My new Vaquita painting

Here is my all-new Vaquita painting/drawing that I made as a donation to Wild Lens, Inc.’s Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming Vaquita documentary, Souls of the Vermilion Sea. It is going to a very generous donor who gave $159 to the campaign, helping Wild Lens reach their goal of $15,000. I was also flattered by all the donors who bought my books, autographed or not. Between the books and the painting, donors gave a grand total of $1,104 to the campaign just for my work. You guys rock!

The painting, titled Emerging, is a combination of watercolor paint, watercolor pencils, graphite pencils, colored pencils, and pens on watercolor paper.

Image copyright © Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky

Image copyright © Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky

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Morph

Morph

This is a drawing called “Morph.” It represents the complexity of the Vaquita’s situation by showing how vague the difference between the Vaquita and its killer—the gillnet—is. Is there a good side? Or are they both good—or neither? I believe that this is one of the few situations where the murderer is not an antagonist.

The fishermen are people with families that are doing all they can to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

The Vaquita is an innocent little porpoise that has never harmed a human being, yet has been forced to don the title of most endangered marine mammal. Their predicament is the unfortunate side effect of an economically efficient fishing method.

There will never be a story about the Vaquita without mention of gillnets. They go hand-in-hand, and always will. Let’s just hope that in the future we will be talking about the Vaquita’s conquering of gillnets, not vice versa.

In the end, it is up to the fishermen to make a very difficult choice: illegally fishing for temporary wealth but driving the Vaquita to extinction and destroying the Gulf’s ecosystem, or switching to admittedly expensive alternative gear that preserves the Vaquita and the food chain as well as giving their families eventual wealth. Our job is to convince them to choose the second one. In addition to spreading the word on social media, an undeniably great way to help with this problem is by donating. $50 can eliminate an entire day of gillnetting. Please consider clicking below and donating to what I believe is the worthiest cause on the planet, brought to you by GreaterGood.org. Thanks from the Vaquita.

https://m.theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/store/ars/item/62276/save-the-critically-endangered-vaquita

 

The painting is finished!

Despedida Vaquita

Frédérique Lucas’ masterpiece is complete. Four months in the making, the 17-year-old artist revealed her photo-realistic painting to the world yesterday. Titled “Despedida (Goodbye) Vaquita,” the work manages to capture raw emotion like few other paintings do. It depicts an entangled, washed up Vaquita on a Mexican beach, while the sun vanishes just as the porpoise’s life did. Please share the link below with everyone you know to inspire them to help the Vaquita. We need artwork like this to light a fire in us all to try our hardest to protect this porpoise. Thank you Frédérique and everyone that shares this painting and the Vaquita’s story. I have yet to hear of someone who was not moved by the Vaquita’s predicament, so the problem is that not enough people know. If they did, it would be a whole lot easier to save these little guys.

http://namu-the-orca.deviantart.com/art/Despedida-Vaquita-Goodbye-Vaquita-470879101

In other news, Save the Whales is running a Vaquita drawing contest for students, with the deadline being August 15: http://www.savethewhales.org/STV_StudentContest.html.
The prizes are either 4 tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or an “Adopt-a-Vaquita Kit” if you can’t make it to California. Those are outstanding prizes, especially for only drawing a picture! This is an opportunity not only to get great cetacean prizes, but also to support the Vaquita while making artwork. I won’t be submitting anything, but I will be making some larger Vaquita paintings soon, where I will put them up for auction with the proceeds going to the Vaquita, as always.
🙂

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

Times have changed

I remember when I was a little boy
first learning about the Vaquita.
I was filled with wonder and determination…
Determination to keep them on this planet.
I donated my Christmas money;
I didn’t get souvenirs when the rest of my family did,
so I could donate even more.
I told everyone I knew,
and told them to do the same.
I even started a Vaquita club at my school to raise money.
I emailed the experts as often as I could,
and read every book and website with the word, “Vaquita.”
I don’t exactly remember what I thought was going to happen to the species,
but I know what I wanted to happen.
That was around the time Chris Johnson’s movie came out,
and I loved it.
But I was also scared…
Scared we might lose the Vaquita forever.
Thinking back upon these things,
I wasn’t doing very much.
But I loved doing it.
Then came V-log.
I still remember coming up with the name,
“A vlog is a video-blog, and Vaquita starts with V, so it could be a Vaquita-blog!”
I was 11 at the time, so I wasn’t the best with websites.
My first post was,
“Vaquita is Spanish for ‘little cow.'”
I became obsessed with learning and writing about the Vaquita,
so I started a book on it.
When I finished writing the book,
I kind of stopped for a little while.
But then my passion was rekindled by art.
I learned that I love to draw, especially Vaquitas.
I began illustrating my book.
And then, on one fateful March morning,
I received a comment.
It was from William Whittenbury.
He told me all about his club,
The Muskwa Club.
My life changed dramatically on that day.
Together, we have accomplished so much.
Videos, tables, my book’s publishing,
and National Save the Vaquita Day.
This event coincided with the Official Norm law,
and this summer was one of utter awesomeness for the Vaquita,
and me.
I am learning the ways of a businessman, conservationist, and artist.
Or some combination of the three…
Muskwa and I may be getting some pretty crazy ideas,
but hey, they are working.

And there has never been a more exciting time in the world of the Vaquita.