Surfing the Sea

Since 1995

My Story… — Jul 7, 2015

My Story…

Since I haven’t introduced myself in the last post, I’ll do it right here.

My Art vs. Artist

My name is Sabrina Gardiner, born in 1995 in the north of green England. From the fledgling age of two years old, I always loved to put my pencils (or at that time, a felt-tip pen) on to pieces of paper to reveal the machinations of my imagination to the outer world.

Once I’d grown out of the phase of scrawling uncontrollably about all over my canvases (which included walls), I began to morph those marks into intelligible characters. My specialism was creating fan stories of my favourite cartoon characters, personifications with flags and educational books.

mydictionaryfc aagxmaswrap

The big change came for me when I turned 11 years old and moved to the far-flung country of Colombia. During the year and a half I lived over there, some of the mainstays of my characters would develop, as with a fascination with the months of the year that would last me a good couple of years.

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As I grew into my teenage years and returned to England, I needed to create more realistic characters while at the same time keeping that unmistakable fantasy feel. At this time, I had re-ignited my interest in geography after going on a road trip around the south of England, and so began on a mission to personify every place in every country, beginning with my green homeland.

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Completing (or mostly completing) my personification throughout England, the next logical step would be to go stateside and get on to personifying the United States. But I added a new twist that I hadn’t done with England – personify each state as well as the cities and towns they contained. This allowed me to explore even deeper into the country’s geography by looking at the cultures of each state to see what made each one different.


But the real passion of mine started with me taking a detour at the cinema when the movies I was watching got mixed up. From there, I came across Canada.

Initially creating just one character as I did not expect to become too interested in Canada, the country suddenly began to take over, effectively ending my exploration of the States. At first I did not want to become interested as I wasn’t too much into Canada, but it then grew on me, eventually becoming my most favourite country.

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As I began to work more and more with Canada, a personal goal of emigrating over there began to form, which I still hold today and hope to realize in the near future. Every new artwork I create for the country makes my wish stronger and more determined to make my Canadian dream a reality.

Although I’ve been drawing characters for as long as I can remember, I only recently started to bring them to life on the screen. Initially creating short animations to hone my animating skills, these then evolved into fully-fledged episodes, one of which I am hoping to create a voiceover for. My ultimate dream is that these will eventually transfer to the small and big screens to capture the imaginations and inspire generations of animators to come.

And live in Canada, of course.

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Why We Wear Poppies for Remembrance Day — Nov 11, 2020

Why We Wear Poppies for Remembrance Day

Poppies in a field

For over 100 years, the bright red poppy flower has been the symbol for generations of veterans who have served in armed forces around the world. It’s not just symbolic, but there is also a meaning behind it that is steeped in history.

Throughout World War I, much of Western Europe was heavily bombarded by the fighting on both sides, turning the battlefields into barren muddy landscapes where almost nothing could grow. (Even a century after the war ended, some parts of France – especially around the area of the Battle of Verdun – are still designated as no-go areas due to the catastrophic destruction of all life there.)

However, in a field in Flanders, Belgium, there was some notable colour amongst the dreary landscape; thousands and thousands of red poppies were sprouting in the midst of such chaos and tragedy. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was serving in the war and had recently lost a comrade at Ypres, saw the vast red fields of poppies and was inspired to write his now-famous poem, In Flanders Fields, which is recited at every Remembrance Day ceremony. The poppy was adopted as the symbol of the Royal British Legion in 1921, three years after WW1 ended, 

Popular belief is that the red colour of the poppies symbolizes the blood spilled by soldiers which stained the battlefields a deep ruby. However, it is also a symbol of the hope of peace for future generations, and and Remembrance Day is observed by everybody regardless of their personal beliefs, race, religion or politics.

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.

Lest We Forget poppy badge

The Origins of Halloween — Oct 31, 2020

The Origins of Halloween


Halloween Header

As we all know, October 31st is Halloween, or the day that children (and many adults!) everywhere dress up in frighteningly spooky costumes and go from door to door, asking for tricks or treats. But have you ever thought about the origins of this spooky day and why we celebrate it?

Halloween (sometimes spelled Hallowe’en) is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve”, the day before All Saints’ Day on November 1st. In the pagan calendar, this day was also known as Samhain (pronounced “sow-when”), which traditionally marked the seasonal transition from autumn to winter, but was also seen as the day when the boundary between the realms of the dead and living would become blurred, and the spirits of the dead would return to their homes. Samhain is the Irish word for “summer’s end” – fittingly enough.

Somewhere along the line, Samhain entered Christianity as All Hallows’ Eve, influenced by the traditional Celtic and pagan festival. The celebrations were initially only observed by small Irish Catholic communities, until the Great Famine in the 19th century prompted a mass wave of immigrants from Ireland towards North America. Their arrival there caused the Americans to start adopting their Halloween customs, such as going from door to door dressed in costumes and asking for food or money, which is how “trick or treat” came about. The Irish are credited with the boom in the popularity of Halloween in the United States for this reason.

And jack o’lanterns? In Irish legend, Stingy Jack was a perpetual drunk who made a deal with the Devil, but was cursed to roam the Earth for the rest of his days – with only a hollowed lit turnip to light his way. In the 19th century and traditionally, turnips were the traditional choice of vegetable to carve funny or scary faces into, and lighting them up was said to scare away evil spirits and old Jack himself, hence the name “jack o’lantern”. The tradition also soon started spreading across the Atlantic to America, where the legend of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow prompted the change to pumpkins. (Various adaptations of the Washington Irving story often depict the Headless Horseman with a pumpkin in place of a head.)

Today, there are decidedly more “modern” traditions in addition to carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating; horror movie marathons are popular with younger generations, and even some adults are also joining in by dressing up (or “cosplaying”) as their favourite characters from TV, films and comics. Younger people have been credited in the media as reviving the interest in Halloween in America, after it was previously thought to have been left to the past; the holiday is particularly abundant on the blogging website Tumblr. Halloween is for everyone, whether you’re a child or a child at heart.

While it may be a little bit different this year, have a very happy Halloween, stay safe, and may your day be filled with many treats, not tricks!



Halloween background with spooky decorations

Inktober 2020 — Oct 29, 2020

Inktober 2020

Inktober is back for the fourth year in a row! Although I haven’t really gotten around to it this year due to the ongoing pandemic and generally just being very busy with other things (including Halloween…), I have managed to create some artworks for some of the days – in particular, those whose prompts sounded interesting. Hopefully once the pandemic calms down and life is (almost) back to normal, Inktober 2021 will be even more productive.

Pixel Mania! — Oct 12, 2020

Pixel Mania!

Recently, I’ve been getting into pixel art. Making miniature versions of my characters – as they’d look in old-school video games like Super Mario – is a pretty satisfying and calming experience, especially in the currently stressful environment. They have transparent backgrounds too, which means they can be placed into another image without that annoying white block around them that other picture formats (such as JPEGs) would have, and they can be resized and still keep their sharpness.

My Tenth Anniversary of Discovering Canada — Sep 20, 2020

My Tenth Anniversary of Discovering Canada

Ten years ago on this day, my life changed forever when I stumbled upon Canada. Since then, I’ve discovered so many wonderful things about this country, but also some not-so-wonderful things. Of course, if you love something, you also have to accept their flaws as well as their good side, and you have to love them through both good times and bad.

Although it’s an overused cliche, the past ten years have certainly been a wild rollercoaster ride of ups and downs – luckily, mostly ups. My love for Canada has helped me get through hard times and has given me a reason to see a new dawn every day, and a reason to keep believing in my dream of eventually living there.

Thank you Canada for ten wonderful years, and may our love continue for ten more years, and so many more!


Canada flag

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