Combining Art Therapy & Pet Therapy
I took a short break from my comic project last weekend to draw outside with a friend and try some new tools! Pixie the cat made it extra wonderful.
For me, making art — whether it’s illustrating, writing, designing, etc. — is almost always fun because I innately love those activities. Even when it’s a challenge, there’s a joy that comes from problem solving and making a piece of art or writing click. But sometimes it’s nice to take a mental break from the purpose-driven projects and play with different materials or a random idea with no end goal in mind. Last weekend I did just that.
My artsy friend Julia has a treasure trove of supplies thanks to previously working at an art store. She let me borrow a bamboo dip pen, which I’ve never tried using before. In my first drawing, I turned to familiar subject matter — the capybara and bird friends from my in-progress comic! I wanted to see how different it felt to draw these characters in a much loser style with an unpredictable new pen.
At first, I wasn’t keen on it. The pen holds a tiny amount of ink and requires constant dipping. But after I experimented a bit more, I grew to enjoy the immense nuance in the lines that I could create. It was great for the capybara fur! And squiggling those trees in the background was a joy. So I decided to keep going.
Julia and I moved our drawing setup outside under the shade of an umbrella and with the company of a sweet outdoor cat named Pixie. She was our constant shadow, therapy pet and delightful purr factory.
I mentioned last week how a good environment is an important factor for creative work. And while I meant this in more of a long-term sense, it occurred to me how amazing and life affirming it was to spend time with a good friend doing an activity with both love. It was also delightful to have an outdoor cat friend who supported our every pen, pencil and charcoal stroke.
This is Pixie and me enjoying life on the deck:
This is Pixie helping Julia draw some super cool roots:
After I spent time petting Pixie and telling her how majestic she is, I picked some asparagus overgrowth and used a reference photo of a moth I took the night before as inspiration.
Here are the results:
Now I am hooked on this bamboo dip pen! I truly had so much fun drawing this. Next time, I will definitely use a brush for solid black sections, but once I started with the bamboo pen I decided to stubbornly stuck with it! I drew another piece inspired by this incredible cow skull that Julia found in a ditch (yes, seriously…the country is a crazy place!). Look at this beauty.
I was sort of obsessed with the teeth because look how crazy they are! But my interpretation of the teeth didn’t end up working in the inked version…it got too heavy and distracting. Here it is before the teeth got out of hand.
I experimented with some colored pencil before I inked it, and in retrospect, I sort of wish I would have kept a lighter touch with the ink details. But alas, here is the final:
Like I said, next time I’ll use a brush for solid black areas! And I really want to experiment with colored pencil as the featured medium with lighter ink lines. It was awesome how playing with new tools sparked so many new ideas! Perhaps I’ll have more to show in the future.
In the meantime, I’m back to working on my digital comic and hope to have another update to share with you soon!
If you enjoyed this post and you haven’t already subscribed, please consider doing so! You’ll get exclusive access to finished comics and artwork, plus behind-the-scenes project progress and thoughts on creativity delivered right to your inbox.