Category Archives: Bulletin Boards

A Character Strong Lion

This lion lifts

Just a little guy I made for someone else’s “character strong trait” display. There are 9 of these traits they want to communicate to children, one for every month of the school year. We added “kindness” so the weights could balance, plus we’re a “Be Kind” school. I guess they’re going to laminate the pieces and reuse then for a while, but it’s not my bulletin board so I don’t know the whole story.

As I was working, one kid informed me that, “there is this thing called heterochromia,” and that I should make a lion with different colored eyes. Then another kid told me that I should give this lion abs.

Happy Halloween Season!

The “G” in Gila is pronounced like an “H” in case you were wondering.

Hooray! Halloween! I’m definitely one of those people who believes the entire month of October is intended to build up to Halloween. In fact, I made this one at the end of September, and I think I did an excellent job of creating something that suited the entire autumn and can stick around until after All Souls’. I love how the entire design came out (even though I made mistakes with my own font) and may try to preserve it when I swap it out for my holiday design. I was thinking about making it all summer! If only I had also been thinking about all my fancy, patterned scissors, I could have save myself a lot of time cutting it out.

Gila monsters are venomous lizards, one of two venomous lizards that live in the region. They are not super interested in biting humans. In fact, The Man and I once attended a lecture about venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert, and the herpetologist delivering it asserted that there is a profile of the sort of person who gets bit by a Gila monster, and that nobody who doesn’t fit this profile ever turns up at the ER looking for help for Gila monster bites. The profile is thus: a young man, between the ages of 20 and 40, heavily tattooed, under the influence of alcohol. This tells you a lot about how dangerous Gila monsters are: not at all, unless you are the kind of idiot who gets drunk and harasses native fauna.

They literally have “monster” in the name. Why would you pick it up?

At any rate, their bite is only mildly neurotoxic and there are no recorded cases of death by Gila monster, although I gather it’s not exactly a fun experience either. I’ve lived here 17 years and never seen one in the wild.

Fly Away

I guess it speaks for itself. Or it’s quiet for itself.

They gave me another bulletin board so I made this monach butterfly, which is a good choice for autumn in the desert. The monarchs breed here, especially if there is enough rain, and they are also thematically appropriate for Dia de los Muertos. There are people who attend the All Souls’ Procession dressed as monarchs, or in costumes covered with hundreds of (replica) monarchs.

I couldn’t think of a good tag or phrase or anything. Kept meaning to come back to it but I’ve moved on and I guess it’s fine by itself.

If you know me, you might know that I have a psychologically difficult time with the autumn in general. It’s nice to hold on to symbols like this.

Around the time I made this butterfly, some guy who didn’t know anything about seeking asylum in the US but felt compelled to make some ridiculous marks about it nonetheless boxed himself into a corner during an online discussion about the subject and, unable to make a cogent argument, resorted to looking at my profile and then, I guess, attempting to insult me personally. One of his remarks was, “I work for a living,” presumably meaning that art is not work. Even though I spend between 4 and 17 hours on every single on of these ephemeral paper works, and my back and hands hurt when I am done, and I have to take breaks due to the sheer amount of pain I’m in.

It’s odd that someone thinks “I work for a living” is a flex. When I hear that comment, my thought is, “You’ve a slave to capitalism and you’re proud of it.” Nobody I know thinks that working is a flex; everyone I know would prefer not to work, or, at least, not to work under the fist of capitalism.

How much nicer would the world be if we divided all tasks into “essential” and “voluntary,” and then EVERYONE did SOME of the essential tasks. It’s not right that there are people who do nothing, or who only work for their own enrichment without contributing anything of value to the world, and then there are people who carry the whole weight and are barely compensated. It makes no sense, for example, that schoolteachers work full time, plus many unpaid hours, with little support, for little money. Nobody should have a classroom of 30 kids they have to manage by themselves 5 days a week. Everyone with the inclination and skills should participate in educating kids; this is one of the most important jobs there are. Nobody should work 40+ hours a week in a factory, or a fast food restaurant, or as a plumber (unless they really, really want to). We should all share the crappy jobs, and then we should all have ample time for the fun ones. Nobody should get rich playing football or designing couture gowns, but everyone should have the opportunity to play football or design couture gowns, in the hours that they’re not doing essential jobs. That should be what civilization is about.

It’s true that I don’t get paid a lot. But I do work. I work harder than a lot of people. And I make the world a nicer place for a lot of them. But I guess I make it a less nice place for certain unbearable people.

Back to School 2022

You’re a shooting star. That is what you are.

People kept telling me, “Welcome back,” and I’m like, “I never left.” This is the fourth project I worked on there over the summer. School starts Thursday but I won’t go back till next week.

I glued the K on upside down. It’s fine, I realize that, I just like things with strong foundations. I don’t like the idea that a letter might fall over under its own weight.

This one probably won’t stay up very long. The rainbows are construction paper, and the colors fade very fast. Plus I didn’t glue it very well. I would have made it more elaborate, but the humidity was brutal. I just couldn’t stand outside anymore.

In other news, the new office manager wants to give me control of two more bulletin boards! We’ll see how that goes. I’m hoping I can get kids to collaborate with me on one of them. It might be more work over all, but it might be less of certain kinds of work.

Also, in other news, the client who bought the giant fantasy mural has received it printed in its full scale 8 ft high and 30 ft long. They were kind enough to send me a photo of one small detail and it looks great. I’m really pleased with the work, and if you happen to go to burning man, you might get to see it in real life.

These Cherry-Blossoms

Let me count the things…

For my spring bulletin board I was inspired by images of lush cherry blossoms. After deciding that I wanted to recreate one branch, I knew that I needed a Japanese haiku to accompany it, and turned immediately to the words of Basho, whose poetry you probably read in school. I considered some other cherry-blossom haikus but ultimately thought this one the most accessible to schoolchildren, although it’s really about the fact that Basho is, at the time he wrote it, an older man recalling his childhood.

I cut the flowers from 4 different types of paper I found around the school. They often change suppliers so I’m never quite sure what I’ll have, but this offered a nice effect. I cut them all from a single stencil, and created the anthers from 5 staples for each flower. I estimate that I used 1500 staples here, so maybe 300 flowers?

First, though, I cut the lettering. I wanted to make it look like it was done with ink and brush, so after cutting the basic shapes, I went back and snipped at the edges and I have to say the effect is perfect. I’m so thrilled with this one and would like to keep it, but I don’t know how to deal with the 1500 stapes, and half the flowers are construction paper, which tends to fade in the sun anyway. Japanese people use the time of the Cherry Festival to reflect not only on the beauty of the cherry blossoms, but also upon their fleeting, delicate, and ephemeral nature.

Let Love Grow!

First you have to put down some good roots.

This is, of course, my Valentine’s Day bulletin board. The leaves are hearts, the fruits are hearts, the roots are hearts, and the trunk is hearts. I did the roots with a scalpel in one piece. All the hearts I cut freehand. I folded all the leaves and stapled them down the center line to create dimensionality.

Great Horned Owls, Autumn 2021

Owls say, “Time to get spooky!” Just kidding. Owls say, “Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!” all night long

Aside from the logistical issue of having to use small sheets of black construction paper to make up for the weird lack of large rolls of black butcher paper (sorry, but light gray just won’t cut it for Halloween/All Souls/Dia de los Muertos season; this is the dying of the light we’re talking about here, not the general malaise of the light) this one came out pretty close to perfect.

I was inspired by the vast number of great horned owls in this neighborhood; I never see them, but I have frequently heard them and occasionally found their feathers. They’re definitely around. I’ve even heard them in a tree on the school property, although I used for my model and different, more photogenic, and creepier tree two blocks down the street.

Weirdly, none of the pictures came out great, but I did get some nice details of the owls, which I might put on Instagram. You can find me @hubris_and_smoke. It’s mostly photos of flowers but there’s other fun stuff too.

Welcome Back 2021-22, a Phoenix

We’re all constantly rebirthing ourselves from the flames of our own destruction

Obviously this would have looked waaaaay better with a black background, but for some reason they’re not stocking that color anymore. Only gray. Gray. For an elementary school. I feel compelled to use it up so we can rectify the issue.

This should have been posted a month ago but I spaced it and now it’s about time to start the Halloween one. With no black paper. Wonder how that will turn out. There’s still construction paper, just not big butcher paper for the background.

Rainbow Hummingbird

I give myself very good advice

This morning I did a professional photoshoot (headshot type stuff for an organization’s website), after which the client wanted to see the raw images right away, which led me to realized that I had not uploaded anything off the DSLR since late spring, which meant I hadn’t posted this cool hummingbird I made for my end-of-year bulletin board (and school starts back up in like 3 weeks here!). So here it is: my rainbow hummingbird.

If you zoom in, there’s a lot of detail. I think this one took about 6 hours total over 3 days.

Sign of the Times

Look, honey, I’m just trying to make the world a little sweeter.

Just found some stuff from last year that I never uploaded, probably because, like most people in the pandemic and most artists all the time, I was a little bit depressed. But this is the bulletin board I made last fall when we thought they were going to reopen the schools, an event they kept (rightfully, intelligently) bumping back, although now it looks like they’re definitely going to reopen after spring break (which would probably be OK if schoolteachers were 1b and were all vaccinated; what a mess). And I’ll have to make a new bulletin board because this one is already blowing apart.

Will schedule at least one other post of old art for later this week. I actually have made and sent so many cards in the pandemic, and most of them I didn’t even take the time to photograph individually. Somewhere, I have an image of a bunch of painted cards, and I might upload them if I can find them.