Category Archives: art

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.

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.

Shushing Scarlet Macaw

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Sorry this picture isn’t up to usual standards; I guess I never got a good shot before I installed it.

If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, or ever been in my office, you might see a nod to this old project from The Trickster’s Hat in today’s Shushing Scarlet Macaw. Parrots telling people to be quiet is hilarious for some reason. This one is currently hanging beside a “Quiet Zone” sign I also made for the same classroom that got the blue morpho.

Parrots are pretty cool to look at but I can’t imagine living in the same house as one. They need a lot of attention and I always get the sense that they’re silently judging humans.

Making a paper parrot was obviously a ton of fun. I’ve always loved the plumage on this type of bird; I’ve also got a photo-based design based on a scarlet macaw in my RedBubble shop.

 

Another Blue Morpho Why Not?

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You know what this design could use? More shades of blue!

This is from a couple weeks back: a commission to decorate a special ed classroom. There’s another piece I’ll highlight later.

If I hadn’t done the other blue morpho designs I might not have been able to figure this out, but I have a pretty good sense of how light interacts with iridescent surfaces now. It helped that the school changed suppliers for their butcher paper and I’d been hoarding the old blue, giving me 4 shades to work with. The lightest and darkest shades are butcher paper and the middle tones are construction paper. The color is not quite true but it still looks lovely. It’s hanging up in its forever home now.

Koi are just baby dragons

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Today I learned that embroidery hoop art is a thing. A good thing. 

This week is the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, aka the Festival of Booths, which involves building a small booth in your back yard and then having your friends over to eat snacks in your small booth. As with most Jewish practices, there are numerous rules about the booth. Also, this holiday involves shaking a bunch of leaves with a citron. It’s a whole thing. Today, my parents took us to a holiday party their friends were having down in Vail.

Typically, your booth—the sukkah—is decorated with various items of produce hung from the ceiling (Sukkot is a harvest festival), but my parent’s friends instead opted to decorate theirs with laminated photos of sukkah parties past and embroidery hoop art made by all the people who visit their sukkah.

Koi are not a traditional thematic element of the holiday, but my parents’ friends also have a nice 16,000 koi pond, home to some granddaddy fish, so they were pleased.

“Chag Sameach” is the all-purpose holiday greeting in Hebrew; you can use it for any happy holiday. 5780 is the current year in the Jewish calendar.

The design was executed with a combination of Sharpies and fabric markers.

I’m clearly a bit behind on blogging; I have 2 more paper designs to share this week.

Happy Halloween!

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Spooky, Creepy, BooOooOoo! BooOooOoo!

My friend the Vampire Bat used to send really elaborate care packages on Halloween and Valentine’s Day, handmade cards, candy, little seasonally-appropriate presents, the whole megillah. They were pretty special, to be honest, and I loved receiving them, but over the years, reciprocation became difficult. I had a family and work and didn’t always notice when holidays were coming up, let along make time in my schedule to plan for them a month in advance. And I guess I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t show my appreciation properly, and eventually she announced that she wasn’t going to put forth the effort anymore.

So now, sometimes, just to mess with her, I do send her handmade holiday gifts.

These little images—the “Spooky” owl, the “Creepy” spider, and the “BooOooOoo! BooOooOoo” ghosts—are from the packaging of some stickers that came in one of her last Halloween gifts to me, and they were so cute that after I stuck the stickers on things (what did I stick them on? I have no idea) I save the boxes with the intention of using them for some All Hallow’s Eve crafts for my friend. That was years ago, but when I found a random pair of metallic silver skeleton mermaid socks at Target (Target really goes all out with weird sock designs) I realized this was the year.

While playing around with the pieces (too bad I cut them up before this idea came to me) I realized that I could make a tiny card (the Vampire Bat likes tiny things) and then I realized I could make tiny books!

Unfortunately, I had used up all the printer paper printing out draft versions of a new comic book and neither The Man nor I work anyplace where we can reasonably steal printer paper anymore, so I had to use heavy card stock for the paper. It was harder to cut and my notebooks would have fewer pages, which would be hard to turn, but I soldiered on. What you do is you line all your pages up, clamp them together, and then apply liberal amounts of glue on one side. When it glues, the pages are basically bound together. Then you glue a bit of ribbon over that glued edge, to reinforce it. I used ribbon to bind the covers together and shore up the cardboard, and then I glued the paged into the cover. Viola!

For the card, I just used a piece of manilla folder to bind the 2 sides together. Lately, I’ve been trying to use up, rather than hoard, the vast quantities of art/office supplies I have been carrying around the country for 2 decades. The ransom letters and all the other words came out of a single issue of The Smithsonian.

My friend liked the gift (of course!) so now I can share it here.

Dragon Silhouette in a Rainbow Sunset

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I think this picture speaks for itself. Rawr.

My mother and I took my brother’s kids to the art museum, where they had tables set up for kids to do crafts. The suggested activity was to create a replica of a striking painting of a church using cut paper. Obviously, we did not do anything like that. I made this dragon silhouette flying across a rainbow sunset. One of the kids is super artistic, and he picked up a pencil drew a very good picture of a chubby dude in a La-Z-Boy. One of the kids isn’t artistic at all, but he drew an accurate picture of a video game controller. And then the little one took my idea of the rainbow strips, but instead of a dragon silhouette, she added an insane and possibly sentient piece of pizza out of colored paper.

My mother talked with the employee who was staffing the table until said employee very abruptly announced she was going to go stand somewhere else and relocated to another table.

I just realized that this image kind of mirrors the late, great mosaic table I made in the ’90s.

I’m finishing up a lengthy editing job and working on my big project, which is coming along apace. I’m also thinking about 2 upcoming scholarly comic projects in which I’d like to participate, once for a forthcoming anthology of Bonnie Jo Campbell criticism to which I was invited to contribute, and the other is for a forthcoming anthology about comics in academia.