Whew! I’m trying to pace myself this weekend. Happy 4th of July, American readers! I’ve been working on a fun comic for Tuesday but not today, because everyone is in party mode and this is the first moment I’ve even gotten to sit down at the computer and it’s 1 a.m. We had to drive out to the desert and go hiking to water and then get in the water and then dry off and then have a picnic and then hike out and then have more snacks and then swim in a pool and then shower and then go out to a party and dance and dance and dance. And here I am, with half a comic and very little to say.
Whilst searching for some other document (never found; can’t even remember what it was now), came across this blast from the past: one my first mandalas. Not sure about the date, but probably from sometime in the mid-’90s, although it could be earlier. Sketching it out was meticulous work; I literally used a compass and a protractor to get all the curves and angles. The center part shows the phases of the moon, and the cardinal points are trees during the 4 seasons.
After putting so much effort into making the sketch perfect, I then became terrified to ruin it by trying to color it, so it just hung out in a tube for 15 or 20 years. No idea how it got stained…the stains are not as bad as they look, but rather amplified due to the Photoshop correction I had to do to the original image just to make the pencil lines clearly visible.
The whole this is pretty banged up, and, of course, held together with scotch tape, but none of that matters anymore, because now I do have Photoshop. I could draw a clean and more perfect copy in a relatively short period of time, and I could color it in a million different ways without ruining the original. Would make a wicked cool T-shirt.
Not that I don’t have 50 other projects.
I could have drawn a Dragon Comic about little kids wanting to pick up every single creature they come across but after the nonstop mayhem of my sister’s wedding, my brain is scrambled. I want to sleep, and even if I did draw a comic, I probably wouldn’t be able to upload it, because this hotel has the world’s worst wifi. (I’m using The Man’s hotspot but we have to turn it off soon because data costs money.) Anyway, my eyes are swimming. No drawing today.
Here instead is a photograph I took of some interesting plants growing out of what I assume is a pylon that once supported some kind of dock in Lake Whatcom, which is a funny name if you pronounce it as it’s written. The T, however, is silent: “WA-cum.” I guess it’s a funny name either way.
I had to wade out about 20 feet from the shore to get this shot; I was very cautious with the equipment. I really wish I had a waterproof camera, though, because then I would be showing you some stunning images of dragonflies on lily pads. Trust me, they were beautiful.
Do you know what pollen looks like? It looks like this, which may explain why it hurts so freaking much when you get it in your eyes.
Some people say that the desert is dull and colorless, but this is only because some people only visit the desert in the middle of winter. So, yeah, it’s all tawny and dusty in the middle of winter, but who are you to talk? You came here because it’s all white right now where you came from!
Now spring is a very colorful season in Tucson. There are wildflowers galore, and then every single tree explodes into flower. Imagine that: hills dotted with red, orange, purple; blanketed in yellow and chartreuse. And every last one of them spewing microgametophytes in every direction.
It’s sort of perverted if you think about it.
It’s also debilitating if your immune system treats tree pollen like a deadly pathogen and mounts a full scale defense. Which mine does. And then you take every allergy remedy known to man in an effort to simply breathe. Which I do.
It’s only a couple weeks in a year of generally clean air, but it’s been gradually knocking me over for days, but yesterday and today have been the worst. Last night was almost completely sleepless and today has been a near total loss. I’m barely aware of what I’m writing right now.
And that’s all. And that’s why that’s all.
My traveling companion wanted to meet up with an old friend she hadn’t seen in 30 years. He works as a singing cowboy on the Grand Canyon Railroad and she is interviewing people about the intersection between art and culture. Normally, I wouldn’t spend that much time away from my desk on writing retreat, but this promised to be a special sojourn.
My friend’s friend got us on the train for free, for which I was grateful. It’s a pricey experience, even at the lower levels of luxury, and the train takes about 3 times as long as it would to drive (135 minutes to go 65 miles). Since we were friends with the cowboy, we got some freebies and were able to hang out on the back of the caboose and watch the track peel away behind us, which I have wanted to do my entire life. (Yes, it was everything I envisioned.)
While my friend went off to reminisce about the old times and do some preliminary interviewing, I walked along the rim a bit and did a little writing and a lot of sketching. The problems with sketching the Grand Canyon are a) it’s huge, b) there’s a lot going on visually, and c) the shadows change every 15 seconds.
The Grand Canyon is an impressionist’s fantasy. It’s all light and shadow. It was hard to render in pencil. When I did try to focus on the dark parts, the clouds kept moving, so the dark parts kept changing. I’m not dissatisfied with this attempt. If I had kept at it longer, I think it would have improved. The digital drawing tablet might have rendered better results, but the sun shone too brightly to really use the computer.
After I got frustrated with the first sketch, I mailed some postcards to my nephews and sat down in a different place, thinking of focusing on a smaller section of the landscape. Before I started, I noticed that the tree above me cast some interesting shadows on the paper, and I decided to just draw the shadows, as an easier exercise. My sketch is not quite as awesome as the shadows were, plus you can see through to the next page. Oh, well.
Then I decided to focus on one tiny canyon, which you can see in the middle, before getting distracted by some interesting trees. The trees are not bad for the time spent.
Here I try a couple views of a squashed pine cone and a bit of pine that fell on the walkway. All in all, I’m really glad I went, but maybe I shouldn’t have walked so much. I could have gotten more accomplished.