New Vaquita art

Here is a poem that I wrote for an upcoming poetry competition focused on ocean pollution:

THE NETS WE FORGET

The dark gray sky casts its shadow on the sea,
The sea swells with the wind, whipping up froth.
Thunder booms among the rolling clouds;
Lightning flashes in the distance,
But underneath, it is calm.
The muffled sound of the storm above dances off the coral.
Small reef fish swarm in and out of nooks and crannies.
All seems fine at first, but there is something wrong here.
A ghost enters the scene.
A nearly invisible drifter.
A gillnet.
But this fishing net does not belong to anybody.
It has been abandoned,
But its job is not done.
This ghost still has lives to take.
First comes a shrimp,
A puny pink prawn:
Gone.
His life ends and is doomed to drift away,
Trapped forever.
Next is a fish.
A huge one at that.
He swims right into the net,
And in the blink of an eye,
The life leaves his body.
A little porpoise swims through the shallows,
Bubbles dancing down her side.
She’s teaching her baby how to fish.
They happen upon a juicy meal,
But as the mother darts towards the target,
She is struck by a web of death.
The fish they were chasing
Was already a victim.
The baby, terrified, watches as her mother writhes in agony.
And the ghost has taken yet another life.

Here is a double exposure image, made from a Vaquita photograph and an ocean sunset photograph that I combined using digital software:Vaquita Double Exposure

And here is a mosaic of a Vaquita made out of hundreds of photographs taken during International Save the Vaquita Days 2014 & 2015:

ISTVD Mosaic

International Save the Vaquita Day has become a huge event, and one that has been—and will continue to be—making a legitimate difference for the Vaquita and its survival. Showing the people and government of Mexico that the world cares about the Vaquita and appreciates their efforts to date will hopefully inspire them to follow through with their promises and actually save this species. To make ISTVD 2016 the biggest one yet, help ignite the buzz and donate to the event by buying a cool ISTVD 2016 t-shirt!

https://www.booster.com/international-save-the-vaquita-day-2016

Advertisements

Making a difference

If one person can make a difference, just imagine what a group can accomplish.

When I was very young, I was taught that we are all going to die, and life is our short window of opportunity to change the world.

Many people go through life having a fun childhood, getting a good job, raising a wonderful family, and then die content. This is the glorified image of a successful life. These people are happy, and they give their children the opportunity to have a happy, successful life as well.

However, these are not the people that are remembered for years after their death. Albert Einstein did not settle for this “successful” life, and he is one of the most well-known people in history; his name is synonymous with ‘genius.’ He might not have been as happy as an ordinary person, but he definitely affected the world more than most. He recognized his gifts and used his 76 years on this planet to accomplish incredible things. Without Einstein, who knows what our world would be like?

But you don’t need to completely abandon a normal life to be remembered…

Rachel Carson was an average marine biologist and writer. She wasn’t a genius; she wasn’t in a lab all day. She was simply conducting research projects with her colleagues and writing papers. But one day in 1957, she heard about the USDA’s fire ant eradication program, where pesticides like DDT were sprayed over large areas of land. She believed these chemicals were causing major environmental issues, many of which she witnessed firsthand. So over the next 4 years, she set out on a mission to find and share these issues with the world.

On September 27, 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, arguably the most important work of conservation writing ever created. This book changed the way we look at our effects on the natural world, and spawned the environmental movement itself.

Photographer Art Wolfe shows just how much of a difference she made:

http://artwolfe.com/2015/01/26/can-one-person-really-make-difference/

Rachel Carson remains my biggest inspiration, and without her, I have no doubts that I would not be doing what I am today. People like Einstein and Carson are proof that one person can make a difference in the world. Personally, I know I will not be satisfied with my life if I don’t have a lasting positive effect on this planet, specifically for the Vaquita. Fortunately for me, I am not alone in my desire to save this little porpoise. Now, more than ever before, we have a huge army of passionate individuals who will not let the few remaining Vaquitas slip away. If we all can show the same initiative, determination, and innovativeness of people like Rachel Carson, the Vaquita will be one lucky porpoise.

One person that is making a difference for the Vaquita in a unique way is Guillermo Munro Colosio, more commonly known as Memuco. He combines his incredible artistic skills with his compassion for nature to portray messages in an extremely compelling way. Some great examples are his Vaquita murals in Puerto Peñasco, one of the three fishing villages surrounding the Vaquita. He also creates infographics for endangered species, as well as paintings. He is a huge Vaquita warrior, and we love him and his work.

http://www.memuco.net/

Memuco and a mural he painted a few years ago in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco and a mural he painted a few years ago in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco's brand new mural in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco’s brand new mural in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco's beautiful new Vaquita painting

Memuco’s beautiful new Vaquita painting

To put the Vaquita’s current situation into perspective, imagine this:

You have a jigsaw puzzle. The picture on the box is simple and beautiful. However, when you open it up, the pieces are tiny and there are way more you thought. And you only have half an hour to complete it.

Not good, right? The Vaquita’s situation appears simple (the picture on the box): remove all gillnets. However, there are countless tiny pieces to the puzzle (fishermen, money, wildlife trafficking, government, etc.), and time is running out. There could be 86 Vaquitas left, and that could even be an overestimate. The point is, we are so close to the point of no return, that every little action has major consequences. Currently, there is a harmful algal bloom, called a red tide, going on in the Vaquita’s range. This may seem like bad news, and it could possibly be toxic to the Vaquita, but there is a huge upside: all fishing operations are on pause due to the danger of consuming contaminated sea food. So basically, it is like a ban that doesn’t even need enforcement. However, the red tide will fade away sooner or later, and the fishermen will be back on the water.

86

Luckily, strides have been made in the form of the new 2-year ban, which at least gives us a law to enforce starting in March. However, we still need to keep the pressure on the Mexican government to follow through with the ban. There need to be major short-term actions carried out immediately, and then we can worry about the long term. The most positive news is that the Mexican government says they are planning on using high-tech aerial drones to monitor the Vaquita’s range for any illegal fishing, which will relay the information back to enforcement so they can stop the illegal activity before it is too late. With the recent possible extinction of the Chinese Bahaba, many wealthy Chinese people have turned their attention to Mexico’s Totoaba, a very similar fish, for their “medical” needs. As we know, this recent increased (yet illegal) demand for Totoaba has left the poor Vaquita in the crossfire. Two more species are on their way to extinction mainly because of some ridiculous traditions. This demand needs to end, or else even strong enforcement on the water may not be enough to stop relentless poachers and cartels from killing both species, albeit one accidentally. Andrew Wright takes a closer look:

http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=18084

This will be a historical next few months for everyone in the Vaquita world. Thankfully, we don’t have to be helpless witnesses to all this. Don’t buy any seafood from the Gulf of California, Mexico, and make sure your local Chinese food restaurants aren’t selling Totoaba swim bladder soup. Keep signing the petitions to keep the pressure on, and I promise you, we really can do this.

Pop Culture Porpoise

~Dedicated to Andy Warhol~

I thought it would be fun to start a new series of artwork: Pop Culture Porpoise. The idea is to Vaquita-fy famous pictures and symbols. Simple as that. Here is what I have done so far, and I am welcome to any suggestions such as new ideas for this series or any other types of art.

I ❤ Vaquitas

I Heart Vaquitas

Campbell’s Vaquita soup

Vaquita soup

Eternal smile

Eternal smile

Mona Vaquita

Mona Vaquita

iPorpoise

iPorpoise

All original pieces upon which these designs were based © copyright their owners. I am not affiliated with Apple Inc.

How to draw a Vaquita

I have been doing a lot of Vaquita artwork recently, so much, in fact, that I have developed a method for drawing this little porpoise. I have created a “How-to-draw a Vaquita” guide for all of you artists out there that are looking to make some Vaquita art. Obviously, this is not a definitive guide, it is just how I draw Vaquitas.

Before anything, you need to figure out exactly what you want the picture to be. You can base your drawing/painting on a photograph, but in this guide I will be drawing a generic Vaquita that can be used for any pose. All I will be using is a pencil and my fingertip.

1. Firstly, you need to draw a rough outline of the body. This needs to be very light. Don’t worry about it not being perfectly smooth yet. Don’t draw any external details, such as stripes or eye-patches. Just the outline. This will take a lot of practice to get right, so don’t give up if you need to erase the outline 10 or more times. A very useful tip is that the mouth is always smiling and pointed directly at the eye, which is slightly above the imaginary horizontal center line of the head.

Step 1

2. Next you will start adding detail. I prefer to start with the face and work towards the tail fluke. It is very useful to look at a bunch of photographs to get a good idea of what their individual body parts look like. The key points on the head are the eye-patch, mouth-patch, chin-to-flipper stripe, and the tiny ear hole, which is commonly forgotten. Also, begin the dark back, which is basically an extension of the mouth-patch.

Step 2

3. Take this time to make sure your pencil is very sharp. Redefine all of the details you already made, especially shadows. When you are coloring the back and flipper, make sure you rub the paper very hard with your fingertip to make the texture smoother. Now you can add the lighter gray to the face simply by rubbing, due to the excess lead on your finger. You can also add shading to the underside of the body with the rubbing technique, and the shine on the back by erasing lightly. You can also use the eraser to add subtle touches to the facial pattern, such as a ring around the eye-patch. Don’t forget to show hints of finger bones in the flipper. It is important that you know where the light source is coming from. In this case, the “sun” is above and to the right of the Vaquita, so I have the dark shading on the opposite sides of the light source (bottom left) of every curve. This is especially noticeable on the flipper.

Step 3

4. Next you need to work on the body. Use the same technique as the head: draw then rub. Make sure you are still looking at some pictures to get an idea of the color pattern. Vaquitas have a dark back, with light gray sides fading to a white belly. Make sure you continue the shine by erasing lightly, as well as drawing subtle muscles. Your fingertip should be pitch black as you are working on this. Next, you can work on the dorsal fin as well as any scars or markings for additional realism.

Step 4

Step 5

5. The final step is the tail stock and fluke. Pay close attention to the muscles and ridges of the tail stock, because the shading and lighting is crucial to making it seem real and 3-dimensional. There is a ridge along the vertebrae called a dorsal ridge, as well as a caudal keel, which is a ridge on the side of the tail stock connecting to the fluke. The fluke is basically flat, giving it a more uniform color than other body parts. When you are done with this, take a few minutes to overview the entire drawing. Squint, turn it upside down, take a photo of it, or ask someone else what they think; anything to help get a new perspective of the overall work of art. When you feel like you are completely content with your drawing, breathe a sigh of relief: you drew a Vaquita! Obviously your second try will be better than your first, third better than second, and so on, so stay patient. And of course, I would love to see your masterpiece! Please send your drawings to me at gl.tamarin123@gmail.com, as always.

Step 6

Here is my finished piece.

Finished

Updated 8-bits

First of all, I know I am writing a lot of short posts right now of basically only artwork. Hopefully I will be writing more long posts soon, as the last few weeks in the Vaquita world have been relatively slow.

I am considering creating a series of digital paintings of endangered and/or very interesting cetaceans in pixel form. Below are what would be the first two entries, the Vaquita (a huge update from the last one) and the Maui’s Dolphin, both large and thumbnail sized. And who knows…the Vaquita could be used in the app!

8-bit Vaquita

8-bit Maui's Dolphin

8-bit Vaquita thumbnail

8-bit Maui's Dolphin thumbnail