In Greek mythology, Taurus was associated with Zeus who used the guise of the bull to avoid detection by Hera while off on one of his many affairs. Or used the shape of a white bull to seduce Europa.

Taurus Dreaming

Taurus contains many interesting features including the two closest open clusters near Earth: Pleiades and Hyades. The Hyades contain Aldebaran the brightest star in the constellation that is 40 solar diameters. It is the Pleiades that are thought to be shown near a bull painting in the Hall of Bulls on the cave paintings of Lascaux.  It also includes the Crab Nebula so I attempted to give the below silhouette paintings a nebula like look.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter and spring. You can find Taurus by following the path of the sun and looking for Orion. His belt points to Hydes (V-shaped cluster of stars that forms the beginning of the bull’s horns) with Aldebaran and the Pleiades which is a bright blue star cluster just off the bulls head. For more help finding Taurus check out Earth Sky News or just cheat and use a smartphone app. Which is what I do.

Happy Art Journey,