Three Saguaros: Father’s Day in the Desert

The real desert shinier and pricklier.

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve posted something here that WordPress actually logged me out of the site. That never happens.

I have made some art, but most of it was for a book that hasn’t been published yet and the editors asked me not to share it yet. But also, the world is on fire (here in Arizona literally, and figuratively everywhere else) and it’s hard to focus. I’ve been reading a lot.

This card is for my father, who loves cactus, for Father’s Day. By the time this page is published, I’ll have given it to him in a socially distant way. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Spinning My Wheels

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Right about now I wouldn’t mind pricking my finger and sleeping for 100 years.

Another card. For some reason, I had the worst trouble getting the colors to photograph properly. This version is close but still not precisely how it’s meant to look (should be brighter). Anyway, I made this card for a nurse who likes to spin and likes the color chartreuse. That’s the whole story.

Sadly, I am not, as of yet, one of those people who has used the pandemic to inspire a vast body of new work. I did some crayon drawing last night that amused me but nothing super internet-ready. Not only is this stupid virus wrecking my social life, it’s also making my daily life extra difficult because I just bought a new house and moving in has become ridiculously complicated. Like, I ordered a refrigerator off the internet, and was just informed that they’re going to deliver it Friday, but they can’t bring it in the house or install it. They’re going to leave the refrigerator in the yard.

If you do not know, I am very small for a human. If I were much smaller, I would be anomalously small. Nobody would look at me and think, “That person could move a refrigerator.”

This week I’ll be sequestering myself away to start Bonnie Jo Campbell Comics volume 4 but I won’t be able to share any of it on this blog because this one will be published in a larger volume of (text based) literary criticism. It’s kind of exciting, except that I won’t make any money off this one. I will likely be the only person in the anthology who doesn’t have a PhD in literature and doesn’t teach it at the university level and doesn’t need to publish in order to maintain my academic credentials. Everything’s different for academics. But I really wanted to be in this book! And it’s flattering that they asked me. So I’m doing it.

After I do that, I’ll really have to start thinking about how I can use my skills and talents to support myself.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

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What a conveniently placed rock!

This card is from my stepdaughter’s birthday a couple weeks ago, before the end of the civilization as we know it. It’s fanart from a newish Netflix cartoon called Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, about a post-apocalyptic Earth where most of humanity lives in underground burrows because the surface is rules by mutant animals. If you are trapped in your own home and enjoy that sort of thing, I highly recommend it.

It’s the Time of the Valen!

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It’s the purest form of love there is: the love between a baby dragon and its parent.

Happy Valentine’s Day, whether you hate people or not.

I am trying to love people.

This was a pretty simple piece. I used Sharpie for the black parts (excluding the eyes), which saves a lot of time. I sort of wanted to make the chest part rainbow, but I also sort of wanted to go home, and home won. From a technical perspective it’s not one of my most amazing boards, but from an aesthetic point of view (particularly the aesthetic point of view of an elementary school student) it’s a raging success.

As I adding the stapled details some third graders came to admire my work and asked me what the dragons’ names were. I told them to feel free to name the dragons themselves.

One girl said, “The baby’s name is Shadow.”

So her friend decided, “The big dragon is Midnight.”

Shadow and Midnight. Names that work equally well for black cats as red dragons, apparently.

Peach Love

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Hints of Eric Carle in this peach

I’m not really allowed to discuss what this card means just yet. Perhaps I can come back later and elaborate. But I made this delicious peach card: it’s a peach, and a heart, and a star. Tissue paper, butcher paper, matte medium, on medium card stock. I love how the colors on the peach came out. It gives me a lot of ideas for using these materials to create other cool colors and textures.

A Red Fox Card

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Happy birthday, dear Foxy…

This was a fox card, for the Fox, obviously. One thing and another, I didn’t actually see him on his birthday because he was busy with Otter stuff, and then I ended up looking at this piece all week and seeing all these little mistakes I wanted to fix, but he loved it, so it’s good, I suppose. Except for the 5000 times my terrible cat knocked it onto the floor; that part was less good.

Tissue paper, butcher paper, matte medium, on heavy cardstock.

A Collaborative Piece

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Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Our family’s present to Mom and Dad for their 50th wedding anniversary (it was on Christmas, but I’m just getting around to posting it now because the last 2 weeks have been crazy).

For my parents’ 40th anniversary, my sister presented them with a quilt made up of a squares decorated by pretty much everyone they knew or were related to, interspersed with family photos. She just reminded me that the project actually took 5 years from start to finish. My sister-in-law had knitted a square that represented her being pregnant for the first time, but by the time my parents received the quilt, there were photos of my 2 nephews included.

So I had this idea that I wanted to do something like that—collaborative art, a group effort that would create something personally meaningful for my parents—but would not involve herding cats and would be completed in 6 months. I asked my sister for ideas, and this was the one she came up with. You just take a photograph, divide it into a grid, and assign each person 1 or more pieces. All the different art styles and media come together to create this cool gestalt art.

Amazingly, we managed get all the pieces completed and to the framers within the deadline (granted, The Man was still working on his an hour before I went to the framer) and nobody spoiled the surprise, even though a goodly portion of the people involved were small children.

This piece is based on a photograph I took of my parents in a local rose garden. The square I spend the most time on (the enlarged segment on the right side of the photo) is mostly fabric, but the hands are made of leather, and the zipper pull is a real one cut from a discarded pair of The Man’s jeans. I also did the blue sky piece that says “50.” That one is all tissue paper, using the same technique I do many of the little animal cards in: just torn paper and matte medium. I also did the flower bit, far left, second from the top, in crayon. My sister’s pieces are all gouache. Her husband did his part (third from the top, third from the left) all in wood and The Man did his (right side, second from top) in metal. Other materials include oil pastels, colored pencil, and acrylic. My brother-in-law facilitated the process by creating the individual black and white pieces for guidelines, and by cutting all the 6″x6″ squares so everything would fit together perfectly.

Toad and Toadstool

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When you look into the toad’s eyes, you can see god.

A birthday card for Mx. Kitty, psychonaut and psychedelic researcher:  a Sonoran Desert toad (Invilius alvarius) and some fly agaric (Amanita muscaria).

The toad, the mushrooms, and the grass are butcher paper; the background is tissue paper and origami paper. Everything is affixed matte medium, except the spots on the mushroom and the toad’s eyes, which are tacky glued. The black details on the toad are ink.

Hygge on Mount Lemmon

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To be honest, it all feels worryingly ominous to me, but I’m given to understand that some people actually enjoy this sort of thing.

For this year’s winter bulletin board, I was inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, which is a national emphasis on coziness during the darkest part of the year, often involving hot cocoa, but I wanted to give it a local spin. Of course, snow in Tucson is rare and scanty when it comes, but up on the mountain it falls in abundance and people who enjoy things that are cold, wet, and inconvenient can go up there and get whatever it is that people who didn’t grow up in the midwest and don’t find the cold debilitating get out of it.

All my bulletin boards are intended to be secular (well, OK, some of them subtly reflect my personal views of pantheism with a sprinkling of paganism and Buddhism, but they are never meant to reflect anything beyond the most superficial trappings of Christianity) but people will insist on attributing everything to Jesus. Apparently the Christians have a monopoly on the word “peace” now? It’s not for Christmas. It’s for winter. We could all use peace and coziness, regardless of whether a fat man in a red suit has ever brought us presents.

On a Roll: Fancy Bike Birthday Card

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Sometimes, I even impress myself.

My friend the Coyote really likes his bike.

I made this card for his birthday because it’s hard to shop for a man who has literally everything he’s ever wanted, including this very expensive bicycle. I guess it’s pretty special, but can’t tell you anything special about it, except that it’s worth more than my car. It was easy to draw, because it figures prominently in his Facebook profile; I didn’t even have to creep around dude’s garage to get the picture. Sketched in pencil on black butcher paper, cut with scissors for the big parts and a scalpel for the details. The desert and mountains are made of layers of tissue paper (used purple with a pink overlay to get that effect on the mountains. The sky is a specialty paper left over from some other project, although I can’t seem to recall which one. The paper is bonded with matte medium, which does very interesting things to tissue paper.

This really is the nicest card.