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.

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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.

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.