Tag Archives: rainbow

Malala Yousafzai and Love of Learning


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.

A Digilicious Mandala

My soul isn't perfect; why should my mandalas be?

My soul isn’t perfect; why should my mandalas be?

One of the reasons that crayon mandalas became less prevalent in my day-to-day life is that I felt I was reaching the limits of the abstract form and beginning to repeat myself. The representative ones were still original, but those take a lot more forethought and don’t spill out in the same organic way as the purely geometric ones.

When I did last week’s mandala on the tablet, I had to start over again with the form in some ways. I had to let go, again, of the idea of perfection. Now I start to see more possibilities.

With crayon, what’s done is done. You can stack a little bit of color with Crayolas but not with great detail. You can’t really go past a certain level of detail in crayon, whereas the tablet lets you get down to the pixels, and, of course, to add layers, so that you can always get something on top of whatever you’ve done. So that’s what I’ve been exploring here, and I’m actually much happier with the result than I was with last week’s circles. Something about the dots and lines reminds me of various types of indigenous folk art. I think I can really start to get even more impressive results, and hopefully come up with something T-shirt worthy.

In the real world, I still have a few more days in the cold place, although it has been warming up. Crocuses and snowdrops and narcissus–the first flowers of spring–are just poking their heads through the soil, and everywhere you go, landscapers are trying to untangle the mess of this unreasonable winter. It’s increasingly difficult to function; sleep is elusive here, in a narrow bed, without The Man, without some of the comforts of home that help me sleep. It becomes debilitating very fast. Maybe tonight will be the night that I sleep for 8 hours without interruption.

Mandalas Make Your Mind Go Round

There’s plenty of room for this colorful rainbow mandala in your happy Tuesday, is there not?

I am a little ray of sunshine.

I am a little ray of sunshine.

Love the colors in this one, and the rosace quality of the mandala itself. Without making an effort to wear my crayons down equally, I would most likely compose all drawings as rainbows, or in shades of blue. I do try to explore the full chromatic spectrum, but it takes work, especially when exploring oranges and yellows and neutrals, to which I am not at all drawn.

This is one of the mandalas that might get turned into a T-shirt in the future. And speaking of T-shirts, if you would like to purchase a fine one, RedBubble is still offering a site-wide sale on shirts until midnight tonight. Just visit the QWERTYvsDvorak RedBubble shop, select any of our exquisite merchandise, and use coupon code RBTEES15.

A Rainbow for the Dark

If this onesie looks small to you, don't worry. Rainbird is available in a wide variety of sizes and on many products.

If this onesie looks small to you, don’t worry. Rainbird is available in a wide variety of sizes and on many products.

Throw off the burden of darkness and feast your eyes upon this updated version of my original design. Rainbird still believes you can make your own magic, but it’s more of a tacit message.

The thought still holds true, but the shirt seems better balanced without the text. Live and learn.

As pictured, this onesie cost $18.04. You can buy it here. You can also find it in kid and adult sizes all the way up to 3XL and on tote bags, pillows, phone cases, stickers, of course, and also paper. See all products here.

Getting Centered


This is a case where drawing a mandala really did serve primarily as a centering exercise.

It’s not easy to get me angry, but when there’s something to get really angry about, my brain gets obsessive. My husband and I received some upsetting news the day before we were scheduled to go down to Florida to visit my grandparents, and we agreed that we wouldn’t talk about it until we got back. Of course, we were both thinking about it the entire time. When we returned, we both had to deal with the situation, which I did by writing a 2000 word email. It took about 2 hours. The words had been brewing and stewing in my brain all week, and by the time I finished, I was in a massive state of agitation. Drawing this mandala helped me regain my composure. I deliberately used rainbow colors to lift my mood, although the skewing of the pattern shows to me how off-kilter I was at the time.