Today is one of those rainy, overcast Chicago Saturdays – the kind that makes the pavement wetly audible and keeps you inside with tea, a top bun, and time for quiet reading. It’s the kind of low-lit, indoor day where I’d rather listen to Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and dream about the city than go there myself.
Anyhow, just a doodle and a song to share today. Wishing you many good times with many good books!
The word ‘pastime’ is no coincidence. I’ve been reflecting, recently, on how creative activities seem to devour the time, sometimes voraciously. I am hoping to rein in the times where I’ve crafted myself into several hours-long states of self-forgetfulness; these zones of suspension are creatively desirable, and are calming in their own way, but (alas) lives aren’t entirely made on trance states. In and around the making, there are bills to pay, dogs to walk, taxes to be done, dishes to clear.
Here is a little doodle of that moment of coming up and out of a knitting session. It’s been a few hours, and someone has just reminded me – oblivious – of the time.
In the real world, the glasses will have slipped much farther down my nose, granny-style. As crafters out there know all too well, maker-time tends to escape the dictates of clock-time. That well-intentioned injunction to work for only “15 more minutes” goes unheeded as the knitting grows and grows and takes on a momentum all of its own (if only I could harness this energy when it’s time for the laundry).
What is your view? Do you regulate or schedule your inner crafter, set times when making is “off-limits” or, on the other hand, allow it days where it has free rein? How do you find the balance between clock-time and maker-time?
My posts have been more doodles and drawings as of late – something about Spring’s arrival has back-burnered the warm woolies and stirred up some hibernating drawing energies. I hope to have more knitting news in the next little bit…like a few new FOs!
A happy Wednesday to you.
I have reflected elsewhere on this blog (exactly when already escapes me!) on my sense that knitting is a medium of love. Like other creative activities, knitting renders tangible those important intangibles. Knit objects have, for me, become quite powerful material tokens of care, community, love, comfort, the pure glee of being alive (and the desire to share and communicate a little bit of that glee).
On that note, I recently drew this hypothetical picture of Andrew and I. It’s quite anatomically correct: witness Andrew’s curvy programmer’s back and my forward-leaning neck from the hours spent crafting, reading, and writing (I really must fix that neck). While he is not a knitter (!), I like to think that we’re two creative partners in crime.
I hope your week is going well and is feeling springlike and full of new energies. 🙂
Nothing too big to report on my end this day, except that I had a hankering to make some little paper sheep – a combo of watercolour paper and Black Magic india ink (I love that stuff). Since teensy sheep call for teensy scissors, I was aided by a quite portable pair of Swiss Army scissors. The little ones that, very much like these sheep, you can put in your pocket.
I’m not yet sure what to do with these sheep or where they’ll find their home; for the time being, I’m letting them explore their new environment on their quite wonky paper feet.
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
The comic below is in the Wordless Wednesday spirit, but I felt compelled to add just a few words. With 2017 just 4 days old, I’m finding myself at an odd loss for resolutions – there are, of course, a few things I’d like to do and some dreams on the horizon, but I’m very struck, this year, by an odd sense of familiarity in place of the New Year feeling of rupture and newness.
I’m coming to realize that the past few months of cultivating a craft practice – while a new adventure – has felt more like a long-overdue homecoming. By homecoming, I mean rediscovering a space of comfort, belonging, care, renewal, flourishing, and kinship. I don’t think of this kind of home as a perfect or uncomplicated place, but as the place I choose to dwell in and come back to; it’s not only where life unfolds and is lived, but where I feel most able to make a livable life. In these ways, the decision to start cultivating creativity again has felt like a slow, months-long process of making a travelling nest for myself – a home on-the-go that isn’t limited by the vagaries of place, chance, and circumstance.
In this vein, here’s a graphic love-letter to the place where I actually grew up – East York, a borough of Toronto. It includes some of my favourite/familiar haunts from back in the day.
To finding (and making) (and making pictures of) home.
It looks like Christmas is just around the corner. This one really crept up on me (it always does, but I’m usually a little better prepared!). We are leaving today to spend the weekend south of Chicago with A’s relatives. I’m, of course, bringing my latest work-in-progress with me – a purple cartridge belt ribbed scarf for my friend, R.J. Yep. Still working on it (but past the halfway point now). I’m looking forward to catching up with A’s family and getting some more rows on that scarf.
In the meantime,
Whatever your plans, Knitting Panda and I hope that the next days find you warm, stuffed with treats, and in the presence of your very nearest and dearest.
Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas!
P.S.: I am working on a little backstory post about ‘Knitting Panda’ in the coming days. Stay tuned, and stay warm!
During the holidays, my thoughts take a natural homeward turn. I keep this skyline doodle by my work station – it reminds me of the vibrant and electric place where I grew up.
Toronto, 6.5″ x 5.5.” India ink and acrylic on watercolour paper
Just a little panda cub, keepin’ it real.
This was drawn on the occasion of my good friend Daniela’s birthday last year. Daniela has an excellent and quite marvelous French writing blog at http://dumitrasauca.wordpress.com/
where you can read her beautiful poetry and short fiction. She is an extremely talented and up-and-coming young writer! Happy Friday, folks.
I’ve grown fond of drawing wreaths.
When I draw foliage and other leafy things, I’m forced to attend not only to the positive light space, but to the dark shadow-parts in between. My eye endlessly enjoys all of the little intermingling darks and lights which the technical pen can make.
Here are two cards from last Christmas.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone. 🙂
Hi again! It is nice to be back in the blogosphere after an over-month-long hiatus. I can’t wait to catch up with what I’ve missed.
An overseas move to the U.S. + holidays in Canada + another move within Chicago (in the snow and up 4 flights of stairs, no less!) = not being as creatively productive as I would have liked in these past few weeks. January, however, is the month of making (and keeping) resolutions. Top of my list: becoming more aware of how I spend my time, and giving regular attention to what I like to call the ‘drawing tree’ 🙂 I’m learning that my ability to be productive results from carefully ‘stewarding’ the thing that allows the drawings to happen–tending to something complex, dynamic and living that can wilt or flourish depending on the conditions.
For people who also like to make things: What do you like to call this thing? Do you have a name for it, or an image that conveys the process? And what things do you do regularly to keep your creativity-tap running?
Speaking of trees and other twiggy things, I thought I’d share some of the holiday greetings I drew over the next few days. This watercolor wreath was made for a certain little girl in love with horses. More to come.
A little brush + ink sketch on cardboard. Feeling optimistic and daydreamy.
A little cross-hatched piece of fan art I made after watching the Canadian film A Bear Named Winnie (2004).
Feeling a little bit like this inky kid doodle today: mischievous, electric, and just about ready to shoot searing lightning bolts out of my eyes. Mostly for good.
Goodbye is often another way of saying “Thank You.”
I finished my year of anthropological fieldwork in Switzerland 2 weeks ago. The weeks leading up to my departure on November 14th were a flurry of farewells and goodbyes, often in the form of cakes, pies, and last suppers. In some cases, I was counting down the minutes as I ran to the homes of friends just to see them one last time and, more importantly, thank them for opening their houses and hearts to a meek anthropologist. I’m learning that farewell-time is one in which an often latent world of social ties suddenly comes out of the woodwork, like a sudden sprouting—all of the not-always-evident relationships and even the loosely held links (in addition to the long-standing friendships) suddenly revive and become visible again.
The farewell compels this flowering; it’s a reminder of temporariness, and is a period of recognition and acknowledgment. I left my field wishing I could carry all of the lovely people and their sweetness back home with me, but I overlooked that “home” had now stretched its boundaries. It only took a year (!), and I can only hope and resolve that the things I learned and gleaned will somehow carry over and translate into a new life.
In spite of the goodbye flurry–or because of it–I was able to get some drawing in (less blogging). Here are 3 of the handmade thank yous I made for friends and family. The time spent drawing into the wee hours of the morning helped me to make the imminent goodbyes more than just an ache in the chest.
Heart in paper. A first stab (or snip) at Scherenschnitte, the intricate Swiss
art of paper-cutting (with which I fell deeply in love).
More on this in a later post.
Merci, watercolour butterfly.
I'm finally learning to love technical pens.
This is a card in Farsi with a bolbol (nightingale).
Kheili mamnoon: Thank you very much.
I was on the phone with my father the other day, and we were talking about old movies and TV shows from his childhood. Laughingly, he told me to watch the film “Flower Drum Song,” where I discovered the strident Nancy Kwan. This is her portrait, drawn from a Chinese movie poster for “The World of Suzie Wong” (which I haven’t yet seen, but which strikes me as an earlier version of Pretty Woman set in Hong Kong).
After staying up late one night to read a biography of Dürer, feasting my eyes upon his dazzlingly detailed etchings, I was inspired to try my hand at using lines and cross-hatching for shadows instead of my usual heaps of diluted black ink. I discovered that working this way to get gradations, you quickly enter a mental thicket. The lines become a forest that gets denser and denser the farther you go into it. This is an alluring place that is easier to enter than to exit. Get what I’m saying?
This drawing combines technical pens, gouache, watercolour, india ink, and a little elbow grease.