So many pugs!

Well so many of the same pug actually. Recently, after I finished my Gentleman's Goldfish  I asked my facebook page fans what animal I should work on next. 

My niece was online (bless her) and threw out a bunch of suggestions: jellyfish, octopus, hippo, platypus and pug.

I also received a few other suggestions (meerkat!) and I've saved them all in a handy evernote memo. But the one that stuck to me during this round was the pug suggestion because a few other people had mentioned them to me recently. How they're very cute with their googly eyes and old-man funny faces. 

Personally, I'm a cat person ( I have two!) and although I grew up with dogs I've never actually drawn my own or any other dog. So before I could really commit to making my next Eccentric animal a pug, I tested out my dog drawing skills. 

This is my first EVER drawing of a dog that isn't a stick figure. 

My hesitation at calling this a pug is clear enough. I signed off this drawing with the above question. 

My hesitation at calling this a pug is clear enough. I signed off this drawing with the above question. 

Firstly, I don't ever remember seeing a pug in person before. It also didn't help that I kept overlaying imaginary bulldog features on them just because I was more familiar with bulldogs (I've seen a few growing up).  Anyway, I showed this drawing to a few friends and posted it on instagram half expecting someone to point out that it looked like a boxer puppy. No one said anything so I figure I could move on to the next step which was making him eccentric :D 

My immediate thought was "I want him to wear a donut". lol But because he's a small puppy and was sitting the way pugs apparently like to, I couldn't 'realistically' fit a donut around him without making him look like he was being suffocated. It had to be something else. 

Shogun pug

Shogun pug

Sometimes, when no ideas come to me, I like to start from the basics by asking "Who am I?". It's a pretty simple question to which internal Steph will eventually say, "I'm half Japanese, half Filipino". It's my default answer whenever people ask me where I'm from or where I grew up..what my background was etc. I suppose, it's the same when I brainstorm - it starts off with my identity. As to why it had to be a kabuto (Japanese warrior helmet) well, in my mind, this puppy was a boy and what he lacked in size, I felt he should make up for in audacity. lol 

After a few days' break from pugs, I went to sketch a bigger version. The break was because I felt like I needed to 'recharge' from brainstorming and thinking of pugs so much. Later I realize, I simply just wasn't able to differentiate between procrastinating and recharging. 

You'll notice the lack of helmet.

You'll notice the lack of helmet.

Here he is on watercolour paper. This was where I again encountered major delays. I realized, that if I were to fit in the kabuto, I had to shrink the pug on the paper...did I want the focus to be on the helmet and not the pug? Did I want a small pug? Deep down, I really liked the size of the pug I currently had. So I ditched the helmet, as painful as that was, and added in Iron Man's arc reactor as an homage to my penchant for Marvel. 

But, I wasn't happy with it. I had a sense of compromise and even of laziness. Something in my gut was telling me it didn't like this version and that it didn't fit in with the rest of my Eccentric series.  And that's the key isn't it, that a series has to be continuous..it has to pass on a similar and consistent message. Iron Pug, although fun, didn't really fit in that relay race. 

So I went back to the drawing board, erased the arc reactor and went back to the Japanese motif that I originally had in mind. If I couldn't fit a helmet in because of paper constraints, I could still fit something just as ridiculous: a detailed katana on his back. 

And all was right again :)

And all was right again :)

I'm learning slowly to listen to my gut and it was much happier this time. I put in line patterns and details in the sash, scabbard and hilt to contrast with the solid colours of Mr.Pug. 

Here he is with the first pass of brown: 

It took a few tries to get that sandy shade of brown / yellow / cream.

It took a few tries to get that sandy shade of brown / yellow / cream.

Here he is in his creepy zombie stage.

Here he is in his creepy zombie stage.

And lastly here's the final version: 

Lessons learnt from this painting: 

  • Distinguish between ideation, rest and procrastination 
  • Listen to your gut - it knows when you're being lazy and / or compromising.
  • CONSISTENCY. 

Besides that, I'm happy I finally have a dog painting in my repertoire that's as eccentric and offbeat as his other buddies.