I’m back from my week in Toronto for Fan Expo Canada 2015. What a week!

Overall Fan Expo Canada was a lot of fun, and I plan on signing up again. The parts I enjoyed the most was catching up with old friends, making new ones, and the conversations that I got to have friend friends and fans alike.

This was my first time at Fan Expo, and it was by far the biggest one that I’ve tabled at. Overall, things weren’t as stressful as I thought they’d be, and I actually felt pretty relaxed while I was there, much more so than the commute. After this weekend, I feel pretty good moving forward and applying to other large cons.

I got a good share of commissions, a couple of them were pretty wacky, but I had fun.  Seemed like the theme for Fan Expo was pandas and girls, but I enjoyed making each and every one of them. I mean, I get to draw a Hellboy and a Furiosa panda, how cool is that?

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I also got to meet a lot of talented artists and see some of their work. Sorry if I missed anyone, there’s just so much talent out there! Thomas AuMaruti Bitamin, Kyle James Smith, Gabe Sapienza, Genevieve FT, Nneka Myers, Melvin Yuen, Amanda J. Martin, Lee Ann Dufour, Chris Uminga, Matthew Fletcher, Mike Brodie, Kalvin Kulz, Derek Ho, Kenny Whaa, Glen Specter, Nathan Alcee, Ian Herring, Brian Hoang, and Gillian Newland.

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Now that I’m back in Seattle, I’m getting a little moment to breathe, but not for long! Rose City Comic Con is coming up fast, see you soon, Portland!

Cheers,

Nolen

Here are a couple sketches I made during my weekend trip to Las Vegas, or more like during my flight back home from Vegas. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my sketchbook with me when I visited Red Rocks Canyon. Next time, next time…

We had another half of day in Cusco before we had to catch a bus out to the Ollantaytambo station to catch a train to Aguas Calientes. But before I go into that, let me introduce you to one of Peru’s most exquisite delicacies: cuy!  What is “cuy” you may ask?  Why it’s the name given by the locals to one of natures most delicious, nutritious, and downright adorable creatures: the humble GUINEA PIG.

That’s right, folks! The name “cuy” is a local onomatopoeia based on the squeaking sounds of the guinea pigs.  These little critters are a good source of protein and are raised in farms all over Peru.  They tend to be a tourist draw as I noticed a lot of restaurants in the area offering it on their menus.  A roasted cuy can take nearly an hour to prepare, so we made a lunch reservation at a spot near our hostel called PachaPapa and wandered around town as we waited.

Plazoleta de Santa Cantolina.

Plazoleta de Santa Cantolina.

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Morning arrived with the sound of car honks with a hint of diesel.  Our window opened to the street below and caught every car, truck and pedestrian sound that passed by.  A good night’s rest helped with the altitude sickness, and we felt a bit more ready to hit the streets. As we made our way towards the main square, we passed through a small farmer’s market in San Blas near the fountain that we walked by yesterday during our walking tour.  At the base of the fountain was a small courtyard where a group of traditionally-dressed dancers performed with a band.  The dancing involved a lot of trotting and skipping as the flute and the mandolins blared through the worn-out speakers.  Near the end, the dance became more comedic as the men began to pick up the women and carry them away while the women slapped the men’s butts in protest reminiscent of some old cartoons I watched as a kid where cavemen would bonk women over the head and drag them away.  We then grabbed an early lunch at Jack’s which seemed very westernized with its menu of sandwiches and espresso machines.

Dancers in San Blas district.

Dancers in San Blas district.

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In June, Olwen and I got the chance to take a trip to Peru to visit Macchu Picchu. We were just in Cancun for my brother’s wedding (congrats Daren and Jessica!) and decided to take a side trip to South America since we were already south of the border. I had a fascination with Peru, and it was the first South American country I wanted to visit.

Arriving in Cusco.

Arriving in Cusco.

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Caught the Blazers game on Saturday, flew out to Toronto for Low-Dao’s 60th birthday on Super Bowl Sunday, and just got back to Seattle today.  Go Hawks, and time for bed!

On Friday after having lunch with one of Olwen’s friends, Cheryl, we dropped by Paintlounge in Markham which was owned by another friend of Olwen’s, Norris.  Olwen thought it would be good for me to try out some traditional painting before we met up with another friend that evening.  When I started out, I had no idea what I was supposed to paint.  I started with a recollection of Olwen playing with Caitlyn in her mini-jungle gym in Jeremy and Olga’s newly turfed yard amongst a backdrop of trees.  Eventually, those details proved to be precise given the the brushes I had so the painting ended up having a life of its own.  In the end, I think I was happy with the result.  There’s just something about the experience of using traditional media that you can’t quite duplicate with digital; the lack of an undo button, the mess, and the smell of the paint seem to enrich the experience since the final product is a lot more tangible than a bunch of pixels.  Alright, enough of the romantics, moving on…

Saturday was wedding number THREE starring our friends Apple and Darrin who live in Hong Kong but celebrating their wedding in Toronto with friends and family.  For their reception, they had a costume party along with photographers.  I thought I was the only one who had a full-sized bear costume for his own wedding…

Sadly, our trip was just about over.  We did get a nice surprise in the morning when we were awoken by a squealing mini-batgirl.  I’m gonna miss that terrible two-year old…

Sunday afternoon, I tried to catch the Toronto Subway Sketch Group that meets on Sunday afternoons at Union Station.  Unfortunately, the website didn’t specify which end of the station we were supposed to meet at.  Granted, I was a couple minutes late, but I tried to find by dashing in and out of the cars in between stops.  In the end, I gave up and went about my own sketching endeavors.  I did find a nice bowl of ramen over at Santuoka Ramen.

Tuesday morning, I went to do some work downtown at a cafe before we were to meet up with Olwen’s friends for dinner.  After I rendezvoused with Olwen for lunch, we stopped by Sugar Beach near the George Brown campus.  It’s an artificial beach constructed adjacent to a sugar refinery, hence the name.  While there, I had a nice chat with a student named Rose.

In the evening we arrived at Sushi Inn on Cumberland.  I made the following sketches during our conversations. Overall a fun and enjoyable night for all.

 

Lots to update on, so I’m going to split this up into separate posts.  Just got back from a week in Toronto visiting friends and family.

This is my fifth time visiting, but this was the first time that I was bringing a sketchbook.  There was a moment when my mother-in-law, I call her “Ah-Ma”, asked me why I sketched all the time.  At the time, I told her that I was doing it for practice, and trying to get better at my craft, but for some reason, that answer didn’t feel quite accurate to me.  When I later reflected on that conversation, I realized that the real reason was because it helped me to have a new outlook at what was before me.  I never thought about how sketching forces me to be more observant about the things in front of me, how it causes me to sift through the vast amount of visual information in front of me to get to what Walt Stanchfield calls the “first impression”.  And it helps me to see the story that’s behind every seemingly insignificant gesture or moment whether it be someone stirring their coffee, a couple having a conversation, or a weathered shipping yard; there’s always an individual backstory to everything and everyone.

So here were some of the moments that I managed to capture, some accurately, some not so great.  Regardless, what I would’ve expected to be a routine family visit turned out to be rich with enjoyable moments and little surprises.

 

Just got back today from a 5-day trip from Maui for Albert and Min’s wedding.  A few sketches from the trip…

Back in October, Olwen and I went on a two-week medical mission trip to Cambodia.  We held a half-dozen clinics in the towns of Barai and Battambang providing medical, dental, and optometry care with each clinic seeing around 200-300 patients a day.  Obviously I don’t have a medical background, but I worked in intake preparing the patients for their appointments and taking their blood pressure.  Olwen worked in the Children’s Ministry where they taught the local children various songs, crafts, hula dance, and a skit of Daniel in the lions den.  During the course of the trip, I brought a blank moleskine with me and documented some of what I saw while I was over there.  This was my first ever mission trip and my first time traveling to Southeast Asia. Here are a couple highlights from my sketchbook with more drawings after the jump.

Thursday (10/18): View from behind the Solar Cafe during lunch.

Thursday (10/18): View from behind the Solar Cafe during lunch.

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