Juniper

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Many moons have passed since I last posted, and all of them were spent bringing Juniper to life.

Juniper is a lady Striped Hyena, and she was created from one of my Animal Battle paintings:

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I managed to photograph a little bit of her long journey:

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In case you’re wondering – yeah, that part took forever.

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Her grass skirt.  Above, the first failed attempt.  Below, the successful garment.  Each took much too long, but was worth the effort.

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And that’s all I’ll be showing to you guys, for now.  Full works will be revealed this August at Hellion Gallery, a show I’m very excited about.

Thank you for reading along and all your lovely comments, I’m happy you enjoy looking at the sculptures as much as I love making them.

 Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work!

Tally Ho,

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Jarvis

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Say hello to Jarvis.

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I’ve just wrapped up my second Animal Battle sculpture, a little sloth soldier I’ve named Jarvis.  Don’t let that cute mug fool you – he’s one tough cookie.

Rather then go into great detail about my process, I’ll just share some photos I managed to remember to take along the way.  Let’s:

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This time around, my skeleton/armature was much better, and sturdier too.  And I remembered to use a lot more foil.  I also upgraded my (super old) liquitex paints for some nice liquid Golden.  Made a huge difference.

There were a lot of failed attempts and do-overs.  I changed his little snout probably about six times, and his pants definitely took a couple tries.  One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to make a cloth banner that appeared to blow in the breeze.  The secret?  A heck of a lot of patience.

It was worth it.

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And here’s a little video, of course:

Jarvis from Maryanna Hoggatt on Vimeo.

I’m pleased to announce that both Tolly and Jarvis, along with many sculptures to come, will be part of my next show at Hellion Gallery this August!  By then I’ll have a small army to share with you.

Stay Golden,

LW_Sig

Animal Battle Sculpture: Part III

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Meet Tolly Peppercorn.

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Here he is!  Ready for battle.  The last part of this lengthy process was something I’m well-versed in: painting.  Let’s look at some pictures, shall we?

(In case you missed it, here are Parts I and II.)

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Just like the original illustration, I started off with a creamy-colored base – a coat of white gesso, followed by a coat of tinted gesso.

Painting fur on a sculpture with acrylics was new territory for me, and a bit more labor intensive.  Acrylics are a different beast, and his fur required 4 or 5 layers of glazing and brushstrokes of different colors.  In the beginning, he was quite red, like a fox, before he turned into a brown raccoon.

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Here you can see all the holes I made in his capelet prior to baking.

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The tiniest bolo tie ever!  I had some coffee before painting the tie.  I don’t recommend it.

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It was time to add his wooden sword (made from clay, of course), so I molded some black Apoxie Sculpt onto his arm and moss cape.

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I “planted” all the little ‘shroomies and flowers and branches I’d painted.  Then I had to figure out this flag situation.  Here’s a droopy-looking test subject, cut from an old cotton t-shirt.

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On the left are my first run of battle flags, which I wasn’t too happy with.  On the right are Version-Two-Point-Oh.  Much better!  I didn’t want them to be too droopy, though, so I dipped them in watered down Elmer’s Glue to stiffen them up a bit, then curled the flags.

In my childish excitement I stopped taking photos as I neared the end.  I threaded some embroidery floss through his mask-hat, finished up painting the last bits, cleaned up and stained the wooden base, signed it, and VOILÁ:

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And HERE’S a video showing some sweet 360 action:

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Tolly Peppercorn is pleased to meet you.  Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon with more (oh yes, more) sculptures.

Tally Ho,

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Animal Battle Sculpture: Part II

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Victory.

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(Edit: Here are Parts I and III.)

Hear Hear!

As you can see, our fellow emerged from the oven unscathed.  I was quite pleased and relieved (and so was he).

For the past few days (several? I’m losing track of time here) I’ve been steadily sculpting, sanding, and priming all the details that will go along with our little soldier.  That’s right guys – it’s time to accessorize.

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In the original painting, there are tons of little details to consider: his mask-hat, those branches with tiny flags dangling in the breeze, mushrooms, flowers, and – let’s not forget – his sword of course.  Oh, and his bolo tie.  Geez, that’s a lot of details.  This was going to take longer than I thought.

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Given their delicate nature, it was time for APOXIE SCULPT.  This stuff is radness in two little buckets.  If you’ve never used it before (as I hadn’t, but carefully researched), it’s a two-part compound you mix together that gradually self-hardens in about 3 hours.  After 24 hours, it’s hard as a rock and you can sand / drill / paint / throw angrily on the ground and it WON’T BREAK.

While my sculpture baked, I gave Apoxie Sculpt a try.  I mixed it together and let it “rest”, then tried to make his tiny mask-hat.  The stuff was horribly tacky.  Like, it wouldn’t stop sticking to my fingers and tools.  I left it alone for another hour.  STILL sticky.  And worse, it would droop sadly and lose it’s shape.  Frustrated, I gave up for the evening.

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The next day was a new beginning y’all.  Reading that it would help temper the stickiness, I’d stored my Apoxie Sculpt in the fridge overnight.  It made a huge difference!  And, in one of many Ah-Ha! moments, I realized I needed to structure the medium over a base, like wire.

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But first, a note.  As I thought about my process, I decided that I wanted to make most of these elements removable.  Transporting a sculpture of this nature in one single piece just didn’t seem logical.  So, prior to baking, I created holes for the branches by inserting these rods into the clay.

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Following the recommended instructions from this forum, I baked him, verrrrry slowly, then let him cool down just as slow.  All the holes and details, even the tiniest holes, maintained true to form, and he didn’t have a single crack!  Beginner’s luck.

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Knowing this, and also knowing I could bake my sculpture multiple times, I added more clay and created more insertion points.  I made flowers with Apoxie Sculpt and some very thin, but sturdy, brass wire I had hanging around, which really came in handy.

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And I made super duper small mushrooms!  This is ridiculously fun.  I was making the world’s smallest garden.  On a moss capelet.

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Next came the branches.  I kept discovering that all the materials I had on hand served a perfect purpose.  The brass rod was hollow, so I cut it down and inserted a few strands of the thin brass wire.  I shaped them into branches, then molded Apoxie Sculpt around them.

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And we mustn’t forget the bolo tie.  This one took me a couple tries.  Actually, a bunch of things did.  I was so hyper-focused that three hours would pass in the blink of an eye.  I haven’t seen the sun in a week.  (Well, that’s also because I’m in Portland.)

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Oh look, a patch of moss.  With some pebbles.

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And a paw!  This part reminded me of a scene from a movie, perhaps Harry Potter, when Voldemort gives Wormtail a new hand.

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Then I made his sword.  I used two pieces of large armature wire and twisted them together for the base, then tried building up the shape with Sculpey.  This wasn’t working though, the edges were too smooth.  I switched gears and layered flat sheets of clay around the wire to form a block, then carved the shape of a sword from it.  Just like carving a real wooden sword!  I’ll have a finished picture later.

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The Apoxie Sculpt pieces were nearly set, so I gave them all a test.  So much excitement.  Everything looked good, so I documented all the little insertion points, removed the pieces, and slowly baked the sculpture one more time.

This second time around, he developed two tiny hairline cracks, in the meatiest part of the sculpture.  I don’t think I let him cool slowly enough.  No sweat, I patched them up with some Apoxie Sculpt.

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Next, a lot of sanding.  Regular sandpaper sheets were too cumbersome for these pieces, so I found an unopened package of miniature emery boards in a drawer.  Seriously?  How long have I had these, and how are they so perfect for this task?

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Another bump in the road: priming.  One of my resources cited plastic primer in a spray can, so that’s what I had.  I tested it on these two pieces, and I must say, I hated the results.  Like, I get angry looking at this picture.  The primer pooled in the cracks and wasn’t evenly coated, and it was sticky for FOREVER.  There had to be something else.

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GESSO.  Duh.  With a brush, for total control.  In a couple thin coats.  Why anyone would use spray primer is beyond me (but I invite you to prove me wrong).

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I started priming his head when I realized I almost forgot about his whiskers!  “How dare you, Miss!”, I could almost hear him cry.  Thanks to the tip from this video (about 1:34), I found an old bag of feathers (seriously, how do I have all this stuff), stripped them, and inserted the quill in a pad of Apoxie Sculpt.  Voila.

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There you have it – all primed and ready for some color, the really fun part.  Oh who am I kidding?  This entire process is fun.

Stayed tuned for the final part of making my Battle Raccoon maquette.

And I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has left such lovely comments about this project, here or otherwise.  I’ve been blown away by the response!  Your support means the world and I’m happy to share with you.

Cheers,

LW_Sig

Animal Battle: Making a Sculpture

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Hey girl.

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Some time ago, I decided I wanted to start making my Animal Battle characters 3-dimensional.  I love drawing them so much that I want them to really come to life.

Quite suddenly a few weeks ago, my brain decided it was time.  It was like a switch flipped and I needed to start making that dream happen NOW.  I was really curious about making maquette sculptures, so for about a week and a half I scoured the entire internet for everything I could find about sculpting with clay.  I watched dozens of video tutorials, pored over countless blogs and websites, read through a couple books.  I looked like this:

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But, you know, like happy, I just wasn’t blinking.

Then I made supply lists, thought a LOT about the process, made several important clicks on Amazon, and a few trips to my local art and hardware stores.  Some things I bought:

  • a pasta maker (for softening and squishing clay into flat sheets)
  • a Dremel tool
  • Super Sculpey firm clay
  • Apoxie Sculpt
  • an assortment of sculpting tools
  • a spinning base
  • spray-on plastic primer I highly recommend Acrylic Gesso instead
  • a plain wooden base
  • armature wire (various sizes)

So, as prepared as I could ever be, or so I thought, it was time to embark on a new adventure.

**DISCLAIMER: I’ve never sculpted with this clay before, or sculpted much at all for that matter, so a lot of this process is a little (a lot) of trial and error, based on all the things I read and watched other people do.  Please be kind to the n00b, and also – advice is welcome!**

UPDATE: Parts II and III are posted!

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First, I traced the basic skeleton of one of my favorite soldiers, Battle Raccoon.  In this print he’s about 10″ tall.  I cut my armature wire and assembled the skeleton.

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Next, I drilled some holes into my base (Yeah! Power tools!) and inserted my armature.

Okay, I know what some Armaturists out there might think: what the hell?  Even now I’m thinking that to myself.  This ain’t the prettiest armature you’ll ever see.  The two “legs” that extend up the sides of body are actually sturdy brass rods, with everything else kind of goofily attached to them.  But, my main concern was making sure our man’s tiny little legs would support his much-bigger body (and head).  And, I was too impatient/didn’t have epoxy putty to meld the joints together, so I used clay, which was awkward.

But it worked.  So moving on.

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Time to bulk up with some aluminum foil.  You can see how I’ve bent the rods a bit at the “knees” (hopefully without compromising them too much).  I also had to gently tack in a couple snips of armature wire at the “feet” because the holes I drilled were too large.  I’ve got smaller bits, but I need to buy the adaptor for my Dremel tool that’ll let me use them.  Sigh.

It’s working.  So, moving on.

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Next, I spent maybe the next hour slicing off chunks of Super Sculpey, running them through my pasta maker, and slowly blocking out our main man here.  You may have noticed how much foil I didn’t use.  I might be realizing this later.  First time, guys, first time.

So there’s my loveable lump.  At this point I retired for the evening.

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The next day I continued blocking out shapes until, slowly, a raccoon began to form.  A battle raccoon.

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And suddenly, a head!  I became so engrossed in sculpting I forgot to take pictures.  I found my sculpting tools easy to use and fun to work with, and the stylus with the tiny round ball at the end quickly became my favorite.

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He’s coming alive!  Excitement.

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Annnnnnd here’s my moment of realization.  Just as I was about to start working on his mossy capelet, I thought to test the thickness of the clay.  The blade of my X-acto pushed right into his shoulder and hit nothing.  Way waaaaay too thick.

So, I stripped all that clay off and bulked him up with more foil.  I knew there was probably too much clay on the head now, and maybe on his torso too, but there was no turning back.

We continue.

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That’s better.  All bulked up.

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I carved out and texturized the moss cape.  I looked around my studio for something that I could use for just the right texture, and found a nice old sturdy, crappy brush.  Perfect.

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I made his little mask-hat just to see what it would look like, but I didn’t leave it on there.  I knew I’d be making that part with self-hardening clay later.

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This little stylus tool is really versatile.  I used it to make a sort of inverted “chain mail”.

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And there’s his sleeve, with another flat piece of clay ready to be turned into chain mail on his other arm.

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Next, I rolled out a suuuuuuuper thin slice of clay to make the hem of his tunic.  Like prosciutto.  (Mmmm….prosciutto.)  Then I used my X-acto knife to carve out the pattern before attaching it to the torso and blending the clay in.

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For all the bottom detailing, I had to elevate the sculpture on a shoe box so I could see what I was doing.  But, there’s my workspace, and there HE is!

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After I took these photos, I decided to add a little more detail to his clothing – stitches for the pocket and heart, folds in his tunic.  And I gave him a nice brush-down with alcohol to smooth out the clay a bit.  I’ll be adding the rest of the details later with Apoxie Sculpt, like his paws and sword, and his tiny, tiny bolo tie (that should be interesting).  And then – painting!

But for now, our hero is in the oven, AS I TYPE THIS.  He is slowly baking and turning into a (hopefully) sturdy little statue with (hopefully) not too many cracks.  I’m particularly worried about all those little chunks of hair on his head, I left them there as a test.  OH THE DRAMA!  I can hardly stand it.

Stay tuned for the next update on my Animal Battle maquette!

xo

LW_Sig

Goodbye, 2013

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Boy, what a year 2013 was.  Any way I cut it, I have to admit that it was a pretty spectacular year, both personally and professionally.  Hop into my time warp machine with me for a quick whirlwind journey through the past.

* This is a mega-long post, but hopefully makes up for all the stuff I didn’t have time to post last year! *

// JANUARY \\

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Gridlords was kind enough to invite me to their monthly reading event and debut the second volume of my comic series, Adult Babysitting.  The reading was great and I was beyond excited to release my comic child into the world.

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// FEBRUARY \\

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Now a full-time member of the Pony Club Gallery, I began to regularly contribute new work for group shows, starting with this fun number where I drew my awesome lady pal Brooke Weeber.

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In one of the most pivotal and bittersweet moments of my life, I quit my bartending job after nearly 6 years of service. I was now a full-time artist, and braced myself for all the ups and downs that would come with a freelance lifestyle.  (And I would never wear those reindeer horns again.)

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// MARCH \\

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With just two months before my first solo show at Pony Club, I launched into my very first Animal Battle piece and began posting all progress photos on my Instagram (@Leetlewolf).  The response was immediate and warm, and I knew I was on to something great.  I had a new love, and that was to paint fuzzy battle animals.

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// APRIL \\

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April saw the annual Stumptown Comics Fest, and this year I shared a big booth with my fellow members at Pony Club Gallery.  The highlight of the event?  Meeting Muriel Fahrion, THE creator of Strawberry Shortcake.  She was just as sweet as she looks.

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I was contacted out of the blue by a photographer named Margaret Jacobsen, and we had a fun photo session in my neighborhood.  The lady takes a good photo.  This impromptu meetup would soon lead to a much bigger and more magical occasion.

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// MAY \\

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My solo show, Animal Battle, opened at Pony Club.  It was radness all around and the response confirmed that I would be exploring this fantasy world for quite some time (FOREVS?).

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For the second year in a row I traveled to the Sasquatch Music Festival to work for Red Bull as an on-site photo editor.  Along with a team from Roundhouse , we photographed nearly 3,000 rambunctious festival-goers, danced like crazy, and yes, drank a lot of Red Bull.

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One of the last projects I worked on in May was this poster for See See Motorcycles.  Babes and bikes – my cup of tea.

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// JUNE \\

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SUMMER.  Each year, the question remains: did you spend enough days outdoors?  The answer is always “never”.  Nope, most of June was spent drawing.  Animals.  In battle gear.

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// JULY \\

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For the first time in quite a while, I was hired by Willamette Week for an editorial job.  This led to a string of new jobs throughout the year.  Thanks to all the furiously speedy work I put into my comics, I was now fluent in Photoshop and now considered it a True Friend.

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I painted some muppets.  Because I love Jim Henson.

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// AUGUST \\

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A brief but adventurous trip to Astoria and Cannon Beach with Lauren, my Arizona Sister from another Mister, before holing back up in my studio.

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Amongst more Animal Battle exploring, I illustrated a series of portraits for Willamette Week’s annual issue of the Finder.

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// SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER \\

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It’s a good thing I got outside a little bit prior to this, because things got insane for…well, the rest of the year, really.  Above, I designed my first poster for screenprint as part of WeMake’s annual party for Design Week in Portland.

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For my first showing outside of Portland, I was happy to be included in the annual Wes Anderson-themed show, “Bad Dads”, hosted by Spoke Art in San Francisco in October.  The show is always a massive success, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

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I curated my first group show as a member of the Pony Club Gallery, and featured amazingly talented artists such as Mark Rogers, Esao Andrews, Teagan White, and many many more.

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I was invited by the lovely ladies of TINY PENCIL to contribute a piece for their new issue, and was also featured in an interview on their blog.

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Together with my friends at Pony Club, we hosted a special holiday fundraiser at the Cleaners Ace Hotel.   Dozens of artists donated work for a silent auction, and all proceeds went to a benefit a friend who suffered a traumatic accident.  The event was a great success and we were so thrilled to help.  Luckily for everyone, I did not sing.

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I was lucky enough to be one of the artists selected by Microsoft to customize an Xbox One controller.  The controller is somewhere…out there.

And kids, I suppose that’s not even all of it – but I’ll save the rest for some other posts.

One last thing though – what really made this year magical?

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Photo by Margaret Jacobsen (See? There’s that magical occasion I mentioned earlier.)

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In December I eloped with my very best friend, Jake, and then we celebrated in Paris!

Not a bad way to end the year, eh?

So here’s to 2013 – and onwards and upwards to the next year.  It’s got some pretty big shoes to fill, and I’m excited for it.

To all my readers, thanks for sticking with me, reading along, and for all your notes and comments over the last year – thank you.

xoxo

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WeMake SketchXchange

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I’m LONG overdue for a massive update on here (such is the insanity of December, guys), but in the meantime, I’d like to share this announcement: I’m kicking off the New Year as a guest of WeMake’s sketchXchange series!  On January 3rd, I’ll be sharing my sketchbooks, stories, and process in an intimate event hosted in WeMake’s new space at Tillamook Station.  Past guests of WeMake’s sketchXchange include B.T. Livermore, Gary Baseman, Nelson Lowry of Laika, Amy Ruppel, Adam Garcia, and Jolby & Friends.  You can check out WeMake’s video collection of previous events here!

Registration begins this Friday, and space is limited!  For more information, a special interview, and where to get tickets, go here.

AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

xoxo

LW_Sig

Xbox One // Customized Controller

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Xbox_Remote_Front“Beast of The Enemy // Pronghorn”

Hand-painted Xbox Controller 

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Back in late August, Microsoft commissioned eight artists to customize a set of new controllers for Xbox One.  I was lucky enough to be tapped for this project – and, even better – I was given free reign to do pretty much whatever I’d like.

(Animal Battle, duh).

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The project presented some new challenges for me (which I dig).  While I waited for my concept sketches to be approved, I did my research.  How exactly do you paint a remote control anyway?

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Because my controller would only be displayed, and not used in play, I didn’t have to worry too much about maximum durability (i.e. – shows no wear even when smashed onto the floor by overzealous gamers), but I still wanted it to have the permanence of a painting.

After disassembling the controller, I lightly sanded the entire surface with very fine grained sandpaper.  Then, I applied a few coats of white acrylic gesso, mixing in a little yellow on the final coat.

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From there, it was just a matter of transferring my concept sketch onto the remote.  Most of the challenge was getting reacquainted with my old buddy “Acrylics” while befriending a new stranger “3-Dimensional”.

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Once the painting process was complete I applied a few coats of high-gloss varnish, for sparkly protection.  I then reassembled the controller and VOILÁ!  An Xbox One controller, Animal Battle style.

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Funnily enough I haven’t seen any other controllers from this artist series pop up on the Internets, but since I saw that Xbox France tweeted out an image of my own remote, I know they’re floating around out there somewhere.  Hopefully the whole collection will be posted soon.

Hope y’all are having a wonderful holiday season.

Cheers!

LW_Sig

Badgers and Giraffes, Oh My

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The Enemy // Badger

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Giraffe Scout

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A special sale is still happening in my shop, with a handful of original Animal Battle paintings up for grabs!  Save 15% with code BATTLECRY.  Sale ends this Monday, 11/25.  These beasts are looking for a new home – will it be yours?

Visit my shop here!

Tally ho!

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Sparrow House

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Exploration of the Animal Battle world continues as I venture into new territory: habitats for my soldiers.

This cozy bungalow is Sergeant Ludlow “Supper” Sparrow’s off-site hideaway, nestled deep in the heart of Summertime Forest.

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