Happy belated Mother’s Day! I’m either one or two days late, depending on how much longer this monster site update actually takes. We traveled to see family for the actual holiday, and the inescapable mundanities of life kept me from working in the studio, and getting to this update, until everyone else was in bed for the night. I also lost a chunk of the day to actually tracking down all the art I needed to photograph for this post. Speaking of this post…on to the actual post! (WARNING: this is going to be a longish one with lots of images…enjoy?)

The featured image is this year’s installment of my annual, hand drawn Mother’s Day cards for my wife. My wife loves dragons, so when I sat down to come up with an idea for her first Mother’s Day card, I knew it had to involved dragons. I came up with turning our children into little cartoon dragons who would age each year, just like our kids. Every year I tried harder and harder to make them recognizable as our kids, giving them certain characteristics or behaviors unique to them. In the 2015 card, they are posing in front of our youngest’s favorite trail sign on a local trail we have hiked since they were all tiny. He loves it because it looks like a face and usually requests taking a picture with it whenever we pass it. Of course, the “Happy Mother’s Day” signs aren’t actually there. And our kids aren’t actually dragons.

Here’s a little retrospective of the last 11 or so years as captured in my annual Mother’s Day cards, which for far too many years, were the only pieces of finished art I took the time to create each year. The role of stay at home dad was and is one I take very seriously, and it demanded pretty much all my time and energy. While I would gladly put my personal ambitions and dreams on hold again for my family, I’m very happy to be back in my studio on even an interrupted basis, and I’m glad I forced myself to express my love and appreciation for my wife, the mother of my children, through my art once a year.


The card that got the ball rolling, 2004 (our first son was born after Mother’s Day 2003). I was still figuring out the look of the characters, this is the only one that features a non-kid dragon.


Year 2, 2005. The baby dragon has gotten a little older.


The inside of the 2005 card. Kind of makes that posture on the front image make more sense, huh?


In 2006, we now had two children, so I decided there needed to be another dragon kid. This was the last year I made color cards, no particular reason, other than perhaps I was spending so little time in the studio that I was no longer comfortable working in color after this.


The inside of the 2006 card. In addition to dropping color after this, I dropped the interior illustration and replaced it with some annual mushy stuff and apologizing for my shortcomings as a father and husband.


2007, son number 3 on the way later that year. I was starting to think more about making the dragons recognizable as each kid, but I wasn’t quite there yet. Though, this probably is pretty much how they reacted to the news of another brother.


2009…I somehow skipped 2008. I’m not sure what happened, but I hope I had a phenomenal reason, because that’s just lame. These cards were the only piece of art I was producing each year for quite a few years, which, while frustrating and sad to me, makes these cards that much more special and indicates how important my wife is to me. I was starting to capture some of the boys’ traits and personalities in this one, like the pacifier, smiles, and missing teeth. They’re all sporting their mom-made blankies, which are really cool. I wish I had done this one in color because they each have their own special color and pattern.


2010, the year of the sideways card…I was trying to find ways to not only make each dragon kid distinguishable as each of our sons, but also to have them noticeably age each year, just like our sons.


2011, this one was challenging because I wanted them to form a heart as they lay there with their signs. It kind of works if you squint.


2012, this is one of my favorites of the bunch. Not only am I getting closer to making them look like our kids, but I decided to throw in some other unique elements to make it undeniable. All the gear the dragon kids have on is based on all the gear our kids wore that winter season. Skiing/snowboarding had become a huge past time for our family by this point, so although it was a more involved card and it took a while, I had to do it.


2013, the year of the Kuma. Still struggling a bit with getting the likenesses right, I was trying to capture the unique way each of them smiles. It’s tough to remember that our dog was once a puppy, and only 2 years ago, too.


2014. I wanted to continue to use things we do as a family as settings for the dragon kids. We are a very avid hiking family, the boys love it (especially once their legs are in shape for the season). Still working on faces and smiles. I think I captured our youngest in an appropriate pose for his personality.


And finally 2015. I’m pretty happy with this one overall, in terms of nailing down the looks of the kids. I used more specific photo references for posture and facial features, and I think the human kids’ identities shine through. This spot is our youngest’s favorite trail sign (the one that looks like a face) on one of our favorite local hikes. He requests a picture next to it almost every time we hike past it. I’m also reasonably happy with the overall setting I created here, based on this spot on the mountain.

There you have it, 11ish years of Mother’s Day cards for my patient, intelligent, beautiful wife. I’m lucky in very many ways, not the least of which is having her in my life. She puts up with a lot from me, all my quirks, neurosis, and craziness. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little retrospective of some very personal art and you understand a little bit better just how important my wife is in my life. Happy Mother’s Day, moms!