COVID knocked me down, but I am slowly getting up again. It took me a lot of weeks to make this bulletin board, because I got the long COVID and it slows me down. One week I cut out all the flowers, but it was a while before I got to the lettering, which took 2 days, and then the girl also took 2 days. And I still forgot to give her a second leg. In this picture I also forgot to glue her hair down. If it was, you would see that her hair beads are rainbow.I know I’ve done 2 Robert Louis Stevenson poems in a row, but they spoke to me.
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.
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.
My school district went back to in-person learning after spring break, and I was there making my 2 banners, and a teacher of whom I’m fond seemed pretty stressed out getting her office back together. I told her I couldn’t help her (I had like 25 hours of work to do myself!) but I could offer her a leftover hummingbird I had in a drawer from some other long-ago project. She liked the hummingbird but indicated that she wished she had a pair of them. So I finally got around to making some pairs.
They didn’t come out exactly how I had imagined them but I think they’re pretty cute. I actually made (and kept) the templates so I can quickly cut out hummingbirds in the future, if I ever need to do that.
It’s my dear friend, the Vampire Bat’s, birthday, and I made her this card to amuse her. The background is layered tissue paper, the bat is brown butcher paper, and the starts are holographic foil, but the holographic part didn’t really seem visible once I started cutting. O well. I went back and forth over whether the bat should be black or brown and probably black would be better but it’s already in the mail so that’s that. Hopefully it reaches its destination before my friend’s birthday.
Pretty often I forget people’s birthdays entirely so sending a card 5 days in advance is pretty good.
The execution may have suffered a bit due to the addition of the work in my previous post, but it’s still pretty decent. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I miscalculated the letters and had so much extra space that I had to add the big butterflies, and then miscalculated again and had to add the little butterflies. Plus I miscalculated a third time and ended up with 6 little butterflies rather than the 4 I meant to make. But it’s better this way.
My district is going back to in-person learning after their spring break (which is this week) and the front office staff asked me to work my magic on the front window. (With social distancing, temperature checks, and hand sanitizing, I’m guessing there’s going to be a bit of a bottleneck there in the mornings.) Since I was also making my own back-to-school/spring bulletin board, and this week was break, I really had to jam.
This is the biggest piece I’ve done to date. It’s about 170 cm wide by 180 cm high, which is bigger than me in both directions. It took three people to hang (haven’t figured out how to get a good photograph from outside because it’s behind a glass window and there’s a glare). My head was in all kind of places all week and I was constantly miscounting and mismeasuring things (anybody need a heraldic lion? ‘Cause I have extra) plus I really just slapped all that lettering together in record time and those rainbow bullseyes should have been much more complex mandalas and I’m still quite satisfied with it. The front office staff loved it and the principal thanked me too.
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.
Well, all things must come to an end, and that includes the waking nightmare that was summer of 2020, and now children are heading back to school in whatever ridiculous configurations are necessary to educate the populace without killing it. In this district, there will be distance learning, with teachers teaching from their homes and children learning in theirs (except for a small number of economically disadvantaged children who will be distance learning in one big, happy, k-12 classroom, with a single aide to watch over them).
I made this bulletin board for those unfortunate souls who do have to be in the building 5 days a week.
The lettering is based on the free font Andhibath Demo. The lion face is based on a stuffed animal my aunt gave me 40 years ago.
Right about now I wouldn’t mind pricking my finger and sleeping for 100 years.
Another card. For some reason, I had the worst trouble getting the colors to photograph properly. This version is close but still not precisely how it’s meant to look (should be brighter). Anyway, I made this card for a nurse who likes to spin and likes the color chartreuse. That’s the whole story.
Sadly, I am not, as of yet, one of those people who has used the pandemic to inspire a vast body of new work. I did some crayon drawing last night that amused me but nothing super internet-ready. Not only is this stupid virus wrecking my social life, it’s also making my daily life extra difficult because I just bought a new house and moving in has become ridiculously complicated. Like, I ordered a refrigerator off the internet, and was just informed that they’re going to deliver it Friday, but they can’t bring it in the house or install it. They’re going to leave the refrigerator in the yard.
If you do not know, I am very small for a human. If I were much smaller, I would be anomalously small. Nobody would look at me and think, “That person could move a refrigerator.”
This week I’ll be sequestering myself away to start Bonnie Jo Campbell Comics volume 4 but I won’t be able to share any of it on this blog because this one will be published in a larger volume of (text based) literary criticism. It’s kind of exciting, except that I won’t make any money off this one. I will likely be the only person in the anthology who doesn’t have a PhD in literature and doesn’t teach it at the university level and doesn’t need to publish in order to maintain my academic credentials. Everything’s different for academics. But I really wanted to be in this book! And it’s flattering that they asked me. So I’m doing it.
After I do that, I’ll really have to start thinking about how I can use my skills and talents to support myself.