Tag Archives: rainbow

Shushing Scarlet Macaw

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Sorry this picture isn’t up to usual standards; I guess I never got a good shot before I installed it.

If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, or ever been in my office, you might see a nod to this old project from The Trickster’s Hat in today’s Shushing Scarlet Macaw. Parrots telling people to be quiet is hilarious for some reason. This one is currently hanging beside a “Quiet Zone” sign I also made for the same classroom that got the blue morpho.

Parrots are pretty cool to look at but I can’t imagine living in the same house as one. They need a lot of attention and I always get the sense that they’re silently judging humans.

Making a paper parrot was obviously a ton of fun. I’ve always loved the plumage on this type of bird; I’ve also got a photo-based design based on a scarlet macaw in my RedBubble shop.

 

I’m No Angel

img_7920 (1)I’m not comfortable with creating religious content, and since this design needed to include the Mission San Xavier del Bac, I wanted to make it clear that we were looking, as the lyrics suggest, at a picture of a child with wings, not an angel. I thought giving her rainbow hair and rainbow wings would eliminate confusion, but no sooner had I finished worked, a small child came by, excitedly pointed at my work, and said, “It’s an angel! An angel with rainbow hair and rainbow wings!”

Ah, well. I’m used to being misunderstood. Also, angel people see angels everywhere.

Of course, this bulletin board is inspired by the Paul Simon song, “Under African Skies,” from the amazing 1986 album Graceland, which he recorded with a variety of musicians, many of whom were South African. This track features 3 South African artists as well as the vocal work of Linda Ronstadt. The entire verse goes as follows:

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ’round my nursery door
I said take this child, Lord
From Tucson Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more

While many people, no doubt, wish that the children around them would be less bothersome, obviously I couldn’t hang that line up outside the elementary school library. The basic function of people in an elementary school library is to be bothered by children. I mean, not bothered by them per se….

Anyway, the school or their supplier changed the shade of the blue butcher paper, resulting in less contrast between the text and the background than anticipated. I guess I can’t do green on blue anymore. My first pictures, taken in artificial light, were unusable; you could barely see the letters, let alone read them. With better lighting and a DSLR I got some usable images, although I had to do a lot of color correction, and it’s still not as good as the phone picture I posted on Instagram with the Juno filter. But it is readable. I couldn’t find the name of this font; it was just a thumbnail when I Googled “musical font” and the link didn’t work so I can’t credit the source.

If you find yourself in Tucson, Arizona, I recommend a trip to the mission, one of the oldest buildings in America. Don’t come during Catholic holidays, because the Mission is still in use and you’re not supposed to wander around during mass, but the rest of the time it’s an interesting place to explore. There’s a museum, and a tiny chapel full of candles and saints, and a wooden statue of Saint Francis that people get real cozy with, and a gift shop, and a grotto you can hike to with a shrine to Mary. Also, if you come in decent weather in the middle of the day, there will be a bunch of Tohono O’odham people selling fry bread out front. If you are a person who can safely consume white flour and oil, it’s a real pleasure.

“Youth” by Langston Hughes

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Seems like an appropriate message for today’s youth.

I chose “Youth” by Langston Hughes as the theme for this bulletin board, as it seems like a timeless poem, about feelings that keep coming around, and also because it feels hopeful. It suggests a sense of agency on the part of the reader, with the poet clearing the way. You have power! Into the future you go! Good stuff.

I wanted to change the board for September but I didn’t want to go too crazy time-wise, because soon it will be October and this year’s Halloween design is going to slay. Cutting all the letters took about 2 hours, and glueing them another 3 and the feet took about 3 more. So really I didn’t save any time.

Rainbow Mandala Om

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Om, shanti shanti shanti. 

Despite my brother sending me an email explaining how he’d threatened my nephew with last Thursday’s “So Superior” comic, saying that if the bookish 10-year-old didn’t participate in physical activity he too would end up a basement-dwelling neckbeard troglodyte, I don’t seem to be feeling the comic today. If my nephew does end up living in my brother’s basement, I expect that will be entirely on his parents’ shoulders, right? I can rest assured that neither of the Kids will end up living in my basement, because the ground in Tucson is mostly clay, which is difficult and expensive to dig, so hardly anyone has a basement.

Anyway, I remembered there was another old crayon mandala that never made it to the website, because it’s hanging on the wall in the spare bedroom/closet. I wanted to lay it on the flatbed scanner but it appeared to be attached to the nail in some complicated way and it seemed safer to just let it stay where it was.

Truth be told, I’m getting a little nervous about finishing my big project on time, and around about while you are reading this, I am actually getting an MRI of my dominant hand, which could potentially result in surgery, which would likely prevent me from drawing anything or typing more than 20 words a minute for quite some time.

Anyway, I have to go draw some elephants.

Blurry Lemon/Finding Gratitude

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You know what this means, right?

Winter broke the day before yesterday in Tucson. We had 2 80°+ days, and now we have rolling thunderstorms. I saw a rainbow this afternoon. Both the citrus trees are budding and Miss Kitty and I ate Sno-Cones in the park. Even though the rain brings the temperature down, spring returns to the desert; it always does in time for Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, in national news, the judiciary and the intelligence communities seem to support the resistance.

Sorry for the low quality lemon photo. I should have taken pictures of the tiny purple lemon blossom buds but I never got the lighting right. But I’ve had this lemon tree for 6 years. Last year it made 4 lemons. This year, 1 lemon. Next year, who knows! At least I have a lemon tree. I have several trees. That’s something else to be grateful for.

As always I’m extra grateful to anyone buying my book, wearing my merch, or supporting my Patreon.

The Last Rainbow Mandala

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As good a place as any to pause and reflect.

About 6 or 7 years ago, long before QWERTYvsDvorak, I started this 100 mandala project and when I got to 100, I wasn’t ready to stop. Why not 1000 mandalas, I wondered? Because, as it turns out, 1000 is a LOT of mandalas. Ultimately, I drew about 130 of them, not counting a few drawn after the blog started, and this is the very last last one of the original set. It felt like I had come full circle from the first (also rainbow) mandala and perhaps going on would mean just repeating myself.

I’m not saying I’ll never draw another mandala again, but they won’t be my regular Monday feature/safety net when I forget the weekend is ending.

Ms. Kitty suggested that I replace it with some sort of Monday gratitude, which seems like a really good idea right about now. Must think of how best to execute within the framework of QvD re: art.

But speaking of gratitude and art: that Lady Gaga concert sure was something, wasn’t it? So many people were watching it that the roads were completely empty, as were all the best hiking trails. But I caught it later on the NFL Twitter page. Those NFL people really put on a good show. I seem to recall they hosted one last year for Beyoncé that just slayed.

2 Rainbow Zentangles

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Just trying to unwind here. 

I hope these scans are high quality, because in the process of making them, I got my knee tangled in the cable and knocked the scanner off the shelf and onto the floor. It still seems to function normally, but who knows? Every piece of digital equipment I own seems to be malfunctioning lately. I’ve got a phone with a shattered screen, a laptop with an almost useless battery and a frayed power cable and very limited memory, and suddenly I can’t get any decent macro images out of my camera. At least my brand new Wacom tablet is still under warranty.

Anyway, I’ve been pretty focused on finishing up the book, but it seemed more or less done so of course I spent 2 hours drawing abstract rainbow designs. Tomorrow I can prepare the files to be printer and probably get them sent off. It could be printed this week. I may have to take a break from using the tablet for a little while so my hand doesn’t fall off. Maybe some photography is in order. That camera will do my bidding.

Malala Yousafzai and Love of Learning

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We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. ~Malala Yousafzai

Considering my final message of the school year, I really wanted to do something that spoke to the ideas of unity and acceptance and love, concepts that seem widely absent from the world this year, and decided to choose a quote from Malala Yousafzai, the education rights activist. If you don’t know about the amazing life of Malala, you should check her out. In a nutshell, she was an 11-year-old girl living under the Taliban when she was asked to blog about her experience as a schoolgirl in a country where education for girls was outlawed, and she began to speak in favor of education and against the regime. Four years later, the Taliban shot her in the head to shut her up, but she survived, and kept at what she had been doing, and went on to win a Nobel Peace prize and some other things too. She graduated high school and went on to open her own school. I don’t think she’s yet turned 20.

It seems like a lot of the problems in our country are predicated by a lack of comprehensive education, a sort of selective myopia about what education means, and what’s important, which is why I chose this quote. You can’t make informed decisions if your schooling has massive lacunae. You need science and literature to understand your world, and you need a good overview of science and literature. You can’t for example, teach science and literature but deliberately leave out the workings of evolution and stories about sex  and claim that you know the shape of the world.

If you must zealously guard your deficits in case something that clashes with your beliefs slips through, then your beliefs are probably not as not as strong as you think they are. Learn about the things that scare you and then evaluate whether or not they’re useful (and why they’re frightening). And that means actually learn. Don’t just be like some people and sit in the classroom with your fingers in your ears, or demanding the teacher reconcile observable phenomena with your preconceived notions. That’s not learning. Science means you look at the quantitative data, not just the parts that validate your story. Literature means you look at the entire human experience, not just the parts that are pretty and clean.

Technically, and from an artistic perspective, this is one of my less ambitious bulletin boards, but I think the kids will enjoy it. Those are real strings on the balloons, and they move when the wind blows. Someone will probably pull them off. Oh well. It took 4 days total, although the first day I just put up the background because I was busy. Then it took a couple hours to make and paste the letters, a couple hours to make the rainbow and the books, and a couple hours to finish and hang everything. The Girl was there to help me, because her school got out a week before mine, and she helpfully pointed out, 3/4 of the way through the rainbow, that I had arranged the colors backward, probably because I haven’t had a good night sleep in weeks. Then she said that it was OK, because the rainbow was unique, like Malala.

So tired.

Portentous Sky

I swear, storms are just bigger here.

I swear, storms are just bigger here.

Further thoughts on Photoshop: I wear polarized lenses pretty much any time I’m outside during the day, and sometimes inside or at night. I’m rather attached to my prescription sunglasses for a variety of reasons. Of course, polarized lenses change the way the world looks: everything is crisper. Colors are more intense, details are more defined, outlines are sharper, and shading offers more definite contrast. Basically, the world looks better. In general.

Of course, if you’re wearing polarized lenses and you use them to look through another polarized piece of glass, you get another effect. Sharper, still, in a sense, but overwhelmed with colors that simply aren’t there if you remove one of the pieces of glasses. It’s not the face of reality, and yet it’s what you see, if, for example, you wear polarized sunglasses in a car.

We went to see our friends in Bisbee over the holiday weekend, which coincided with the actual start of the monsoon–that is, the first big storm. The clouds were still hanging heavily in the sky, and distant showers dotted the horizon, as we headed back to Tucson.

Even the best pictures often fail to capture the majesty of something like this: the sun streaming down through breaks in the clouds, illuminating the lines of rain sweeping diagonally across the desert. I start with a nice image, and tinker with it, trying to light up the most stunning parts so that the flat image matches the glory of memory. I haven’t quite hit it yet.

When I was little I liked to imagine that the beams of light piercing the clouds had something to do with the proximity of heaven to the earth, even though I knew it was just sunlight. There’s something special about the big sky, about towering cumulonimbi, about light that takes on, for a short time, in an illusory capacity, the quality of a solid object. When you block out part of it, maybe, you can see a greater part of the reality of that which remains.

I fully intended to publish a comic, or at least a drawing tonight, but The Man sometimes gets really excited about particular movies or shows. Right now it’s the Netflix original series Sens8, which is pretty good, but I don’t know if it’s worth him staying up 90 minutes past his bedtime every night. I didn’t even get to work until almost midnight tonight. At least we’ve only got maybe 2 more nights’ worth of this season, so hopefully both of us will be better equipped to work by the end of the week.

We are all connected

My blue period lasted until I was 35. Now I'm in my rainbow period.

My blue period lasted until I was 35. Now I’m in my rainbow period.

Here’s a few more sketchy flights of fancy from my Trickster’s Hat days. There’s something so soft about pencil drawings, and especially velvety about color pencil. When I was a teenager I used to spend a lot of babysitting money on artist quality colored pencils, but I think this drawing was done with school supplies. I used to covet colored pencil–any arts supplies–so badly. Now I have dozens of sets of colored pencils, and I spent most of my time on the tablet.

Don't mess with Little Red

Don’t mess with Little Red

Little Red Riding Hood again, this time a dark, brooding raven of a riding hood. Here’s one little girl who’s not afraid to walk through the forest. She’s more than a match for this brutally psychedelic world.

OK, back to the passion flower! When that’s finished, I may take a break from the tablet and get back to basics.