Monthly Archives: January 2014

When We Were Very Young Part 1

This is the oldest drawing of mine I can lay hands on; my mother probably has something older. It's dated 1986, so I was 11 and in 6th grade.

This is the oldest drawing of mine I can lay hands on; my mother probably has something older. It’s dated 1986, so I was 11 and in 6th grade.

I spent a lot of time drawing as a kid and, at age seven, declared my intention to be an artist when I grew up. My parents bought me some acrylic paints for my birthday, but warned me that they were expensive and that I shouldn’t waste them, because I wasn’t getting any more. As a result, I painted one picture, was unhappy with the results, and never used those paints again, sticking to crayons and water colors (which my parents also would not replace when I asked; when the blue, green, and purple was gone from my paint box, my mother’s response was, “Paint something red.” In fact, my blue period lasted about thirty years, and my mother never understood why I couldn’t just use the other colors) and later, when I was a teenager and rolling in babysitting money, I began investing in more expensive colored pencils.

Flowers, 1987

Flowers, 1987

Even as a very little kid, verisimilitude in my drawings seemed very important. It was frustrating when what appeared on the page didn’t match the image in mind, but in middle school my sketches finally began to feel a little closer to life.

The Human Heart, 1988, Based on this image, my parents began to encouraging me to seek a career in medical illustration. I was only in 8th grade, but it was already becoming clear that getting me excited about their idea of a professional future was going to be an uphill trek.

The Human Heart, 1988, Based on this image, my parents began to encouraging me to seek a career in medical illustration. I was only in 8th grade, but it was already becoming clear that getting me excited about their idea of a professional future was going to be an uphill trek.

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The Breezeway Part 4

Spring 2014, Here again I had the idea for the design first and then found an appropriate quote later

Spring 2014, Here again I had the idea for the design first and then found an appropriate quote later

It’s important to photograph these images as soon as they’re posted. The colors do fade very quickly, and every once in a while, the kids deface things. This one not only got sun-bleached in a week or two, but also got scribbled on by someone who clearly was too young to hold a magic marker. It’s still very beautiful to me. These letters were all cut out freehand.

Spring 2012, the teachers really seem to like the poetry boards

Spring 2012, the teachers really seem to like the poetry boards

More freehand letters, plus I cut every one of those leaves out by hand. Sort of wish I had planned the layout a little better, but it’s still fairly striking.

And here is my last bulletin board of the 2013-2014 school year. Anyone who lives in southern Arizona has seen the sky like this: during the monsoon, if it rains in the afternoon, sometimes it clearly slightly afterward. The clouds are all lined up like this, with sun tumbling through the breaks and spilling down over the mountains, which glow gold, red, and purple, depending on the time of day.

Summer 2014, the monsoon sky

Summer 2014, the monsoon sky

This sampling of a dozen images represents most of my favorite, and maybe about half of the designs I’ve done since 2009, when I first started. Looking back, it’s not an insubstantial body of work!

 

The Breezeway Part 3

Spring 2011, a Tree of Knowledge

Spring 2011, a Tree of Knowledge

I’m interested in the idea of dimensionality. Some of the previous bulletin boards used layers to create depth, but I experiment with other methods of making the images pop. For this tree, I actually constructed a number of little books and then attached them at various angles to showcase the third dimension.

Summer 2012, a Sonoran Desert Mandala

Summer 2012, a Sonoran Desert Mandala

Here, I used multiple layers and curled the edges of the flower using the blade of a pair of scissors to create the 3D effect. The species represented in this image include saguaro, prickly pear, ocotillo, palo verde, yucca, fishhook barrel, cholla, and bird of paradise.

It’s always a challenge to create holiday bulletin boards that reflect our local culture while remaining nondenominational.

Winter 2013, Another Ofelia Zepeda quote, paired with my take on the beautiful Mexican tin lanterns. I used layers and string for dimensionality here.

Winter 2013, Another Ofelia Zepeda quote, paired with my take on the beautiful Mexican tin lanterns. I used layers and string for dimensionality here.

The Breezeway Part 2

Winter 2013. I had the idea for the bird first and found the Maya Angelou quote after I did the image.

Winter 2013. I had the idea for the bird first and found the Maya Angelou quote after I did the image.

For the last four or five years, this bulletin board has been my baby. While the wind has, on more than one occasion, ripped my work from the wall, while a PTA mom has, on more than one occasion, tried to hijack my real estate with badly rendered licensed characters, this space, where I create ephemeral works of art for children, is regarded as mine, and most staff and students seem interested in seeing what comes next.

Winter 2011, One of my favorites. The poem is by a local poet called Ofelia Zepeda. At the time, my husband worked at the same university where she teaches and, unbeknownst to me, forwarded her this image! She wrote back that she found it beautiful. I was a little embarrassed, but 2 years later when I happened to meet Ofelia Zepeda at the Tucson Festival of Books, I was glad to have a funny story to share with her.

Winter 2011, One of my favorites. The poem is by a local poet called Ofelia Zepeda. At the time, my husband worked at the same university where she teaches and, unbeknownst to me, forwarded her this image! She wrote back that she found it beautiful. I was a little embarrassed, but 2 years later when I happened to meet Ofelia Zepeda at the Tucson Festival of Books, I was glad to have a funny story to share with her.

I work almost entirely in cut colored paper, either the butcher type paper that comes in a long roll, or sturdy sheets of construction paper, using rubber cement and staples. Periodically, the work requires other elements (paint pens, string), but generally it’s just the paper, the glue, and the staples. Since these murals are exposed to the elements, the colors fade quickly and need replacement every six or eight weeks. All the letters are hand-drawn and hand-cut. Some of the fonts come from books, others from my own mind. Most bulletin boards take around six or eight hours to complete. The most complicated one (the Tohono O’odham Man in the Maze) took about fourteen hours.

Winter 2014, the Tohono O'odham Man in the Maze

Winter 2014, the Tohono O’odham Man in the Maze

The Breezeway Part 1

My first completed bulletin board, Halloween 2009.

My first completed bulletin board, Halloween 2009. I made up the bone letters. The other font came from a book in the library’s collection.

There’s a bulletin board outside the elementary school library where I volunteer, a scabrous, peeling wreck of old cork, exposed to the elements (this is Arizona, where year-round outdoor living means we keep a lot of things outside that northerners would never consider subjecting to the wind and rain) but prominently positioned in a breezeway through which most students and teachers regularly pass.

Winter, 2009 (I think)

Winter, 2009 (I think). These snowflakes are all hand cut, of course. The big one was a lot of fun to cut, but not that easy to affix to the wall.

Due to unconscionable budget inadequacies (this is Arizona, where certain people don’t understand the connection between funding education and creating a healthy and robust standard of living) I’ve held various degrees of responsibility in this library, including, for certain periods, being the only person to staff it in any way and basically completely in charge, with the principal’s blessing.

 

Summer, 2010. Even though school's not in session, I like to put something up for the kids and adult in camp and summer school on this campus.

Summer, 2010. Even though school’s not in session, I like to put something up for the kids and adult in camp and summer school on this campus.