I recently submitted this piece to last weekend’s Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show for display, which I did in acrylic paint. It’s basically fan art based on the hit TV show My Little Pony.

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My Little Pony
Acrylic on canvas
10 inches x 10 inches
25 cm x 25 cm

Here is the story behind this project, which began during a relatively dark period in my life. Two months before I started this project in 2013 I ended up in divorce court. Not long afterwards the new STEM center that was then-known as Club 125 opened its doors for the first time. (It has since been renamed Makerspace 125.) Since it was supposed to be a drop-in place for making anything we want, I thought it would be a cool idea to bring some of my acrylic paints to paint these small 4 inch x 4 inch (10 cm x 10 cm) canvases that I recently purchased from the local arts and crafts store. I thought that if painting these small canvases worked out for me, I might even paint more of them to sell at future street craft shows.

I was stuck on what I wanted to paint until I decided to paint the characters based on the hit TV series My Little Pony, which has attracted a sizable audience of college-aged men despite the fact that the series was originally targeted at girls under 10. I’ve seen a few episodes myself and I liked the series. I also thought that the characters were cute and colorful enough to try to replicate on a canvas.

I combed the Internet for some My Little Pony images that I could use as a reference when creating my pieces and I drew them at home. The following day I packed my art supplies and headed over to the STEM center to work on my canvases. I started with this canvas, which featured the two pegasus characters Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash.

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I was mostly done with that canvas when I got a call from my divorce lawyer telling me that the divorce certificate had just arrived at his office and he offered to drive by my place to give my copy to me. I told him that I wasn’t at home but I was at the STEM center. He went there and gave the certificate to me. It was a good thing that I had finished painting the first canvas because I had lost all enthusiasm for working on it after I got the certificate. After the lawyer left I waited for that one canvas to dry then packed my art supplies and left.

After that day I didn’t touch any of the other small canvases for a long time. I just lost enthusiasm for the project because of the memory of getting that divorce certificate. From time to time they would turn up whenever I was doing periodic decluttering and I would say that I should try to finish the other three but then I didn’t get around to it. In 2014 I took an initial stab of working on this canvas featuring Rarity, Spike, and Twilight Sparkle but I stopped working on it after I painted some areas because, once again, I lost enthusiasm for this project.

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For the next two years the My Little Pony tiny canvas project consisted of only one finished canvas, one partially painted canvas, and two other canvases that were drawn in pencil but unpainted. This year, as I came across the four canvases yet again while doing some decluttering, I finally decided that I was tired of finding the mostly unfinished canvases, vowing that I would get around to finishing the project one day in some vague future, then not doing anything further with them. So I made the time to finish this project once and for all. I decided to try working on one of the easier canvases I drew instead of finishing the partially painted canvas (which had a lot of detail work plus I drew the three figures a bit on the small side). I spent a couple of hours working on the gray cross-eyed pegasus character, who was given the unofficial name Derpy Hooves by the My Little Pony fandom although the series itself initially named the character Ditzy Doo but has since renamed her Muffins.

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Having felt a sense of achievement at finishing that canvas, I decided to do a longer painting session where I would simultaneously work on the partially finished canvas featuring Rarity, Spike, and Twilight Sparkle while working on this last canvas featuring the two earth ponies known as Applejack and Pinkie Pie.

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I basically took out all of the paints I would need to finish the two canvases then I worked this way: I would paint all of the areas on both canvases that needed to be done in green, then I did all of the areas that needed to be done in pink, etc. until I managed to finish all of the painting.

Once I finished painting all of the canvases I began to evolve my thinking on what I would ultimately do with them. I initially thought about gluing magnets on the back so they would serve as refrigerator magnets but then I realized that, given the dimensions, they would be a bit too big for that function. I thought about using them as coasters but I wasn’t crazy about the idea of people putting hot or cold cups of liquids on something that was made as unique one of a kind works of art. I also discounted the idea of turning them into pins or pendants because they were too big for that function. I knew that I could display them on tiny easels but, since I intended the four to serve as a set, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to purchase four tiny works of art with tiny easels at once.

Then I hit upon this idea. I purchased a blank 10 inch x 10 inch (25 cm x 25 cm) canvas from a local art supply store. I painted the canvas using the same colors I used for the sky, clouds, and grass in the four smaller canvases. Then I took some acrylic gel and I glued the four smaller canvases on to the larger canvas to create one standalone piece.

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I finished this piece shortly before I learned about my mother’s latest hospitalization so I was able to have a completed piece to submit to the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show while I made the commute to Glen Burnie to visit my mom. I managed to submit it just a few hours after I visited my mother for the last time prior to her discharge from the hospital the following day.

While the painting was on display at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show, I saw some positive feedback first-hand. One condition of participating in the art show is that everyone had to sign up for one shift of either helping with setting up the exhibit, serving a one-hour shift as a monitor, or helping with taking down the exhibit at the end. I signed up for serving as a monitor between 3 p.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. During my monitoring time a mother came in with her three elementary school-age daughters. I heard the daughters suddenly squeal with delight and I realized that they were squealing over my painting when one of them was saying “Look, there’s Fluttershy and Rarity and Spike and Applejack…”

The one rule of doing fan art is this: You know you have successfully rendered your fan art when other people can recognize the character(s) and can name the relevant movie/TV series/comic books/anime/manga/Disney animated movie.

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