2018, The Year Of The Earth Dog -- A View From The Southwest

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2018 is the Year of the Earth Dog according to the Chinese zodiac. I'm not quite sure what an Earth Dog is, but I immediately thought of a coyote when I heard the the term. My Earth Dog/coyote was inspired by the beautiful artistry and craftsmanship of Hopi katsina dolls. You can learn more about katsina dolls here.

According to online sources, the last Earth Dog year was 1958, which, by the way, just happens to be the year I was born. The horoscope says that those born in the year of the Earth Dog are talented, good communicators, compassionate, sensible, serious, highly principled, and idealistic. Also mentioned was something about the pancreas being important and avoiding fatty foods. That last part sounds pretty accurate to me.

What Reindeer Do


Ever wonder what reindeer do while waiting for Santa to fill stockings? (I bet Santa's Naughty Kid Book has some interesting notes in the margins!)

You can pick a copy or two of this holiday card here.

Sedona Holiday Magic

http://www.markix.net/cards/index.html target=
Even though the town of Sedona and the red rock country around it is now sadly overrun with tourists, it is still one of my favorite areas in Arizona. Being an older native Arizonan, I often visited Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon as a youngster when it was still peaceful and sparsely inhabited. I fondly remember one dark, crisp night looking at the stars shining brightly above the stately red rocks and falling in love with nature. It was a magical, transforming moment.

The greeting card is available here.

Thanksgiving Tradition Turkey

Being intelligent and open-minded, my family has always been reasonably civil when gathered for holidays. But whoa, I have sure heard some really juicy tales of other families literally battling it out over family and world issues! So please have a HAPPY Thanksgiving!

Deadly Eight-armed Wonders

Being a lover of science and nature I always relish doing research about unique flora and fauna for assigned illustration projects. More often than not, I dig up some amazing information. Recently, while working on a book project about how octopuses eat, I found out that these graceful and intelligent creatures have a deadly secret.

According to a story posted on National Geographic News, an Australian study found evidence that "all octopuses, cuttlefish, and some squid are venomous."  The venom helps corrode shells and weaken the prey of these cephalopods.

However, while all octopuses appear to be poisonous, only the blue-ringed octopus is dangerous to humans. Seems these tiny little creatures can kill you rather quickly if they bite you or if you try to bite them for dinner.

The Art Critic

I haven't posted in a while because I have a lot of projects that are keeping me quite busy. However, recently I took a break and did a quick sketch of one of my cats scrutinizing my work.

Why Cats Do Not Make Good Artistic Muses


Meet Dusty



Meet Dusty Pack, the hiking, backpacking Jackrabbit. Go to Dusty's website to download and color The Rules of the Trail PDF before you hit the path. There will be more Dusty coloring pages about enjoying nature in the future. (BTW, these rules are for everyone -- not just kids.)

Thanks to Smoky Mountain Strong Camp Read Aloud for sending me this photo of their shirts with some of my free Discovery clip art on them. Smoky Mountain Strong Camp Read Aloud is a summer literacy program to help strengthen reading skills and help raise awareness in the wake of a wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that left many in the area homeless and out of work.

Make a Little Book

http://www.markix.net/fun/make_your_own_cool_little_book.html
Looking for a fun and creative activity to do with your children? How about having them make their own little storybook. Just print out the PDF and follow the easy instructions. The perfect project for that aspiring young author and/or illustrator!  Here's the link: http://www.markix.net/fun/make_your_own_cool_little_book.html

Art Mends! Studies have shown that art has the amazing ability to help heal the body and soul.

http://www.artmends.org
Being in the hospital sucks. Being a kid in the hospital during the summer really sucks! So just delivered was another trunkful of art supplies to a local hospital that, sadly, doesn't have a budget for such materials.

Visit ArtMends.org for more info.

Some Grand Coloring Pages


If you are headed to the Grand Canyon this summer look for these coloring pages (created by me as a volunteer) being handed out at the park.

May the 5th be with You?

http://www.markix.net/funstuff/index.html
Being a native Arizonan, Cinco de Mayo has always been just another excuse to get together with Hispanic friends for some tasty authentic Mexican food. But what exactly does Cinco de Mayo commemorate?  In short, it's a celebration of the vastly outnumbered Mexican army's victory in a hard-fought battle with Napoleon III’s French forces on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. Napoleon III had sent an army to Mexico to collect on a Mexican debt to France. He also had plans to establish an empire in Mexico that would favor French interests. Although the victory didn’t change the outcome of the war, it did provide a boost to the army and people of Mexico and helped to unite the country.

Meet the Well Me Bots (tm) and Asthma Bots (tm)

Meet the Well Me Bots(tm) & The Asthma Bots(tm). The characters and the art for these coloring books were created by me as a volunteer for the Arizona Children's Center at Maricopa Medical Center.

Imagining Inventing

http://www.whimsicalillustrator.com
Part of a fun 4-page spread I illustrated for the February issue of ASK magazine.

New Magazine Artwork

A couple of the illustrations from a 5-page spread about "The Story of Books" in the January 2017 issue of ASK magazine.

My New Year Wish

Tonight I was asked if I have a New Year’s wish. Of course, besides the usually good health and happiness for my family and friends, I have one. It’s the same one I had for the past several years  -- that I can somehow find the resources so I can dedicate almost all of my time to my volunteer projects. Whether it's creating art for the National Park Service, buying art supplies for my own project, Art Mends, or the many other volunteer projects I help with. Hopefully I can sell more art and/or get a major, major grant so my wish can come true.
 
What’s your wish? I hope it comes true and you have a very happy new year!