Tag Archives: art

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.

Fantasia in the Dust

I think this one speaks for itself.

I haven’t posted in a while because I spent a couple months working on this commission! And now it’s finally done and the client said it’s OK for me to share, and I’m very excited to share.

This image, which took me about 50 hours over the space of 2 1/2 months to draw, is going someplace I likely will never go, Burning Man. (Some of it sounds fun, but not so much fun that I’m giving up indoor plumbing for 10 days.) It will be a room wrap, hanging inside a box van. The full size image is about 2 feet high and 8 feet long, but when vectorized and printed on a tapestry, it will be about 8 feet high and 30 feet long. (I would have drawn it full scale but my 5-year-old MacBook started complaining when the file was ~4’x15″ and the client said they would vectorize it themself, so I took pity on the machine; I do not know how to vectorized images). The person who bought it will be able to sleep inside their kawaii rainbow animal fantasy.

I actually have another commission I should finish next week, and I will share that one too, although it’s substantially less interesting than this one. And after that, there will be a new bulletin board! And I even have a comic script all laid out and ready to illustrate. I will try not to let the blog lay dormant this long again.

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.

Big Little World

I’m only limited by the scope of the canvas and the amount of paint I can afford.

This was supposed to be…something else. The Coyote and I get up to some shenanigans. He deconstructed two Amazon boxes to got with some finger paint I had. (Full disclosure: I bought them last year for my nephew before realizing they would be a pain in the butt to carry on an airplane and that I couldn’t afford to ship them to Canada. Sorry, kid, but I’m sure you have other artistic outlets.) We were going to do something very different with this setup, but sometimes he gets other ideas and he just decided to let me paint something.

Part of me was wondering what I would do with this masterpiece, but then of course the Coyote wanted it for his own house. It’s a big house and one of the rooms didn’t have any artwork whatsoever. So now it’s bolted to the wall and it really classes up the joint.

The canvas/cardboard is about 10 feet wide by 6 feet high. I used all my finger paints and some of his as well. I would have kept painting but I had…other things to do with my evening.

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.

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.

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

50th

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.