Surfing the Sea

Established 1995

My Story… — July 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.

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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.

swimmingpoolppl sheffieldliverpoolblackpool

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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Father’s Day 2018 — June 17, 2018

Father’s Day 2018

Fathers helped to create us; without them, none of us would be here. Even if they’re only celebrated on one day of the year – which is today – they’ve always been around for us, even if it’s not a physical presence.

Because of this, I’ve drawn some special art for the occasion:

Pictou Denoon & Stellarton Bridges-Drummond

Probably the most famous father figure in the Canadian Boys series, Stellarton is dad to Pictou, the protagonist of my first novel Once Upon a Time in Canada. Although his mother Port Hawkesbury mostly cares for him, Stellarton does have his fatherly duties for Pictou. Here, he shares a

I had drawn a version of this before, but decided to draw it digitally to add extra effects, like the starry gradient background. The stars tie in somewhat to Stellarton, as his name starts with ‘Stella’, which is Latin for star. This reflects the etymology of the name of his hometown, which was named for a kind of coal which gave off star-like sparkles when ignited.

The town of Stellarton, Nova Scotia

To finish, here’s a celebratory poem by Keith Garrett:


Down through the years, there have been many types of fathers,

Unfortunately, some get lost with what it takes to really be a dad.

Sad as it is sons and daughters grow up without and not knowing,

Thoughts and questions are held onto that may eat at with sadness.

This father’s day let’s honor and praise the men who do stand strong,

To the ones who are new and too those who have been at it for a while.

You were there when first you saw his little face and a smile of a lifetime,

You were there when her tiny hands touched your heart forever, young father.

You were there walking her down the aisle when again her life began,

You were there when a son stood at the altar hand in hand with his bride.

Through the bumps and bruises, good times or bad, it was you strong as a rock,

To you on father’s day, the ones whom never give up, you are dad, a father.

Happy father’s day,

Keith Garrett

Springhill’s Beach Vacation (2018) — June 13, 2018

Springhill’s Beach Vacation (2018)

Springhill Horton’s Beach Vacation

With hotter weather comes hotter destinations. Inspired by a recent day-trip I took to Camber Sands, I followed up a previous drawing with Springhill and his family from Canadian Boys holidaying on the beach.

The memories from Camber were still fresh in my mind when I drew this, so I took inspiration from the seascapes by creating grassy and golden sandy dunes. The trek up the dunes onto the beach is quite steep, but well worth the climb, as there are miles of sand and big blue sea around.

A treasure trove of seashells scattered up and down the beach led me to insert some prettily pink shells lying upon the damp sand, as well as an amethyst sea snail shell (partly inspired by my time on Canvey Island, where thousands of snail shells dotted the shores).

As with previous beachy art, the sand and sea layers were coloured with darkening tones of beige and sea green. I used a deeper tone of beige to colour the sand closest to the sea, as if dampened by the never-ending rolling waves. The white part of the waves evokes sea foam or even the crest of a surf wave.

Those of you who recognize the Canadian provincial flags may have spotted the flag on top of Parrsboro’s freshly-built sandcastle:


It’s the flag of Nova Scotia, reflecting the roots of all the characters in the picture. As before, Pugwash’s towel is decorated with the Nova Scotia tartan, although with the blue in a slightly more muted tone. The beach umbrella is also partially inspired by the tartan, with shades of blue, green and yellow.


As June is Pride Month, I also took the opportunity for Amherst and Springhill to hold hands romantically while taking a dip into the sea. They are officially husband and husband, being originally just good friends and then being newly-engaged boyfriends. Springhill even wears an emerald and silver ring to signify his marriage to Amherst, although he has obviously taken it off in this picture so it doesn’t get rusted and corroded by the salty seawater.


I Still Love Canada — June 9, 2018

I Still Love Canada

I don’t usually write about politics, but this is one exception.

After Doug Ford’s victory in the Ontario provincial election yesterday, I’m just going to reassure you all who might be worried, upset or angry about the result:

I still love Canada.

Ontario is only one province out of ten, plus three territories. Doug Ford voters do not represent the whole of Ontario or the whole of Canada, just like how Cheeto Man voters do not represent the whole of America, or Brexit voters do not represent the whole of Britain.

Ontarians and Canadians (and pretty much everybody else) have survived pretty dark political times in the past, and they will survive Ford. Love for a country shouldn’t be diminished by its politics or by its people.



Travel Fact File: Camber Sands — June 5, 2018

Travel Fact File: Camber Sands

Name: Camber Sands

Type: Beach

City/Town: Rye

Region: East Sussex

Country: England

What I Did There:

  • Splashed around in the sea, which is cool but not cold
  • Walked my dog along the golden sandy shores
  • Collected seashells to decorate my home and garden
  • Ate hotdogs and salami by the sea
Springhill’s Family Picnic (2018) — May 30, 2018

Springhill’s Family Picnic (2018)

Springhill Black River-Horton, Amherst Croft, Joggins McClure, Parrsboro Jenkins & Pugwash Morris

Summer is coming, slowly but surely. Heatwaves dominate the meteorological landscape, signalling the end of the long winter and colder temperatures, and bringing everybody back outside to enjoy the sun.

While many will spend it at a golden beach (as I did the other day), others may prefer to be more inland and bask out in the park with a big family picnic. That’s what Springhill and his family from the Canadian Boys series have decided to do, as seen above – snacking on lobsters, sandwiches, fresh pizza, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.

While I’ve mostly been experimenting with sketching, doodling and painting for the past month, it did feel good to finally use my cherished marker collection again. I added another colour, Grass, to the roster, and used it to colour in the background to fit the grassy landscape of the park.

The picnic blanket is meant to emulate the provincial tartan of Nova Scotia, reflecting the characters’ roots. I created the plaid effect by first drawing some criss-crossed lines in bright green and yellow, then colouring them over with navy blue. I used this same technique to colour in the characters’ kilts, though obviously using different colours. The protective blanket on top of Springhill’s hamper is technically not tartan, but gingham, as seen from its white and green checks.


As for which character is which, here’s a small rundown, going clockwise:

  • Springhill – dark green tartan kilt and bonnet with picnic hamper
  • Amherst – tan tartan kilt and bonnet
  • Joggins – red tartan kilt
  • Parrsboro – bright green tartan kilt and lavender bonnet with ice cream cone
  • Pugwash – dark yellow tartan kilt
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