Tag Archives: desert

Just Like Honey from the Bee Mandala

Just like honey, from the bee

Candy drops and sweet emotion 

Monday was a good day! My article about Jews in comics got a good reception, and mercury got up over 102, which means a couple things: my fingers and toes and nose didn’t get frozen even when The Man blasted the cooler, zero traffic picking the kids up from the first day of camp (people flee this city when it gets hot), and the pool finally reached 80 degrees! Hooray. Now I have a compelling reason to get my butt off this couch. I will be conducting all further business from within the confines of my swimming pool.

People sometimes ask how to survive in the desert in the summer. This is how to survive in the desert in the summer. Also, we have an ice maker.

One thing I spend a lot of time doing in the pool is rescuing bees from drowning. I guess when we’re not in it it’s flat enough that they don’t break the surface tension, but the kids and I must have pulled 15 bees out of the water in 30 minutes. Well, I pulled most of them and the Boy got a couple. The Girl is still timid, even though she’s seen me do it a thousand times. Seriously, the last thing a drowning bee is thinking of is stinging you.

You can observe them very minutely when they’re all wet and out of sorts. They shake their wings vigorously, too fast for the human eye to see, and use their front legs to brush the water off their midsection. They even brush off their long tongues. If they’re still wet, they lean onto their front legs and use their back legs to dry themselves. The longer they’ve been in the water, the more time they take to combobulate themselves.

This mandala reminds me of butterscotch and toffee and caramel: all the mostly-sugar candies, and also, of course, honey.

The Desert in Bloom!

I was raised surrounded by cacti; although we lived in the midwest, my father always had a soft spot for the prickly plants. Their periodic flowering in such an unlikely climate was always a cause for celebration. Conditions being, as they were, so wildly inappropriate, we rarely saw more than 1 or 2 cactus flowers a year.

Now, as an adult, living in the desert, I’m surrounded by cactus blossoms from early spring to late autumn. The end of summer/beginning of fall is the time of the barrel cactus, both the native fishhook barrel and the ornamental (transplanted from central Mexico) golden barrel, both of which produce astonishing blossoms (red and yellow, respectively). I’d like to think I’ve done justice to the golden barrel. I wanted to do the fishhook, too, but I like to work from my own photos, and none of the ones I took on my last Botanic Garden trip felt quite right.

Without any further ado: The Golden Barrel Cactus Flower! This one is featured on a lovely throw pillow, but of course you can get it on any of my products.

If you think this is beautiful, you should see these flowers in situ.

If you think this is beautiful, you should see these flowers in situ.

If you do buy a throw pillow, be aware that RedBubble sells pillowcases with or without actual pillows inside them; you have to select the option of receiving a pillow, or you will just  purchase the case, as was the unfortunate discovery of one customer. Click to buy!

Too highbrow for you? How about a “Glitter” T-shirt from the Dragon Comics Collection?

You know what makes me feel like my house will never be clean?

You know what makes me feel like my house will never be clean again?

The T-shirt reads, in full, “You know what helps me feel more magical? GLITTER!” and features a cat throwing glitter in the air, while a dragon marvels at the magicosity. Perfect for magic-loving cats of all ages.

The Desert Explodes in Glorious Technicolor

For ten years, I’ve lived in the Sonoran Desert, where we enjoy 330 days of sunshine every year. It may be hot, but it is also beautiful, full of sharp contrasts and luscious details.

This agave had reached the end of its life cycle. After sending up the shoot and flowering, the plant will die, but for a brief, breathtaking moment, it resembles a flaming torch.

If all else fails, you can always make tequila.

If all else fails, you can always make tequila.

This drawing is based on a photograph I took over the summer; I had a 2-day window in which this plant exhibited these gorgeous colors. In fact, I wanted to paint a hibiscus today, but I couldn’t lay my hands on the right reference image.

This lovely design is available for purchased on a variety of fine products in my shop.

The Javelina Happi Coat

Original hare design

Original hare design: the gradient later had to be eliminated, as the printer said they could not execute such fine color shifts.

Shortly before I started The Trickster’s Hat, I was visiting my brother in San Francisco. I was trying to work, but my brother’s wifi somehow was not playing nicely with the proprietary database I needed for the job, so I was mostly just reading to my niece and wishing I didn’t have my job. It was a good job, that paid extremely well, allowed me to work from home, didn’t take up too many hours of my time, and was easy for me to do, and somehow it made me miserable. I had been a starving artist before, and I had been happier with no money.

Original coyote design

Original coyote design, also later flattened to eliminate the gradient

That morning, I received two surprising emails, one from a woman I had worked with through this job a year earlier, asking me to do some freelance for her 501c3, and another from a woman I had recently become friends with, asking me to do some design work.

The javelinas

The javelinas

Until recently, I had not done much in the way of displaying my art, but I had showed this woman a few pages from the Alphabet of Desire, and she was impressed. She was a hasher: a member of a running club for athletes who like beer. Hashers drink and run and party, and often wear silly costumes while doing so. They favored a particular style of Japanese coat, and each region had its own design. My friend lamented the fact that Tucson hashers were forced to wear what she considered the dull and uninspired design from the Phoenix clubs. She wanted a local design by a local artist: javelinas chasing a hare across a desert landscape.

happi_coat_mockup

The jHavelina Hash House Harriers Happi Coat is customizable with your hashing name and the name of your club. You can buy this coat here!

With the help of another local artist, Jeffrey Woods, I managed to bring her vision to life. I consider this her work as much as it is mine, since I was drawing to her specification and would not have made many of these decisions myself. Apparently, my design was pretty popular, because the coats are being reissued. To me, the experience was eye-opening. If people would pay me for design work, unsolicited, maybe I didn’t need my well-paying job after all.

The Breezeway Part 1

My first completed bulletin board, Halloween 2009.

My first completed bulletin board, Halloween 2009. I made up the bone letters. The other font came from a book in the library’s collection.

There’s a bulletin board outside the elementary school library where I volunteer, a scabrous, peeling wreck of old cork, exposed to the elements (this is Arizona, where year-round outdoor living means we keep a lot of things outside that northerners would never consider subjecting to the wind and rain) but prominently positioned in a breezeway through which most students and teachers regularly pass.

Winter, 2009 (I think)

Winter, 2009 (I think). These snowflakes are all hand cut, of course. The big one was a lot of fun to cut, but not that easy to affix to the wall.

Due to unconscionable budget inadequacies (this is Arizona, where certain people don’t understand the connection between funding education and creating a healthy and robust standard of living) I’ve held various degrees of responsibility in this library, including, for certain periods, being the only person to staff it in any way and basically completely in charge, with the principal’s blessing.

 

Summer, 2010. Even though school's not in session, I like to put something up for the kids and adult in camp and summer school on this campus.

Summer, 2010. Even though school’s not in session, I like to put something up for the kids and adult in camp and summer school on this campus.