donny nguyen.
donny nguyen.
about / work / drawings / illustration / design / photos / blog / IFxWAI / bestiary / archive / contact

because their domes are box shaped, well, you get the picture. i think it’s well known that these mesmerising invertebrates are quite dangerous to be near. each of their tentacles contains a few thousand stinging cells that are so potent that humans sometimes don’t make it to shore before either drowning or going through heart failure first. each corner of their bell can grow up to fifteen tentacles that can reach three meters in length. serious stuff. what differentiates box jellyfish from others is their ability to actually propel themselves through north australian / indo-pacific oceans they inhabit. these jellyfish also have a rather developed set of eyes yet no central nervous system which begs the question: how do they see?¬†cubozoa in moleskine.


jeff hamada ovet at booooooom recently asked his followers what their first and last cd purchases were. i used that as the basis for some portraits, which i kind of missed doing. the first cd that i can remember buying was doggystyle by calvin cordozar broadus, or snoop dogg as we all know (of) him. technically, i also about dr dre’s the chronic the same day but only one portrait for the first and the last. i don’t make the rules. a portrait for the last cd will come.


i have largely been working on the bestiary drawings but i miss other media. so, i’m going to throw in the odd experiment here and there for no good reason other than to provide some variety.

i have good days and bad days staring at this. i chose to self impose a basic colour combination and only paint in gradients. i’m going to try some other so called basic combinations as well. i’m going to guess they’ll be ugly / uglier.

i don’t remember much from my high school english classes. being the techno-geek that i am, english was not very high on the interest scale after the ninth grade. the asian six pack was though! but for some reason i do remember the rime of the ancient mariner, by samuel taylor coleridge. i had never heard of an albatross and after having heard the description, i imagined them to be quite giagantic birds. what i didn’t remember about the poem was the reference it made to the birds being a sign of both good and bad luck. ravens seem to share this same ambiguous symbolic meaning so for me there is a nice alternative when it comes to imagery. i find it funny that of all the animals i’ve drawn for the bestiary though, the two with such ambiguity happen to be birds.

they are indeed large birds with wingspans that can exceed three and a half metres (over eleven feet for you empirical folk). i guess this helps them to efficiently soar over large distances with minimal effort. they eat fish and shell fish but they do scavenge as well (another similarity to ravens). there are twenty one species of albatross and nineteen are considered threatened. the amsterdam and chatham albatross are considered endangered. long line fishing is not a friendly activity for these birds. hopefully they’re still around by the time i finish this bestiary.

basia plays the guitar, autoharp, banjo, ukele, sax, and flute. autoharp! i really like the arrangements in her songs – so many layers to try and zero in on. i find it really funny that she cashed some student loans to record music while she was in montreal (she’s originally from london). i guess when it’s to record with howard bilerman, you really don’t do anything other than what she did though, ha ha. basia bulat in moleskine.

a couple of weeks ago i was able to finally go to life drawing for the first time in months. i was out of practice but it felt pretty good. i should probably mix up the media i use more but i still find it challenging to capture something i’m completely happy with. every once in a while i’m ok with the session. the drawings below from an earlier session occurred on such a day. life drawing at ocad, in moleskine.
one minute poses.
five and ten minute poses.
lifedrawing.004.2lifedrawing.004.3 lifedrawing.004.4
twenty minute poses. i think i’m going to break out the brush pen more.
speaking of mixing it up, i really love francis vallejo‘s life drawings.

his other work is, uh, ok too. check it out and you’ll see what i mean. this kid’s a machine and seems to really breathe through his work. check out his blog here, too.

i started drawing an american bison for this bestiary of mine and started with a photo that i thought had an interesting perspective to start with. i’m trying to keep up with experiments while still working on my actual projects. so i took a gander at illustration friday’s theme and it is, weirdly enough, perspective. i’ve been wanting to try taking ball point pen drawings further as the basis for an illustration instead of using brush and ink so i thought i’d give it a go.
i realised too late in this experiment that it looks a bit barren without any real sort of background. i thought about incorporating whatever symbolic imagery that bison might have in different cultures. it seems that they’re mostly used as state symbols or in flags. so this is a flag of sorts, but the blue is supposed to suggest the sky.
if you can imagine yourself on the plain and you’re sharing opposing perspectives with this animal, your perspective might be that this is such a magnificent animal. his disposition might suggest that his perspective might be that he doesn’t like you on his land. apparently these are really dangerous animals to be around; they can outrun us and will attack if provoked. so you’re being warned as well.
not sure if i really like the result but it was worth a shot. i’ll probably give this a few more tries to decide once and for all. the original drawing is also below.

ok. i’m going to try to balance my extracurriculars with….er…extracurriculars. i miss doing stuff for myself but i don’t want to neglect the things i should be focusing on too, too much. i took a gander at illustration friday‘s topic and it got my nerd brainwaves flowing. i tried to add a restriction to keep the work for this short too, as an exercise. my thought process is below but here’s the final product.

i actually thought of two things when i brainstormed the topic: transmission/movement and fibonacci sequences. it’s interesting to me that the latter occurs in things in nature, like flowers. so i thought i would just draw a flower, pop a colour in and be done with it. exhibit a:
if.propogate original
for starters, i don’t really like how centred this is, even though it’s on the more asymetrical side. also, i have this inherent need to avoid the obvious so i started to second guess my choice of colour. i started to play with simple gradients and things and just couldn’t decide on any one colour. so i thought magenta or something wacky and then just thought about picking a colour from good old roygbiv (grade school science for the win!).
then i realised that this spectrum is in light, which propagates. taking it further, it does so sometimes a particle and sometimes as a wave. so then i thought about sound waves. this conjured up interference patterns of sound and water waves in my head, as well as a certain joy division cover.
so to go with the flowers whose petals may or may not fibonacci their way outward, the layers you see are coloured from parts of the spectrum of light. the layers are overlapped to touch on that notion of the interference patterns. to push the wave aspect, the centres of each image are arranged to appear as a sine (or cosine if it suits your fancy) wave. i like to think there is a sense of movement in all of this too, be it from left to right or vice versa or radially from any one of the centres of the roses.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaand scene. this was fun to quickly do. i like my extra-extracurriculars.

so i told myself that i’ll try and do a proper illustration for IF but having just gone through my sketchbook this one seems right. there are obvious reasons and there ones that probably aren’t so clear. and that also leads me to think this one is right. one minutes life drawing poses, along with other people drawing with me, at ocad.

yeah yeah yeahs
i guess maps was the song that first made me pay attention to the yeah yeah yeahs. i think their latest album is one of the few i wasn’t disappointed by this year. it sounds a little more produced than i expected but it works for me. i like the balance of synth they put in; some bands have tried hard to do this and it’s just been baaaaaaad. yes i’m talking about you, coldplay. i’d say my favourite track is zero. brian chase, karen o, and nick zinner (not in that order) in moleskine.