The cats are alright

Just a sketchbook comic today. I speak for myself when I say that, after a near year of lots of bad (TV) news, hints of good news have come to feel strange and unfamiliar. While the news has started reporting some promising developments, it’s been murky trying to envision a horizon out of the current collective moment. I find myself still processing the last year, gingerly trying to move forward in a sort of tenuous way…

I’m coming to terms with the shakiness. I take comfort in art, friends, fiber, books, blogging, imagination, and… these cats!

Wishing you a good week, and much good news. Until next time.

Happy Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is upon us! This is the year of the Ox — a symbol in the lunar calendar associated with strength, diligence, hard work, and reliability (no plow skills needed). Oxen energies are expressed each time we plan a course of action; apply consistent effort, whatever our pace; and evince a little bit of “stubbornness” (let us say, perseverance) in adhering to a vision or idea. This is, in other words, the year for planting our feet on long-harbored dreams and making them come into fruition — the year that expended elbow grease will be likely to pay off (one hopes!). As per the lunar zodiac, this year also appears to favour restoration, replenishment, and recovery in their various senses, but will also be a time to carry the responsibilities that accompany the rewards. I like to treat the zodiac not as a firm set of predictions, but as an open-ended starting point for orienting action and energy (I read the I Ching in a similar way).

So. In that spirit, I wish you Oxen energies as you continue, this year, to bring into being the things in your heart!

Ok. Art-wise, my heart has been a flowery place. I recently did a simple still life drawing. More imagined flowers, in pencils, drawn in January. I see them as clowny and happy and pretty.

I treated myself to a new set of pencils in January, and I enjoy them: the scratchy texture isn’t 100% coverage on the page, but penciled space holds movement and line in a way that makes me feel like I show up in the picture. And in comparison to the fluidity and flow of paint, pencils require a little bit of elbow grease — a little push, from the inside out, to make things happen. I recently finished another picture that involved penciling the surface of an 11 x 14″ page — and I did feel like a little ox, bearing the colours across the paper, slowly over several days, until the whole thing was covered. Pencils, simply, are good for my soul.

Ok. Wishing you the creative mirth of flowers, and auspicious beginnings! 🐂 🌸

Welcome, February

After the blink of January, February is upon us. Chicago received its second blizzard in a single week, and we are now under even bigger snow drifts and slushy puddles. Remember the 6 foot snowperson from the previous post? Well, an even bigger sibling has presented itself in the very same park. This one stands a little over 7 feet tall and is staying fashionable in a green scarf. At that height, this must have been a group effort.

We are also in the thick of a February deep freeze, starting today. Today the low is -14C, and the weekend will see us at a low of -19C at some point with the temps sticking around all of next week, if the forecast is correct. Well. Let’s see how our daily conditioning stroll goes. It is the period for soups, space heaters, wool, and chai. When I get alarmed at cold weather, I remind myself that, growing up in Canada, these temperatures were normal! I was a kid whose commute to high school took over an hour, with a lot of waiting in bus stops and open-air train stations in -15C weather… Here in Chicago, some train stations and bus stops are equipped with overhead heat lamps. Heat lamps. Torontonians knew no such luxury).

On the art front, I have been keeping busy, and bullet journaling my way through the week, finding myself strangely productive. I owe this, in part, to the start of February — new energies abound and the Lunar New Year is approaching. I also like to think that the colours in this week’s theme helped things along a bit. For this first week of February, I went with something festive and ferny-flowery (again).

Against the strong inclination to hibernate, the colours are keeping me awake and focused. 🙂

I hope you are staying safe, well, and warm. Giant Snowman and Snow Flamingo send their greetings. Until next time. 🦩⛄

Holiday paper craft, pt. 2: Cards

Season’s Greetings, all! And it is Christmas Eve; the time has really flown.

With the extra hours spent at home, I was able to enjoy making some Christmas cards this year, and thought to share a few of them. The cards came together in a quick combo of marker pens, fineliner, and colour pencils. For some reason, I seem to have really enjoyed drawing pine needles this year (I have since been sketching pine needle-things on my journal and calendar).

click images for gallery view

There were other cards in the mix, but those were sent out before I had the chance to do some scanning. 🙂

Ok. Wishing you and yours a Happy Holidays — and hoping the rest of your week is full of candle-light, comfort and creativity! Until then. 🎄

Holiday paper craft, pt. 1: Notebooks

Witness messy desk in action. Holidays are always a great time of year for messy desk! I’ve tried to beautify messy desk for you, here. At its height, there are things of all kinds flying around — lists under pencils under ribbon under yarn. And that is how I like it — a sign that things are happening.

Recently, I’ve started making a few little handmade notebooks. I’m not sure why. But I love the idea of putting pages together (“binding”), then giving them a colourful cover. The books are tiny — small enough to fit in a hand or a purse, and perfect for jotting down wayward, passing, and therefore precious things. I simply use spare printer paper, cut it to size, add a cardstock cover, then fold and staple it all in the center. I apply a bit of masking tape to the spine to reinforce things and add a handsome blue edge.

Then my favourite part: designing a notebook cover. After doodling, I settled on these flowers using colour pencils. I never tire of the colours which, together, make me feel a little lighter — the drawing showcases flowers and colours at their most comedic, I think. So, a few notebooks and a card later…

Other than these notebooks, I have otherwise been busy making cards, cards, cards. I’ll look forward to a post on those soon. Until next time, happy making to you!

Earth laughs in flowers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson