Tag Archives: paper

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.

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.

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.

Sunflowers

There’s a million ways to do this; this is one

Since the pandemic started I’ve made and mailed a lot of cool cards but I realized that I never took high quality photos of most of them or shared the pictures online. Ran across this image on my DSLR the other day. This is a sunflower card I made for my mother-in-law back in Kansas. Kansans love sunflowers. This is a very Kansas card.

Sunflowers seem simple but if look carefully you realize they’re so complex. I love this card but I could have made it ten times more complicated if I really wanted to get down into the plant’s anatomy. One day I’ll do one where I cut each individual little floret in the center and each individual petal on the outside.

Anyway, my mother-in-law loved it and said she’s hanging it up, which is what I hope people do with these little custon artworks that I spend hours making!

Rainbow Hummingbird

I give myself very good advice

This morning I did a professional photoshoot (headshot type stuff for an organization’s website), after which the client wanted to see the raw images right away, which led me to realized that I had not uploaded anything off the DSLR since late spring, which meant I hadn’t posted this cool hummingbird I made for my end-of-year bulletin board (and school starts back up in like 3 weeks here!). So here it is: my rainbow hummingbird.

If you zoom in, there’s a lot of detail. I think this one took about 6 hours total over 3 days.

6 Paper Hummingbirds

Little flying jewels are an artist’s conception and not scientifically accurate.

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.

Time to Grow!

I know half the country is covered in snow but we’re 5 days from meteorological spring.

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.

In Person Learning! A Welcome Back Banner

Not gonna lie: pretty proud of this effort, all things considered.

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.

Sign of the Times

Look, honey, I’m just trying to make the world a little sweeter.

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.

Three Saguaros: Father’s Day in the Desert

The real desert shinier and pricklier.

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve posted something here that WordPress actually logged me out of the site. That never happens.

I have made some art, but most of it was for a book that hasn’t been published yet and the editors asked me not to share it yet. But also, the world is on fire (here in Arizona literally, and figuratively everywhere else) and it’s hard to focus. I’ve been reading a lot.

This card is for my father, who loves cactus, for Father’s Day. By the time this page is published, I’ll have given it to him in a socially distant way. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!