Common Cliff Dragon–Male

The Artdog Image of Interest 

This month I’ve been posting some of my own artwork for my Images of Interest. This is a representative image from my edition of multiple originals titled Common Cliff Dragon–Male. It was recently listed in my Etsy shop, Artdog Paper Sculpture.

My three drawings from 2012, inked and scanned.

It was developed from three pencil drawings I did back in 2012, each created to overlay the one below. The “cliff surface” is one layer, the dragon’s body is the second, and the dragon’s wings are the third. Once the three were aligned on tracing paper, I inked them, scanned them, then colored each using Adobe Illustrator and a Wacom “Bamboo” tablet.

These are the pieces I cut out.

The artwork prints out as five different pieces: the border base (on heavier archival stock) with the title in the rectangle; the cliff face (sculpted and floated over the base), the body of the dragon; and finally two layers of wings, one more heavily sculpted and glued over the lower layer for a better 3D effect.

Here’s the assembly process.

Then it’s time to cut the pieces out, which I do with small, precise scissors (they go dull so much less often than X-Acto knives! Then I sculpt with clay-working tools on the flat surface of paper laid over corkboard, assemble the pieces, and it begins to look almost alive, sometimes.

IMAGES: All images are by me, of pieces of a paper sculpture made by me, Jan S. Gephardt. You may use them online, if you’ll provide accurate attribution and a link back. Thanks!

“Coming Through!”

The Artdog Image of Interest 

This month I’ve decided to feature several pieces of my fantasy artwork that I’ve recently added to my Etsy shop, ArtdogPaperSculpture. Yes, I’d like to sell some. But I also just enjoy sharing my artwork. I hope you’ll enjoy looking at it. These works also travel to art shows with me.

I first began developing the composition Coming Through! in 2012, but my assertive little unicorn making his way through the day lilies has been through several variations since then.

The photo on this post shows one of two different Artist’s Proofs that are variations on this composition available through my Etsy site. Here’s the link to this oneHere’s the link to the other. 

I‘m now developing an edition of no more than 25 multiple originals (each piece made one-by-one, hand-sculpted and assembled, which leads to subtle variations. Thus, although the edition is consistent, each piece also is unique).

Subscribe to this blog for further updates on all of my available artwork! Note: this post was updated with additional images on 7/19/2017.

IMAGE: This photo of my art was taken by me for documentation purposes and to use for my blog, social media, and my Etsy site. Feel free to re-post it, if you wish, but please don’t forget to attribute it to Jan S. Gephardt, and a link back to this post or the Etsy site is deeply appreciated!

A “pawsitive” difference for Hospice patients

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

This week’s “making a positive difference” (perhaps I should say a “Pawsitive” difference) Image of Interest is drawn from a video. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while has undoubtedly picked up on my love and respect for service animals of all types, but this week’s image is important to me for several reasons.

First, I have a family member whose certified Emotional Support dog has recently become a crucial part of winning her battle with addiction. Second, this week has been especially tough for several of my friends as a mutual acquaintance has gone into Hospice care for the final stage of her life.

I have long been an advocate of animal therapy for a variety of situations. this includes supporting children’s reading with dogs, therapy animals in hospitals and hospice settings, and service animals that assist the disabled, or help those with health issues (diabetes and seizure disorders to name just two) stay on top of their conditions.

Does your pet have the makings of a good therapy animal? Purebred or rescue, critters with the right temperament can make an incredible difference. I hope you’ll find inspiration in this video, which features the work of several different therapy dogs, including Lanie, who’s featured in our photo above.

IMAGE and VIDEO: Both the still photo and the video about San Diego Hospice therapy dog program demonstrate their well-deserved reputation as a “pioneering organization in end-of-life care.” Unfortunately, this program closed in 2016. I’ve chosen to post the images anyway, because they still demonstrate some of the best positive aspects of therapy animal work.

Cleaning up our act

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest 


Last week’s Image of Interest opened my month’s Image theme of volunteering in our community as a way of making the world a better place. That photo showed kids working in a food pantry. This week it’s a photo from 2011, of the results from a cleanup effort along the Huron River. 

It reminds me of the sequence in the movie Spirited Away, when the Stink Spirit comes to the bath house for a much-needed cleansing . . . and of the aftermath left behind.

Water quality matters–just ask Flint, Michigan. Does your calling lead you to aid efforts that promote water conservation and anti-pollution efforts?

IMAGES: Many thanks to The Ann Arbor News, for the Huron River cleanup photo. I am grateful to Ouno Design for the image from the 2001 movie Spirited Away, from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

The value of volunteering

The Artdog Image of Interest 

One of many places where volunteers can make a world of difference is at your local food pantry.

One of the best ways you can make your world a better place is by volunteering in your community. Most places have a wealth of opportunities to volunteer.

Consider: animal shelters; food banks, soup kitchens, or homeless shelters; parks or beaches; libraries; retirement homes, nursing homes, or hospitals; charitable organizations; county elder resources, and many others. Most communities have a volunteer resource coordinator of some sort. Keep looking till you find the best fit for you!

The most amazing thing about volunteering for the betterment of your community is how good it can be for you! Making a difference in someone else’s life is a satisfaction few other pleasures can match.

Haven’t tried it? Consider doing it now!

IMAGE: Many thanks to AdmitSee for this post about the Lion’s Heart program for teens and its post “7 Easy Ways to Volunteer in Your Community.”

The balancing act: Keeping them safe

The Artdog Image of Interest

As a parent, I know that delicate balance between letting kids explore and keeping them safe. It can be a dangerous world. A responsible parent can’t disregard the hazards, even as we gradually expand kids’ boundaries.

Playing in nature definitely presents a list of potential hazards, from sunburn to tick-borne illnesses (a particularly knotty problem this year!), animal bites, falls . . . a worried parent could go mad. I believe it’s important to remember that our primary job as parents is to render ourselves unnecessary–to rear independent persons who are as healthy and well-adjusted as possible, equipped with the skills and judgment needed to succeed as fully-functioning adults.

But achieving that goal requires that they stay alive long enough to become adults.

So, where do we draw the line? And how do we adjust appropriately–because that line always keeps changing! Developmental stages flash by so fast, we have to work, to stay on top of “what’s developmentally appropriate today?” I managed (with a lot of help) to shepherd two reasonably-functional human beings into adulthood, and for me the key always seemed to be information.

I have yet to meet the child who responds positively to “because I say so!” And they’re RIGHT. That’s an extremely unhelpful answer.

As appropriate for the developmental level, I always tried to take the time to explain to the child why certain restrictions had to apply, if I possibly could. Granted, sometimes there’s no time. But that meant we needed a follow-up conversation. I discovered even the youngest child has the capability to be a rational human being (to the extent that someone can be, at any given stage of development). If we want them to grow into that capability as adults, we must treat them accordingly when they’re kids.

As appropriate for their age, that means teaching kids how to prevent their own bad outcomes (wear sunscreen and bug repellent; know basic safety principles about approaching animals or walking on rotten branches or uneven terrain). They may ignore it, but at least they’ll know why it happened, if they do.

It helps to remember the favorite saying of a friend of mine: “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” Giving them wide enough boundaries to explore and “push their envelope” means sometimes there’ll be unfortunate results. That’s why it’s just as important to teach them what do do if something does happen. There’s no emergency situation that can’t be made worse by the victim’s panic! The goal is not to terrify them, but to empower them.

It isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Citypages (Minneapolis, MN) for this image! (no info available, on who’s the photographer).

4 Powerful benefits from a simple nature walk

The Artdog Image of Interest

Some folks will look at this photo and see nothing but weeds, potential sunburn, probable bug bites, an annoying tick-check later, and dirty feet in the making. Grab the sunscreen and the bug repellent! They’ve let the kids loose in the the woods again!

Others will realize that these kids are receiving many more benefits than they are facing potential hazards. What are the benefits of taking a walk in nature? Let me count out a few for you!

1. Walking in nature improves emotional well-being. Children today suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety than past generations–yet walking in nature has been shown to counter “morbid rumination” (brooding on anxious or negative thoughts).

2. Walking anywhere promotes better fitness, but walking in nature is intrinsically satisfying. This makes it a more attractive activity than, say, walking on a treadmill or a track. The variations in terrain also can help foster greater agility.

3. The endless variety and movement in nature provokes a child’s natural curiosity. Some experts suggest it may help foster greater focus and improve kids’ attention span, while other folks have pointed out it can help improve listening and other cognitive skills. It’s also true that things a child personally experiences in nature can make academic studies of topics such as biology, ecology and other sciences more relevant and understandable.

4. Exposure to nature can also improve the body’s ability to function. While overexposure to the sun is a hazard, sunlight is essential to the production of Vitamin D in the body–a vital component for robust immune health. And speaking of the immune system, did you actually know that a little dirt is actually a good thing? A too-sanitized environment for children can actually backfire if the child’s body has no chance to build up natural immunities. It’s the same principle that applies to the immune-system benefits of household pets. Finally, being in nature can even improve kids’ eyesight, if they spend sufficient time outdoors!

Nature walks provide so many powerful benefits, it’s hard to overstate their value. So what are you waiting for? Grab the kids and get out there!

IMAGE: Many thanks to the writer/blogger Angela Amman for permission to use her photo “Walking in the Woods,” posted on her Playing With Words blog.