More Paper Snowflakes

Most years, round about Thanksgiving I pull my large roll of paper out of the closet, check how many fresh blades I have, get out my cutting mat and pencils, and start making my snowflakes for the season. This year, I haven’t even begun (I blame the lack of snow in Maryland). I can, however, at least post to my blog about the paper snowflakes of Christmas past.

While I was at college, I graduated not just from scissors to xacto blades, but from plain ol’ letter sized paper to giant rolls of paper. Once I’d figured out how to make loopier and more intricate flakes, it was hard going back.

These are just the finished shots for a quick reference library of images. Details, such as the templates or back stories to the more unique flakes (i.e. Charmander Evolution or the”Simplify” Flake), will probably come in the form of separate blog posts later on.

See also: Paper Snowflakes – High School

T.S. Eliot & Falling for Poetry

10631132_10153883701301289_5784294913695533703_o

For the longest time I had a bias for reading prose instead of poetry.

Classic or “The Cannon”-accepted poetry was often too abstract, too dense, or too obscure for me to grasp. And I wanted to read, not be continually flitting my eyes between the words and the footnotes.

I preferred plot. I liked characters. I liked sinking my teeth into a novel or a play, immersing myself in another life for a month or maybe just a weekend, but certainly more than the few minutes it seemed to take to read a poem. A few high school poetry projects helped soften me, but I still never picked up a poetry volume unassigned. Epics (Beowulf, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid) bridged the gap some more because they struck me as on the fence between poetry and story. I fiddled with writing my own poems and read those written by my peers. I was, in a sense, coming around to poetry.

Then I was forced to dissect a Shakespearean sonnet ever which direction, backwards, forwards, and inside out for a whole semester in college. We were practicing different literary theories and interpretive lenses for an introduction survey course and while application is a good way to learn such tools, focusing on a single sonnet for that many papers felt like smashing my head into a wall on a regular basis. I’d put it tied with reading Tristram Shandy on my list of “horrible college experiences” (and I’ll bitterly admit that I did learn a few things from both projects).

After all that, I was pretty suspicious and sick of poetry regardless of format. Thankfully, my professors didn’t give up on me – or rather, they weren’t about to tailor their syllabus to my personal tastes. With exposure came interest and a new appetite. I devoured T.S. Eliot, lingered in e e cummings, read and reread William Carlos Williams, and probably annoyed my then-fiance with my reading aloud Gertrude Stein (because honestly, how else do you read her?).

I still tend to prefer a novel to dwell on in my free time, but I think of poetry as a nourishing breakfast before I begin a busy day. I especially lean on it when I’m actively writing my own stories. Reading poetry forces me to look at the world in a different way, to revisit the importance of word choice, order, and structure more intentionally than I do when reading novels. It reminds me how delightful and nuanced this crazy English language can be.

My last college semester, we read T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets. I’ve reread it so many times since that I’ve lost count. One passage in particular always drew me in. If I could, I’d just put the full set of four poems on my wall, but alas it would require a fairly large canvas, so I settle for just a part of “East Coker.” (More images of the painting and details on how I made it are in the gallary below.)

If you haven’t read The Four Quartets, please go do so. It’s in the public domain, so you can read it online if you’d like, but I highly advise reading it in print with a pen and your hot beverage of choice. It is amazing.

The painting is hanging in our apartment now, opposite the table where Nate and I tend to sit when writing. It serves as a nice reminder. Maybe the stories I write will never be published, maybe they’ll always fall short of my expectations, maybe no agent or editor will ever see anything in them, or maybe they will, but the books won’t sell or will get bad reviews, be called shoddy rehash of existing tropes. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Maybe I ought to worry less and focus on the trying, on the writing, on the sitting down with my laptop or notepad and getting the words out. Again and again, and again, trying to recover what has been lost and found and lost before.

Because the only way I can say for certain that my writing will go nowhere is if I give up trying.

Doodle Art

I suppose you could call these my own take on the current “Adult Coloring Book” craze that has been surging for the last year or two. Instead of coloring in someone else’s pattern though, I’ve drawn the lines for these ones myself.

Take 1:

20160505_145652_004.jpg

This first one I did awhile back as a way to pass a weekend. I doodle patterns frequently enough on the edges of note pads, papers, etc, but I wanted to see how those patterns would hold up if I treated them more seriously.

Instead of a ballpoint pen and scrap paper, I grabbed my India ink, my cheap but serviceable quill pen (not the cumbersome feather sort, but this guy), some sturdier paper, and just started doodling.

IMG_5659

While I liked the black and white effects well enough, I decided to color it in using some of the turquoise colored India ink  I had on hand as well as some coffee (I love painting and dying with coffee, but that is a matter for another post). The end result went pretty well. I hung it up in my cubical as a splash of color to the otherwise drab decor.

 

Take 2:

20160429_072001

Despite my love of all my doodle comics, I’d recently started to feel like my work space felt rather cluttered. Additionally, now that I’m working on refining my doodle comics to something a bit more finished, it was hard not to look on my paper versions in a critical manner.  (“That guys head turned out too big.” “I didn’t place that speech bubble very well.” “Wow my handwriting sucks!” etc.) I decided I’d rather have some more art to hang up and make things look more organize.

So I got out my ink again, chose a larger page size and apparently only paused to snap one progress shot because I could find no others to post here:

20160403_170440

This time I didn’t use coffee and stuck to shades of my black and blue inks (they’re the only colors I have). It took me a a few weeks to finished, but mostly because I kept having other projects I wanted to get done first. It’s finished now and hanging up at work adding some beauty to my dusty allergy-aggravating cubical walls.

The madness of before (with a few of my practice pattern-scribbles scattered in):

Cubical wall shot with notes

And after:

20160429_071943

 

Paper Snowflakes – High School

20160306_200908

Back in high school, I would go from class to class with a mini craft scissors, a protractor, blank paper, and a pen bag. During lectures or presentations and in between scribbling down notes, I’d cut out paper snowflakes. The pen bag held my tools, and also was a good dump site for keeping the scraps. I figured if any objections were to be raised, it’d be centered around my making a mess, so I avoided that.

But my teachers did not object–due probably in part to my being a pretty decent student. I got homework in on time, did fine on tests, and spoke during discussions, so I was clearly paying attention, even if my hands were busy with other work. It was just a more 3D mode of doodling. Or maybe my behavior was just too far down on my teachers’ priorities–why go after the student cutting out snowflakes when there are kids texting and gaming on their phones during class?

Anyway, I often left the snowflakes behind on my desk for whoever wanted them. It was the process I loved and I made so many, I had little use for keeping them. Sometimes they showed up the next day tacked up on the wall. I didn’t document all the snowflakes, but I did capture pictures of some of them, mostly using the camera on our school laptops. I’ve since progressed to larger paper and xacto blades, but that will be for another post.

Here now is the back log of my high school snowflake making:

Getting Started

Book Hoarder Blogging Logo

Welcome to my blog! Here’s what you can expect going forward, by category.

The drawings:

Cubical wall shot with notes

If you were to drop by my cubical at work, you’d probably first notice the mass of paper scraps pinned above my computer. A few of them are practical: how to properly set up a vlookup in Excel based on a book’s ISBN, how to format bi-directional links in an epub, the time difference between India and DC, etc. By and large, though, these scraps are doodles.

"Me Not Worrying" doodle panickingIt’s a coping mechanism mostly. There is something about drawing a freaked out doodle guy that helps make my own sense of panic less stressful and more comical. Plus, looking up from my screen to a wall of doodles makes me smile. Doodles offer more immediate gratification than finished artwork and are more emotive than a plain text message or an emoticon. Why text my husband a : ( when I’m letting him know I’m not feeling well when I can send this instead:

Sick Doodle Guy With Kleenex BoxOver time, my doodles became less emotional responses and more complex commentaries. And then something new entered the equation: a Samsung Note smartphone. I’ve always been a little reluctant to post my drawing to the web because they always appeared so unfinished. They were serviceable for a facebook post or to text to friends and family, but never looked “done” enough. I have an old drawing tablet, but its software is no longer compatible with my newer computer. My phone screen is small, but serviceable. The added bonus of going digital: the undo button.

For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, you might see some repeat content on this blog as I clean up and repost my older comics and doodles.

The cats:

These are my cats. They are asymmetrical and I love them.Photo of both kittens

Fafnir is a handsome 9 month-old tabby male with a clipped ear:Fafnir For Blog

Grendel is a 7-month-old female black kitten of doom with one scarred eye:Grendel For Blog

If their names are weirding you out, go read up on some Norse mythology » (Fafnir & Grendel )

I’ve spent a majority of my life wanting a feline companion and now that I’m out of my parent’s house (where only caged animals were allowed), working full time (yay money for cat food!), and in an apartment with reasonable pet rent, I finally have them. So much happiness!

Mind you, no sooner did I bring my kittens home than one developed a respiratory infection, the other almost lost her eye to a similar infection, and they both had their own battle with ear mites. So many vet visits! (Also, I am now an expert at giving cats eye drops.)

I will be posting some of my favorite photos and videos of this deadly duo here from time to time and probably do a small feature on how hilarious Grendel was with a cone on her head. Isn’t she adorable:

Coned Grendel

The Posts:

I probably won’t “blog” too often. I have a few ideas and thoughts bouncing in my head that I’d like to finalize into something like a personal essay someday, but such ideas don’t come nearly as often as I draw a doodle or see my cats do something cute. Tentative topics include: novel writing, articularing what makes bad fiction so bad, describing that day I spent at a cat adoption event with some crazy cat ladies, and explaining why cooking is good for the soul.

The Arting:

“Arting” is my catch-all term for creative projects ranging from a detailed painting, to sculpture, to cut out paper snowflakes.

I’ve tried and failed several times to create a finished online portolio of my work. Writing about existing work just never held my attention the way actually creating the work does. Rather than repeat my past mistakes, this time around I have no plans to post all of my art here. I’ll just be posting my favorites, and the ones with fun backstories.

The Writer:

For those who find this blog on their own, rather than by knowing me, a little background on me can be found on the About page.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope I succeed in making you laugh or at least smile in the days to come.