Tag Archives: bird

Hot Sun Rising Mandala

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 10.49.33 PM

Maybe it’s not the mandala that’s hot. Maybe it’s the state of Arizona. There is no way to tell the difference.

One thing’s for certain, and that is that it’s imperative to fix my scanner. Ever since I updated my OS, it doesn’t seem to like its own drivers that came with the device and were running fine before I started running Jackelope or Elephant-Bird, or whatever the heck they call this operating system. Puma. Adidas. No idea.

I got Comiconned out, or maybe I was just Phoenix-ed out. At any rate, I need to get out of the city and be someplace without other people, so The Man drove me the VERY long way home–as in, Phoenix is northeast of Tucson, but by the time we got to Tucson we were approaching it from the southwest. We turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour one, counting severals stops for me to tromp around the desert taking pictures of flowers and birds. Got some great shots, like this one of a red-tailed hawk leaping into the air. Finally had the macro lens and the elusive desert poppy in the same place at the same time, too. Well, the desert poppy actually isn’t elusive at all. It’s fairly ubiquitous in the spring and summer in certain parts of the state, but it tends to favor the high desert, and I tend to exist in the low desert, so this is the first time I’ve documented its fabulous insides. Will share soon.

I did have a good time at Comicon, but it was so huge and I didn’t have a good plan of attack and it was overwhelming. I met some really cool artists and writers, including the inimitable Phil Foglio (Girl Genius) along with Larry Welz (Cherry), along with some less famous dudes, most notably this guy Russ Kazmierczak, with whom I randomly got into a massive discussion about Alan Moore, the history of comics, and the deeper meaning of superheroes. He was so pleased with my conversation that he gave me his comic for free. He said it was because I saw graphic storytelling in the same way he did, and I’m going to believe that it was for that reason, and not because I was wearing a media badge.

ETA: WordPress just informed me that this is my 500th blog post at QWERTYvsDvorak. And all I got was this stupid virtual trophy. Plus a massive portfolio of ridiculous art.

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What Goes Up

Sometimes you have to land.

Sometimes you have to land.

This hummingbird lives in one of the aviaries at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum; this picture was taken last Wednesday in the late afternoon. It’s cropped pretty closely and then I played with the color until it matched my mind’s eye a little more closely. The brightness is correct, but I’m afraid the color at the bird’s throat might not be. If this is, as I suspect, an Anna’s hummingbird, the tone should be more purple than red. Still can’t trust the camera. But the untouched image doesn’t come close to demonstrating the brilliant dazzle of a hummingbird in sunlight and this is a little more indicative.

Like the hummingbird, I need to rest between flights. I have a couple more pictures like these, from that same day, which I’ll try to share this week, but I’m taking a little vacation from comics. They’re noisy in my brain and I need some space to think. I want to write a poem, and an article about comics, and finish at least 2 T-shirts, so it’s time to land for a few days. I think I’ll sit on the floor, with a notebook and a pen, and write.

More 3D Dragon Comics

I'm not sure if this was really worth waiting for.

I’m not sure if this was really worth waiting for.

It’s pretty sticky here after a day of weird and constant monsoons, and I thought I might take a night off from the blog, but around midnight I got kind of itchy about it, like drawing comics is some kind of ingrained habit. Or chemical dependency. I couldn’t relax until I made *something* even though my head hurt and my eyes were swimmy and all I wanted was to relax. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m doing this for me, not for clicks or likes or money. So it’s OK if I produce something that isn’t funny or informative or meaningful to anyone else. It just has to be meaningful to me.

This one went along fairly quickly, once I created a new template, although somehow I messed up the text size so you really have to click on the image to see it clearly, because each panel ended up being as big as my normal single panel comics, and I didn’t adjust the lettering. It’s too late. My head hurts too much. Click on the image if you want to know a few things from inside my head. You can also just admire the pictures, with which I am fairly satisfied.

I was outside the public library at 1:45 a.m. again, due to the fact that I have been, as Mrs. Kitty says, “Cox blocked,” and mysteriously lacked sufficient Internet to upload a single image, despite my paying these people $70 a month, every month, for high speed access. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get online there, for whatever reason. It looked like they had changed their network completely; I hadn’t used it in a couple weeks. I’ve been trying to post this thing for well over an hour and am too tired to drive to the next place I know I could get online.

***

Now it is the morning and my Internets have magically returned. Hooray. Here’s my blog.

How to Fly Higher Than an Eagle

You are the wings beneath my wings.

You are the wings beneath my wings.

This Isaac Newton quote probably refers most particularly to the work of 2 great scientists who came before him: Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei. Although Newton is still regarded as one of the greatest scientists to ever live, having made major contributions to the fields of mathematics, optics, celestial mechanics, and of course, the study of gravity, over 300 years ago, he had to acknowledge that his leaps would not have been possible had he not studied the foundational works of those who came before.

In other words, read a book.

A crow riding an eagle

A crow riding an eagle

As for the image, there are fairy tales that involve smaller birds flying higher and farther than stronger birds by riding on their backs, and there are several sets of photographs of this phenomenon which you can Google at your leisure. It’s a documented fact that little birds sometimes hitch a ride on bigger birds.

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Close up on the wing. Somehow, my freehand drawing shortened the back wing considerably, which I didn’t notice until after I cut it out, andI ended up having to add 2 pieces to make it big enough, but that was OK, since eagles have those layers of feathers anyway. it looks better this way.

The kerning on this one is off, because I only had a really limited time to work (I actually wanted to put in clouds, but as it was it took 30 minutes longer than I wanted) and didn’t measure properly. The letters were cut pretty haphazardly, no guidelines, no rulers. I just counted the occurrence of the individual letters and cut them of folded paper, so I only had to do each shape once.

In addition, I spilled a 1/4 bottle of rubber cement all over my shirt/the cement without noticing. That’s a first for me.

3D Dragon Comics #1!

You were probably expecting something with a little more depth, but that's just a matter of perception.

You were probably expecting something with a little more depth, but that’s just a matter of perception.

There’s a type of psychological intervention known as Sand Table Play Therapy, which basically involves arranging objects and figurines in a tray of sand. Sand is nice, but it also goes everywhere and I don’t really think it’s all that integral to the actual symbolic actions that comprise this treatment, which is basically about forcing rigid adult minds to become malleable enough to throw off the limitations of maturity engage in meaningful play. I’ve got a million of these little objects–I could easily have created dozens of different tableaux using stuff that’s already in my office–and it really is soothing to rearrange them sometimes. It’s also nice to justify owning all these tchotchkes.

I’d been thinking about doing this type of 3-dimensional photographic comic for a long time, even before I started this blog. Reading Dave McKean’s Pictures That Tick made it seem like time to try. For some reason, I thought this would be faster than actually drawing a comic, which was not in any way the case. It took twice as long as Dragon Comics usually take. But it was more fun, and got me away from my desk.

It would be really nice if there was some easy way to build a model that didn’t fully set: one whose features couldn’t be smushed, but whose arms and legs could be repositioned. And then I wish I had the equipment and knowledge to make stop motion animation films.

Anyway, I wasn’t really ready to do a comic about my demons, even though creating them yesterday also inspired me to do this. Maybe one day. I’m still puzzling over my comic about depression. It’s funny: seems like everyone gets depressed, and yet depression is a really personal and idiosyncratic experience. At least mine is.

My Memorial Day Post

You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

If all goes according to plan, when this little drawing goes live, I will be way, way, WAY off the grid, far away from any sort of amenity that features running water. This is a shame, because, while I love nature, I am also fairly dependent on those running water features and am uncertain how I will do without them. At least without the most necessary one. However, we will be next to a lake, so there will be *some* options.

Camping is not a big one in my repertoire. I’ve gone a handful of times, but always to a campsite with bathrooms and fire pits and such. I don’t have any camping skills, except for the ability to cook gourmet meals over an open fire. That’s actually the reason I don’t have any camping skills: I would always be so busy cooking that other people were required to pitch my tent, &c. It’s another one of my super privileges. No one has ever even considered that I should learn to pitch a tent. It was always assumed that someone else would do it for me, because I was cooking a 3-course meal over an open flame in the dark. That’s just how I roll.

We’re not even going to pitch a tent: we’ve got a futon jammed into the back of a Honda Element. I have a decent expectation for us being more or less comfortable there. It should be dark; even the moon is just a bitty sliver this weekend. It should be quiet; there will most likely be very few people around, if any.

Well, if this site is never updated again, you’ll know why. I’m lost in the wilderness and have possibly been eaten by a bear.

The birds I’ve drawn are just fanciful birds. The balloon and the feather/leaf thing are me working with light. The balloon seems to have come out pretty well, for what it’s meant to be. For the feather, I was messing around trying to draw an iridescent effect. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than I could have done before I drew the blue morpho butterfly. The quote above is from Dr. Seuss’s Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, which I read every year to kindergarteners the penultimate week of school. It’s summer break already around here, which is a good time for adults to stop and take stock.

Oh! Also, I finally wrote a kids’ book review for Best Children’s Books, a site I haven’t posted on in more than a year: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Read it! Then click on the Amazon link!

Anyway, I’ll be in the desert.

Summertime and the Cuttin’ is Easy Bulletin Board

Summer sunset bulletin board

Summer sunset bulletin board

It’s the last week of school for Arizona kids, at least the ones attending TUSD and Amphi, and I put together this dazzling summer sunset bulletin board to send them off (and for the summer staff and camp kids to enjoy). Up until about 90 seconds before I started making it, I had no idea what I was going to do.

This one took 2 days; the first day I just put up the background. There was nobody else around and I had a couple hours, so I thought I’d attempt a rainbow sunset. If I were to do this again, I think I might try to cut all the layers of paper at the same time. It felt a bit lopsided to me. For whatever reason, the school doesn’t stock purple butcher paper, so I had to tape a few pieces of construction paper together to do that layer, and it was harder to work with.

Day 1: just the sky, mountains, and sun

Day 1: just the sky, mountains, and sun

The next day I sketched out the cactus and the birds on black paper and cut it all out as a single piece, mostly using scissors, but getting the scalpel in there for some of the fiddly bits. I used my wedding invitations as a reference. A designer put the image together for me from a few pictures; this was before I knew Photoshop, or I probably would have done it myself and been even more impressed with the result, but we were pretty happy to get invitations that more or less looked the way we wanted.

Detail from our wedding invitations.

Detail from our wedding invitations.

The next day I sketched out the cactus and the birds on black paper and cut it all out as a single piece, mostly using scissors, but getting the scalpel in there for some of the fiddly bits.

I used my wedding invitations as a reference. A designer put the image together for me from a few pictures; this was before I knew Photoshop, or I probably would have done it myself and been even more impressed with the result, but we were pretty happy to get invitations that more or less looked the way we wanted.

Anyway, the silhouette was simple to draw; the hardest part was actually making out the pencil marks on black paper so I could accurately see what I was cutting. It all came out nicely and actually took a lot less time than many of the less complex bulletin boards take, about 4 hours max, although part of that is because there isn’t any text on this one. As per usual when the bulletin board is cactus themed, I used a lot of staples for spines, and also to keep the thing in place. It needs to be extra durable to last through the monsoon.

The silhouette.

The silhouette.

Last I did the stars, which would have been a lot easier had the principal not kicked me out of the library so she could hold an interview there, because it was super windy in the breezeway and I spend half my time chasing bits of paper around, but in the end it seems to have worked out pretty well.