Do you like to surround yourself with art that delights and inspires? Art that you can share with family, friends, and even strangers, to find common ground? Art that lightens your load and makes you want to get up in the morning? You’re in the right place! My duppy and uppy cartoons are designed to uplift the soul and warm the heart. Interested? Let’s get started!
What are Duppies and Uppies?
Duppies are a part of Caribbean folklore, with roots in Central Africa. They are mythical, malevolent spirits who come out only at night and run around the islands performing mischievous deeds. Hawaii has its own version of these dwarf people: the Menehune, who live in the deeply forested valleys, hidden from view. Ghosts and spirits exist in all cultural traditions, but their real home is the deep recesses of our minds.
I first learned about duppies in January of 2014, while I was on a vacation with my husband in the Cayman Islands. At first, I paid no attention to them. But after the trip was over, I experienced a sudden, unexpected creative awakening. Without any conscious attempt on my part, my fingers began drawing out my own duppies – the demons that lie inside my own mind and drive unconscious, destructive patterns of thinking, emoting, and behaving. With a lead pencil, a black pen, a light box, a set of colored pencils, a ruler, a computer, and a printer, I entered a feverish period of creativity, producing 3-4 duppies a week. There seemed to be no end to them!
I found this process riotously fun, but also profoundly healing. Once duppies are lightened up with humor and perspective, and exposed to the light of day, they lose their power. The death of a close mentor sent me into a tailspin, but drawing out my duppies kept me from going over the brink of despair. A few months after returning from the Caymans, I had a full portfolio, with no end in sight.
I also began drawing out uppies, which are my own invention. They are the inner “angels” that guide me on the path toward greater acceptance and inner peace. These helpful creatures represent my best self. They remind me that even in great difficulty, I have the strength to stay open and keep going, with grace and love, even when I want to shut down and self-protect.
The creative explosion that tore through my life during the ensuing three years was utterly transformative. By the end, I’d let go of my 25-year career as a university professor-scientist and become an artist, children’s book author, and publisher, happier than I’d been in decades, and more true to myself than I ever knew was possible.
If you’d like to read the complete story, click here: How Spinning Wheel Press Came to Be: My Three-Year Journey to Authenticity (coming soon). It’s a no-holds-barred account of how creative expression helped me transmute heart-breaking loss, self-loathing, isolation, and trauma into a life rich with connection and meaning.
Also check out my Preview Gallery, where I’ve posted some of my favorite “DUppy” cartoons. Eventually, each will be accompanied by Artist’s Notes (to tell you what I was thinking and feeling when I drew the cartoon) and options to purchase.
The voyage of self-exploration takes a lifetime, and mine is by no means over. DUppies are constantly flying from my fingers; my art studio is a busy place. Here’s a photograph of where I work and play these days, in East Sacramento, on a leafy street within walking distance of the campus where I still teach genetics and forensic biology part-time. The window is framed by a bank of wisteria on the left, and a pink climbing rose on the right.
I gain special inspiration from my wall clock, which is perpetually set to “Now.” I’ve situated my “work” table so I can see it while I’m playing (writing and drawing).
My three cats, Piper, Bigfoot, and Yeti, often take up residence on the chair, or in my lap, offering quiet, comforting company.
Meanwhile, my Samoyed dog Mush, who is quite the personality, keeps a close eye in case I move toward the back yard. He likes nothing more than a good session of ball-throwing in the back alley, which is fenced on both ends and makes a perfect mini-dog park.
Framed copies of my duppies and uppies surround me. I change them often, moving them around the room and swapping them out for others, to keep things lively and interesting.
When I’m not creating, I love reading the works of other children’s authors, and fiction for adults as well. Here’s the daybed where I like to sprawl out and enjoy, whiling away a summer afternoon or a winter evening, lost in other worlds.